Sunday, December 16, 2012

Project Based Learning to Support Math Standards

Since the one job that I've ever been dismissed from - as an Intern for my credentialing through Claremont Graduate University - questioning my ability to teach math using Project Based Learning, I just took a Teacher's Toolkit course about PBL from the UCLA Extension, Education Department. I applied for the job, and was delighted to get it, because I want math to be authentic so that students can see that they really can and will use it in their daily life. I was even promised PD on PBL, but that fizzled out soon after I started around Nov 1. After discovering that the students were drastically behind in learning what they needed of standards, I figured the best to do would be to get them up-to-date before grades were to be submitted 3 weeks later, and then use the project I'd planned, and even presented to the students orally, after the winter break.

For the Toolkit course, we read lots of articles and watched videos on sites like Edutopia and BIE, which are great sources on how to organize a project, with links to ideas for projects. Since most projects seem to use math to do its calculations, often in statistics, rather than supporting math standards,  I was looking for ideas that were specifically for math. Here are a few of the links I discovered with good ideas for projects that really support math standards.
 As I read on, I decided that I'd like my final project to have something to do with the music of math, which interests me as I am also a musician, and also a physics teacher, where we touch on the production of musical tones while studying waves. I thought it would be a great way to combine various math standards in Algebra II and PreCalc with standards for waves in Physics and performance, composition and historical and ethnic instruments in Music. And there could also be some music-based readings, and the writing of song texts in ELA, and why not something about music in History as well?
Project: Building and Using Musical Instruments
Driving Question: How are musical instruments made so they can be played together harmoniously?
Concept: Students
  • Use engineering skills to create musical instruments that can be played together harmoniously
  • Use acquired knowledge of the math and physics of music.
  • Play the instruments together in a simple composition composed by class members studying music.
  • In ELA: read texts and poetry where music plays an important role, including Shakespeare, as well as song texts. Write poems that could be set to music (consider rhythm.)
  • In History: discover how music influences history or history influences music
  • Brainstorm what they know about music, math and science to find what they need to know.
  • Are grouped according to interests, particularly which other participating subjects they are studying (math, physics, music, ELA)
  • In groups will learn and use engineering principles to create a musical instrument of different types - string, wind, tuned percussion, etc. based on the knowledge of the physics and math they learn
  • Learn the necessary math and physics concepts, with activities and mini-lessons using problems specific for music.
  • Teach each other - through presentations, jigsawing or other means - the math, science and music they are not actually studying
Here are 2 major sources I found for this project:
Interestingly, I discovered this short article about creating instruments in the magazine, The Week, a few days after I submitted my proposal. It could be and interesting addition to this project for the students to find out more about the Paraguayan project in Spanish class.

1 comment:

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