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Getting Started with Interactive Math Notebooks

I have been using interactive math notebooks in my classroom for as long as I can remember. Math notebooks are a great place for students to take notes, record definitions and sample problems, and practice new skills. They are perfect to use for direct instruction and guided practice, in small groups or as a whole class. But what I love most about them is that my students are able to use them as a reference tool throughout the school year. 

What to Include in Interactive Math Notebooks
You can customize your math notebooks to meet the needs of your students and to align to the concepts and skills that you teach. Here is a list of things you might include:

  • Definitions and explanations
  • Rules and algorithms
  • Formulas
  • Sample problems
  • Math models
  • Illustrations

My Math Notebook Pages
Over the years I have created templates to use with math notebooks for grades 2nd to 5th. These teaching pages can be used to introduce and teach new concepts and skills. They also provide students with definitions, explanations, rules, and algorithms that address the common core math standards. Sample and practice problems are also included to be used for guided practice. These pages then serve as a reference tool for students to refer back as they complete math assignments for classwork or homework throughout the year. 

How I Use Math Notebooks in My Classroom
When introducing or reviewing a new concept or skill, I first have students cut out the pages and other pieces and glue them into their notebooks. Then, with my guidance, students take notes and work out practice problems related to a given concept or skill. Students can then highlight or add color to their notebook pages.

Notebook Setup
I suggest devoting some time at the beginning of the year to have students set up their notebooks. This gets them excited about using their notebooks and encourages them to take ownership of their notebook, and see it is a valuable tool.

Provide students with a cover page for their notebooks. I have included one version in my FREE Starter Kit, and one is also included with all of my math notebook resources. However, you may also choose to allow students to color or create their own covers, to give it a more personal touch.

Number Pages & Table of Contents:
Before your students start working in their notebooks, have them number all of the pages. This will help them to locate past standards and skills as they need them throughout the year. It's the perfect beginning of the year homework assignment. Also, be sure to have students leave the first few pages of their notebooks to use for a table of contents. My starter kit and math notebooks include a template that can be glued into student notebooks. It includes a place for the standards, lesson titles, and page numbers.

Divider Tabs:
You may also want to have students use divider tabs to organize their notebooks. I have included divider tabs in my starter kit that are based on the CCSS math domains. These tabs can easily be glued onto the first page of each section. You can also have students use sticky notes if you want more options and flexibility.

Math Tools
You may also want to have students include a page of math tools in their notebooks. I have a included a selection of tools in my starter kit, along with a pocket for students to keep them all together in one place. This way students have them ready to go as needed when working on different concepts and skills. 

Download a FREE Math Notebook Starter Kit!!
Many of the items I mentioned throughout this post are available in my FREE Math Notebook Starter Kit. If you are interested, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter below to download your FREE copy!! The Starter Kit includes covers in color or black and white, a table of contents template, CCSS domain divider tabs, and a selections of math tools.

Learn More About Interactive Math Notebooks
If you are looking for READY-TO-USE pages for your math notebooks, click on the cover pics below to explore the different grade levels.



Once you get started with math notebooks, you will never go back. You and your students will love having a place for them to record their learning and practice new skills, while slowly creating a math reference tool that will be available to them throughout (and possibly beyond) the school year!!

Reflect and Plan: Routines and Procedures for the School Year

One of my favorite things about teaching is that every year is a fresh start. Whether you are new to teaching, or someone who has been teaching for many years, we all can admit that we have plenty of room to grow. After 13 years of teaching, I am still making changes each year in how I run my classroom. Summer is the perfect time to reflect on the previous school year and to plan and make changes for the next.

Every year I spend a lot of time in those first weeks of school establishing routines and procedures. I set aside a great deal of time to teach, practice, and reinforce them. Doing so sets the foundation for a smooth and productive school year. With that being said, it is important to go into each year with a solid plan. You should definitely know what those routines and procedures will be before students step foot in your classroom.

Martin's BIG Words for BIG Kids!!

Picture books aren't just for little kids!! As an upper grade teacher, I love to incorporate picture books into our literacy block, especially as a way to encourage my students to think, discuss, and reflect.

To celebrate the extraordinary life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I love using the book Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport. Martin's words were so powerful and this book weaves them in with a short biography of his life. Along with the beautiful illustrations by Bryan Collier, this story is a favorite of my students each and every year.

Smashing Strategies for Guided Math: Daily Reflections

This is our final week of sharing Smashing Strategies for Guided Math!! In my previous two posts, I discussed different options for Math Warm-Ups and Incorporating Interactive Notebooks into Guided Math. Today I am excited to share how you can use Daily Reflections to wrap up your math block!!

Smashing Strategies for Guided Math: Incorporating Interactive Notebooks

We are back this week to bring you more Smashing Strategies for Guided Math!! In my last post I discussed different options for Math Warm-Ups. Today I am excited to share how you can incorporate Interactive Notebooks into your math block!!

Smashing Strategies for Guided Math: Starting the Day With Math Warm-Ups

I am thrilled to be joining a wonderful group of teacher bloggers to share a variety of ideas related to Guided Math!! This is my first post in our Smashing Strategies for Guided Math series, and I thought I would start off by sharing ideas for starting the day with Math Warm-Ups!!

A New Favorite: We're All Wonders

This little gem was just delivered this morning and I am already in love!! This newest addition to the Wonder collection is a picture book called We're All Wonders by R.J. Palacio, featuring everybody's favorite inspirational 5th grader. I can hardly wait to share this with my own 5th grade class after Spring Break!!

7 Ways to Celebrate Poetry in the Classroom

April is National Poetry Month, and what better time is there to teach our students all about poetry?! There are so many ways to celebrate poetry in your classroom, and today I thought I would share some of my favorite ways to teach and explore this fascinating genre!!

Character is Key: Promoting Character in the Classroom

As teachers, we are tasked with teaching so many different concepts and skills. We spend countless hours planning and implementing academic lessons that will prepare our students for the lives ahead of them. But for me personally, there is no task more important than teaching my students to be good people.

Setting the Tone with Scary Stories

I love a good scary story!! Especially during this time of year. The weather is starting to cool down, leaves are falling from the trees, and the days are getting a bit gloomier!! With Halloween upon us, it's the perfect time to break out those scary stories in the classroom. I am thrilled to share with you some favorites from my 5th grade classroom!!

Exploring Non-Fiction in the Elementary Classroom

I had the great honor and pleasure to write a blog post for the Teachers Pay Teachers Blog. I chose to write all about how I use and teach non-fiction in my upper grade classroom!! Click HERE to learn about how I make non-fiction come to life for my students!!

Classroom Must-Haves That I Can't "Picture" Myself Teaching Without

Every teacher has those few supplies, books, and resources that they couldn't possibly teach without! Along with my fellow bloggers over at Upper Elementary Snapshots, we decided to share all about our Classroom Must Haves. We are sharing the things that we simply could not "Picture" ourselves teaching without! Before you go today, be sure to also check out the "Must Haves" of the fabulous bloggers below, and enter our Giveaway at Upper Elementary Snapshots!!