Why teach mathematics with art ?
Teaching mathematics involves challenges for the instructor. Students come to class with preconceived notions and past experiences about their mathematical potential.† Middle school students arrive with varied abilities to observe and be at peace with abstraction.† They often bring anxiety of expected performance.† Relaxing students into a position of play and engagement with mathematics helps them become at ease in the classroom. When they see classmates who readily admit to having difficulty with drawing or gluing, they more easily admit to their mathematical difficulties. Those students who have always felt successful with art can become more enthusiastic and, consequentially, more successful in their study of math.†††††††† ††††††††††† †††††††††††
The instructor's job is to let students experience a great deal of mathematics. Much of the math should be familiar to the student but is now examined in a more abstract and generalized approach. Keeping student's interest and demonstrating the recurrent sense that mathematics makes is the instructor's role.† Each students must be reached at his or her individual level of abstraction and motivated in a way that is also individual to that studentís talents and experiences.† The student must experience success and a sense of growth. †††††††††††
For many years I have used art to engage, differentiate learning, and make the mathematics visually meaningful.†† In creating my math/art sites, I have tried to help teachers use art to reveal mathematical concepts and engage students in the meaning and logic of mathematics.† Iíve used 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.† Students and I delve into a great deal of mathematics and have fun. Pages of this site show student's projects. In the opening section of each page is a downloadable, Word document or PDF 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
- an assignment sheet for the project
- a rubric explanation to give students the fore-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. †††††††††††
Pages includes projects that require very different amounts of time to explain and complete.† The work with Pascalís triangle requireís 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. †††††††††††
More examples and explanations can be found at Teaching Mathematics with Art.