This year, I have tried to put a strong emphasis on having my students be able to describe the processes and concepts behind each of our skills that we work on.  I’m not going to lie, this has been HARD!
As I plan for each unit, I develop a prompt to support the daily skill that we work on.  Now, I am pretty proud of these prompts and I love how it allows me to see exactly what each student knows or understands about a given skill.  And then there are days, where you are so excited to see the student responses and get something like this…..


You are one of my top math students and THAT is what you thought was a good response to my absolutely fabulous prompt?!?!?  I can’t even tell what the prompt was because your response was so short and sweet.  So week after week, I would write, “More detail!” or sometimes I would even say, “More detail, please!!!”  And I didn’t get anything more from him and many others in my class.  I even said please…. :/

So I decided that they were truly giving me all that they could.  That although they could verbally tell me these beautiful answers in class, they simply weren’t able to form an amazing response independently in writing.  So I started doing a little searching; trying to find a product on TpT or idea on Pinterest that would help my students become better ‘math writers’.  I was sadly disappointed when I couldn’t find anything.  So I had to put on my big girl panties and begin researching in a different way.  Ya know…..the kind of boring stuff that they make you do in college.  Gag!  But I actually found several really good research articles that had great criteria and ideas for incorporating writing into mathematics understanding.

What I developed from this research was something EXTREMELY simple but I have loved giving my students a criteria in which to follow when writing their responses.  When I introduced this to the class, we wrote three responses together over the course of three days.  We used this time to make sure that they were using the checklist to help develop responses that are “up to Mrs. Wilp’s standards”.

You’ll be glad to know that “Mr. I’m-Gonna-Write-There-Both-The-Same-And-Think-That’s-Ok” is improving in his Math Journal responses.  After introducing the criteria to the Math Journals, this is one of his entires.  You can tell that he restated the question or prompt, used key math vocabulary, illustrated his thinking, and made sure that his response actually answered the prompt.  The only thing that he may be lacking in my “Don’t Forget to:” checklist is the fifth star: USE YOUR BEST HANDWRITING!!!

Recently, I had an idea to transfer my journal prompts into a booklet to make it easier for students to utilize throughout a unit. I cannot wait to roll this out next year! 🙂