Always, Sometimes, Never: New Math Journal Topics

I never really understood students copying a morning message other than practicing writing grammatically correct sentences. For math, trying to find things “journal worthy” was a challenge. I didn’t just want students solving word problems or doing “naked” number problems. A peer found some good journal topics that were standard based that could be printed on labels to be stuck in journals. I used them for the first few weeks of school, but still wanted more. Then I came across Joe Schwartz’s blog about changing a morning message. He gave an example of Always, Sometimes, Never questions with a link attached. I was intrigued. On the link he used, the examples were above grade level for my second graders. So, I began inventing my own. I LOVED the results and the conversations that went on about them. My little second graders would have a math debate at times about which answer was correct. Students had to write whether the statement was always, sometimes, or never true and then prove their answer.  Here are some examples:

  1. When you subtract, you have to count backwards. 
  1. When you add or subtract 10, the ones place digit stays the same.      
  1. If my ruler is broken, then I can’t use it to measure.  IMG_0214-4
  1. The person with the most coins has the most money.     IMG_0223 IMG_0224IMG_0225
  1. If I want to make the largest 3 digit number possible, then the hundreds digit has to be the largest digit.  IMG_0389
  1. You can partition a rectangle in half four different way.

(For some reason I didn’t take pictures of their answers to this one)

7. If I have some coins with only 2 pennies, then the total amount will end in 2.

IMG_0374 IMG_0373

IMG_0372     Most of the topics easily transitioned into investigative tasks that resulted in students creating posters with “proofs” to defend their arguments. I’m looking forward to creating more next year to use with my students!

About Christy S

I am a math teacher that LOVES mathematics and wants to continually improve to make math make sense to elementary students.
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9 Responses to Always, Sometimes, Never: New Math Journal Topics

  1. Simon Gregg says:

    What a great lesson! And fantastic that you took it on to proving those claims – would love to see the posters!


    • gfletchy says:

      What a lovely way to have your students engage in the SMPs Christy. To see 2nd grade students write and record their mathematical thinking at the level you’ve captured here is super empowering! The MTBoS is definitely benefitting from you sharing your class happenings through this blog.


    • Christy S says:

      Thank you! My students know they can’t go to their math group of they don’t tell me why the wrote their answer, even if it’s wrong. I’ll have to take pictures of the next time we do it with posters. Maybe we’ll do one more before we get out of school.


  2. Love these ideas! I think this is something that would work well in many grades and I can’t wait to try it out! Thanks so much for sharing!


  3. Always use these? Yes. Sometimes use them? Yes. Never use them? No. Thanks, Christy- you are pushing for/increasing equity of resources for creating thoughtful young mathematicians.


  4. Lisa Bracken says:

    Are you selling your always, sometimes, never questions for second grade? I would love to have a copy to use in my classroom! Now this is.AMAZING MATH!


    • Christy S says:

      I don’t sell them, but you can have them for free! There is a link in the top of my blog called, “Always, Sometimes, Never” and you can access them from there. Thank you!


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