Our testing data showed that students in fifth grade needed to develop automaticity of their times tables to help them solve more complex multiplication and division problems. We developed an integrated arts unit to help address this need. Based on a pre-assessment. students were divided into groups based on a math fact they had not yet mastered. Together with their small groups, students designed a stop motion animation piece to illustrate their math fact. The tedious work of representing each math fact through animation not only helped students commit the facts to memory, but it also gave them a deeper understanding of what is happening when two numbers are multiplied. With this deeper approach, even if a student does not have a fact memorized, s/he will have a strategy to solve the problem.
Amidst all of this math work, students were collaborating on an original work of animation that had a natural audience: students in lower grades at our school who were learning about multiplication. Knowing that our younger viewers would want to be entertained, we looked at how other artists use repetition to add humor and emphasis to animation. Students discussed Tom and Jerry clips in which the same thing keeps happening over and over, among other examples of repetition. They then played with repetition and humor to show their audience what multiplication is really about: equal groups repeating over and over again!
youtube playlist of all student work & @iaaartstudio on Instagram