Mathematics Comic Book

A way of reaching students through art.

Photo of Samuel Cavazos
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Some students learn best when they can express themselves artistically. After noticing quite a few students doodling and not paying attention in our math class, I have decided to try and incorporate a bit of art in their work. Here is where I started. With the permission of another teacher, Mr. Morrison, I used him as inspiration for a crime-fighting superhero. The students had to solve absolute value equations in order to help the superhero. Afterwards, I had the students draw out their best superhero. I chose the four I thought were best and had the students vote on the one they thought was best. From that point on, I will be using the drawing of Mr. Morrison to give a visual representation of problems in exams and quizzes. 

From there, I am planning on building up the comic series. Ms. Magma and Mr. Frost are recurring villains. The students will have the opportunity to draw each of these characters as well, and again vote on their favorite drawing, which will appear on future exams.

[Optional] Synthesize a little! In one sentence, describe something you learned from your empathy exercises or analogous research.

Students have become much more engaged in the class, perhaps because they feel as if they are not only taking the course, but helping make it.

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Photo of Erin Quinn

I've seen a BUNCH of stuff in sketchnoting lately, and how being visual can actually help people learn better. This makes me wonder how sketchnoting might apply to math!

Photo of George Phillip

Great idea Samuel! I am curious how you knew your students weren't paying attention when they were doodling. I have read a lot of research about how some students need doodling to focus more on what they are learning. I agree with Michael, give them some freedom and see where they take it. The more they are invested in the process, the deeper the learning can be!

Photo of Michael Schurr

Samuel, what an awesome idea! I love how you are infusing art into math class. Add in comic books with teens and you've got a winning recipe.  Have you noticed a marked improvement with student performance and/or engagement? If so, what specific areas of class? Do the students realize there is a difference? 

Curiosity, I wonder what other types or drawing/styles of art might lend itself to math class.  I bet your students have some ideas!!!  Maybe you could have them draw whatever they want one day and see what else emerges.  It would be interested to have them explain their drawings importance to you. Just a thought! Look forward to building something with you in the ideate phase!!!

Photo of Samuel Cavazos

Hi Michael, I haven't collected enough data yet to analyze changes in student performance, but classroom engagement has been phenomenal. One particular students drawing is being used as Mr. Morrison. Previously, that student's focus tended to drift off a bit during lectures, but I think after seeing his art being implemented in the course has had a profound impact on his engagement. I've noticed similar trends in other students as well. I am waiting to see if that engagement translates to performance.