I use them... Weekly, I give a problem-solving on a strip to be glued in notebook and solved. The kids must show their thinking to solve the problem using words, pictures and numbers. I also have them reflect on math games we play- what was the strategy, what did they learn, how could they change the game, why did I have them play the game? I have them do some math thinking about class graphs, estimating jars, the weather, etc. Sometimes I pose a math 'thinking idea' to launch conversation: tell me what you know about measuring, How would you explain multiplication to someone from another planet... I generally use a hands-on, Marilyn Burns/constructivist kind of approach in my math teaching, so the notebook is a good place to save all our good math thinking... I math journals...

I use math journals in a slightly different manner. My objective in the journals is for the students to connect the classroom math to the world around them. They have to write two entries a week about how what we're learning in the classroom applies to the world around them. For instance, if we're talking about decimals, they can talk about money. If we're talking about percentages, they can talk about sales. I teach middle school, but 5th grade isn't so far below that, so they could do something similar, though you may have to shorten the word count a but. I like it because they really get into the math when they see it connect to their lives. It's eye opening for them at times.

I like this approach! It sounds like a nice way to record and see progress in some higher-level thinking.