Teachers Learn Dance Moves for Math Lessons

Opening Nights and Leon County Schools teamed up to offer about 40 elementary and middle school teachers a creative new tool to teach math, in partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education program.

Stacy Weaver, a performing arts teacher who leads the dance program at Raa Middle School in Tallahassee, said she learned that dance can help teach geometry, algebra, ratios and more.

“I honestly thought geometry was about the only way you could mesh the two together, but I learned I can teach my students about fractions, ratios and all kinds of areas,” Weaver said. “I want my dance students to be whole students, excelling in math and other subjects.”

The free “Math Dance” workshops on June 11 and 12 were led by Karl Schaffer. Schaffer, a member of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Teaching Artists, co-created “Math Dance” with Erik Stern to teach dance via math as well as math through dance.

“We want teachers to come away with a sense that there is a wealth of mathematics embedded in dance,” Schaffer said. “The two are very closely connected, and hopefully the participants will see those connections and understand how to use them for their work with students.”

The workshops offered practical tools on how to teach this innovative approach to math education. Participants learned techniques to teach concepts, such as patterns and symmetry, through creative movement.

Teachers from Cobb Middle School, Raa Middle School, Maclay School, The School of Arts and Sciences at The Centre, Tallahassee School of Math and Sciences, W.T. Moore Elementary School and Apalachee Tapestry Magnet School of the Arts participated in the “Math Dance” workshops.