Brianne Gidcumb | October 2014

Math And the Arts: Integration Through Progressions

Math and the Arts

The Standards for Mathematical Practice are “processes and proficiencies”, and should be developed in math students of all ages. The content progressions are these spiraling content pieces increasing in complexity within each domain. It places so many expectations of students within the Common Core Standards for Mathematics. So, where is the best place to begin integrating the arts- the practices or the progressions?

If you saw Susan’s infographic on Core Arts connections to the Standards for Mathematical Practice, you know she provided a great outline of how the practices can naturally align to the four anchor standards outlined in the National Core Arts Standards (creating, performing/producing/presenting, responding, and connecting).

The Standards for Mathematical Practice and their Core Arts Alignments

  • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. (CONNECT)
  • Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  • Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. (RESPOND)
  • Model with mathematics. (CREATE)
  • Use appropriate tools strategically.
  • Attend to precision. (PERFORM/PRESENT/PRODUCE)
  • Look for and make use of structure.
  • Look for an express regularity in repeated reasoning

This is a great way to begin making connections through overarching concepts, such as looking for, and making use of structure. Because these practices align so authentically with the practices of the arts, it’s a great place to begin finding points of integration Bringing the arts into the math classroom and vice versa.


Beyond the practices, a few touchpoints also exist, where the arts can align with the progressions in content. When these alignments occur naturally, the arts can integrate with math through concepts in specific grade levels quite easily. For example, many connections can be made through the Geometry progression to connect to geometric art and shapes and angles in dance, and these connections can occur naturally throughout the progression of concepts to reflect what students are learning at specific grade levels.

In Number and Operations- Fractions, connections can be made quite naturally to rhythm in music. Capitalizing on these connections can really strengthen understanding in both the math content and the arts.

To really do the work of integration, whether it is integrating the arts into the math classroom or vice versa, we not only have to be well-versed in contents outside of our own, we have to be aware of both the practice and progression connections that can be made and recognize when it is appropriate to act upon them. Take baby steps outside of your comfort zone, try mapping a few connections, and be empowered by what you can achieve!

About the Author

Brianne is a former music educator from Chicago and current graduate class instructor with EdCloset’s Learning Studios. She earned her Masters degree in Music Education from VanderCook College of Music and has over a decade of experience in the elementary general music classroom. With her experience in the performing arts, Brianne is dedicated to building connections between the arts and Common Core Standards, 21st century learning skills, inquiry and project-based learning. In addition to her work with EducationCloset, Brianne is a yoga instructor in the Chicagoland area. You can also find Brianne here: