Exploratory Classes Collaborate with Math

“3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36, 39!” yelled Jefferson Middle School fifth graders. Students counted by 3s while doing jumping jack warm-ups along with physical education teachers Nancy Feenstra, Paul Mammoser and Franni Carlson. As part of the teachers’ bi-weekly meetings with fifth and sixth grade math teachers, Jefferson physical education classes are incorporating more math into their everyday studies.

“Math, by nature, fits with physical education,” said the teachers. “As part of professional learning communities, we not only wanted to meet as a physical education group but also incorporate core subjects more into our curriculum. We believe in interdisciplinary teaching. The more students hear the vocabulary and see it incorporated into other subjects, the better they will remember and learn the information. It also helps for students to see that we as physical education teachers understand, and see the value, of what they are doing in their other classes as well as its real-life ramifications.”

The teachers use fitness testing by having students look at all the heights and weight in a class to figure out the mean, median and mode for the class. They use vocabulary words such as product, sum and quotient when playing games like football and plan to use graph work when they complete fitness testing to read and explain their results. Quizzes at the end of each physical education unit will incorporate word problems that mimic the New York State math test. The Jefferson physical education team is just one exploratory subject at Jefferson who is working with core teachers.

“Students who receive constant reinforcement of math vocabulary throughout their day see value in what occurs in the mathematics classroom,” said Jefferson sixth grade math teacher Gina Hess. “The reinforcement in exploratory areas demonstrates that students will confront math concepts everywhere in their daily lives. I have seen confidence developing more quickly because students feel more comfortable taking risks in the math classroom. They are more confident with their vocabulary and concept knowledge. This is all due to the concept reinforcing that is occurring across curriculum areas.”

Art teacher Lisa Corey incorporates math by studying organic and geometric shapes and discuss how they are different from forms, learning proportions and ratios of sizes drawing in still life and portraits, showing volume by shading using different values, creating symmetrical and radial design projects and measuring when creating borders for presentation and mounting.

“The professional learning communities experience helps me make art relate to the other subjects on daily basis such as making the connection to the lines on the pumpkin we are drawing to the longitude lines on a globe,” said Mrs. Corey. “Art in itself really ties in to all of the core classes naturally due to the many topics that we cover. I am teaching that art is a valuable part of their entire learning environment and that it doesn’t stop when they leave my room.”

Family & Consumer Science teacher JC Andrews uses math with her fifth and sixth graders. They use play money, paychecks and a budget to navigate through a created “economy” demonstrating their math knowledge with money.

“My students have the opportunity to transfer their math knowledge to everyday math practice, whether it is measurement in the kitchen using recipes, or cutting out fabric for a sewing project,” said Mrs. Andrews.

Technology teacher Ted Hoca often incorporates math by using the Inventor 11 computer-drafting program in his classroom. He talks about using the program to illustrate geometric shapes, and angles and discuss how to find the area of a rectangle.


posted on 11/14/2011 - filed under: Academics, Spotlight