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Just Doodling: Making Math Relevant for Students

What it is: This has got to be one of my new favorite videos on YouTube.  I ran across this video and tweeted about it a few weeks ago, but felt that it deserved a blog post.  Doodling Stars (above) is a stream of conscious video about doodling in math class instead of  learning about factoring.  As the video unfolds, you quickly realize that she has learned all about factoring through her doodles.  I would have connected in some major ways to this video when I was in school (maybe that is why I like it so much now), it would have given me that “wait that was math?” moment.  Doodling Stars is a video by Vi Hart who has a blog where she has other great math videos.  Her other videos include: Binary Trees, Snakes + Graphs, Infinity Elephants, and sick number games. Explore the blog a little further and you learn that ViHart is serious about her math.  In addition to videos she has mathematical foods, ways to play with balloons as mathematical models, paper instruments (relating music to math), music boxes, bead work, and a variety of other math/music resources.  Vi describes herself as a mathemusician, dig into her blog and you will know why!

How to integrate Doodling Videos into the classroom: Math shouldn’t be a subject confined to a textbook, seen only in terms of equations and functions.  I think I was in college before I figured out that math was all around me.  I had truly never made the connection to the formulas I was learning and their applications in real life.  Oh sure, there were the “If you left Denver at 1:05 pm driving an average speed of 63.2 miles per hour and arrived at another point 12 hours later how many miles have you traveled?” But really? That is not real world…I have NEVER calculated any sort of trip that way, and anyway, now there is an app that will give me all of that information if I really want to know.  If someone had told me that math was in my doodles, in the music I listened to, in patterns of nature?  Now that is something I want to explore more.  I’m sure you have students who have never made the connections between the formulas they are learning and the applications that are all around them.  These videos will have them visualizing math in a whole new way.  Dig a little deeper into Vi’s blog and share her math foods, balloons, and paper instruments.  See if your students don’t start viewing math differently!  Use Vi’s blog as inspiration for your next math lesson.  Use the videos to help introduce or reinforce concepts, or have students complete balloon math models.

Tips: If you can’t access YouTube at school, use a tool like Kick YouTube or Keepvid to download the video for offline viewing.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Doodling in Math Class Videos in your classroom.

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