Connecting your School Dance Lessons to the NSW Curriculum and enriching student learning – Revealing some of Groove Nation’s secrets!

Posted on 16/10/2017

In the quest of constantly improving our pedagogical practices, we are always looking for new and exciting ways to connect dance to other KLA’s and deepen student learning by providing rich, dance-based learning experiences.   

We figure, why just teach an ordinary run-of-the-mill dance class with kicks, turns or ‘tricks’ when we could instead combine a curriculum compliant dance class with links to other content such as mathematics, science, languages, geography, history, drama, music and/or English?

Here are a couple of the ways we provide rich learning experiences for students who participate in our programs: 

10. We ask open-ended questions that cross into other KLA’s that promote higher order thinking, leading to deeper learning (Li & Lam, 2013). Instead of just ‘instructing’ using directive type phrases, we constantly aim to use open-ended questions that cross over into other KLA’s and promote exploration and creativity, e.g., “how do you think we might move if we were on hot sand at the beach? Why?” or “what country/where do you think this music might have originated from? Why?”

9. Often in classes, we will explore cultural knowledge and relate this to the dances we are learning. We have often had students in our classes who originate from the country we are discussing and this is particularly engaging, especially for ESL/NESB students. Just last week we had a Kindergarten student from Spain translate the lyrics to the song we were using for the rest of the class. He also gave us a quick run down on Spanish cultural norms and celebrations!

8. Formations used in dances require mathematical knowledge. For example, we often use a ‘pyramid’ formation that requires a certain pattern of students. Students are actively involved in looking at and making the patterns. We also regularly use even groups or lines that work on division and multiplication skills.  Learning to count the music also works on numeracy and we are constantly reminding students that the ‘magic number’ in dance is 8 – students become extremely well practiced in their 8 times tables!

7. Ever wondered what science and dance have in common? Well…  have you ever seen a dance about the life cycle of a butterfly? Trust us… it can be done! We can also incorporate other scientific concepts in dance, like push pull forces or comparing movements to solids, liquids or gases. Cool huh?

6. Latissimus Dorsi, Adductors, Psoas… can you point to all of these muscles? In class we work on identifying muscles and perform movements that help students understand what role they play in the body. Student love learning about such relevant concepts and we also relate this to actions that they perform in various sports, e.g., “if you play soccer or football you use your Psoas every time you kick the ball or run”.

5. In class, we learn many phrases including Spanish, Japanese, French and Portuguese, just to name a few! Students really enjoy learning these phrases and we often overhear them using them in the playground in various games!

4. We are pretty sure that quite a few of the students we teach are destined for Academy Awards with their acting skills. With drama being closely related to dance, it plays a huge role in our classes and we are constantly impressed with student interpretations of scenarios and their ability to convey storylines or respond to stimuli. We wish we had some of the moments on camera!

3. How do you teach students how to spell words like ‘entertain’? Spell it with bodies of course! Not only do we introduce many new words that students can add to their vocabulary, we have also been known to work on spelling! Students have so much fun making the shapes of the letters with their body in groups and spelling out words.

2. What is a typewriter?” Yes… we have been asked this when teaching our ‘typewriter step’. Cue history lesson… in the middle of a dance lesson.

1. Clearly one of the most obvious links to dance is music. We promote singing, playing and moving to music in all of our lessons and we don’t mind some good air guitar… or air drumming or two. 

If you would like to experience our content rich dance sessions at your school, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

References

 Li, M. P., & Lam, B. H. (2013). Cooperative learning. 2015-01-20]. http://www. ied. edu. hk/aclass/l'heories/cooperative learning course writing_LBH% 2024June, pdf.

 

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