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    • Welcome to our Maths & Art Panel on Cake, a forum for fascinating conversations.  (More info on Cake here)

      Welcome to all of our panelists and to everyone who’s following the conversation on Cake. Our panelists have a passion for combining art and mathematics in the same classroom and enriching the learning experience for their students.

      Panelists, please introduce yourselves and share how you came to the conclusion that teaching art and mathematics in the same classroom was not only doable but incredibly beneficial to student learning.

    • Hello Everyone, we are Laura and Jeni, founders of Art of Math Education.  We started team-teaching Art and Math together at the grade 9&10 level in Ontario. 


      The Art of Math program strives to foster imagination and creativity while also developing a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts. Art and Math curriculum is blended and taught together to create a unified learning experience.


      Students registered in the program are working towards two credits: Visual Arts and Math. 
      Partnering these two subjects together allows students to make connections and extend learning beyond what occurs in a traditional classroom setting. 


      Art creates a visual connection to math concepts. Our students often recall a math concept by first remembering the project it relates to. 


      Projects are personalized, so everyone’s approach, answers and examples are different. Students are designing their own questions to demonstrate their understanding of concepts and, for some students, this is challenging. In order to create a math question, they need to have a deeper understanding of concepts. It provides a different learning opportunity than students who are only working from a textbook. 

      We discuss the program and its benefits in more details in our TedX talk linked below:


    • Welcome to the panel, Lauren and Jeni!

      I am trying to put myself in the shoes of a teacher or administrator. One concern with combining two different courses together is that you won’t “cover all the material” required for both of them.  Another is that students won’t retain as much compared to a “drill and kill worksheet” focused classroom.

      What do you say to educators and administrators who express these concerns?

      And is it true that your students hang up their homework?

    • We teach at the secondary level, so for us to talk Art & Math in the same classroom, we had to be intentional. We opened up dialogue to learn about each other’s curriculum and combined concepts that aligned. As a result of these conversations, we can assure both administrators and educators that we are covering all necessary content.


      We have our students for two full periods which allows them extra time to process content and ask questions from either teacher. For math, students are engaged in a lesson that builds the foundation of a concept but they are revisiting the ideas again through their art projects. They need to have a deeper understanding of concepts because they are creating a product that is personalized. This allows all students to have an entry point and makes learning more memorable. 


      Students are able to adapt projects to their learning needs. Our enriched students are able to push themselves to demonstrate a deeper level of understanding as a result of the flexibility of each project. Sometimes these opportunities challenge them to go beyond curriculum expectations. Students who are reluctant learners are willing to challenge themselves because they have an idea for a project that they want to see through; even if it makes the math expectation more challenging.


      Our research also suggests that students retain information longer when working in collaboration with a hands on approach. 


      And Yes! We frame homework. We have “gallery walks” where students circle the classroom and analyze each others art of math work. Projects are personalized so they gain an understanding of different approaches to answer a question.  Students gain confidence sharing with their peers and the community in our annual art of math show.


      As educators we also know that to teach something you must really understand it. Our students share their work with their peers, but also with other stand alone math and art classes who are covering similar concepts just not combined. 

    • We often get asked for more specific examples of what learning looks like in our classroom. In some situations, we start with the art. We have students look at a piece of art and discuss the math that they see. We focus on sharing common vocabulary and concepts. Sometimes we need to provide more information for students to take the math a step further. We upload an image of an artwork into an online graphing software (we use Desmos) or provide a piece of grid paper photocopied onto acetate so students can add context to their art. We have also had students measure the dimensions of shapes in their work to discuss math in more detail.

      We have a resource book called ArtGram that is designed to take students or educators through examples of the many math applications that can be connected to this project. It outlines both math and art concepts and gives students space to answer questions, practice art techniques and create their own examples.

      Below is an example of how we might take an art project and provide context for students to discuss and analyze math:

    • I think it’s helpful to dive into the specifics, especially for math educators who are hesitant to do math, and art educators who come into this fearing math.

      Can you talk more about this lesson?

      What were the learning objectives and what were the student’s options in demonstrating mastery?

      What would enrichment or challenge look like here?

      Can a project have enrichment or challenge towards the art learning objectives while keeping the math on grade level? It seems like this could require creation of an infinite number of rubrics for educators to assess each student’s work. What does grading look like with this level of personalized learning?

    • Thank you for sharing! There are so many age appropriate connections between art and math, but it's sometimes more difficult for people to see the connections at the secondary level until they enter into intentional conversations. We are now in the third cohort of Art of Math and we see new opportunties for these subjects to partner together each time we go through it. We love platforms like this where we are able to have open conversations with like-minded educators and answer any questions they may have.

    • We have a really great starter lesson available on our website.

      For math, it covers the concepts of linear patterns using visual representations as well as tables, equations and graphs. For art, it covers the concepts of colour theory and shading with colour using pencil crayons. This lesson has been used in Grade 7 and 8 classrooms and we use a similar version with our Grade 9 class.

      We usually cover these concepts start of our unit on linear relations with painting. Students have the opportunity to demonstrate their prior knowledge while working in groups to help facilitate conversation and support from peers if needed.

      Students demonstrate mastery through their own examples. They can choose colour shading techniques and also the level of complexity of their math example. For enrichment, we have had students complete decreasing patterns before the topic is covered in class, we ask students to create non-linear patterns, or represent their pattern in a table or visual representation but skip position numbers. Some students have also done projects that include a fractional multiplier that lead to some very creative visual representations.

      In our class, students continue this unit with landscape paintings to further demonstrate their painting techniques.

    • Thank you, that gives a great overview of what learning looks like in the combined classroom.

      Creating something new and innovative often takes incredible perseverance and a willingness to not accept the first “no.” I’ve had the good fortune to moderate panels with education innovators such as Sunil Singh (@Mathgarden ), author of Math Recess: Playful Learning in an Age of Disruption, and I’ve come away with the sense that changing the traditional paradigms of education is hard. And it can often feel like a quixotic quest.

      What advice can you provide to educators who want to incorporate your program into their classroom, or who want to create and implement learning innovations of their own?

    • Start small. We started with a cross curricular project to sample what it would be like to bundle two courses together.  We worked very hard to legitimize our program and be certain the students were gaining new skills and not losing content.  

      Students with math anxiety were enjoying their work. Students who thought they weren’t artistic were able to express themselves creatively.  

      When you face challenges starting something new, it’s important to take time and reflect on the bigger picture of what motivated you to start in the first place.  It always came back to the students and parent feedback for us to feel we were making a difference. We would encourage anyone starting out to stay the path. Seek out people who will help motivate you.

      Although it was not our main focus, our students did very well on the province’s standardized testing and that helped people realize what we were doing was working. 

      We have a video of “six quick tips to getting started bundling courses”.

      We are also working on a educator’s book that will be available in 2020 about approaches and strategies to bundling courses. Our ArtGram book is a nice introductory sample project if you’re looking to blend Art and Math.

    • This is a great question! One of the first steps in outlining the projects for the bundle was to sit with our curriculum and align topics that we thought would fit together. The Ontario Math curriculum follows a bit of a different flow. In Grade 9, students learn measurement, algebra, linear functions and geometry. Typically we would teach those topics in stand alone units, but in the bundle we are able to revisit topics that relate to the project we are working on. For example, we covered volume in our first project and again in our fourth. Determine the equations of lines comes up in three of our units. This method of teaching is called “spiralling”. It has been shown to help students with retention because they have multiple opportunities to connect with the topics. We know that math in the US is taught differently at the secondary level in some States, but the same process could be used to determine art projects that align with content. Teachers at the elementary level are able to integrate even more topics into a project. Some of the projects we cover have connections to Science, Business, English or History. Teaching the bundle has been such a great exercise in delving deeper into curriculum expectations and learning what others are doing within our building.

    • Thank you for this amazing opportunity to connect with a new community! If you didn’t get a chance to watch our TEDx, it’s the best way to summarize our program and initiatives. 

      We share a lot of what we are doing through social media. The best place to find current projects and events would be through Twitter and Instagram using our handle: @ArtofMathEd. We would love to see what others are doing with their students as well! 

      We have published several classroom ready resources that are available on Amazon. ArtGram is a book for grades 7-9 combining Art and Math activities. 

      We are currently working on a new educators’ book that will be available Spring 2020. Join our mailing list on our website if you’d like to be contacted when it’s ready. 

      For an up-to-date list of classroom resources, visit our website: www.artofmathed.wixsite.com/educate

      Or email us at: artofmathed@gmail.com

      A final photo of our students showcasing a collaborative piece at Museum London in London, Ontario.