Poetry and Mathematics – Who Knew?

Grades 8, 11 and 12 poetry lessons in maths

Michael Salinger and Sara Holbrook, our visiting poets

Poetry week at UNIS had two visiting poets from America. Our wonderful librarian, Joyce, sent out an email to see if anyone would like a poet in their class. Perplexed at the possible relevance, but knowing it was probably enjoyable, I went to chat with Joyce. Would they come into a mathematics classroom? Sure. Grade 11, not just grade 8? Sure.

I decided against my grade 12s as we were finishing the course and getting ready for the IB Diploma May exams. That changed after the first class with my grade 11s. What an incredible review lesson and so much fun. My year 12s were booked in immediately.

At the beginning of each class the poet or poets worked with students to create a class poem about the topic we had just finished.

What it is and what it isn’t

After that they broke off into pairs and chose a key word to work with.
Students worked together to form their poems. Listening to them using mathematical language and argue about what it meant was amazing. I’d say that my grade 12 students are all comfortable with the characteristics of a horizontal inflection now.

There were poems on GDCs (graphic display calculators),

Helene and Wen Wen deliver a poem about Cleopatra’s struggle with bivariate statistics with her one variable:

Calculus including Jorgé, The Horizontal InfleXion by Robin:

and the poignant Minimum, by Lauren

Ruan’s Hypotenuse

Jonatan and Sagar – Pythagoras The Man

The poets were Michael Salinger and Sara Holbrook.

Both have written books on using poetry in classrooms. They have activities for really small kids right up to the big kids. Sara told me that I was the first mathematics teacher to say yes to a class above grade 6.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. Initially it was to be a bit of fun to break up the usual routine for my 8s and 11s, but as I said before as a review of content, concepts and key vocabulary, it was fabulous.

Will I use it again, without the poets there to run things? Definitely!
UNIS had a poetry slam on the Friday and a large crowd turned out. A really great week.

2 thoughts on “Poetry and Mathematics – Who Knew?

  1. Pingback: Too Much Too Much Too Much « #AoD happily wearing my inner geek on the outside

  2. Pingback: United Nations International School of Hanoi: Poetry Week - Sara Holbrook

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