Throw away the script: Math, Art, and project management lead to student success
Testing, text books, teacher evaluations.
Scripted instruction can breed a complacent…
…over-stressed, unoriginal, frustrated instructor.
Fear not friends, art in math is a comprehension conductor!
I remember being told when I accepted my current position and moved from a 4th grade, inclusive classroom to a 7th grade math classroom that my days of being “an art” teacher were over. First, if you tell me I can’t I will. Second, re-read number 1. Third, I have to find a way to include art projects in my classroom…
“All work and no play makes Mr. Matt a dull boy”.
Testing, scripted classrooms, school mandates, and a million other excuses have allowed teachers to stop thinking on their own. Luckily, there are so many great teachers out there that do not allow this to happen in their classrooms. I consider myself currently in the “good teacher” category. When pressed and told differently, I believe and reply that I “will be” a great teacher, but I am not yet. Give this credit to the other, better instructors around me who just aren’t as vocal or young or experimental as I.
Back to my point… I am a visual learner and with the increasingly large demographic of kids utilizing technology daily, so are they. It has taken some trial and error in the classroom to fine tune the effective inclusion of art within my weekly units, but now it is taking off. I make it a point to include these projects weekly or every 7 or 8 school days. The students notice and are excelling with the concept. Also, it keeps me sane and makes the beige colored halls look a lot better
Here is what I have found so far with the completion of a well developed and standards based art project for ANY unit:
- Engagement is at or near 100%. Even the lazy kids understand that if they put some work into a math-art project, they aren’t completing items from a text book.
- Collaboration between peers is high. Students teach and re-teach their peers in areas they feel confident in, while listening and allowing others to help in areas they may feel lacking in.
- Comprehension is rising. For most projects, students are required to work out any and all math CORRECTLY before they can begin on the art aspect. They know this and accept the challenge.
- Critical Thinking and Project Management Skills are introduced and increased. With testing the way it currently is, students are learning more test taking strategies than critical thinking and management skills. Common Core, in areas of correct implementation, will help reduce this, but there are still students coming into our middle school classrooms who have no idea how to begin a project, work through the bumps in the road a project presents, and see their hard work come through to a concrete point of completion. We are supposed to be preparing our students for their future. Most college courses worth their salt is project based
I presented a graphing exercise to my students for the introduction of our linear equations unit. Students were allowed to pick a set of coordinates that I found online and make a cartoon character. There were different levels of difficulty and these were discussed before students chose their character. I purposely found more popular characters that had a higher level of difficulty to complete. Students not only met, but exceeded all expectations.
Below are a few examples from my three classes. Each picture had 110 or more coordinates to graph. These are not my highest students, but the more success they see the harder they have worked. I could have scanned in all 76, but this is a blog, not a hallway!
Thank you for taking a look at my kids work!