Students who don’t like to dance

Have a class that doesn’t like to dance? Me too! If my class had a choice, they would rather do anything other than dance! Instead of forcing this group of really reluctant kids to dance before they were ready, I decided to take a different approach this year. Below is how I managed to get my group of anti-dancers moving and shaking one month into term two.

  1. The very first day together all we did was talk about their feelings towards dance. I listened closely to their concerns that dance is very embarrassing. I also listening to their concerns that they would be made to move to music that they found boring or really, really awful, as my one student put it. All in all, I spent day one with my students just listening to their reasons why they didn’t like dance.
  2. On day two, I came back to them and honestly told them that learning dance was not an option at school but that I had heard all of their concerns and had some ideas on how to address their problems with dance. I made a commitment that they could always choose their own moves, own music and that they wouldn’t have to share until they were ready.   (The music comes from a pre-approved list of songs that students submitted to me.)
  3. On day three, I reassured them again that I would never put them in a position where they would be forced to dance in front of other people until they were ready.
  4. On days four and five, everyone made a dance on an app. There is a free dance app that is hilarious, called Toca Dance. Everyone’s dance was hilarious and we laughed and began to look at some of the movements that the dancers made on the app.
  5. On day six, Students watched videos of dances that they liked and shared and spoke about what they liked about the dance.
  6. On day seven, we watched a VERY simple dance together and analyzed it. We saw that there were five moves, some locomotor and some non-locomotor. Their job was to create their own dances with five moves, both locomotor and non-locomotor. Some kids chose funny moves like those from the app and some chose serious moves. All students choose their own music.
  7. On day eight, students created their own dance with a partner to a piece of music of their choosing.

 

The most important lesson for me was taking the time to understand my students’ feelings. This was a group of students that really wanted to make their own creations and not have their creative process dictated by the teacher. They also really needed a safe place to make their creations. Once both of these needs were met, lots of boogieing and shaking started to happen.

Starting The Year With Dance

Welcome to a new year! My name is Tammy Axt and I am a music/drama/dance teacher at a K-5 school in Brampton, Ontario. This is my fifth year teaching music and my first year teaching drama and dance. I am sure that with my new teaching package I will have a lot of learning to share in this blog. I love my job wholeheartedly and am proud to be part of the BEST profession in the WORLD! I should mention that I come from a maritime family where hyperbole is the norm when interacting in daily life.

In addition to teaching drama and dance for the first time, it has also been my first time teaching grade one in many years. Wow, they sure are a busy bunch. I’ve already learned a ton about having really simple, short instructions and built-in busy and quiet times. All of my grade one classes are also going to require a lot of community building and development of social skills.

This term, the grade ones will be making up a number of dances. However, this month I have noticed a few things about grade ones in my class. First, they cannot remember what dance moves they came up with three days ago. Second, they have no idea who their partner was three days ago. Third, they have difficultly putting papers on the floor in a row to make a sequence. Finally, without some structure put in place, they will have difficulty building on and revising their creations.

My colleague and I talked it through and came up with the very simple idea of housing their creations in a file folder. Each section of the folder would contain one creation that the students came up and at the end of the term the file folder with all of the dance plans will go home with the students.

Our first dance plan addresses the curriculum expectation ”students will use movements that are part of their daily experience in a variety of ways in dance phrases”. We asked the students to come up with movements that they like to do and draw a picture of the movement on two pieces of white paper. We glued the two pieces of paper into the folder and scribed the words that matched the picture.  The folders will be a valuable tool in helping the students to create their dances and assist them in remembering what they did in their previous dance period.

dance-folder-1

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dance-folder-2

 

 

Drama and Dance Resource

Report Cards are fast approaching and I can’t help hear some teachers comment that they need to teach and assess drama and dance ASAP!  For those who are not comfortable teaching drama or dance or for those who do not have much experience or access to drama and dance resources, it can be a challenge to plan regular lessons that integrate as well as explicitly teach students drama and dance concepts and skills.  I have many “go-to” drama and dance resources that I refer to regularly to assist me with my planning.  One particular favourite is the Council of Ontario Drama and Dance Educators (CODE) website.   Under the Resource tab you can search for K-12 drama and dance lessons and units.  You will find videos of teachers modeling the strategies as well as BLMs that you can print and copy.  Some of the lessons are marked “Members Only.”  Membership is 50.00/year, but I think there is a discount for first year teachers.   What I like best about the site is that there are always new resources added and I really appreciate the dance/movement lesson plans!  Feeling Artsy?  Have a look:)