• Using Music to Improve Learning in Mathematics

      Civil, Marie Duplessy; The College at Brockport (2007-05-01)
      Today’s economic constraints mean tighter budgets and lowered staffing which in turn causes school districts to make difficult choices pertaining to arts programs. Utilizing music in an academic core curriculum has been argued as not only an opportunity that allows arts integration in the classroom but has revealed a direct correlation to increased student interest and academic success. The purpose of this study explores whether music can be used in a first-grade classroom to help students understand, enjoy, remember and apply certain mathematical concepts. The literature review section of this project examines research studies conducted in classrooms that highlight the importance of the arts when used in collaboration with other subjects. The discussion also looks at research and evaluation of brain function and the role that music plays on the brain. Lastly, it reviews and lists ways that music is used to enhance learning in elementary classrooms. The thesis project specifically examines and compares traditional methods of teaching math versus integrating content and methods involving math and music. The study focuses on the conceptual content use of patterns since they can be easily found in both music and math. The project goal was not only mathematic comprehension but student engagement to increase course interest and aptitude. This study was conducted at an elementary performing arts magnet school within an urban school district in Western New York State. Pre-test results reveal that the eight first-grade study participants selected were all struggling with the pattern lesson. Pre and post-testing was used as well as student journals. The study integrated the school district’s math curriculum with parts of the music curriculum to create New York State Standards based lesson plans that teach math concepts. The study suggests that the integration of the subjects, math and music, would assist student understanding of mathematical concepts and consequently improve their math test scores. Research conclusions support the argument that the incorporation of music in mathematics instruction increases student success and engagement. (Lesson plans and student worksheets are included in the Appendices sections of this project.)
    • What Strategies and Activities Help Sixth-Grade Students Acquire Vocabulary?

      Canales, Janette; The College at Brockport (2008-08-01)
      Vocabulary - a list, a collection, the words of a language which lead to reading and word comprehension. These components are intrinsically, irrevocably linked as the building blocks of communication in any language and are the keys to understanding and learning. Students who lack fluency in language and strategies to acquire the necessary vocabulary struggle in all content areas. This thesis project examines the relationship between contextual reading strategies, multiple intelligence theories, and the partnership of these to improve word acquisition and reading comprehension in a sixth grade classroom. The literature review section highlights the role of the teacher, student assessment tools, and a discussion of Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory as it applies to multi-sensory approaches in learning. This three week research project, conducted in an urban school district, included 21 sixth grade students of varying skill levels, although most were below grade level with regard to word comprehension, reading, and vocabulary. The researcher employed several source materials during whole group and individual reading time, which also included the use of multi-sensory activities. Data gathered included assessment of fifth grade ELA results for comparative analysis, pre and post testing, student reflection journals, and student behavior logs kept throughout the course of the study. Several selected case studies are included for more detailed information. Conclusions drawn from this research suggest that a multi-sensory approach coupled with specific word knowledge exercises benefit the students’ language acquisition. It is also suggested that this type of language comprehension program, as a concentrated effort, be undertaken at the beginning of the academic year to improve year-long outcomes.