Having each student keep a math notebook is a great way to help students stay organized and provide you with many options to support students at a variety of levels to learn new vocabulary words. The math notebook can be used during whole group or small group times.
Here are some activities to use math notebooks for vocabulary:
How to incorporate math notebooks into small groups
The math notebooks can be leveled to meet students' individual learning needs. You can introduce the same vocabulary words to each different group of students, but present them in a different way.
For example, students in need of extra support, you could introduce only one or two new vocabulary words at a time. Then allow the students to have ample time to write the words, work with models the words represent and draw the models themselves. They may need the words reviewed daily during the entire math unit.
For students who are meeting grade level standards, you may introduce three or four new vocabulary words at a time. Students can write the meaning of the words in their notebooks to refer back to when needed. You can provide students an example of a math problem which uses the new vocabulary word and shows its meaning.
The advanced level students could take on the activities with more independence. You could post the new vocabulary words and definitions. Then students could copy them in their notebooks. Students could practice model examples in their notebooks independently. These students could work with partners to explain their thinking and exchange math strategies that they used to solve the problems.
Making Math Notebooks Personal
Allow students to work in these notebooks in a way that supports their individual learning. They can incorporate coloring, pictures, and fancy writing such as bubble letters. Let this be completely OWNED by the students. Provide activities and directions, but leave the details open for students to incorporate their own creativity. Students can see this notebook as a safe place to work with minimal rules and a lot of fun!
When students create and develop the ownership of this notebook, they will be invested in
using it. They will enjoy completing the assignments as well as going back to use it as a reference when needed. You will start to see students pulling out the notebook even in times you didn’t ask them to, but they came up with a really great idea for it all on their own! Those are the best moments, right?!
You may be thinking, “It is too late for me to use this now, but I will next year,” but, even if you didn’t incorporate math notebooks from the start of the year, it is never too late to introduce using them. Sometimes it is good to start later on in the year after the students have a solid math routine put in place. It is a great tool to keep your students motivated and having fun with their learning!
- Classroom Teacher
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