"I try to combine a lot of projects across subject areas. For example, we might be learning about geometric figures, and we'll look at paintings. It's an interesting approach to say, ‘Here's a painting. What figures do you see? Why do you think the artist used these shapes, or these colors?' Rather than just saying, 'Here's a circle. Here's a square.' And it really helps tie things together when they see a painting in my class that they've seen in the art curriculum." These connections don't happen by chance, of course. Julie talks frequently with the art teacher to make sure these "coincidences" happen for their students. In fact, communication is central to curricular connections for Julie and for her colleagues at Phil-Mont. "The social studies teacher does a lot with images from the Middle Ages. In math class the students practice graphing linear equations in an activity that creates an image much like a stained glass window, while in the social studies teacher approaches stained glass windows in an historic way. In geometry, they create their own Kandinsky-like projects after looking at the geometric shapes in his work. Some of these are really good! Beautiful! Afterwards, when I post them in the hall, people are always looking and picking their favorites." "Another seventh-grade project teaches students to enlarge or reduce images using multiplication or division by using the method commonly called a Dürer grid. Then we'll take a look at the art of Roy Lichtenstein, and I'll ask my students to select a scene from a comic, set it on a grid, and decide how to enlarge the image. Their results are a lot more fun to display on the bulletin board than a bunch of test scores!" "In my class I also use the work of Chris Jordan, a visual artist who creates images with a strong social message. He states that his 'idea with the Running the Numbers series is to . . . give the statistic in a different way that allows the viewer to experience the number more directly with their hearts.' Rates are all around us in our daily lives, yet students often fail to make connections between the formulas they learn in school and the world in which they live. By combining a math lesson with Jordan's visual art, we use the rate-model for multiplication to explore the social issues demonstrated in his images. For example, when you first view Jordan’s Cans Seurat (2007), it appears to be a copy of Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, 1884. But as you digitally zoom in on the image it becomes clear that it is not constructed from small dots of paint but from cans of soda. The students are asked why they think the artist would choose to recreate this famous painting out of used soda cans. This gives us the opportunity to discuss as a class the impact that trash has on the environment. My goal is to provide connections that apply to a diverse group of students, to encourage collaboration and discussion, and to empower students with the knowledge that they are capable of pursuing social justice in their everyday lives." "At the end of the unit, students research a social justice issue that interests them and find a meaningful rate that illustrates a perceived wrong or injustice. My eighth-grade algebra class chose a wide variety of causes to research. One student researched the number of people that become homeless per year, another chose to investigate the rate of deforestation of rain forests, and someone else calculated the number of people that die from cancer every year. They converted this rate from the initial per year unit into per second, per hour, per week, and per month unit rates." "Students also use their knowledge of rates to compare the salary of someone making minimum wage to the salary of a celebrity of their choice. They are asked to imagine they have a job that pays minimum wage and a family to provide for. The students calculate how much they make per second, per minute, per week, and per year if they work full-time, which is typically forty hours a week. Next, students choose a celebrity that they admire and find out how much they make in a year. They use standard conversion rates, such as one day is equal to twenty-four hours, to calculate how much the celebrity makes per second, per minute, per hour, per week, and per month."
For more information, please contact Education: School & Teacher Programs by phone at (215) 684-7580, by fax at (215) 236-4063, or by e-mail at .