Module Spotlight: Anxiety Monsters

By Isabel Engel

Hello! Welcome to our new biweekly segment, where over the summer, we will highlight one of our modules each week!

What is a Module you say? Great question!

Our integrated learning specialists, (Weavers, as we call them) integrate creative learning opportunities into core curriculum through units called "modules”. 

ArtCore modules are inspired by big ideas, driven by essential questions that emerge from the curricular content, arts disciplines, and student learning experience.

With purposeful alignment to national and state academic and arts standards, ArtCore modules foster engaging instruction rooted in social-emotional learning skills, metacognitive strategies, and authentic assessment of student learning.  

This week, we will be looking at Anxiety Monsters, created by Nate Beard, Hamlin Middle School Weaver.

 3D representation of math anxiety. You can see in the background the original drawing of the anxiety monster.

3D representation of math anxiety. You can see in the background the original drawing of the anxiety monster.

Subject Integration: Math (though this could be integrated into any subject! Many people have anxiety over tests, papers, public speaking or other areas).

What’s the Big Idea? We can enhance our relationship with math by understanding where our math anxiety comes from, what it looks like, and how it affects us and our capacity to learn.

 Hamlin Middle School Student example of their anxiety monster.

Hamlin Middle School Student example of their anxiety monster.

What is it? In this module, students learn about anxiety, and how everyone has anxiety in one way or another about math. Students draw visual representations, and use those drawings as a template for a 3D representation of their math anxiety. By discussing anxiety with their peers, students learn that anxiety is normal, and can be reduced when talking about it with a peer or teacher. Once this line of communication has been opened, students will be much more likely to ask questions in class about material they do not understand, creating a healthy and vibrant learning atmosphere.

Main Purpose: By showing students that they are not alone in their anxiety and providing them tools to cope and grow their resiliency in the face of learning challenges, they can begin to create positive relationships with tricky content and learning experiences that presented a struggle in the past. Some of these tools are taking an anxiety assessment to gain awareness, learning techniques to generate calmness through breathing, journaling about their thoughts and feelings, and exploring and representing those feelings through an art form. Based on insights from students, it is clear that those tools can become applicable to many parts of a student's life. Further, by learning to Engage & Persist through personal challenges, students can carry these new skills into high school and onward as they shape healthy lives in young adulthood. Perhaps one of the most powerful reflections that we have heard come from participating math teachers. Several reported a new understanding about their students and the kinds of instructional decisions they can make as teachers to support their students’ resilience and healthy relationship to math.

 Hamlin Middle School student example of their anxiety monster.

Hamlin Middle School student example of their anxiety monster.

Want to see more? Navigate to the ArtCore Modules section under “Teaching & Learning” or you can click here.