Please respond to the prompts below with your partner. You can upload images, videos and weblinks to enhance your responses to the prompts.
1. How did you and your teaching partner decide to do this project? (Please describe the context of your project, this can include influence from previous projects, context of your school, community, etc.):
We had worked together the two previous years in the SCALE program. In SCALE our projects tended to lean more towards Marc’s experience and our proposal with A/R Partners skewed more heavily toward Katy’s teaching and content. The idea of introducing more creativity in an Algebra II course was appealing and being in a classroom rather than an after school program helped Marc gain a better understanding of how a high school class is structured and what can happen in that space and framework.
2. Big Idea:
Our big idea was how we could have student s integrate culturally relevant and personally meaningful topics into the Algebra 2 curriculum. Math problems can be quite dry and we wanted students to have some creative liberty in order to personalize their learning. The current Algebra 2 textbook includes many word problems, but none of them are naturally interesting to students. As such, we wanted to challenge the students by having them relate the seemingly unrelated mathematical concepts to their own lives.
How can we make Algebra 2 curriculum culturally relevant and personally meaningful?
4. Grade Level:
Mostly sophomores, a few freshman.
5. Academic Subject(s):
Algebra 2 Honors
6. Artistic Discipline(s):
Drawing, graphic design, creative writing, poster design, publishing
7. How many years have you worked together as partners?:
3 years total.
8. Please describe your project:
Our project had students create their own word problems and corresponding diagrams during the Trigonometry unit. This means that students created realistic sentences with realistic measurements that corresponded to a triangle. Students created problems that had the viewer either solve for a missing side or a missing angle of a triangle. Students were given examples, but were responsible for creating 5 of their own problems and diagrams, as well as solving them correctly. Although students could create problems about any topic, we encouraged them to think about things they were interested in and things they care about. Students had to integrate the mathematical concepts correctly into their personalized situations.
9. What were you hoping the students would learn during this project?:
We were hoping students would learn that art and mathematics can be easily integrated. Personal interest is not separate from curriculum. Although it might be challenging to find personal connections in a seemingly dry subject, there are always ways to think outside the box and find meaning. We wanted students to see that there are always unconventional ways of looking at the seemingly boring topics, especially when it comes to arts integration.
10. What surprised you during this project?:
Something that surprised us during this project was the student understanding of scale. Students struggled with realistic measurements. They had to use resources such as the internet in order to look up real measurements, such as the height of the Eiffel Tower or the height of a giraffe. Without these reference numbers, students would cite distances such as a person being 5 feet away from a taco restaurant. It was surprising to the students to discover the real lengths and distances. Students were excited to research these numbers, such as the distance between home plate and second base.
11. What worked in this project and why?:
The students learned a lot about how to best represent a word problem visually – something that can be difficult even if the language in the problem is clear. Some students worked collaboratively – helping each other with the drawings or math, depending on each other’s skill sets. The results were perhaps the best when students had a subject or idea that they were passionate about (such as a favorite band or comic book character) and they made that the focus of their problem. These posters had tons of personality and probably made the strongest connections with viewers.
12. What didn’t work and why?:
Unfortunately, with the stress of timing and curriculum to cover, more concentrated time could have been spent on our project. Marc came into the classroom once or twice a week, but it would have been much more beneficial if students worked on this project for two or three weeks in one chunk. Due to constraints of covering certain curriculum in a certain time frame, this was not possible. If there were no constraints on what needed to be taught, the project could have also delved deeper into the artistic side of the project, including research of other math art examples.
13. What was your approach to assessment for this project?:
Some of the projects had great math but visually dull artwork. Other projects had great art, but not so great writing, and not so great math. Some students made posters that were very similar in content/ideas to posters made by other students. Finally, some posters were successful in all of these categories. We tried to include as many students in the final presentation as possible (within the limitation that we didn’t have a budget to print a poster by every student) and we tried to pick the posters that were the most interesting and successful in as many of these categories as possible.
14. How did you share your student’s learning process with others? Who did you share it with?:
We shared our student’s learning process via word of mouth with other teachers and artists. We planned on sharing the final products with other Algebra 2 teachers in North-Grand and elsewhere, but we also ended up having conversations with others throughout the process. This was beneficial because other teachers were inspired to create similar types of projects in their own classes.
15. Did sharing your students’ learning occur according to your plan for social engagement in your proposal? Why or why not? Please explain.
Yes, sharing the student learning occurred according to our plan. We were able to share the final products in the Convergence exhibit. Katy was able to share the problems with the other Algebra 2 teachers at North-Grand. Unfortunately, Algebra 2 will not be offered next year at North-Grand, so the problems and project will hopefully be used later in the future.
16. How are you as teachers, artists and students social engagers through this work?:
We were all social engagers through this work because we were able to ask ourselves: how can we make school curriculum personally meaningful? Students were able to push boundaries and challenge their preconceived notions about what school involves. We were all engaged in a conversation about how school projects can be structured so that they are more meaningful and holistic for student learning. Personalizing student learning is crucial for student retention of topics, as well as overall development as a learner and future member of society.
17. Did sharing your project with others influence how you will approach future projects?:
Yes! We would like to share even beyond the walls of the school or the Convergence gallery. Perhaps a blog where we share the products so that other teachers from around the world can use the resources.
18. Standards Addressed: (Common Core, Next Generation Science, National Core Arts):
Use trigonometric ratios and the Pythagorean Theorem to solve right triangles in applied problems.
Understand and apply the Law of Sines and the Law of Cosines to find unknown measurements in right and non-right triangles (e.g., surveying problems, resultant forces).