Week 12: Integrating dance in the wider curriculum

‘Integration’ in relation to education can be defined as “relevant context-based learning which emphasises the inter-connectedness of knowledge” (Clark, et al., 1997, p. 16, as cited in Ewing & Gibson, 2011, p. 17). Integrating dance into the wider curriculum supports the Early Years principle that the learner is holistic and sensory. A holistic approach to teaching and learning recognises the connectedness of mind, body and spirit (Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace, 2009). This approach often sparks students’ creativity, allowing them to become innovative and reimagine content. The integration also supports the principle of seeking to make meaning and connections; where it is stated in outcome five that “children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media” (Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace, 2009, p. 42).

Dance is strongly linked to many aspects of numeracy. Learning dance can correlate with students’ understanding and applying concepts related to space and number, such as positive and negative shape, pathways, position, relationships, viewpoint, dimension, patterns, repetition, variation, counting, rhythm and form (NSW DEC, 2011). Furthermore, a key area in mathematics is problem solving which is required when composing any dance, particularly when working with other students. In the appendix below, the group composition requires higher order thinking and problem solving skills to create a dance that incorporates different dance elements while fulfilling the mathematical task requirements.

References
Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace. (2009). Belonging, Being and Becoming. Retrieved May 27, 2016 from       https://www.coag.gov.au/sites/default/files/early_years_learning_framework.pdf

Ewing, R. & Gibson, R. (2011). Transforming the Curriculum through the Arts. South Yarra: Palsgrave Macmillan.

NSW Department of Education and Communities. (2011). Numeracy in the arts. Retrieved May 27, 2016 from http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/litnum/numinarts.html

Appendix: Unit of Work for Stage 2- Connecting Dance and Numeracy
Students learn about compass directions and learn to describe pathways on a map using these compass directions.

Warm up
Students make locomotor movements according to teacher’s instructions of moving left, right, forwards, backwards or diagonally. This progresses to using a compass as a visual stimulus to instruct students which direction to move in.

Improvisation
Partner work- Develop 8 counts to represent how they would show the given pair of opposing directions. Consider the various dance elements.

  • West/east
  • North/South
  • North East/South West
  • North West/South East

Development
Improvisation leads to a group composition. Four sets of partners (8 people) join and are given a grid treasure map. Students must draw a path to one of the treasures on the map. Students negotiate which dance movements  (from the improvisation activity) they will use to represent their pathway  in order to reach the treasure. They will record it on their maps and perform it to the class.

Reflection/Feedback
Other groups are given a blank treasure map and must draw the pathway that they are viewing. The performing group reveal their pathway to the treasure and the remainder of the class examine if their pathway is the same or different.

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Week 11: Space- General and Personal Space

This week’s tutorial was based on composing dances with a focus on the element of space. The use of a kinaesthetic, auditory and ideational stimulus for the group composition was an effective way of developing creativity in our dances. In a primary classroom, I would focus on one type of stimulus per lesson to ensure students develop a strong understanding of what each one means. These types of stimuli allow us to use dance as a powerful form to change the way we think and Cust (1974) reminds us that creative dance is concerned with ‘movement imagination’ (p. 3) or the ‘kinaesthetic feelings or sensations of fastness, slowness, suddenness, sustainment, strength, lightness’ (Ewing & Gibson, 2011). These kinaesthetic feelings link to Laban’s eight effort actions. Furthermore, the group composition required a range of skills including collaboration and higher order thinking which assists in developing creativity, innovation and forming opinions. Other stimuli teachers could use include a poem that the students are studying, preferably with many active verbs or evocative imagery and ask them to create a series of motions to accompany the poem (ArtsEdge, 2014). This can inspire creative choreography based on both the imagery and rhythm of the poem.

References
ArtsEdge (2014). Shall We Dance? Foolproof ways to bring dance into your classroom. Retrieved May 20, 2016 from https://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/educators/how-to/tipsheets/shall-we-dance

Ewing, R. & Gibson, R. (2011). Transforming the Curriculum through the Arts. South Yarra: Palsgrave Macmillan.

Annotated video file- Group Composition Video
Title: The Power of Leadership
Subtitle: Divided we fall, United we stand

How has your group composition used the sub strands of SPACE to convey your intent?

  • Pathways- linear pathway of the ‘leader’ charging towards the front to portray that they are in charge
  • Direction- the ‘workers’ face and stomp towards each other to demonstrate their anger at their opposition
  • Dimension/Level- crouching down to a low level before the leader points at each one of us to transition to a high level with an angry gesture
  • Size- ‘Leader’ performs a big dramatic action because she wants the fighting to stop
  • Formation- two lines facing each other and the leader facing the front before turning around to face the ‘workers’
  • Personal space- each person has enough personal space around them to move
  • General space- two parallel lines with everyone equidistant from their opponent; moving towards and away from each other.

What other elements came into play?

  • Dynamics- heavy and direct actions were used to portray the emotion of anger
  • Relationships- fighting between two sides shown by pulling each other back and forth
  • Structure- ordering the different movements to create the narrative and give the piece of work cohesiveness

Week 10: Effort and Dynamics

Dynamics is a key concept in dance that focuses on energy, force and movement quality. Laban’s analysis of movement provides a framework for thinking about movement in the classroom where combinations of the eight effort actions can be used as a basis for movement discussions and the creation of dances (Skoning, 2008).

During the development of the lesson, the item ‘Revolting children’, allows students to explore the rich language of dance through story. The choreography for this dance highlights the heavy and sudden actions in Laban’s movement. When students are asked to create an action that is revolting, it is crucial teachers ensure that no one is doing anything inappropriate. Furthermore, a unit of work where students study the novel, ‘Matilda’ could be linked to a series of dance lessons exploring the link between literacy and movement. Students could improvise creative movement to explore the feelings and themes in the novel or do a non-verbal character analysis which they can verbalise afterwards (Griss, 1994). Creative movement through choreography could also help children remember sequences of events in a novel (Griss, 1994). Due to the limited time to teach everything in the curriculum, linking learning about Laban’s movements to the novel study of ‘Matilda’ is an effective strategy.

References
Griss, S. (1994). Creative Movement: A Language for Learning. Educational leadership, 51(5), 78-80.

Skoning, S. (2008). Movement and Dance in the Inclusive Classroom. TEACHING Exceptional Children Plus, 4(6), 2-11.

 

Week 9: The Body

Teaching young girls dance on a weekly basis has enabled me to develop a passion for this KLA. This week focused on body skills, body shapes and body actions, and how these movements are used to explore the elements of dance. Working collaboratively with others to teach the ‘hokey pokey’ which develops coordination, I became aware of the importance of mirroring the movements when facing the students to prevent any confusion between left and right. This task highlighted the goals of creative dance, including students knowing their bodies and feeling comfortable with and confident in them as well as applying artistic elements (Ewing & Gibson, 2011).

Furthermore, focusing on body shapes by using visual literacy was an effective non verbal activity. This assists with classroom management because many children who exhibit behaviours that challenge teachers may be kinesthetic learners and “when creative energy is aligned with learning objectives, a positive environment is created” (Skoning, 2008, p. 4). Using visual literacy was also linked to mathematics by showing shapes where students were required to have a solid understanding of its properties. Throughout the tutorial, I was constantly reflecting on the activities, to critically and creatively make judgements about how I would adapt them for use in a primary classroom.

References
Ewing, R. & Gibson, R. (2011). Transforming the Curriculum through the Arts. South Yarra: Palsgrave Macmillan.

Skoning, S. (2008). Movement and Dance in the Inclusive Classroom. TEACHING Exceptional Children Plus, 4(6), 2-11.