Cross-Curricular Math Instruction
We know that some students think that math “doesn’t matter
.” If math is too conceptual for some students, applied math could make the subject seem more useful. This is easier accomplished on the elementary school level where one teacher teaches all subjects, however collaboration between teachers can incorporate cross-curriculum activities.
There have been peer-reviewed studies, which show the benefits of incorporating teaching mathematics in a cross-curricular context. Applications for math education incorporated in a variety of fields have been discussed in academic literature, including history, art, drama, and physics.
While this blog is mostly concerned with K-12 education, cross-curricular education has been successfully implemented in a college setting. Dartmouth University offered the Mathematics Across the Curriculum (MATC) program, which sought to ensure mathematic competency for all Dartmouth graduates regardless of degree program. The objective of the program is straightforward, and in many ways is the goal of all mathematics education: In the same way that all students should be able to write an essay in any subject they have studied, all students should be able to look at a problem or situation or experiment and ask suitable mathematical questions.
There are multiple cross-curricular guides and lesson plans online. Education World has a great resource for cross-curricular instruction. Scholastic offers a variety of “authentic” math lesson plans. Scholastic also has a special section that offers cross-curricular instruction focused on the nexus of math and sports. The Discovery channel offers educational activities that focus on math, science and social studies.
Does cross-curricular education work in your experience? Does it enhance the experience of students, allowing engagement of a variety of student interests? Or does it water down the material, leaving students distracted or struggling? How can you best incorporate a cross-curricular approach to mathematics?