Peanut Butter & Jam
Have you ever thought of math as peanut butter, and music as the jam? Perhaps there is no greater analogy between the two subjects because really they could not be more aptly paired. In fact, one might even suggest that the two are actually one in the same. So why don’t we teach it as such? One of my pet peeves is that we often link music to math in a solely supportive role; i.e.: music helps students do better in math and reading, when in actuality music IS math and reading. That would be why it helps so much!
Recently I had opportunity to work with an adventurous teacher and her students in Leask Community School to attempt a Peanut Butter & Jam lesson. This math and music integrated lesson was sparked by a question raised by a student during a previous class. The question was simply, “How does a piano work?” By integrating math we were able to help students explore the answers to that question. We went down to the music room and opened the lid up on a piano and had the students peering inside, pushing keys, watching the hammers strike the strings, and listening to the pitches resulting from the vibrations. Students became familiar with the terms: vibrations, pitch, frequencies, and sustain. We learned that the children could hear the pitch last longer (amount of sustain) than myself and their teacher, because hearing naturally fades with age. It was so interesting watching students be able to do something we could not!
In the second part of the lesson we learned how to measure the frequencies of the vibrations we were hearing from the piano. Using two knowns we gave the students numerous problems to solve so that they could discover the frequencies of various notes on the piano. To do this, students had to employ understandings of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, decimals, tables & patterns, and the order of operations. When they came to their conclusions, the students would identify the note associated with the number and we would listen to it played on the piano. Students learned what 27.5 vibrations/second (frequency) sounds like compared to 3520 vibrations/second sounds like. Students learned that one has to understand and use math in order to build and tune musical instruments like the piano. Students learned what math sounds like!
This class was also an excellent example of effective co-teaching. My thanks to Mrs. Farquharson for being so willing to try this with me. When each of us reached the limits of our individual knowledge and expertise, the other filled in the gaps. You would think we actually practiced it! 🙂 Mrs. Farquharson made co-teaching feel easy!
Are you interested in trying the Peanut Butter & Jam lesson with your students? Click here for the Peanut Butter & Jam lesson plan 5:6 MathMusic lesson. If you are interested in trying this but need support, contact Kendra to have her come to your school and co-teach this one with you!
STEM Magazine Canada
This morning I opened my e-mail up to a very timely article written in the recent edition of STEM magazine Canada. Click the following link and go to page 15 for an article on Math, Music, and Movement STEM Magazine Canada. The video clip included actually explains (in greater detail) the exact concepts Mrs. Farquharson and I taught last week with grade 5 & 6 students!
Resonate 2016 Update:
Details are starting to fall into place for Resonate 2016. Check out the Guest Clinicians page under the Resonate tab to see the list of guests and session topics that have been announced so far.
If you are an educator, the early bird registration deadline is this Friday, January 29th. Don’t miss this reduced rate!
Thank you to Resonate 2016 sponsors to date: Prairie Spirit School Division, St. John’s Music, Saskatchewan Music Educators’ Association (SaskCulture & SaskLotteries), Cameco Corporation, Saskatchewan Band Association (SaskCulture & SaskLotteries), SaskTel 4G LTE, Affinity Credit Union.