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.

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.

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

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

Week 7: Integrating music in the wider curriculum

This week’s focus on connecting music and literacy involved creating a sound story linked to the picture book, ‘Henry and Amy’ which is a quality text. It is important that teachers choose quality children’s literature which includes the potential to sustain engagement, is multilayered, characterised by expressive language and images as well as make connections with universal themes (Ewing & Gibson, 2011). ‘Henry and Amy’ is an excellent resource in music lessons because it focuses on opposites and allows children to create opposing sounds with various instruments.

There is also a strong connection between mathematics and music which originated from the ancient Greeks whom believed “music was considered as a strictly mathematical discipline, handling with number relationships, ratios and proportions” (Beer, 1998). There have been more recent studies documenting how understanding rhythm or the pattern of beats over time can translate to mathematical understandings (Catterall, 2009, as cited in Ewing & Gibson, 2011). Examples of activities to improve students’ listening include name rhythms and ‘huggy bear’ where students form groups according to the metre of music. However, in today’s society, teachers should focus on the creative arts aspect of music whilst still making links to mathematical concepts.

Beer, M. (1998). How do mathematics and music relate to each other? Retrieved April 27, 2016 from http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~jjn27/mathandmusic.pdf

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

Appendix: Henry and Amy- A Sound Story

Henry and Amy- A Sound Story

Week 6: Listening and Organising Sound

This week, we learnt about the importance of selecting suitable music for listening activities to develop children’s appreciation of music. Developing children’s understanding of how music works involves them appreciating the different constituent parts that make up the whole and appreciating the contexts in which the music is produced (Jones, 2007). In order for students to identify what instruments are being played in a particular musical piece, they need to be competent in identifying the sounds of various instruments beforehand. Furthermore, students need to be taught musical vocabulary such as forte and allegro to describe the dynamics and tempo of a piece.

In this tutorial, we also engaged in composing music by using GarageBand on iPad. I intend to use this application as a primary teacher because the use of ICT facilitates a teaching style that allows for the integration of the curriculum elements of performing, composing, listening and appraising (Burnard & Finney, 2007). Focusing on composing, we explored how to create different sounds such as a suspenseful drone and a terrified heartbeat by using the different instruments on GarageBand. The benefits of using this technology in classrooms includes motivating children to learn, enhancing their ability to create and analyse music, and allowing teachers to differentiate or make learning meaningful to all students (Linde, 2016).

Burnard, P. & Finney, J. (2007). Music Education with Digital Technology. London: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Jones, N. (2007). Listen Up! Developing an appreciation of music. Retrieved April 14, 2016 from http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/culture/music/listen-developing-appreciation-music

Linde, S. (2016). Technology in the Music Classroom. Retrieved April 14, 2016 from http://study.com/academy/lesson/technology-in-the-music-classroom.html

Annotated video file- The Ice Dance from Edward Scissorhands

Tone colour

What is the first instrument heard in this piece? Harp

What family of instruments enters next? Strings

Why do you think the composer used a “music box” as part of the instrumentation? The composer may have used it to portray feelings of innocence, love, wonder and joy in dancing.

What voice range can be heard in the choir? Soprano

Dynamics/Expressive Qualities

What words would you use to describe this piece? Hope, miracle, peaceful, sadness, innocence

What images do you think of when hearing this piece? A magical castle, ballroom dancing

Describe the dynamic changes in the piece.
Both diminuendo (getting softer) and crescendo (getting louder)



Week 5: Performing- Singing and Moving

This week’s focus on singing gave me an excellent insight into how to teach singing across the different grades. The voice is the one instrument that we all have and we are all able to sing (NSW DEC, 2011).

During this tutorial, we engaged in improvisation where we were required to create two lines of 4 beats each about something that gave us the blues which is a topic all children can relate to. This task would involve students drawing on their literacy skills and can be extended to include “reading, creating and exploring various forms of poetry to discover the rhythm of the words and structure of a poem” (Ewing & Gibson, 2011, p. 125).

As a primary teacher, it is vital that I encourage all children to participate in singing and combine it with some moves to develop performance skills. Giving children opportunities to “find their voices in the safe comfort of singing with others; and when they learn about the strength of good posture, and how to project and be clear about the words of the songs…their confidence increases” (Wheeler, 2014). This confidence can lead to students working collaboratively in performances which provides them with tangible acknowledgement and encouragement.

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

NSW DEC (2011). Finding our voices. Retrieved April 11, 2016 from http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/primary/creativearts/assets/music/pdf/singing2ps.pdf

Wheeler, J. (2014). How teachers can help children enjoy singing. Retrieved April 11, 2016 from https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/how-teachers-can-help-children-enjoy-singing