From STEM to STEAM: Brain-Compatible Strategies and Lessons That Integrate the Arts
Publication Year: 2018
Art and science both hinge on discovery, and discovery requires thinking out of the box. But how do you lead students to think creatively in STEM education? The answer is STEAM, and A is for the arts. STEAM—the integration of music, visual arts, and drama into daily STEM instruction—is proven to enhance student achievement in STEM subjects. After all, creative, real-world problem-solving is what working scientists and mathematicians actually do. But how do busy STEM educators weave arts activities into a sometimes inflexible STEM curriculum? In this new edition of From STEM to STEAM, the ground-breaking bestseller, the authors provide lessons from the field to detail the way. Authors David Sousa, expert in educational neuroscience, and Tom Pilecki, veteran arts educator, pool theircombined eighty years ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Why STEM Should Become STEAM
- Chapter 2: What Science Says About the Arts and Creativity
- Chapter 3: Bringing STEAM Into Schools
- Chapter 4: Guidelines for Creating a STEAM School
- Chapter 5: Frequently Asked Questions About Integrating the Arts and STEM
- Chapter 6: Implementing Arts Integration in the Primary Grades (K–4)
- Chapter 7: Implementing Arts Integration in the Intermediate Grades (5–8)
- Chapter 8: Implementing Arts Integration in the High School Grades (9–12)
- Chapter 9: Discoveries From the Field
- Chapter 10: Putting It All Together
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Sousa, David A., author. | Pilecki, Thomas, author.
Title: From STEM to STEAM : brain-compatible strategies and lessons that integrate the arts / David A. Sousa, Tom Pilecki.
Description: Second edition. | Thousand Oaks, Calif. : Corwin, 2018. | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2017045273 | ISBN 9781506322452 (pbk. : alk. paper)
Subjects: LCSH: Arts—Study and teaching. | Science—Study and teaching. | Interdisciplinary approach in education. | Cognitive learning.
Classification: LCC LB1591 .S68 2018 | DDC 372.5—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017045273
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
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The School of Continuing Studies, Roger Williams University: Jamie Scurry, Dean; Carolyn Dias, Director of Business Services; Adriana Dawson, Assistant Dean; Candice De Los Reyes, Associate Director.
Pawtucket, Rhode Island Superintendent Patricia DiCenso; Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Jennifer Carney; and the administrators, faculty, and students for implementing STEAM in the daily experiences of their students.
Superintendent Dan Ferris and the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, for their invaluable help in creating the STEAM Guidelines, and the administrators and faculties of its schools, in particular All Saints “STEAM” Academy, St. Thomas Regional School, and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School.
The administration and faculty of the Weiss School, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
The administration and faculty of the Greene School, West Palm Beach, Florida.
About the Authors
Here are some resources that we and STEAM teachers have found to be useful.Books
Diaz, G., & McKenna, M. B. (2017). Preparing educators for arts integration: Placing creativity at the center of learning. New York: Teachers College Press.
Donahue, D. M., & Stuart, J. (Eds.). (2010). Artful teaching: Integrating the arts for understanding across the curriculum, K–8. New York: Teachers College Press.
Johnson, D. A. (2015). Teaching outside the lines: Developing creativity in every learner. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Vartanian, O., Bristol, A. S., & Kaufman, J. C. (Eds.). (2013). Neuroscience of creativity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Film
Something Within Me (Available on Netflix)
This 1993 inspiring documentary by Emma Joan Morris is about a poor Catholic school in the South Bronx where many children were failing miserably at basic academics. The administrators of St. Augustine’s (including one of the authors of this book) tried a new approach. They revamped the curriculum to stress the arts, particularly music. As students became involved with their instruments, their test scores went up. This uplifting film won three awards at the Sundance Film Festival.[Page 214]Journals
Children’s Technology and Engineering
This quarterly journal focuses on teaching technology in elementary schools and includes articles that provide practical and creative ideas and activities for the elementary classroom teacher. It also provides updates on the progress of interdisciplinary learning programs among other similar issues.
Journal of Mathematics and the Arts
This quarterly peer-reviewed journal contains articles of interest to those who use mathematics in the creation of their art. It includes artists’ descriptions of the mathematical context of their work, ideas that mathematics and arts teachers can use for interdisciplinary lessons, and insights about art and mathematics’ different settings.
Teaching Artist Journal
This is a print and online quarterly that serves as a voice, forum, and resource for teaching artists and for all those working at the intersection of art and learning.Organizations
The Arts and Science Council
227 W. Trade Street, Suite 250
Charlotte, North Carolina 28202
This is a public agency of the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Mecklenburg County that has information about grant opportunities, public art, professional services, and cultural education. Its site also includes suggestions for integrating the arts and sciences in classroom instruction.
Association of Teaching Artists
This is a great source for teaching artist resources with good hyperlinks to other arts education and arts integration sites.Websites
Arts Edge at the Kennedy Center
This valuable resource site has numerous lessons, activities, and projects designed to integrate the arts with other curriculum areas. Lesson plans are very detailed with hyperlinks to other sites.
Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education
This is one of the leading arts integration organizations in the country. You can review lesson plans that include descriptions of how well the lesson plans worked.
[Page 215]Education Closet
This site was established by an arts integration specialist and features a collection of apps and websites devoted to STEAM activities for all grade levels.
Edutopia Resources for STEAM
This site offers resources and suggestions for implementing STEAM and for numerous STEAM-based projects and case studies at various grade levels.
Next Generation Science Standards
The final version of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) was released in April 2013. Each state decides whether to adopt the standards. This site fully explains the purpose and content of the standards and how they were developed.
PBS Learning Media
PBS offers a wealth of valuable teacher resources, including K–12 lessons in STEM and STEAM and professional development activities for teachers.
STEAM Apps and Websites
Sponsored by Education Closet, this site was established by an arts integration specialist and features a collection of apps and websites devoted to STEAM activities for all grade levels.
This site includes articles about STEAM implementation and programs as well and numerous tested lesson plans for STEAM classes.
STEAM Games, Apps, and Sites
This site is sponsored by Common Sense Education and lists games, apps, and sites devoted to STEAM activities, especially for middle school and high school students.
STEM to STEAM
This website is sponsored by the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), which promotes the STEAM initiative in order to stimulate innovation and creativity in students. It includes case studies, research reports, and links to other STEAM-related sites.
[Page 216]Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts
This nonprofit foundation launched an innovative Early Childhood STEM Learning Through the Arts initiative that builds upon its thirty-year history developing and delivering early childhood arts education programs. The foundation has partnered with the Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia and the American Institute for Research to develop, evaluate, and disseminate arts-based STEM teaching strategies for pre-K and kindergarten.
STEAM Lesson Plan Appetizers in Science, Technology, and Engineering[Page 217]
The faculty of art is to change events; the faculty of science is to foresee them. The phenomena with which we deal are controlled by art; they are predicted by science.—Henry Thomas Buckle, British historian (1821–1862)
This appendix offers some additional ideas on ways to integrate arts-related activities and skills into lessons involving science, technology, and engineering (STE). Of course, in some cases, mathematics may be needed to complete the activity. We have not included separate activities for engineering or technology because these areas are an integral part of the sample lessons. Activities focusing mainly on mathematics are found in Appendix B. You can adapt any of these suggestions for use in a wide range of grade levels.[Page 218]The Appetizers
The lesson plan appetizers that follow are meant to be the beginning of a complete lesson plan, something to make you want to dive into the “full course” of creating your own, tailor-made STEAM lesson plan. The ideas presented in these appetizers are the beginning of your creative journey. They are presented with a suggested range of grade-level appropriateness, which will change with the needs of your own class and grade level. Look back to Chapter 2, review the stages of creative thinking, and take time to prepare and especially to incubate your plan ideas. Using the suggested lesson plan formats at the ends of Chapters 4, 5, and 6 will help keep you on course. Keep the following notes in mind as you move forward:
- Benchmarks are not included in these appetizers because the exact benchmarks and codes vary from state to state. Remember that, in addition to the STEM benchmarks, you should include benchmarks for language arts, social studies, and any other curriculum area covered by your lesson plan. You also may have to follow specific lesson plan directives from your school or district. Make use of journaling as a creative writing exercise or as a way to improve your students’ grammar and punctuation.
- The arts projects suggested here are by no means the only arts that can be incorporated. Remember to use your own creativity, bring in another teacher or teaching artist, and have fun coming up with new art projects to keep students excited and engaged.
- The materials needed for your lesson can vary as much as you wish and will depend on what you have available. If you change the “seasoning” of the main course you are about to serve, because it tastes wonderful and students eat it up, you have done well in creating a successful main course, and no one except you knows of the change.
- Scheduling is often a problem, so keep in mind that the activities need not happen on consecutive days. Just be sure that if there are more than two days between each activity, you create a “connecting activity” to keep students’ memories tweaked. The connecting activity does not need to be lengthy, and it could be as short as a brief discussion before lunch or while the students are lining up for dismissal.
Test your creativity, but have fun as well.Science—Grades 1–8: Earth to Table
This long-range activity can be adapted for multiple grade levels and can be as simple or as complex as your students can handle. It involves growing a garden, and it includes some basic food preparation techniques, using simple recipes. Students can not only make these dishes at school as part of the project but can also bring them home to share with family and friends. Another creative option for this project is to have students paint twelve-inch by twelve-inch cement pavers, each in the style of a famous artist. Be sure to use exterior paint and to seal the pavers appropriately before and after painting them.
[Page 219]This is an extensive project, but schools that have done it report remarkable student engagement, no matter what grade levels are involved. It has wonderful social and personal growth outcomes that are not mentioned here. It also has many challenges associated with those desirable outcomes. This project can excite you and students to get out of the classroom, away from those grow lights, and put your hands into the earth.
Image Source: clipart.comCurriculum Objectives
- To learn that food is a basic need
- To observe how the energy from the sun transfers to growing plants
- To understand the interaction of humans and animals with plant life
- To learn how a garden can transform part of a yard and a neighborhood as well as lifestyles
In addition to the obvious science benchmarks, you may also be able to include benchmarks for physical education and social studies that might not appear in your state’s science benchmarks.Artistic Objectives
Social Emotional Objectives
- To design the planting areas using paper, pencils, and colored markers
- To create plant marker signs
- To create painted tile or cement block walkways (if appropriate)
- To work collaboratively
- To learn how to make choices as a group for the good of the overall community
- To learn how being outdoors and working in the earth can be calming and focusing
Start with a session that discusses options for healthy eating, including what is and is not good food and where food comes from. Discussions and class progress are charted on whiteboards as well as in students’ personal journals. These journals include drawings, cutouts, collages, and any other artistic formats supporting the project.
Students create an herb and vegetable garden, either in-ground or aboveground. This is where assistance from a master gardener, your local extension service, or a botanical garden is immensely helpful because there is a science to gardening. Initial planning must include collaboration with whoever manages your school’s facilities to ensure a safe location that is accessible on weekends and holidays for watering and weeding. Your school district may even be able to help you in clearing a space for an in-ground garden or securing a space for an aboveground garden.
This project involves long-term planning because a carrot does not grow in five class sessions. Clever use of time will allow you to make this a full-year project, with possible continuation over the summer months when classes are not in session. You may also want to invite parents, local retirees, and friends to assist in the project.Assessment:
This project calls for formative assessment. Depending on your local curriculum, you may also need to include standard assessment and testing. It is important to include students’ journal writings and drawings, verbal presentations and discussions, and your observations of the hands-on parts of the project as part of assessing what they know, understand, and can do.Materials:
This is by no means a complete list, for that will vary with the complexity of the project:
Multiple intelligences addressed:
- Classroom: Journals, colored pencils, crayons, and markers; rulers; glue sticks; gardening and nature magazines; textbook; video background information
- The garden: Seeds, stakes, twine, and markers for plants; topsoil, compost, and appropriate fertilizers; typical garden tools; chicken wire fencing to protect plants from intruding animals; hoses for watering. You can water a small plot (four feet by four feet) by hand with a watering can or bucket, but anything larger requires a hose with a nearby faucet. The raised and aboveground planters will require appropriate lumber (four-inch by four-inch posts, one-inch by six-inch boards), screws, power tools, and a person who understands do-it-yourself projects. All materials will depend on the final design and size of your garden. Biodegradable planters are available at many online gardening sites.
Linguistic, logical/mathematical, bodily/kinesthetic, visual/spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistBloom’s levels addressed:
Remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, creating[Page 221]Science—Grades 3–9: Learning Pitch/Frequency With a Bottle Xylophone
Many of us remember how the pitch of a sound made by tapping a glass of water changes when one changes the water level. This activity introduces music as a means of learning about pitch/frequency. You can make the activity as simple or as complex as you like, depending on the grade and interest level of your students.
Image Source: iStock.com/ilbuscaCurriculum Objectives
- To understand the concept of pitch/frequency
- To recognize the factors that can affect pitch/frequency
- To recognize how changes in pitch/frequency can produce different musical notes and chords
- To learn to play a simple song on a “xylophone” made of glass bottles
- To appreciate how the same musical tone can vary, depending on the instrument
- To work cooperatively with peers to design and make a bottle xylophone
Depending on the grade level, students can make a xylophone consisting of five to eight bottles (full octave). Many simple elementary-grade songs can be played with a five-note xylophone. The project is a bit easier for younger students if the bottles are all the same size (of course, no beer or liquor bottles permitted). It becomes more of a challenge with bottles of varying sizes. Students work as a class or in small groups and add water to one bottle as the starting note. Use a pitch pipe to verify the note’s pitch. Free pitch pipe apps are available. Metal and wooden spoons make fine mallets, and they produce different tones. Students then add water to other bottles to make a five- or eight-note xylophone. Songs such as “Oh, Susanna,” “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” and “When the Saints Go Marching In” are fairly easy for younger students to learn. More challenging songs are “Darling Clementine,” Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, and “Home on the Range.” Older students can discover other songs to play.
[Page 222]If the bottles are identical, ask students to measure and record the height of the water in each bottle. Putting a cap on the bottle will prevent the water from evaporating if you plan to keep the xylophones for more than one lesson. Students discuss the project, including what they learned about sound and how the water level affects the pitch/frequency. They can play their songs for other classes. Several groups can tune their xylophones so they can play duets. Ask the class to research what other musical instruments might work on the same principle as the glass-bottle xylophone.Materials:
Glass bottles (same or various sizes, labels removed), water, metal and wooden spoons, bottle caps, pitch pipeMultiple intelligences addressed:
Linguistic, logical/mathematical, musical, kinesthetic, visual/spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonalBloom’s levels addressed:
Remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, creatingScience—Grades 5–9: Using Mobiles to Learn About Levers
This lesson is an interesting way to show the application of levers to artistic work. In this case, it involves viewing the mobiles created by American sculptor Alexander Calder (1898–1976). Calder worked as a mechanical engineer before turning to sculpture and is considered the originator of the mobile. The activity covers several science, mathematics, and visual art standards (Ewald & Gerlman, 2010).
Image Source: clipart.comCurriculum Objectives
- To understand the parts, functions, and three types of levers
- To be able to differentiate between potential and kinetic energy
- To study and interpret some of the mobiles created by Alexander Calder
- To build and manage a simple mobile
- To understand how artists use scientific principles in creating their work
- To work collaboratively with other students to produce a work of art
Provide a review of previous information about simple machines and potential and kinetic energy. Explain the parts of a lever and the three types. Ask students to work in pairs and investigate the three types of levers and how they are used in the real world. Give some information about Alexander Calder, and project or display images of some of his mobiles. Explain to students that Calder’s mobiles were informed and inspired by his knowledge of physics, mathematical concepts, the cosmos, and astronomy. Before Calder enrolled in art school, he had received his mechanical engineering degree, a decision influenced by his fascination with construction and mechanical apparatuses and machines.
Ask students to discuss mobiles as an art form and to describe what they like or dislike about Calder’s work, and why. Ask students to research Calder’s life and work. Explain to students that Calder’s mobiles were informed and inspired by his knowledge of physics, mathematical concepts, and astronomy.
Using a ruler, string, and small paper cups, students construct a mobile, either in small groups or as a class. (Add more art to the activity by using different-colored strings and cups.) Students place small objects in the cups to balance the mobile’s arms. When finished, they discuss how they solved the problem of finding proper balance and what they noticed about changing the length of the strings supporting the cups, altering the weight loads, and changing the position of the fulcrum.Assessment:
Formative assessment as the project progresses and a summative test of your choice when it is completedMaterials:
Rulers, string, small paper cups, small objects for balancing armsMultiple intelligences addressed:
Visual/spatial, kinesthetic, logical/mathematical, interpersonal, intrapersonalBloom’s levels addressed:
Remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, creating
(Note: This lesson is adapted from Ewald & Gerlman . ARTSEDGE and The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Adapted with permission.)Science—Grades 6–12: “Born This Way”
Middle school and high school students are very familiar with this hit song. It will certainly be novel to introduce it into your unit on DNA. The lyrics get the message across about the extent to which DNA makes us who we are.
Image Source: clipart.com[Page 224]Curriculum Objectives
- To experience the process of scientific inquiry and understand that it is a multifaceted activity
- To understand that scientific knowledge is durable and robust but open to change
- To further understand the process of DNA replication, cell theory, and how life is maintained by various physiological functions essential for growth and reproduction
- To experiment with, and compare and perform, a variety of vocal styles and ensembles
- To evaluate and make appropriate adjustments to personal performance
- To evaluate one’s own or another’s compositions or improvisations and generate improvements individually or collaboratively
- To collaborate with a team to outline several possibilities for the design of a performance
- To analyze movement from varying perspectives and to experiment with a variety of creative solutions to solve technical or choreographic challenges
- To become confident in making choices that affect their “image” while learning to accept the personality differences and talents of others
- To work on production challenges together that will necessitate the blending of all talents for success
Students learn or review the concept of DNA: what it is, how it works, and why it is important in making us who we are. This can be done with lecture, textbook, video, or all of the above. The class listens to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” with the lyrics printed on handouts. The project is to replace the original lyrics with lyrics describing facets and facts about DNA and to stage the final production using a karaoke track with movement and costume pieces. There are several ways to do this: (1) Divide the class into groups of four to six students and have each group write, create, and perform the number. (2) Organize creative teams with one working on lyrics, one on movement, one on design, and one on performing the number.[Page 225]Assessment:
Students take notes on their research and record in their journals what they are doing artistically and what connection that choice has regarding the content area. If possible, the final production could be filmed and shown to other classes. A written test could also be used.Materials:
Recording of “Born This Way” and appropriate audio equipment, a karaoke version (without lyrics, just accompaniment) of “Born This Way,” costume pieces and props materialsMultiple intelligences addressed:
Visual/spatial, kinesthetic, logical/mathematical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalist, musicalBloom’s levels addressed:
Remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, creatingScience—Grades 9–12: “The Case of the Origins of Life”: Sherlock Holmes’s “Bigger Than Life” Case!
Many students have seen the recent Sherlock Holmes films that are filled with intrigue, clever situations, and comedy. Latch on to this and use the format to your advantage as a means to investigate the somewhat sensitive topic of the origins of life on Earth.
Image Source: clipart.comCurriculum Objective
- To describe the scientific explanations of the origin of life on Earth
- To create, refine, and sustain complex and believable characters for performance through the integration and application of artistic choices based on research
- To use personal reflection to bring deeper understanding of the scientific knowledge regarding the origins of life, as well as a respect for the beliefs of others on the subject
After a brief class presentation of the basic content dealing with the origins of life (textbook and other materials particular to your situation), ask students to create a play or film with a Sherlock Holmes theme. This is where partnering with a fellow teacher in drama and/or film production is very useful. The idea is that Holmes and Watson have a client who comes to them with a mystery to solve: “What is the origin of life on Earth?” The entire class begins to brainstorm ideas that will add intrigue to the story line, such as having only twenty-four hours to solve the case or something dismal or amazing will occur. (Students are rarely at a loss for such phenomenal ideas.) They analyze the information contained in their texts, and the class divides into smaller groups, each taking a strand of information and beginning to create a story line around it. This investigation, of course, can go in many directions, but they all must arrive at the same solution to the case with this famous line: “Elementary, my dear Watson.” Depending on class interest, group sizes, and time available, this project can be structured in many variations from very simple readings of the script or story lines to costumed performances or short videos.Assessment:
Continual review of student writings and discussions will afford you the information to know how to coach students in the proper direction. Completed projects (e.g., scripts, plays, videos) will indicate understanding of the concepts. Written tests, assessments, portfolios, and journaling are also appropriate.Materials:
Basic background information from text or online, whatever is appropriate to your situation. Copies of Sherlock Holmes films (you can use the recent ones with Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock or the 1990s films starring Jeremy Brett) with the homework assignment that students get together at their homes to view the films in small groups; computers, laptops, and other devices for writing the scripts; costumes, video cameras, editing equipment, and whatever else is needed for your particular version of this project.Multiple intelligences addressed:
Linguistic, logical/mathematical, musical, bodily/kinesthetic, visual/spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistBloom’s levels addressed:
Remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, creatingScience—Grades 9–12: Earth Structures Described Through Mime and Theater
Discussing the large forces that cause tectonic movements as well as their structures and forces is often not a very exciting unit because of the obvious limits on student engagement. This motivating activity is a novel way to introduce this topic because it gets students involved by practicing mime. It takes a little extra planning, but teachers who have done this activity report superb student participation and achievement of the learning objectives. Should your students really get into this activity, you can make it more theatrical by using layers of stretched ten-foot fabric pieces to create bands indicating the layers of the Earth. This makes it fun, and maybe instead of saying “Oh, maybe you are going too far,” you may be saying “You haven’t gone far enough.”[Page 227]
Image Source: iStock.com/bortoniaCurriculum Objectives
- To understand that the scientific theory of plate tectonics provides a framework for much of modern geology
- To recognize that internal and external sources of energy have continuously altered the features of Earth by means of both constructive and destructive forces
- To understand that all life, including human civilization, is dependent on Earth’s internal and external energy and material resources
- To understand the art of mime and physical theater by studying videos of famous performers such as Marcel Marceau, Charlie Chaplin, and Buster Keaton
- To create simple props and costumes to assist in the telling of the story
- To learn the history and techniques of theatrical makeup for use in mime
- To experience the process of telling a story without the use of one’s voice
- To experience both interviewing and being interviewed on camera
- To develop a deeper interpersonal understanding by looking at emotions from a different point of view and using these emotions in making a point nonverbally
- To be comfortable in using one’s entire body in telling a story (not being afraid to look “different” or “funny”)
Present the science content material using lecture, textbooks, and video. The class views portions of films that contain mime and discusses how it is done, how they as an [Page 228][audience might have varying interpretations of the action on the screen, and the differences between a comedic (Chaplin) and a more serious (Marceau) performance. Ask students to take notes about costuming, props, and makeup for use in their own performances. If you have a mime artist in the area, now would be a good time to call that person for assistance.
The creation of mime takes a bit of coaching by the teacher. Here is where you take advantage of the “actors” in your class and ask for their help. The class is divided into groups of no more than five, and each group is assigned a topic to describe in mime, such as the different layers of the earth, the results of moving plates, geologic developments in your area of the country, and the effects of energy production and potential consequences for the earth’s structure. This will take a few classes, and it would be wise to discuss the stages of creative thinking found in Chapter 2 with your class. You want them to learn to incubate their ideas and change their minds many times until the illumination of the “aha” moment happens. The members of each group share their creative ideas and engage in constructive criticism to hone their ability to observe dramatic movement. The final production is the presentation of describing physical interpretations of Earth’s structures and forces through mime. You may wish to video-record these presentations and put them on DVDs as souvenirs of the project.Assessment:
Consider asking a student in your class who is into video production to conduct interviews of each group with a set of questions you create that center on the learning objectives. This is done as an “on the street” interview format. If students can discuss and correctly answer the questions, the mime strategy was a success. You may need to use a written test or other format as well.Materials:
Simple costume pieces, simple props created from available art materials and found objects, video camera, DVDs for recording mime performancesMultiple intelligences addressed:
Linguistic, logical/mathematical, musical, bodily/kinesthetic, visual/spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistBloom’s levels addressed:
Remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, creating
STEAM Lesson Plan Appetizers in Mathematics[Page 229]
Math is about patterns, and patterns are what life is all about.—Keith Devlin (2000), The Math Gene
Secondary school students often say they have a difficult time with mathematics because they fail to see how mathematics relates to their real world. It doesn’t even occur to them that all the electronic gadgets they use could never have been made without the mathematics included in their design and operation. Nature itself is incredibly mathematical. Just look at the symmetrical patterns that exist in our natural environment. For example, patterns exist in the markings of animals such as zebras and leopards, in snowflakes, and in the distinctive songs of birds. Spiders construct geometric webs of various patterns and bees build hexagonal cells in their honeycombs. The Fibonacci spiral is a pattern evident in pinecones, pineapples, and snail shells.
Integrating arts-related skills and activities into mathematics lessons, therefore, gives teachers the opportunity to show the applications of mathematics to nature and to many human endeavors, such as the arts. For example, music can be considered the artistic expression of mathematics. Timing, rhythm, frequency, and harmony all depend on mathematical relationships. This appendix includes appetizers to integrate arts-related activities and skills into mathematics lessons. You can adapt any of these suggestions for use in a wide range of grade levels.[Page 230]The Appetizers
The lesson plan appetizers in mathematics that follow are meant to be the beginning of a complete lesson plan, something to make you want to dive into while creating your own, tailor-made arts-integrated lesson plan. The ideas presented in these appetizers are the beginning of your creative journey. They are presented with a suggested range of grade-level appropriateness, which will change with the needs of your own class and grade level. Look back to Chapter 2, review the stages of creative thinking, and take time to prepare and especially to incubate your plan ideas. Using the suggested lesson plan formats at the ends of Chapters 4, 5, and 6 will help keep you on course. Here are some points to keep in mind.
Benchmarks are not included in these appetizers because the exact benchmarks and codes vary from state to state. Remember that, in addition to the STEM benchmarks, you should include benchmarks for language arts, social studies, and any other curriculum area covered by your lesson plan. You also may have to follow specific lesson plan directives from your school or district. Make use of journaling as a creative writing exercise or as a way to improve your students’ grammar and punctuation.
The arts projects suggested here are by no means the only arts that can be incorporated. Remember to use your own creativity, bring in another teacher or teaching artist, and have fun coming up with new art projects to keep students excited and engaged.
The materials needed for your lesson can vary as much as you wish and will depend on what you have available. If you change the “seasoning” of the main course you are about to serve—because it tastes wonderful and the students eat it up—you have done well in creating a successful main course, and no one except you knows of the change.
Image Source: clipart.com
Scheduling is often a problem, so keep in mind that the activities need not happen on consecutive days. Just be sure that if there are more than two days between each activity, you create a “connecting activity” to keep students’ memories tweaked. The connecting activity does not need to be lengthy, and it could be as short as a brief discussion before lunch or while the students are lining up for dismissal.
Test your creativity, but have fun as well.Mathematics—Grades 3–12: Using Drama in Mathematics Lessons
Drama involves creative movement and role-playing and can turn an otherwise plain lesson into a motivating and productive learning experience. David Kener (2012), a former drama teacher, suggests how teachers in all subject areas can use drama to enliven their lessons. Here are a few of his strategies that we have adapted so they would be appropriate for mathematics lessons. You can alter these as needed for different grade levels and student interest.[Page 231]Curriculum Objectives
- To use movement and drama activities to review and learn about various concepts and people in mathematics
- To develop observation and questioning skills
- To enhance student creativity through challenging and interesting activities
- To understand how drama activities can enhance the study of concepts in mathematics
- To recognize how purposeful movement can improve learning and retention of concepts in mathematics
- To recognize how collaboration with others can improve progress toward a learning goal
- To understand how using drama activities involving emotion can raise interest and enhance learning
Kener suggests several types of activities to introduce drama into lessons.
- Spectrogram. This is a movement exercise that samples students’ knowledge or opinions about a certain topic. It is an excellent way to check how much students learned and retained from a previous lesson. The teacher informs students that the room is divided into three sections identified as “yes,” “no,” and “not sure” and points to them. As the teacher asks a question, students move to the section of the classroom that reflects their depth of understanding of the answer. The questions should move from simple to more complex. Students move to their sections in silence and discussion is done later. The final question can be the (1) most difficult, (2) most provocative, or (3) one that gets closest to the ultimate learning objectives you would like them to master. For example, a final question in a series of questions on the Fibonacci spiral could be “Who knows where we can find examples of the Fibonacci spiral in nature?” or “Who has a unique application of the Fibonacci spiral?”
Once students move to answer this final question, there will be two or three distinct groups who share the same opinion. Ask the students in each group to discuss their points of view and select a representative to summarize their discussion. For older students, you could ask them to play the role of a character. In this example, it might be a political figure, a scientist, or other stakeholder. You could also suggest that students switch roles at least once during the exercise in order to understand a different perspective—one of the major goals of role-playing.[Page 232]
- Tableau. In this activity, the teacher gives each group of students either a mathematics concept they have already studied or a new concept that has not yet been covered in class. The teacher can give the same concept to all groups or a different concept to each group. Each group works collaboratively to decide how to best represent the concept as a tableau. They must focus on representing the concept while also paying attention to their poses, facial expressions, and gestures. The tableau does not have to be static or silent, so movement and dialogue are permitted. Sound effects and music are also allowed.
After the groups have had some research and rehearsal time, each group presents its scene to the class. Later, students discuss what concept they believe the tableau represented. Students in the tableau share their research with the class and explain what choices they made when deciding how to present the tableau. As an added feature, one student could play the role of a reporter and interview members of the tableau. The teacher and class could also decide to video-record each tableau.
Possible mathematics topics for the tableau are the following:
- Development of the Fibonacci spiral
- Designing and building the pyramids in Egypt
- Story of a discovery or invention that required mathematics
- Hot-seating. This role-playing activity is useful when discussing the life and contributions of a famous mathematician. Think of it as an interview on a current national talk show. A student assumes the role of a famous individual and sits in front of a group or the entire class. Students ask questions about the character’s background, motivation, and work. In some instances, more than one character can be in the hot seat. When in the hot seat, students must answer the questions in character, using what they have learned about the famous individual. This activity lends a human element to mathematics by helping students realize that discoveries and advances in mathematics are made by real people.
Use formative assessments throughout the project. When completed, students should be able to discuss what they learned from the drama activities.Materials:
Will vary with the tableaus students chooseMultiple intelligences addressed:
Visual/spatial, kinesthetic, logical/mathematical, interpersonal, intrapersonalBloom’s levels addressed:
Remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, creating[Page 233]Mathematics—Grades 9–12: Using Fibonacci to Make Memorable Music
This activity offers the opportunity for collaboration between a mathematics teacher and a music teacher. It can cover several lessons and is popular with high school students because it is a hands-on and creative application of mathematical concepts to something they all love: music. Students study how to use the Fibonacci sequence to understand mathematical concepts of patterns, recursion, phi, and the golden ratio as they apply to music. You can encourage creativity by having students do choral singing and compose an original piece of music on paper and on the keyboard. Not all students will be confident about their abilities to compose or read music, but some practice with their music-trained peers will help.
Image Source: iStock.com/olgayakovenkoCurriculum Objectives
- To study new mathematical work being done today for practical applications of the Fibonacci sequence and to share the findings with the class
- To learn, understand, or review the mathematical concepts of pattern, recursion, phi, and the golden ratio
- To compare and contrast two pieces of music—one of which uses the Fibonacci sequence
- To develop a set of rules for writing music using the Fibonacci sequence
- To use the Fibonacci sequence to play or compose music on a musical instrument, such as a xylophone or keyboard
- To identify the characteristics of music written with the Fibonacci sequence from an artistic point of view
- To sing a simple tune that uses the Fibonacci sequence
- To collaborate with others to create a musical piece
- To practice communicating research findings and musical compositions to others
Review some history of the Fibonacci sequence and the golden ratio. Give students a partially filled-in Fibonacci sequence chart and give them a set amount of time to complete it in small groups. Play the following short video to the class that shows the Fibonacci sequence in music: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbEarwdusc. Ask the class to pay particular attention to the repeating musical phrases as they watch the numbers on the keyboard. Ask the groups to do research on the sequence, on phi, and on recursion. The Fibonacci Quarterly is an online publication that could provide good information. Students should report their findings to the whole class.
Project a piano keyboard on a screen and ask questions to find out what they know about octaves, number of black keys and white keys in an octave, and the pentatonic and chromatic scales. Before they write their own music, play a selection from Chopin’s Prelude No. 1 in C-Major, which contains Fibonacci sequence and golden ratio patterns. Ask the class to develop a set of rules for writing music using the Fibonacci sequence. (For example, they could say this: Begin with the numbers 3, 5, 8, and 13; use the thirteen notes of the chromatic scale over eight measures; and repeat a pattern of three beats plus five beats in each measure. For the golden ratio, they repeat a pattern of eight notes going up and five notes going down.) They should experiment and listen to how the music sounds.
Distribute blank staff paper to students and ask them to compose and arrange an original musical phrase using what they have learned about the Fibonacci sequence of numbers, recursion, pattern, phi, or the golden ratio. Students can work individually or in teams, but you may wish to pair students who do not know much about music with a partner who does. After writing their piece, they should experiment with it on a keyboard or xylophone, revising as needed to create an appealing sound. Students who finish early may wish to write a harmony (usually written in thirds) for their piece. Ask students to explain the mathematical theory behind their music and then play it for the class. They should also discuss the characteristics of their piece from an artistic perspective. You can also encourage students to sing their melodies—either alone or in a group.
You can extend this unit by suggesting that students continue to observe their surroundings for evidence of the Fibonacci sequence and to share their findings with the class. Some students may wish to write poetry using the mathematical concepts of pattern, recursion, and golden ratio, just as they did with music. They could also set their poem to music.Assessment:
You can use formative assessments along the way to check on student progress. If appropriate, ask students to evaluate their own melody. A summative assessment on the mathematical concepts learned can follow.Materials:
Music paper, simple piano sheet music, examples of musical phrases, keyboards and/or xylophones[Page 235]Multiple intelligences addressed:
Visual/spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, logical/mathematical, interpersonal, intrapersonalBloom’s levels addressed:
Remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, creating
(Note: This lesson is adapted from Reilly . ARTSEDGE and The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Adapted with permission.)Mathematics—Grades 9–10: A Geometry Field Hunt
This activity helps to show the applications of mathematics (in this case, geometry) to the real world and how it can be used in artistic projects. You can make this as simple or as complex as you wish, including having a contest to see which student identifies the greatest number of different geometric shapes outside the school.
Image Source: clipart.comCurriculum Objectives
- To be able to identify and name different geometric shapes
- To photograph objects outside of school that contain a recognizable geometric shape
- To recognize how geometry contributes to the creation of artistic works
- To share photos and discuss the application of geometry with other students
Review geometric terms with the class, such as a circle, cylinder, sphere, pyramid, prism, cone, arc, the three types of triangles, and various polygons. Each student uses a digital camera to take pictures of geometry in the real world. For example, a traffic pylon could be a cone and a stop sign an octagon. Buildings often have numerous geometric shapes in their structures. The goal is to collect as many different [Page 236]geometric shapes in the allotted time. When finished, students load their photos into a computer and explain how each of their photos represents a specific geometric shape. One alternative to this approach would be to pick a theme either for the whole class or according to each student’s interest. For example, they could look for geometry in sports, architecture, nature, or artwork.Assessment:
Use formative assessments as the project progresses and a summative one to determine if students have remembered the various geometric shapes.Materials:
List of geometric terms, digital camera (preferably one for each student)Multiple intelligences addressed:
Visual/spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, logical/mathematical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistBloom’s levels addressed:
Remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, creating
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