Susan Bjelke is the K-6 Music Specialist at Bow Lake Elementary. She applied for an Excel Grant last fall and her opening line grabbed us all … “What? Math during Music, this is not Math class!” Susan continued:
That is what I often hear after telling my students we will be doing “Music-Math.” I always remind them that music is math. We make math connections in all grades while we count, figure out note values, find patterns, write and solve equations, and work with fractions and percentages.When we talk about fractions in music, I often draw and divide a pie on the white board. We then work to illustrate a measure (whole note = 2 half notes, one half note = 2 quarter notes …) and how it relates to the pie.
But in her final report – it seems the magnets helped a far larger audience than originally thought …
Because they are such visual learners, I began using the magnets with my DHH (deaf and heard of hearing) students. In the past, the students had been creating their own rhythms using small whiteboards and markers or with paper and pencil. .
The addition of the large colorful magnets seems to increase student engagement while I am presenting a lesson at the whiteboard. It is difficult for most students to understand the concept of a measure – “the whole.” The magnets are helping the students make musical and mathematical connections.
It is exciting to see the students fully engaged, helping one another and challenging their classmates to clap their rhythmic creation. The magnets are a great visual learning tool for this class.
Do a quick search on Google and you will find articles about how math and music are connected with, and dependent on, each other. Here’s a link to an article on eduction.com about how an ongoing music education can help children across a wide range of criteria – including overall academic performance. http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Can_Music_Help_Learn/
The Highline Schools Foundation applauds Susan (and teachers everywhere) who are finding ways (even if sneakily) to help our children improve in math. And we thank everyone who donates to the Foundation, making Excel Grants like this one possible!