Thursday, March 5, 2015

What a crazy school year! Interactive journals can bring you calm!

We are in week 25 of this school year, and I have not posted anything all school year!  Our math teks changed this year, and I feel like I am planning day to day.  I have done so much more work at home this year!  I keep telling myself that next year will be a better pace, and I won't need to do so much at home (with a new baby on the way, we will be busy enough).

I got very comfortable with the material I was teaching.  I was always creating new things and changing things up to keep things fresh, but with the new material, I am now required to create new materials.  It is has been exhausting trying to find and create things that keep my kids engaged, but the end result is so worth it.

I have never been one to just open a textbook and start teaching. I like for my kids to be a part of the learning experience.  Last year, I started using an interactive journal.  I will NEVER go back to teaching with just notes.  It is amazing how I can adapt notes into a foldable, and the kids are engaged the whole class.  It is all about the presentation.

All the required changes this year have allowed me to create and use and some great materials.  I love it when the kids tell me that although we are busy, they enjoy learning math this way.  They say it doesn't feel as though they are just being told what to do.  Many love being creative with their journals, while others are content with just getting the information down.

If you are new to interactive journals, I recommend looking at the interactive journal pack created by Runde's Room.  It is a great way to get started.

When we begin a new unit, I put the learning goal on the screen for the kids to write down as they come in.  I have a file through my google drive in which I put all my journal entries.  The google drive allows me to quickly share my files with the other 8th grade math teacher.  They color code the topic. At the beginning of the year, we created a list with the 4 topics and color coded each one.  The topics relate to our reporting categories.

After writing the learning goal, the kids write what they know about the topic.  I tell them that it is okay if they don't know anything.  I require my kids to write in complete sentences, so the journal is also a great way to help their writing skills.

After we create the foldable, we put it in the journal.  Some entries may take a few pages.  Once the lesson is complete, the students will go back and write what they learned (again using complete sentences).  The final steps involve creating a proof (a problem to be solved) and a reflection (a creative way to illustrate the concept).
This is a print-out of the learning goal shown on the screen.

The students also update the table of contents with the addition of each entry. The table of contents is also color coded.
Snapshot of the table of contents page

When the kids take the six weeks test, I grade the journals.  I create a rubric based on the entries we completed that six weeks.  With each six weeks, the journals get better and better.

The finished product will be a great tool that can assist them next year.  With all the new algebra additions to our teks, this journal should prove to be very handy next year!

Although we journaled last year, the change of all the teks forced me to step up my game, and I think our journal is so MUCH better this year.  I am excited to see the finished product.  I create a journal for each class, so I may hold a drawing for some lucky students and give away my journals!

I hope the school year has not been too overwhelming.  If it becomes too much, hop on pinterest and see what great foldables you can find!

Happy journaling!

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