## Saturday, February 13, 2010

### divine proportion

da vinci, algebra, geometry, and business math

A three week math block for grade seven at East Bay Waldorf proved that math equals fun! Students often dread the idea of math, so I told the students at the beginning of our block that I would avoid using the word math, and yet introduce the basics of algebra and geometry.

I created a fictitious corporation that gave me a vehicle for creating interactive lesson plans. Through it, I organized the students into "departments" with department heads, allowing for group work, and building leadership skills and effective team dynamics. The topics in algebra covered were variables, expressions, equations, formulas, and signed numbers. The topics in geometry included Thales theorem, Pythagorean theorem, the Golden Ratio, the Golden Rectangle, Fibonacci numbers.

I explained signed numbers by illustrating the corporate ladder, using promotions and demotions to move up or down numbered levels in the company. For instance, if your office is on level 5, and you were given 4 promotions, your office is then moved to level 9 (5 + 4 = 9). Conversely, if your office was on level 9, and you were given 4 demotions, which are negative, your office is now on level 5 (9 + -4 = 5). What if you were on level 2 and 1 demotion was taken away? Then you would be on level 3, since having a negative number removed actually moves you up the ladder (2 - -1 = 3).

The products that our fictitious corporation sell included such items as Algebratwurst, or Algebran Cereal! We were able to create formulas, such as Total Sales = \$6 x Algebratwurst sold + \$5 x Algebran Cereal sold, or TS = 6B + 5C. Then, in groups, they designed new products and made commercials.

In geometry, the students continue to hone their use of a straight edge, right angle ruler, and compass by constructing the Thales triangle, the Pythagorean squares, and determining if their own hands fit the dimensions of the Golden Rectangle.

The last week of the block at the end of February, I will have the students prepare a song based on mathematicians Thales, Pythagoras, Archimedes, and Euclid. Thus far, I am pleased with how much the students are enjoying the block. I think they may have forgotten we're actually doing math!

I am also very pleased with how my homage to da Vinci turned out. Using chalk and some shadow techniques, it looks like an old parchment page from his journals! In the Waldorf classroom, it is traditional for the class teacher to create an artistic rendering that honors the current subject being taught.

Jen said...

Yeegads, Rick! I just don't even know what to say...your chalkboard drawing just rendered me absolutely speechless! You have so found your calling as a Waldorf teacher. This lesson is amazing...very well done...

Gabriele said...

Dear Rick,
I cant do more than to repeat how much I would love to have you as the teacher for my kids!! Makes me feel like "lets go to California". How precious and beautiful lessons you give!!! My whole appreciation for you today from
Gabriele

Jimena said...

I'd like to have a math teacher like you!!!
bendiciones, muchas gracia por compartir tu trabajo

Kaisa said...

How blessed are these children to have such a wonderful skilled and imaginative teacher!

Beth said...

Rick, this is amazing and beautiful. I am convinced that if I had a teacher like you in high school I would have understood algebra and not hated it! The students in your class are so blessed!

Jacqui said...

I have so enjoyed reading your science posts and this one made me feel that maths might not be scary after all.

JaneWild said...

What a beautiful lesson and just an awesome chalk board!!! I am currently in Waldorf teacher training...this is inspiration for sure.

onegoldensun said...

Wow, Rick! I am so impressed by your artistic abilities! What a gorgeous blackboard drawing! Reminds me of the magical art of Santa Barbara's Imaddonari festival. Thank you for sharing such wealth of inspiration.

pink and green mama MaryLea said...

Just beautiful!! As an artist who can't do math, I sure wish you had been my math teacher - I might have tuned in and learned something!