I love teaching math!
I also love integrating math concepts with literacy and art!
I had just done a unit on fractions that included measurement and line plots. The students did a fantastic job on their understanding of fractional equivalence and comparison, but I didn’t really spend very much time on line plots in a hands on way.
Abstract art is a wonderful place to go when you are looking for a tie in with geometric shapes. There are tons of really great artists that you can use, for this activity, I used Kasimir Malevich. His suprematist series is full of quadrilaterals! 🙂 I found a video of his work to use as an anticipatory set. Then I looked up photos from his suprematist collection. I showed them to the students and had them look for shapes and line types in the art. I had already taught measurement to the nearest quarter inch. I just cut some construction paper into strips of paper that were measured to the nearest quarter of an inch. I put about 20 strips of different sizes and colors into each bag.
I had the students measure each strip and create a bar graph to show their data. On another day, we converted the bar graph to a line plot. I wanted the students to gain an understanding of how these skills could be used in real life. When they were done with their graphing, I allowed the students to create art in a similar style to Malevich.
Math requires precision. This is the type of project that to be done well will require students to make the additional effort to ensure they are precise. Having students work in pairs or groups of three or for aid in this. If you have students that are still struggling to measure independently and indicate that they require teacher support, have them come to a small table and work with them.
I wanted to give the students an opportunity to try working on this project digitally as well. There are so many students that may be resistant to hands on art, like what I did above, but would spend hours doing the same task on the computer. My students already had an idea of how to use powerpoint before this lesson. With the digital version of this task, I focused solely on quadrilaterals. Students were tasked with creating art only with shapes that could be classified as quadrilaterals. I also taught them how to use the measuring feature in powerpoint.
This project was so much fun in the spring when the students knew each other better and had more of their vocabulary down. They looked great hung up in the classroom and gave us an awesome opportunity to talk about our learning with visitors. Some important questions to ask with this type of activity:
- How did graphing help you organize your data?
- What patterns did you notice in your data?
- Explain what you know about how quadrilaterals are similar and different. Use specific math vocabulary to explain.
Tying art with geometry is a great way to work on conceptual understanding. I hope you’ll try this with your learners too!