STEAM – Dancing out Mathematical Concepts

Ms. Ross,  “LOOK, LOOK, I created a number line dance for 6/12+3/12………”

Ms. Ross, “DID you see my “Choreography” of the ordered pairs…..wasn’t it out of this world!!”

Ms. Ross, “I can do it.  I wrote a word problem by myself and answered it by myself.  Okay not by myself entirely but almost by myself.”

The power of the arts strikes again….. at Kenmore Middle School and Greenwood Elementary School.  For the past 3 weeks, we at Story Tapestries have had the honor of working with teachers on how to use the arts, specifically dance and story, to teach math.  At first, when we proposed the idea of teaching  fractions and graphing ordered pairs of numbers using dance, we were met with skepticism.  However, by the closing day, both the students and teachers enthusiasm was huge.  The 4th graders at Greenwood got it, they understand both at a math and a kinesthetic level how to add basic fractions.  Within one 45 minute session, they acted out a word problem, solved one, and wrote their own.

Dancing out her understanding!!

Dancing out her understanding!!

On the other hand, at Kenmore Middle School the students we were there to support have cognitive and developmental needs that requires a variety of adaptions.  YET again, the teacher at Kenmore MS stepped up to the plate.  She blew our mind away with her creative ideas and passion for helping her students grow. We taped out a “LARGE size” Graph on the floor of her classroom.  We completely rearranged the desks.  EVERY idea we had, she always said yes, never no.

Through our work, the students began to develop a stronger comprehension of positive or negative integers on a graph.  Finally, they had a full body experience learning how to graph a series of ordered pairs.  It was not an everyday lesson.  They had to write out the pairs, graph the pairs and finally dance their graph illustrating to us their understanding of the parallel arts and math objectives.  It was powerful to see students who are not always considered successful, who have difficulty remembering details, instead creating, rehearsing and finally performing a 4 phrase dance blocked on a graph.

As we sit here right now formulating this blog, it is with the knowledge that it is not, what Arianna Ross, the Executive Director, did with the information that caused it to be so impactful but again the power of the arts to take a relatively basic lesson and make it exciting, engaging and educational.  For many people, this blog may  feel out of the ordinary but the truth is that this is what we do EVERY day at Story Tapestries, we bring the arts to the community with a new power approach.

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