Whether you break out in song, tap toes, snap fingers or hum that tune you can’t seem to get out of your head, music is part of our lives. But can it help teach children to add, subtract, multiply and divide? Yes, according to Marcia Daft, the founder and artistic director of “Moving through Math.” At the onset of the summer, Daft shared her theories and offered tips to Maui teachers during the 2013 Summer Institute for Educators at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. “I found that they are actively seeking and wanting to master innovative teaching techniques that are consistent with the way children actually learn,” Daft said about the institute participants. “Teachers are clearly not afraid to try out new strategies and work to master them.”
MACC Education Director Susana Browne said this was the first year the summer institute tackled integrating math with the arts. In two separate weeks, MACC accommodated approximately 64 educators who teach pre-K to 6th grade. “Teachers were very responsive to this new approach on teaching math fundamentals by delving deep into patterns,” Browne said. “They saw that movement and music are also based on repeating patterns.” The teachers said they would incorporate music into their math lesson plans. “The lesson plans helped us to teach for understanding and comprehension – not just memorization,” an early-learning resource teacher said. Another teacher, who has a classroom of 1st graders, said: “The information provided in this workshop is totally going to change how I teach math to my students.”
The teachers will take their music-math lessons into their classrooms this fall and then evaluate the impact on students’ understanding and application of math concepts. Daft is a national workshop presenter for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. She has presented Maui summer institutes on three occasions and is scheduled to return in September for a follow-up workshop.