Moving Into the Curriculum

Submitted by Jan Adams, Winston-Salem Forsyth Schools

Few would disagree that active, participatory learning is desirable, yet so often, teachers shy away from it. Why? I would argue that the management of kids moving around in the classroom is a nightmare to many teachers. But dance provides a fun way to practice self-control. Through disciplined movement and a creative way of presenting material, students and teachers alike can enjoy more active learning situations.

Management Techniques:

  • Magic

    For kindergartners and first graders. I introduce the idea that dancers have "magic" in them that they must pay attention to and take with them when they move. Their magic will be lost if they use their voice, or bump into anyone or anything. For skeptical first graders, I admit that the magic is actually their "concentration," which works like magic.

  • Elements of Control

    For second graders up, I tell the students that a dancer must have control of four things:

    1. body and movement
    2. mind (i.e. concentration or focus)
    3. voice
    4. space

    I then ask the students with control of those four things to please raise a hand. If the hand is raised, the student may join me. If not, the student may not. The child then takes responsibility for his/her own management and control. For those who choose not to stand, I simply say, "please join in when you have gained control." If a child loses control, I ask first, "Have you lost control of you_____?" This gives the child the opportunity to check him/herself. If he/she says yes, I ask him/her to sit until he/she regains it, but I let him/her be the judge when to rejoin us.

  • Movement Breaks

    This is a way to release and refocus energy in 8-10 minutes. It works well for the younger ones to expend their excess energy, and for the older ones (through middle school) to warm them up, psychologically, as well as physically, to participate in some group movement. The idea is to begin with some simple stretches and balances followed by strong shaking, pushing or pulling to tire out the muscles. Then follow with some relaxation exercises (mirroring or breathing).

  • Control Game

    This is a fun way to practice control of the body, focus and voice. With a hand drum, sticks, or simple clap as a freeze signal, all may move freely in the room, following four rules:

    1. you must follow directions (i.e. walk, skip, hop)

    2. you must completely freeze on the signal

    3. you may not touch anything or anyone (even accidentally)

    4. you may not make a sound (even a whisper or a giggle)

    As a game of elimination, children are asked to stand on the outside of the room if they break a rule, but only for a moment. They are then invited back in.

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