*exactly*is happening in Math in Your Feet. It's actually been quite difficult for me to explain because, in the end, the total experience is more than the sum of it's parts. Think about it -- this program brings together two subjects which communicate, in their own mystifying language, about space, time, and movement. Teachers who have been through it once often advise first time teachers that they'll "understand it after they're done," which is not ideal. Luckily, I'm meeting with some teachers tomorrow to plan for an upcoming residency. While preparing for the meeting I took the opportunity to update my thinking about what is really going on while a bunch of kids jump around in small boxes taped on the floor. Here's what I came up with:

**Specific Learning Areas in Math in Your Feet (Upper Elementary)**

INTEGRATION

Both the dance and the math content are focused on equally; finding connections between the two creates a stronger understanding of both content areas.

Both the dance and the math content are focused on equally; finding connections between the two creates a stronger understanding of both content areas.

KINESTHETIC LEARNING

Engaging the vestibular system through intentional cross lateral and patterned movements improve learning. Math concepts are experienced first through the body. Words are connected to the movements and then used in reflection journal entries, word studies, and in the process of recording patterns on the page. This everyday language is then converted to a more abstract symbolic language in the mapping activities.

Engaging the vestibular system through intentional cross lateral and patterned movements improve learning. Math concepts are experienced first through the body. Words are connected to the movements and then used in reflection journal entries, word studies, and in the process of recording patterns on the page. This everyday language is then converted to a more abstract symbolic language in the mapping activities.

REFINE/STRENGTHEN/REMEDIATE UNDERSTANDING OF SPATIAL RELATIONSHIPS

Firm grounding in spatial relationships (best learned through the body) is vital to a strong understanding of math concepts.

Firm grounding in spatial relationships (best learned through the body) is vital to a strong understanding of math concepts.

INTENSIVE STUDY OF PATTERNS

Higher order thinking and problem solving skills are strengthened during the process of creating, manipulating, combining, observing, transforming and analyzing foot-based dance patterns.

Higher order thinking and problem solving skills are strengthened during the process of creating, manipulating, combining, observing, transforming and analyzing foot-based dance patterns.

MATH VOCABULARY LEARNED IN CONTEXT

Teachers consistently report that their students use new math terminology and vocabulary appropriately and with ease in conversations about their work in the program.

Teachers consistently report that their students use new math terminology and vocabulary appropriately and with ease in conversations about their work in the program.

CONCRETE GRADE-LEVEL MATH TOPICS

This program is not about numbers, formulas, or procedures, but there are discrete math topics learned within the experience. Angles, degrees of turns, directions, basic fractions, symmetries, reflections and rotations are all covered in the dance class. Extension activities in the Student Workbook also touch on combinations, tangrams, lines of symmetry, lines of reflection, scale drawings, and perimeter and area.

This program is not about numbers, formulas, or procedures, but there are discrete math topics learned within the experience. Angles, degrees of turns, directions, basic fractions, symmetries, reflections and rotations are all covered in the dance class. Extension activities in the Student Workbook also touch on combinations, tangrams, lines of symmetry, lines of reflection, scale drawings, and perimeter and area.

IMPROVED ATTITUDES TOWARDS PROBLEM SOLVING AND MATH

At the center of the students’ experience is their role as creator, using just the elements of percussive dance and a few guidelines. There is nothing quite so empowering as being able to create something by yourself out of (almost) nothing.

At the center of the students’ experience is their role as creator, using just the elements of percussive dance and a few guidelines. There is nothing quite so empowering as being able to create something by yourself out of (almost) nothing.

What do you think? Does this answer any questions you may have had about the how's and why's of this program?

Malke, can you give me an example of a problem students solve in this workshop?

ReplyDeleteHi Sue,

ReplyDeleteProblem Solving in Math in Your Feet is addressed by presenting a 'problem' (sometimes I call it a 'challenge') to the children that we will be making up our own percussive dance patterns. There are a series of steps we need to take to find our 'solution' starting with understanding what tools we have to 'solve' the problem, and what other steps we will need to take to come to a solution.

Whether in math or dance, problems are solved using similar 'habits of mind' and usually take multiple, reasoned steps to complete. In this case, though they all engage in the same process, every child will have their own unique answer to this choreographic challenge. (And learn all sorts of math along the way!)

In an article to be published in the Teaching Artist Journal in April 2011 I go into more detail about how this works. I'll be sure to post it on my blog and on-line when I get the pdf!

All the best,

Malke