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Illuminated Angles: Using Medieval History to Classify Angles



Go down deep enough into anything and you will find mathematics.
                                                                                       Dean Schlicter

There was a time in my life when this quote would've terrorized my whole existence (insert traumatized laugh). I remember fifth grade like it was yesterday, because that was the beginning of my obsession with history and my loathing of math. That year, I read every book I could find about the medieval time period. My imagination blossomed with tales of knights and the bubonic plague. And at night, I was tormented with nightmares of rogue long division problems. And now as a fifth grade teacher, when I think of math, it conjures up images of King Arthur, Merlin, death and destruction and the sounds of Gregorian chant.  I can't help but wonder what my classroom math experiences might have been had my teacher linked the math to something that I love---like medieval history.


One awesome thing about being a teacher is that you get to right the wrongs you may have experienced yourself as a learner.  That's what I did.  I took my students' angst about classifying and measuring angles and I turned it into a math and art project, as I wished my fifth grade math teacher had done.



We began by reading about illuminated texts.  I brought this part of the project into my reader's workshop and used it as a center.  Students read a three page history about illuminated manuscripts and completed a close read. This worked really well, and I was able to extend it into a lesson on nonfiction text structures. 

After reading about illuminated texts and the history of monograms, I gave my kids copies of medieval lettering.  They cut out their monograms from these letters and glued them onto another page to examine them more closely.  Together, we explored the angles in each of our letters.  Using highlighters, my students began highlighting the angles they found in their letters. Reviewing acute, obtuse, right and straight angels, as well as supplementary and complementary angles, we began to sort our letters according to their "angle traits."  We did this in small groups. At first, we eyeballed the angles and then used protractors to measure them.





The last part of this math project was great fun. We closely examined a close up photo of a real illuminated manuscript.  I was able to blow this up on my SMART board using the pdf I had created of the photo. We completed a visible thinking routine called "See-Think-Wonder."  Students named and noticed the types of pictures painted in around the illuminated letters. 

 I created an illuminated alphabet using some fantastic gold glitter lettering from Paula Kim Studios. After printing it on cardstock paper, my kids selected their first or last initial and began drawing in details around their gold letter. They were required to sketch in details about their lives around their illuminated letters.

After sketch was complete, we used colored pencils to fill in our drawings with vibrant colors.  My students knew the colors had to be bold and vivid after looking at illuminated manuscript examples.



What are we going to do next in math, Ms. Willis?

This literacy, math and art project was fun. I teach fifth graders, so this was a review of fourth grade learning for them.  It enabled us to review measurement concepts and address learning goals in other curriculum areas. After having taught fourth grade for umpteen million years, I would use this project with fourth graders as an end-of-unit alternative assessment. 

Perhaps the BEST part of this learning experience was my students asking, "What are we going to do next in math, Ms. Willis?"  Eyes shining. Faces smiling. No tears. Learning cemented. Not a worksheet in sight. 

To check out this project for yourself, click on the graphic below.  It's all there for you...the literacy, math and art. Enjoy a SURPRISE SALE for the month of March!

You might also be interested in these math, literacy, and art projects, too!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Math-Art-Project-Fractions-Decimals-Percents-2493557           https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Math-Art-Project-Kandinsky-Literacy-Circumference-Problem-Solving-3024970

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Math-Art-Project-Monet-Perimeter-Area-Metric-Measurement-2581062





This month, I've teamed up with some other teacher bloggers. Be sure to check out their posts below!



   
   

10 comments

  1. What a neat connection with literacy, art and math! Very transdiciplinary! Enjoyed reading this post and seeing how engaged your students were!

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    1. Megan, Thank you for stopping by to read and comment. We LOVE our math and art connections...engagement is so important!

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  2. Since I'm completely and totally compassionate about spreading math love, I always love your math connections. I worked with a "struggling" teacher who just did not share my love of math but loved art. When I modeled a lesson on tessellations in her classroom and explained all the math connections...well...she became a dynamite math teacher. She just needed a little inspiration. Children are the same. We just need to find where there passion is and make the needed connections. Thanks for your connections!

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    1. Leah, you are so spot on! Teachers and students need inspiration. It's so important to show that math IS creative thinking, isn't it? Thanks for taking time to read and comment!

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  3. What a phenomenal idea. This lesson must totally turn your kiddos on to math.

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    1. Thanks, Deann. We had SOOOOO much fun with this!

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  4. Funny thing...I am in Florida right now for an escape with my hubby for a month and I was chatting with an artist down here about her artwork and she was telling me how art is connected to math in so many ways and I thought of you! Great article...your kiddos are so lucky to have you as their teacher!!

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    1. Oh Kathy! Florida! I'm a bit envious. :-) Thanks for thinking of me. I agree with the artist...math is everywhere we look... and CREATIVE!

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