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ERIC Number: EJ1094950
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 22
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1932-7528
The Artist Teacher Uses Proportions, the Math Teacher Helps Students Understand the How and Why, Fractions Fly the Kites
Autin, Gwen H.
Journal for Learning through the Arts, v3 n1 Article 6 2007
Mathematics and art are often considered opposites in the traditional curriculum. In this project with fourth graders, mathematics and art provided a springboard for using fractions, in particular, the multiplication of fractions, using Chinese kites. The project began with a discussion of, "What does an artist really do in a mathematics classroom prior to studying fractions?" Typical responses from students included artists "make things" and artists sing, write stories, paint, draw, build, dance, compose music, etc. One student responded that special artists also "invent things," which led directly into the project of kites. Further discussion of kite flying included the cultures and competitions of flying kites around the world in countries such as Viet Nam, China and Indonesia. As the artist led the students through the project, students began to believe that an artist has to learn to use skills to make art functional and better, often involving mathematics, specifically fractions. Throughout the project the artist and mathematics professors observed and assessed how students came to believe that fractions were an important part of everyday life skills. The successful use of fractions would be necessary to complete the project. As a surprise to both sets of instructors, no work with fractions had been introduced in the mathematics classroom used for the lesson. However, empirical research with the simple pre/post testing showed significant gains in the understanding of fractions after the lesson. Upon completion of each kite's construction, the student was asked to decorate his/her kite in order to create some diversity of design. Every student successfully flew the kite they had constructed and decorated. The successful flight of every kite by each of the students provided a powerful and meaningful experience with fractions and proportions and the importance of using fractions in art.
Center for Learning in the Arts, Sciences and Sustainability. University of California Irvine, School of Biological Sciences III, Office 2656, Irvine, CA 92697. Tel: 949-824-4317; Fax: 949-824-2965; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Grade 4
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Louisiana
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A