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make your day dance

A new year

August 30th, 2009 · No Comments · Tags: ······

As the start of a new school year approaches, it looms large. I write lists to clear my brain. Then I have lists, as well as an overloaded brain. Most ominous among my thoughts is “What am I going to teach and how?” In the largest sense.  How am I going to organize everything I want the kids to experience and master, at six grade levels (kindergarten through 5th) over the course of a year?!  Including but not limited to:

  • the movement vocabularyof space, time, energy & body
  • motif reading and writing
  • choreographic form and devices
  • locomotor & non-locomotor skills
  • groups formations & cooperative skills
  • agility, alignment, coordination, balance, extension, flexibility & strength
  • dances from every inhabited continent
  • how those dances fit with history & culture
  • a bit about styles (ballet, hip hop, jazz, modern, tap)
  • audience skills
  • the creative process
  • rehearsal & performance skills
  • talking-about-dance skills
  • how to express non-verbally what they’re noticing, thinking, feeling & knowing about life & the world
  • how dance relates to music, theatre, visual art & writing.

The curriculum, that is.  Every other subject area has an abundance of written curriculum — step-by-step guides for teaching day by day at various grade levels.  A teacher in any other content area grabs the teacher’s guide, reads the lesson, gathers & prepares materials & is ready to go… all of which takes time!  Especially for a really good teacher, who probably has a lot of ideas about how to tweak the lesson or organize the materials.  Nonetheless, the foundation of a teacher’s guide — the scope & sequence of what to teach — is a wonderful thing.  [If it’s a good guide.  Aye, there’s the rub.]

Anyway, dance education has yet to produce a dance curriculum that guides a teacher in a spiral fashion through all grades levels.  No, we do it ourselves.  We have some great texts for doing it ourselves — books that are chock full of lesson structures, individual lessons, ideas & activities.  But the progression is all on the teacher. Perhaps, I’m alone in this, but I do it differently every year, always tweaking & trying new stuff.  Because I haven’t found the perfect scope & sequence.  Each year I feel like I’ve done some great things — and missed some important elements.  Or I’m better with some grade levels than with others. Or, a great opportunity — like a resident artist! — hijacks our direction, and we’re off on a new adventure. Or the kids need a particular kind of work…

But that’s teaching, isn’t it? So I’ll stop whining and continue my usual process.  At this point in the year, my brain is filled with the Everything I want to teach. And as school nears, my focus narrows down to “What am I going to teach the first week — and the first day?”  And as school opens, it’s crystallizes into the really easy stuff that has to come first — where to put your shoes, what to do when you arrive & how to be safe — during fires, earthquakes & dances!  And then we’re on our way…

some of my guides

some of my guides

this year's plan book -- empty

this year's plan book -- empty

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