Using Art Projects to Create a Math Adventure...

Project: The Math Journal
Journals are important elements in many adventure stories. The idea for the Math Journal came from the movie, "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." Walt Disney's "Atlantis" also featured a diary. Can you think of other adventure stories where a journal or diary was significant?

When completed, the Math Journal looks like an ancient book that is full of mysterious and amazing secrets and discoveries! It's an exciting and fun project that appeals to all students.

The Math Journal is a comprehensive and in depth project. It requires a lot of time and effort on the part of the students. For that reason, I use it as the centerpiece of my curriculum; the textbook that I taught from previously, I now use as a resource book for problems and homework assignments. It is my observation that the students were never enthusiastic about the textbook anyway. Now they definitely have something that they are enthused about.

This project is most successful when it is used either as the core of the curriculum or in a situation where there is additional (lab) time. You can download a teacher's guide for this project here.

The Math Journal has 200 - 220 pages which include 4 types of content:
  1. Instructional content which serves the same purpose as lecture notes.
  2. Pages where students research various subjects on the Internet. These subjects include history, biographies, and topics of interest.
  3. Diagrams, charts, and illustrations. Students are given a choice of methods for reproducing these, from simple tracing to freehand drawing. They are also given a great deal of "freedom of expression" when it comes to doing the illustrations.
  4. Pages where the students can select for themselves what they would like to put on them.

The journal project effectively incorporates within the course, a study of  Biblical references, significant events from the history of math (such as how we got the name "algebra"), notable mathematicians, and interesting puzzles, facts and concepts. The result is an adventure that is designed to appeal to all students. Students enjoy creating a book that looks old and doing the research to gather information to fill their books. When they finish the course, they have made a book of over 200 pages which is a tangible record of their experience.

Here is a small selection of sample pages from an algebra journal...

The Cover

The Title Page
Math and Genesis
Egyptian Mathematics
Multiplication & Division
Problem Solving
A Factoring Machine
Special Sequences
Hebrew Tabernacle
Sequences - Music & Light

Click here to see how you can purchase an inexpensive copy of this journal.

Click here to see my students working on their journals

Click here to see our journal exhibit at the art show

Click here to see the students' web pages

Student Journals on Display
Notice the variety of designs

Create a Math Adventure Journal
This is a teacher's guide which explains how to implement a journal project in a math classroom. This guide explains how the journal can include 4 kinds of pages: lecture notes, illustrations (charts, diagrams, graphs, etc), research topics, and pages where students pick the math-related subject. There is a page-by-page listing of the contents of my algebra journal as an example plus copies of 70 actual pages of illustrations and supplemental material that I use. Please note: many of these supplemental pages are about a Biblical subjects such as information about Noah's ark, King Solomon's Pool, the Ark of the Covenant, the tower of Babel, and the Six Days of Creation. There are also pages about Fibonacci, Kepler, and Descartes and other interesting math topics.

Click here to see a facsimile of this journal that you can purchase.

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