‘Dancing With The Stars’ helps students learn math

Previously, we’ve shared how California teacher Elizabeth Little uses her state’s high standards to teach students to make a banana calculator, and how Lauren Leigh Kelley in New York has been using hip-hop in her literacy curriculum. But here’s another creative curriculum pairing we weren’t expecting to hear about: Dancing With the Stars and high school math curriculum.

Reality TV isn’t most people’s first thought when thinking about how to make math more exciting and approachable, but that’s what makes Courtney Larkin of Rochester, New York so special! Larkin has found a creative way to help her students connect with real world application of math concepts, using ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.

Larkin, who teaches 11th and 12th grade special education, uses the show as a platform to teach lessons in multiplication, division, decimals, percentages and predictions, based on the celebrity contestants’ scores and averages throughout the season, WHAM ABC Rochester reports.

“They’re engaged and having fun with it – which is the best thing for a teacher, ever,” says Larkin.

As we mentioned, Larkin isn’t alone in her use of creativity in the classroom. Teachers across the country are finding new opportunities to support their students as they learn to higher standards with imaginative approaches.

Clear, high learning goals – and the flexibility that comes with them – make it easier for teachers to develop creative approaches (like making banana calculators and applying math concepts to reality TV). In a recent Center in Education Policy survey, teachers report they have more autonomy to develop curriculum, under the Common Core State Standards, than they had with previous standards.

These observations mirror what 21 State Teachers of the Year wrote last year: “Teachers have greater flexibility…and can, for the first time, take advantage of the best practices from great teachers in other states.”

Check out Larkin’s interview with WHAM ABC Rochester here.