We do math problem solving in my kindergarten class everyday! I will probably write a lot about it this year, so stay tuned! So I thought I would start off showing how I set up my Problem-Solving Notebooks (some people call them math journals). I use a notebook so I can keep all of the kids' problem-solving together in one place. I find that when I use loose papers, they just end up stuffed in backpacks and crumpled on the bottom of backpacks. Besides, It's amazing to look through them and see the kids' growth over the course of a year!
So how, you ask, do parents know what we're doing in math? I send the journals home once or twice a quarter so parents can flip through them. I constantly communicate with my parents through e-mails, my classroom blog and even Twitter to let them know what we're doing and how they can reinforce what we're learning at home. And I use the journals during conferences to show parents evidence of how their child is performing in math.
So, where to start...
1. Choose your notebook. It's really up to your own personal preferences (and what's on your school supply list!) I prefer marble composition books, because those things can take a beating and never fall apart! Pages are sewn in, so they don't fall out. The cover is nice and sturdy. There are plenty of pages. (I do wish they came in a regular 8 1/2 x 11" size).
4. Glue in the Problem-Solving Notebook Expectations. I actually do this as a whole lesson with the kids. We go over each expectation. We learn how to find the next blank page (so the kids won't flip to the middle of their notebook to do a problem). We learn how to use the glue properly (both glue stick and bottle) to glue problems and activities in our notebooks. I continue to revisit these expectations throughout the year. You can download this PDF here:
5. Now you're all ready. Please remember that the first few days weeks of problem solving might be a little ugly. Despite your best efforts, kids will still glue their pages together. They will still flip to the middle of the notebook to do a problem. Their drawing/fine-motor/writing skills are still developing, so the journals will be messy (messy...messy!) And I promise you at least a couple of kids will flip their journals completely upside down and start in the back--happens every year! But everyday, it gets a little better. You'll be amazed at how different their notebooks look in a month or two. Don't give up!
OK...off to check the next thing off my list! Bye!