What is Mathapalooza? It is a rockin’ awesome idea that my 4th grade team came up with so that we could help motivate kids for the math MCAS testing coming up in mid May. Basically, we are mixing great music with all kinds of math concepts. It’s not arts integration necessarily, but we sure are covering music appreciation, the motivational aspects of music, and we’re having loads of fun!60sPic

Earlier this month we were faced with the problem that we would have to cover six chapters of our math program in only four weeks.  (And I promise you that was with sticking to the program and teaching math lessons consistently from early September!)  In our brainstorming style, we came up with Mathapalooza!

Here are some highlights:

  • Math x2! – We teach math more than once a day. We have our regular math time in the morning, and then in the afternoon we have targeted groups that rotate through the four 4th grade teachers and learn more hands-on math concepts such as geometry and measurement.
  • Music! – Each of the four weeks has a focused theme centered around the decades of music. We started with the 60s last week, this week is the 70s, and then we will proceed to the 80s and finally the 90s.
  • Playlists and Dancing – At lunch every day, the students enjoy a playlist of music from that decade made by one of the 4th grade teachers. This has actually provided us with a more quiet lunch (talking-wise.)  The music, however fills the air and creates a great atmosphere and we teachers on duty have a blast singing and dancing!  The kids love watching us have fun.  Near the end of every lunch, we usually end up with some students who want to get to move and groove with us teachers. It’s a great energizer for the afternoon!
  • Afternoon Math = Mathapalooza Time! – The afternoon targeted groups each have band names; one from each decade: The Monkees, the Eagles, the Scorpions, and the Counting Crows. Each band travels to one of the fourth grade classrooms. which has become a different city in the United States. This has also opened up the opportunity for us to start our study of the regions of the United States.

mathvocabMy classroom has become Denver, Colorado.  When the band gets to the gig in Denver, we always take a short walk over to the “Jumbotron” (greenboard) at “Mile High Stadium” (other side of the room) and review the vocabulary words before the lesson.

I’m in charge of teaching 2D shapes which is why I chose Colorado.  The shape of the state is perfect and a map of Denver’s streets are a great way to study parallel and perpendicular lines.1872coloradodowntown denver

Not to mention, I can have the band enter my room to John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High.

  • Radio Show – Each morning, one of the fourth grade teachers does the announcements, that is, has a morning radio show.  This was so much fun for me!  I’ve always wanted to be a DJ, so I really got into this.  🙂  We even recorded our own call letters in a tag to be played over the air!  Each morning, we welcome everyone to school, have students lead the pledge, play an excerpt from a song of the decade and introduce the math word of the day.
  • Math Word of the Day – This quickly has become a fun way to get the whole school involved with Mathapalooza.  Our fourth graders made themed 9 x 12 posters for a math word or concept and then wrote 3-4 clues that they could read on the morning radio show so that other classes could guess the word.  Any class that wants to, emails the DJ of the week and gets their class’s name announced the next morning.  In addition, the class is given a uni-fix cube for each word they get.  Many classes have already been building their “Math Tower of Power!”mathvocabwords
  • Flashback Friday – Another way we get the whole school community involved is with Flashback Friday where we dress up in the style of the decade.  All I can say is: So. Much. Fun.  We even invited our amazing Central office secretary to join in on Fridays.  What a great lady and she jumped right on board!

    My fourth grade team dressed up for 60s Flashback Friday!

So, why Mathapalooza?  … Why not?  It has created such a wonderful atmosphere of fun and learning.  And who knows what other fun things we will do to boost spirits and create excitement in school and math?  We’ve just started collecting pictures of teachers from the 60s to the 90s to be displayed on a bulletin board and are thinking about having guests from the MS or HS music departments come and share their talents with our students.  I’ll keep you updated in the comments.

This has truly been a perfect example of motivation, collaboration and academia all wrapped up in one amazing four week event: MATHAPALOOZA!


Map Photo Credits:  www.memoriallibrary.com, www.docstoc.com