How do you manage notebooks in your math classroom. Are they graded? And if yes, then how do you grade them? What items are kept in student's notebooks? Are they worth the time and effort to keep up with them? How much class time to you spend on notebook upkeep? I am interested in hearing your view points. Please include the grade level and type of math class you teach in your response.

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Tags: notebook, vocabulary


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Comment by David Brown on July 21, 2011 at 2:15pm


The secret to managing math notebooks is... a mystery. I teach eighth grade students Pre-Algebra and Algebra I. Writing is one of those things we are being told to include in all areas, including math, so using a math notebook is a great idea for students. I believe that a day to day notebook check is important otherwise students won't do it! Students should be able to take notes, work on vocabulary, write examples and do their homework in their notebook. Students should also spend time writing a summary of the lesson, writing down questions(and leave room for answers) they have about the math they are doing, writing down how what they are learning relates to the real world, and perhaps even a reflection piece about the math they are working on that could be read and commented on by one or two classmates. The reflection piece is the kind of collaboration that may help those students that are finding it difficult to write about math. It would be nice if students had the notebooks with pockets in the front and back for handouts, quizzes, and tests.


So the mystery part of notebooks, I think, is about how do we grade this piece of work. A rubric is certainly a good way to set this up for both the teacher and the student because then everyone is clear about what is expected. If the notebook contains the items I have outlined above I can see it being worth about twenty-five percent of the students grade at the end of the marking period. You may want to come up with a day to day way to mark the notebooks when you look at them, that may be, a score of 1-4 points, credit/no credit, a color code(for example green or red mark on the page), or smiley face/sad face may be effective. The reflective writings or other specific writings you have students do will be the items that will take the most time to grade in the notebooks but will give the most insight into students understanding of math concepts prior to assessment day. Another thing to consider is, how do students that are absent make up the work in the notebook? One idea that I have is have that student get the information from two other students in the class that you select. Using a white board or large piece of paper the selected students can take turns teaching part of the lesson to the absent student(s) and they can write down the information they missed in their notebook.


I hope you find these thoughts useful!

Comment by KC Mowrey on May 11, 2011 at 6:41am
My counterpart uses notebooks but only collects them at the end of the term.  Students are expected to keep their work and the only difficult grading is at the end of term.  I prefer a running tally more work during the term; but less or minimal at the end.  I include the vocab with the notes. I put notes on the board for each section and I have my students keep notes in foldables.  I like to do a lot of compare and contrast:  ex. compare and contrast an arc and a  chord.  I do request that students hang onto all the work on the current chapter or until it shows up on a progress report.  Hope that helps  We teach 8-11
Comment by Sandra Norton on May 4, 2011 at 6:16pm
Whoops - I teach grades 6 through 12 all subjects. I use the books for all math classes. The upkeep is nothing - I get a chance to look at the notes when the assignments are turned in. Students like being able to pull out one wirebound notebook (one subject notebooks are less than 5 cents at Staples at the beginning of each year) and have everything they need. I do not spend a great deal of extra time using the notebooks since students have to take notes and complete assignments every day. The only extra time is to look at the notes and have them update their table of contents each new lesson. All other uses like the questions and student examples are generally part of the learning. Students also have all scores for all work and this works nicely for different assignments where they figure average, what their grade is, graphing and I could go on...
Comment by Sandra Norton on May 4, 2011 at 6:08pm
Oh - another great use for the books is that students can record targets they need to achieve, levels of achievement, and mastery. They learn the HSCEs associated with each target and learn how to manage student-friendly target steps.
Comment by Sandra Norton on May 4, 2011 at 6:06pm

I love using notebooks. Students are required to take daily discussion and lecture notes in their books. They also write questions to ask of the teacher and the class concerning different topics. I grade according to effort (much like a participation grade). The notebooks work well for my students because they are required to take the notes and complete accompanying assignments on the following page. The students create a great study tool and have it to take to their home schools when they get out (I teach in a juvenile facility for the MOISD). I have had many students comment on having the notebooks and the difference it makes in their confidence levels. A lesson on direct variation would include a title, vocabulary and definitions, sample problems (showing all steps to solve), any alternate methods to solve, and students were required to come up with a real world use for knowing direct variation rather than a questions, but questions are always welcome.

Students can take out the work after they leave and they have a great math notes tool. As we start the books, they have to leave the first 5 pages blank and they create a table of contents as we advance.


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