Category Archives: The arts
Just under 4 weeks until production and the scene I’m in charge of is… 1950s rock and roll dancing.
I’m one of those clumsy sorts who is forever falling over and dropping things. For that reason my dancing strictly to the gym to limit the chances of doing damage to myself and others.
Yet here I am in charge of scene of teaching 20+ kids how to dance.
I think so.
Fortunately one of the kids in the group happens to enjoy rock and roll dancing as a hobby. I am also lucky that one of the teachers at school is an accomplished rock and roll dancer so between the dancer and the other students I’ve managed to pick up enough steps to choreograph 90 seconds worth of dance.
When you can’t dance 90 seconds seems like an eternity when faced with helping 20+ kids on stage. While I have been firmly outside my comfort zone some kids have been in their element. One of the joys of production is seeing the kids who might not be sporty, good at maths or literacy shine. One of my students remarked ‘they were born for this.’
Sir Ken Robinson often talks about how every education system on the system has the same hierarchy of subjects: numeracy and literacy at the top of the pecking order, followed by science and humanities with art and in particular dance firmly at the bottom of the pecking order. The current obsession with childhood obesity has given PE/fitness a bit of a boost however dance is often forgotten about.
In fact as children migrate through school, dance is something that we tick off once every year or so through production barely even touching even one of the four arts strands in the New Zealand curriculum: Understanding the Arts in Context, Developing Practical Knowledge in the Arts, Developing Ideas in the Arts, and Communicating and Interpreting in the Arts.
A few moths ago I stumbled upon a Ted Talk premised on the idea of replacing powerpoint with dance. The idea behind the talk was that not only can dance help explain scientific concepts it can actually help scientists with their work.
Yet I can’t help wonder why we can’t value dance for its own sake. Our preschoolers and junior primary children know that it’s lots of fun to dance but gradually that joy it is educated out of them. We tell them to sit down and stop moving and get on with the serious business of learning.
A few years ago I remember walking down Nanjing Road in Shanghai and stopped to see a huge open air class of ballroom dancers out in the morning. I couldn’t help but wonder would New Zealand be a more happy and healthy if there was dancing in the streets?
My moment of notoriety at the Apple Institute so it seemed fitting that the first new thing I would implement in the classroom was improv. I had fun during the sessions and decided that most of my kids would enjoy it too so decided to give it a go.
We started in pairs with the 1,2,3 game followed by the actions. Because there was an odd number of kids in the class, I ended up buddying up with a student which made it hard to record moments but was great to use bonding with the class.
Next up we tried the yes, and game. I put myself right into the firing line by modelling this improv line with one of my students dying a gruesome death over the course of the story.
We had a go at yes, but as a try at shutting down conversations before finally hitting the story time.
The students were thrilled and even my shy kids were having fun taking risks and playing the games. What impressed me most was how quickly the students wanted to adapt the number of players and even the spine of the story to make up a new game.
As part of the reflection on the activity I had the kids think about how improv could be used to help with their learning. Immediately could link it through to literacy and that they could tell better stories. It was disappointing how many of the students didn’t recognise that we were in the Arts and that creative expression was a valid learning area in and of itself moreover the activity helped develop their team skills through working with different members of the class.
It’s amazing how trying something new can shine a light on the shortcomings of previous practices.
One of the tasks I was assigned last week was to write an internal blog entry on dance resources. We were to choose one and identify how dance could be used to support other areas in the curriculum. In an effort to make my learning visible to others I’m reposting my entry here.
Dance resources I explored
Arts online has some great resources for all levels of the schooling. I looked specifically at the resources for junior primary as I’m about teach Year 1/2. The internet also has some great stuff to find and adapt to your students.
I found myself memorised by this Junior high lip dub which was a great advertisement for both the clubs and the school and I’ve already proclaimed my love of the anti-bullying flashmob by the Vancouver students that went viral.
Which dance resource did I choose?
How would you use this resource to enhance other learning?
Literacy – Students are using vocabulary and prepositions as texts to communicate through movement.
Social Science – impact of groups and spaces on relationships.
Language learning- this activity could be adapted for language learning by changing from English to the target language (in fact I’ve used something similar with language learners).
Science – this activity gives students an opportunity to explore everyday examples of physical phenomena such as movement.
Apart from being fun, dance also said the development of concepts in other areas of the curriculum. Although activities like DDR might be useful in developing physical fitness, dance also gives teachers the oppurtunty to incorporate different styles of learning into our classroom programme.
I’m already in planning stages for series of music lessons I need to teach for my arts assignment however I think I’ll incorporate some movement into the unit as well.
For classroom teachers out there how do you incorporate dance into your class programme?