When I was a student, many of my notes were written out by hand or fill-in-the-blank. My mind would wander a little when taking notes, and I would draw little circular doodle designs or cubes in the margins of my pages. Then I’d color them in different ways. This helped me focus. Now that I am the teacher, I look for ways to help make math notes more engaging and effective when learning or reviewing math concepts. One method that 4th graders love using when it comes to math notes is completing a math doodle wheel!
What is a Math Doodle Wheel?
I created a math doodle wheel as a note-taking graphic organizer for my math classes to help my students learn, review, and prepare for assessments. Ultimately, I want them engaged in the lesson and learning. Being actively involved in taking notes is a great way to do this. And. . . what 4th grader doesn’t love doodling and adding color? It’s a win-win for sure!
Every page has a wheel or circle printed on it with the wheel divided into different sections. Through the lesson, students write down important vocabulary, the steps in the problem, and lots of practice examples. The best part? Students learn multiple ways to solve a problem. Not just one cookie-cutter way. This really helps them understand the concepts behind the math and not just some “trick.”
Why Should My Students Take Math Notes Using a Math Doodle Wheel?
I teach my students that there is more than one way to think about math concepts. This is a lesson they can take with them through life in all areas, particularly math. Everyone’s minds work differently, so providing different ways allows students to find the one that works best with their thinking style. The Math Doodle Wheel is the perfect tool for documenting all the different strategies and methods they learn. Plus it gives them a reference tool they can use all year long.
Math Doodle Wheels create an effective note-taking experience by providing different ways for students to think through math concepts and skills. The Math Doodle Wheels are one page, so students can immediately see definitions, step-by-step examples, and visuals. They provide mastery examples of each of those ways in actions. As a result, students can refer back to these pages throughout the year.
If you would like to read more about my journey using math doodle wheels, make sure to read my post on Using Doodle Wheel Graphic Organizers For Math and ELA!
Let’s go ahead and walk through a math doodle wheel together to see how your students will benefit from taking math notes this way!
How do my Students use a Math Doodle Wheel for Math Notes?
Each math doodle wheel will cover a different math concept or skill. For example, one math doodle wheel is about comparing decimals. “Compare Decimals” goes into the middle of the wheel, so it is big and eye-catching for when your students refer back to it later on. On this wheel there are four sections, but the number of sections depends on the concept being taught.
Start with Vocabulary
As a class or small group, we will start with the first section directly above the title. In this case, we would review essential vocabulary (compare) and symbols we will be using (<, >, =). Under each of these signs, we will label what they mean and record an example of the signs being used correctly. Already, my students have in their math notes key definitions and how to use the math symbols.
The feature that helps these math notes stand out is that I have my students color code and draw doodles to help them retain the information. Color coding is an effective method of helping with recalling and organizing information! When I write the meaning of the math symbol, I will doodle the math symbol in the same color. This helps to build a visual and mental connection with the picture and information.
Review Prior Knowledge
Now that we have the key vocabulary down, my students and I move to the next section clockwise. For comparing decimals, it’s important to review place values. First, I will have my students draw out the place value chart to visualize where the place values and the decimal point goes. Then I write down the instruction to always start at left and compare the place values until they come to one that is different. I also remind my students to add a 0 if needed.
In the remaining space, we practice several different comparisons to see the signs being used. Having examples built right into the notes makes the wheel a valuable reference tool. Whether it is an immediate review as they complete an assignment, or a review months later, students can be reminded of each step in the process and see it in action by looking at the practice problems.
Doodling Different Strategies
The third section on the Comparing Decimals Doodle Wheel introduces students to the concept of using models to help make comparisons. Using models is an excellent visual in math because students can see the quantity of a decimal or number they are working with. In this section students are provided with a visual example of how to use this strategy.
The last section shows students yet another strategy for comparing decimals – a number line. Number lines are another great visual for students and help them strengthen their number sense. And again, students complete some practice problems so they can put the strategy into action.
This is just one example of how math doodle wheels allow students to see different strategies in action. Obviously, the doodle wheel will be different for each math skill or concept – but the idea is the same. Give the students all the information they need, in one place, to learn about, review and put into practice the target math skill.
Wait! There’s More!
This Comparing Decimals Wheel is just one example of the many math concepts that your students tackle with Math Doodle Wheels. In my 4th Grade Math Doodle Wheel Bundle, you will be able to access the Comparing Decimals Math Doodle Wheel as well as 11 additional math topics. The topics include:
- Adding and Subtracting Fractions
- Adding Fractions and Mixed Numbers with Like Denominators
- Comparing Decimals
- Comparing Fractions
- Customary Measurement
- Equivalent Fractions
- Factors, Prime, and Composite Numbers
- Fractions to Decimals (10ths and 100ths)
- Metric Measurement
- Mixed Numbers and Improper Fractions
- Multiplying Fractions and Whole Numbers
- Subtracting Fractions and Mixed Numbers with Like Denominators
- (AND a second 4th grade bundle is coming soon!)
Each math topic comes with math wheels that have sections organized for you by definition or step. A key and a colored example for each one is also provided. If you want to make the sections more individualized for your students, there’s a blank copy of the math wheel, for you to create your own version!
Your 4th graders will love taking math notes using these math doodle wheels! The color coding will take your students’ understanding of the math concepts to the next level. You will be able to see how this effective note-taking tool will help them recall information, and use study tools as references when solving the problems. Grab this bundle and get ready to transform note-taking in your math class!
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Remember to pin this post to your favorite math Pinterest board so you can head back when you need math doodle wheels or other engaging math activities for your classroom.