Why teach mathematics with art?
The teaching of mathematics involves many challenges. Students come to class with preconceived notions and past experiences about their mathematical potential. My middle school students arrive with varied abilities to observe and be at peace with abstraction. Often they bring anxiety of expected performance. Relaxing students into a position of playing and engaging with mathematics has helped them become at ease in the classroom, readily admit to skills or concepts that pose difficulties, and become enthusiastic and successful in their study of math.
My job is to let students experience a great deal of mathematics, much of which is familiar, but examined in a more abstract and generalized approach. This maintains their interest while demonstrating recurrently that math makes sense. To be successful in this endeavor, each student must be reached at his or her individual level of abstraction and motivated in a way that is also individual to that student’s talents and experiences. Each student must experience success and a sense of growth.
For many years I have used art to engage student interest, differentiate learning, and make mathematics visually meaningful. In creating this site, I have tried to help teachers learn to use art to reveal mathematical concepts while engaging students in the meaning and logic of mathematics. I use art to demonstrate the meaning of the mathematics; to emphasize the applications of mathematics to our world; to engage students of varied interests and talents; and to show respect for the varied talents of my students. My students and I delve into a great deal of mathematics and have fun.
You have choices to view some sample projects from 4 different mathematics topics.
Pages of this site show student's projects. In the opening section of each page is a downloadable, Word or Pdf document that gives the teacher;
- concepts or vocabulary that will be represented visually
- my reasoning as to why this endeavor is relevant, provocative, and enriching.
- background that will be necessary for the students to appreciate or understand the mathematics involved.
- my assignment sheet for the project.
- a rubric explanation to give students the prior knowledge of project evaluation. The rubric also helps teachers to note components of the assignment that demonstrate learning, observation, and effort.
- sometimes there is an enrichment section or suggestions for other mathematical diversions.
The four projects described in this site require different amounts of time to explain and complete. The work with Pascal’s triangle requires only a short amount of teaching time. The Fibonacci work can be done to any depth and available time. The polyhedra work necessarily takes a commitment of teaching time.