Thesis Update: Visual Arts in Math Education

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Hello everyone! My name is Daiana and I am currently working on my thesis this semester! I am a graduate student in the Art Education program and am working towards my professional degree. In my spare time, I like to sketch (I love anime/manga, can you tell?!), cooking up new recipes (abve you see my lovely rosemary lemon chicken and rice), and spending time with friends and family. Currently, I work as a 7th and 8th grade middle school Visual Arts teacher in the Bronx. The 8th grade are in the middle of a graffiti unit and this week just had Lady Pink as a guest speaker to talk to them about her experience with graffiti. Her presentation was pretty cool!

Right now, my thesis has me growing metaphoric white hairs! My question just changed this week from “In what ways are Bronx middle school math teachers using visual techniques to teach in the classroom?” to “In what ways are New York City middle school math teachers using visual arts projects to support their teaching?” I am interested in finding out ways in which math teachers include some form of the arts into their teaching, since there is usually a decline from lower to higher education with the use of visual arts in math education. At first, I wanted to see how teachers accommodate visual learners, but that would imply that math teachers actually take the time to identify the types of learners in their classroom. Students IEPs only tell you so much, really. I changed my question again so that that I can focus more on the strategies used within the classroom, but I don’t just want to come up with a list of tools. I took some time to ask math teachers in my school about the tools they use in their lessons and a few teachers pointed to the back of their rooms and said, “There it is! Feel free to have a look.” The tools looked untouched and unused. When asked, they confirmed my suspicion. I knew then that I was facing a serious problem. Luckily, one of the more senior teachers in my school was kind enough to sit with me this week and discuss a few art projects he uses in his lessons and the plethora of tools the students use within one lesson alone! I can’t wait to see what else he has in store for me! I hope that I can contribute to the math field by showing that learning in a visual way is very important for teaching math.

Some articles I am currently reading. Perhaps you would also find it an interesting read!

The Role of Visual Representations in the Learning of Mathematics

Art and Visual Mathematics

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