During my experience as a 5th grade math teacher, one of the greatest issues that I had was students forgetting how to solve many of the various types of problems or skills taught throughout the year. If you don’t already do this, I’m going to explain why you should use student notebooks in your math class.
What Led Me to Start Using Student Notebooks
Preparing for assessments or working on projects often resulted in a lot of reteaching, especially after moving onto the next unit. I decided that I wanted to have one central location that my kids could go back to and refresh their memory on every single standard that was taught, without me always having to explain it. I started creating very detailed notes pages for each skill I was teaching and I would print them on half sheets of paper so that my students could tape them straight into a composition book. It was a game-changer for me and for them.
Let’s talk about what you can use student notebooks for, how to organize them, and why creating a classroom routine is important for their success.
Best Uses for Student Notebooks
- Notes are a great way to introduce a new skill and provide students with the information needed to solve problems in a guided instruction setting before transitioning to independent practice
- they are perfect for housing valuable information that students can refer back to often, especially when their teacher is busy working with other students
- this is a great way to communicate the strategies that you’re using to teach specific skills so that parents know how their children are learning in the classroom
- there are often several strategies for the instruction of various skills, so it keeps all of them organized and clear for parents when helping their child at home
Study Skill Development
- as students get used to using their notes during class while working, they will learn to use them as a study skill that will help them prepare for assessments
- Make sure every student has a notebook. I like to use classic composition books.
- Make all copies of notes pages and/or practice questions onto half sheets of paper. This helps the pages fit into composition books and cuts down on copies because you’re printing two pages on one piece of paper. When printing from a PDF, check out the printing settings to find “Page Sizing and Handling”. There is an option called “multiple” where you can select how many pages to print per sheet.
- Pre-cut the pages and set them out before class. Allow students to tape their notes in first thing in the morning or at the beginning of class while you’re checking homework or students are entering.
- Go through the notes at the beginning of your mini-lesson and conduct sample problems that incorporate the skill as a whole group.
- Allow students to solve problems in their notebook as you’re teaching and select students to come up to solve them on a smartboard or whiteboard.
Create a Routine
- See organizing notebooks above
- Get students into the habit of referring to their notes during independent classwork or projects
- You can decide to allow assessments to be “open-note” so that students get into the habit of referencing them
- Encourage students to take their notebooks home each night so that they can use them while doing their homework
Student notebooks with detailed notes pages made such a difference in my math plans. They helped me to develop a strong classroom routine and assisted in student mastery of standards with a lot less confusion during our units. I highly recommend adding them into your classroom routine as well!
Need “Already-Done” Student Notes to Add to Student Notebooks?
I have multiple math resource packs that include detailed notes pages for mini-lessons that address each skill within the unit. There are printable versions as well as digital versions that can be assigned through Google Classroom.
Resources with Detailed Student Notes: