Saturday, November 14, 2009

Do The Math Dance

Dr. Karl Schaffer and Mr. Erik Stern believe that combining math and dance concepts allows people to experience a physical sensation of the often abstract concepts of math. Mathematical problem-solving is incorporated when creating new dances, which can even inspire new mathematics. Concepts can be taught in the ballroom and applied in the classroom, bring together movement, rhythm, geometry, and more. Dr. Schaffer and Mr. Stern are instructing teachers on how to teach math through dance. Many math-phobic adults, young people and children are put off by math because they are given symbols before they have a real solid experience on which to base it.

Today's students are products of the music video, rap and rhyme generation, thus math dance makes perfect sense to me. They are constantly walking around, with heads bobbing up and down, wired to I-pods, sometimes breaking out in spontaneous dance. Research shows that students understand and retain concepts better when actively engaged and involved. Students naturally enjoy music and dance and many educational companies have developed curriculum that compliments all learning modalities. Most primary classrooms (particularly kindergarten) provide the majority of instruction through rhyme, rhythm and movement. As the students progress into the upper grades the rhythm and movement activities tend to diminish. Scaffer and Stern have created classroom activities for teaching math and performing arts through whole body movement.

Lesson Uses: (By Dr. Schaffer and Mr. Stern)
(1) Clap Your Name: Patterns are everywhere, even in our names. Working in groups of two or three, convert the vowels and consonants in your names into clapping patterns, the turn them into movements.
(2) Counting Handshakes: Combinations are the basis of many type of mathematics and dance. Working in groups of 2 or 3, find how many ways there are to shake hands, then learn to perform them in sequence.

1 comment:

  1. An interesting idea. Can anyone suggest someway to use in the upper grades in Science?