Saturday, August 11, 2012

Math Notebooks- MS Math Sunday Funday

If you are reading this on Saturday, I hope you take advantage of the Back 2 School Cyber Search going on. There are some very generous bloggers sharing great resources for FREE!!!!!

Now on to Math Notebooks...

Last year I didn't start Math Notebooks until January. I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. I wish I had started them sooner, but so glad that this year, I will be starting them from DAY 1. I will use two different notebooks for the fall and spring semester.

A few rules I have for my notebooks:
1. All notebooks remain in my classroom
2. I complete a notebook for each class period I teach
3. Students must get their notebooks EVERYDAY when they enter class. It is ALWAYS on their desk.

Where I get inspiration:There are so many awesome places to get ideas and resources from. The ones I  have used most are Runde's Room and Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes.  Click the link, she revisited math notebooks very recently.
And of course, this post is part of MS Sunday Funday, so I am thrilled to get more ideas.

I will spend a great deal of time setting notebooks up. I truly use it as a resource and I want it right for the students. Since there are schedule changes and new students that come in, I do several examples to use for those situations.

I require it to be the hard covered composition notebooks. They are sturdy and last. This summer I bought a ton for fifty cents each. I want to be sure everyone has the correct type.

I do let my students decorate a cover.

This year I am also going to include a latch. I am hoping this helps with things falling out. I have invested in gold brads and twine for this. I will use an ice pick to poke the holes for each student.

Getting Started:
These are the first several pages of my notebook. We will spend an entire class period the first week getting this together. It is that important to me and my students success.

The very first page will be the Math Notebook expectations. You can get it here. Students will sign the bottom.

We use 3 pages for the Table of Contents.

I wasn't that great with the Table of Contents last year, but this year it is one of my goals.

Page 1:

My students should know their facts, but since some don't, we add this. I do not add it during the second semester.

Page 2 & 3 Buddies

This is new for me.
 My plan is to have appointments and "Phone a Friend" partners. I found the appointments on Pinterest and can't find the link now. Sorry. Here's another version of the clock.
I saw the phone on Pinterest, but made my own. You can get it here. I also found this phone, I like even better than the one I made. So many options these days.

Page 4
We will make an accordion fold for our RULES strategies. Our 7th and 8th grades use UPS Check, so I may be changing to that. Just not sure yet.


Page 5 is what we call Brain Dump. This is such a big part of my teaching, I will be posting separately about it soon. In a nut shell: It's what we use as a "cheat sheet" Students learn lots of strategies and we organize it on this. Students will memorize it and when testing time comes along, the idea is for them to "recreate" this before they begin the test. We use it everyday! I also have a HUGE bulletin board in my room of it.

Page 6 and 7

These are our state Conversion and Formulas chart they will receive for testing. I want them to have experience using them and finding where the formulas and conversions are  that they don't have to memorize. Again, we use these a lot during class.

For each unit, we made a pocket that kept all our paper work. Much of this fell out, which is why I am incorporating the brads this year. I am also thinking of doing my pocket differently. Just trial and error.

We also made tabs which were incredibly helpful.

These were harder to take a picture of than I thought. We label both sides and they are cut from card stock.

I saw where Janaye from Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes does her vocabulary in the back here. I tried this and liked it. It is just different and helps the students have one central place for vocabulary.
I have used note taking format and also the Frayer method.
I incorporate this with my word wall a lot and use it DAILY.


For me, the two most important things are being organized and modeling expectations.


  1. Ok, I may be questioning you a lot through out the year on these. I want to try to do this with my classes but I'm not sure what all to do with it. I usually have my kids keep a binder but I know a lot of teachers use the composition books and love them.

  2. I have heard about the "Brain Dump" but don't know how teachers use it. I can't wait to read this post! Please blog about it soon! You have such great foldables in your book. Can you join us at the Global Math Dept. meeting at 9pm Eastern to be a guest speaker and share your foldables with everyone? I am presenting Foldables, and would love more people to jump in at the end and share theirs. The link is here

  3. Hodges - Love that you included pictures. I look forward to implementing notebooking this year and I'm looking for ideas from those who have tried it already! I can't wait to hear about 'brain dump'!

  4. I love the pockets at the beginning of each unit. I usually do one pocket, but think I may change to your method. I also really like the phone a friend idea! Thanks for sharing your experience and pictures to go along with it!

  5. I've never used math notebooks in class, but instead have used folders. Your post is inspiring! Ultimately it is where I'd like to get, so thank you for sharing. I will definitely keep this bookmarked for ideas!

  6. Could you explain more about how you use the 'phone a friend' to set up collaborative pairs?

    thanks, Meiri

    1. I will do this like "clock partners" students will go find a #1 and write each others name on that line. They will do the same for each number. When needed, I will say "Phone your # 3 friend" or something like that.

      Hope that helps!

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