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Using Abstract Art to Teach Geometric Concepts and Fractions

Posted in IBSC, Inter-disciplinary, Math, and Math & Art

It is always a pleasure to attend an International Boys School Coalition conference, and presenting a workshop makes it even more enjoyable — especially when I have the chance to work with two amazing colleagues in the art department. There were about 30 educators from around the world who attended our session, and they asked great questions and gave us fantastic feedback.

Kandinsky, Klee & Mondrian: Using Abstract Art to Teach Geometric Concepts and Fractions was a collaborative effort that evolved from a summer camp class. During that class, the boys and girls created beautiful string art, Sierpinski triangles, and colorful journals. Everyone loved the activities, so I could not wait to reach out to Elaine and Grace to see if we could work on a project together. What came out of our planning was a perfect lesson for our sixth grade!

I have works by all three artists currently hanging in my room and loved the simplicity of Piet Mondrian’s Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow. It was the perfect piece to teach area and perimeter and allowed me to differentiate based on each student’s ability with multiplying whole numbers or decimals.

Paul Klee’s Castle and Sun was a little more problematic as I needed the boys to help me create a rubric that would fit the mathematical concepts I was trying to teach: part-to-part and part-to-whole relationships as well as adding and subtracting fractions with like and unlike denominators. My initial model looked great, but I had not planned in advance and realized the fractions did “work” for the math I wanted asses them on. We had to set parameters for the types of shapes and colors we could create.

Wassily Kandinsky’s Squares with Concentric Circles was the perfect piece for us to use to help the students learn how to approximate area and leave their answers “in terms of pi.” The majority of the grade loved the “messiness” of Kandinsky’s work and appreciated that an artist did not have to create “perfect” circles.

As promised, here is the link to the slide show: IBSC_2019_MathArt_PDF

Lessons for this activity:

Abstract Art _ Math Project _ Paul Klee

Abstract Art _ Math Project _ Piet Mondrian

Abstract Art _ Math Project _ Wassily Kandinsky

And the initial activity we talked about:  Stained Glass Windows Graphing



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