Creating Art in Math Class

Kent middle school teacher-librarian Mia Roberts had her upcoming article “Picture Books: Art Created While Reading in a Middle School Math Class” accepted for publication in the April 2019 issue of the peer-reviewed, scholarly Teacher Librarian: The Journal for School Library Professionals. Roberts spends approximately 10 minutes a day reading a picture book at the beginning of two 7th and 8th grade math classes at Mattson Middle School. Students listen, discuss, and respond to the books in a graffiti journal. The project has produced some “hoped for” results as well as some unexpected results:

  • Students across her campus make friendly visits and the library’s visibility overall has increased.
  • The connection has increased circulation in the library.
  • It has helped start math class on a less stressful tone for some students who suffer from math anxiety.
  • It has inspired some students to more frequent artistic response to literature.

The initial obvious question about picture books (“Aren’t these books just for little kids?”) was soon assuaged as middle schoolers settled in and discovered some very sophisticated themes and inspiring art in picture books.  Roberts and her math colleague, Leslie Marshall, hope to see positive results from both math and literacy test scores after a year of nearly 180 picture book reads.

Here are some of the things students have said about the experience:

“Fun, relaxing, enjoying and I feel like it gets us all together.”

“I like reading books during math because it gets me in a more excited and calm mood at the same time.”

“I love how we get to sit and listen to the book while drawing. It gives us time to just think and relax.”

“I enjoy when our class gets to draw what we like about the book or the main details. This experience expands the types of books you read. I would probably never pick these books, but they are fun or provide a great message in them.”