Education · Special Education

SUNDAY INSPIRATIONS: The Music of Math

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Pandora Internet Radio is amazing.  A friend told me about it a few years ago, and I haven’t logged on to my computer since without simultaneously logging on to Pandora.  I am listening right now as I type.  I am not “musically inclined,” as they say, but I love music.

As with most people, I listen to certain types of music depending on my mood and what I need to accomplish.  When I’m working out or cleaning the house (both of which require a great deal of motivation on my part), I listen to something with a fast tempo so I can match my pace to it.  Relaxing with my dogs (as I’m doing at the moment after an hour at the dog park and a bath following), I want something a bit more soothing and peaceful.  And I prefer a different station altogether when hanging with friends.

What does any of this have to do with math?  It occurred to me that my math class could use a little of the inspiration I get from music.  I see seven students for math each day, and they are divided into three small groups that I rotate for daily direct instruction.  When they’re not with me, they are working independently on various math tasks ranging from homework review with my instructional aide to playing a math game on the iPad or online.

My dilemma arose when those students who were not with me were not as focused as they could be.  Even with an aide in the room, my students were chatty and unengaged.  I revamped my task expectations, but I also went one step further:  I began playing Pandora on the projector speakers.  The soft and calming Norah Jones station is perfect for this!  I couldn’t believe the difference on the first day, and even after two weeks of this, they continue to be focused and engaged.

My idea to use Pandora was purely inspirational.  But is this the perfect solution or just temporary luck?  I’ll let you know.

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