Proportion is a hot topic in middle school math.  Understanding how proportion effects the relationship between quantities is typically something that 7th grade students struggle with, as it relies on the computation of unit rates associated with ratios.  In this lesson for grades 6-8, we’re pairing this math standard with a visual art focus on perceiving and analyzing artistic work.

What’s exciting about this lesson is how changing proportion can alter perception, just based on the way imagery is presented.  Often, when students are working only with numbers, the context can be lost.  By adding in the use of stippling, gridding and using real-world examples of landmarks and their relative size based on human interaction, students can SEE the math standard and the visual art standard come to life.

Next Step: Proportionate Mural

Upon completion, have students create a mural using their proportionate people and landmark grids. As they select where to place each of their landmarks, students can measure their entire image in proportion to their neighboring image. For instance, if the man in front of the Statue of Liberty is next to the woman beside the Eiffel Tower on the mural, what is the proportional relationship between the two images as a whole?

Have the students work collaboratively to create the proportional relationship equations and write them in between the two images. Each student is responsible for developing and/or checking at least 4 equations. They can initial each equation they have created or checked for accuracy. Additionally, for each image created, students must write a sentence that describes how the proportional relationship is meant to effect the perception of the image by the audience.

Student Reflection Prompts:

As students complete their mural, have them consider the following questions:

  1. How does a proportional relationship effect perception about an object?
  2. How can we manipulate perception using proportional relationships?

Suggested Grade-Band Extensions

K-2: Use this same activity, without the added element of people. Focusing solely on the landmarks, ask students to order the landmarks by length and then use the 6 Dots of Separation Strategy to recreate each landmark as either smaller, larger or the same size as the original. Reclassify the new landmarks created using the strategy.

3-5: Students can create a scaled version of the landmarks using the 6 Dots of Separation Strategy to reimagine their scaled images.

9-12: Using the same lesson design, utilize photo editing software rather than grid paper to create a digital version of the images.

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