Math in Your Feet

First and foremost, Math in Your Feet is an integration of two separate but highly complementary paths of inquiry. Percussive danceis a sophisticated, precise, and physical expression of time and space using foot-based dance patterns. Mathematics has been called both an art as well as the ‘science of patterns’ and initially developed to understand, describe, and manipulate the physical world. 

Math in Your Feet leads students through the process of creating their own percussive dance patterns. Along the way, they increase their understanding of mathematical topics such as congruence, symmetry, transformation, angles and degrees, attributes, categorical variables, manipulation and analysis of complex patterns, mapping on a coordinate grid, as well as deep experience with mathematical practices and problem solving.

Here are some other ways to describe the program:

  • Low floor, high ceiling (useful and interesting to diverse groups of learners and backgrounds)
  • Geometry topics
  • An in depth inquiry into mathematical patterns including explorations of transformations, symmetries, group theory and equivalence classes.
  • An opportunity to use mathematical language in context. 
  • A chance to build and strengthen spatial reasoning, what I call “the step-child of mathematics education”.
  • A chance to harness existing body knowledge (developed through being in the world) to strengthen understanding of mathematical practices and topics.
  • Potential for developing new insights about previously familiar mathematics.
  • Inspiration for mathematical question asking in fourth graders and (open-minded) research mathematicians alike.

The mathematical content of all activities was developed in collaboration with award-winning math education specialist Jane Cooney.  In recent years, the content and pedagogy of Math in Your Feet has been significantly deepened through productive collaborations between Malke and her Teaching Artist Journal colleagues, as well as Dr. Maria Droujkova and Dr. Christopher Danielson, both leading math education thinkers and educators.