Deirdre Moore | July 2016

STEAMing into Summer Learning

Are you planning to take advantage of EducationCloset’s STEAM Conference?  But you just can’t wait another day for the summer learning to begin?  Well, here is something to whet your appetite!  The great jazz musician Herbie Hancock is chairman of The Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz.  The institute has developed a website called MathScienceMusic.org that could be a great kick-off to your STEAM and summer learning.

What I didn’t know about Herbie Hancock is that he doesn’t attribute his success as a musician to musical talent.  In fact, according to an on-line article in The Washington Post, Hancock explains “I would always try to figure out how things work.  It was that same instinct that I have that made me learn jazz quickly… It wasn’t a talent for music, it was a talent for being able to analyze things and figure out the details.”

That quote is an arts integration educator’s dream.  Here is a famous musician explaining that what makes him good at music is not some innate musical talent (although I am sure there is some of that too!) but an ability to analyze things.  Analysis can happen in just about any context and our students will only become stronger analysts with practice.  The more varied the experiences, the greater their capacity to apply analysis to any situation – familiar or foreign.  Hancock’s statement is a perfect example of why we should integrate the arts with other subjects like math and science.

This website that the institute developed aims to help educators make that link between math, science, and music.  It offers many different contexts to explore that connection.  The website houses a variety of videos, lesson ideas, software, applications and examples of student work to help teachers to guide students in exploring the math-science-music connection from kindergarten through high school.  Some activities are aimed at teachers. Some are aimed at students so teachers can explore on their own before bringing it to their students.

A few of the lessons require implementation by a music teacher or a teacher with a strong music background during summer learning.  Others are lessons that any teacher could implement after a little exploring and practicing on their own.   If you love the possibilities of technology as well as allowing students to explore and create music with the help of technology, you will love this website!

So as you wait for the conference… And as you enjoy the rest of your summer learning…  Take some time to play and see what kinds of beautiful connections and music you can make!

About the Author

Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.