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Dance Arts Integration into Academic Subjects

November 24th, 2010 · 6 Comments · Tags:

As a dance specialist teaching full-time in a public school, I’m continually weaving several strands into my curriculum map for the year:

  • dance as a fine art, with emphasis on the vocabulary, concepts & skills of dance as a communicative tool;
  • dance integrated into academic subjects, as a tool for exploration & expression;
  • dance as a creative process, aligned & supported by the other fine arts of writing, visual art, music, and theatre;
  • dance as an expression of self, culturally & individually.

I usually start with dance as a fine art, introducing vocabulary, concepts, and skills. As soon as we have some basics, my classes begin to incorporate curriculum topics from the classrooms.  So far, this year 3rd graders have explored the mathematics of telling time, while 5th graders have created dances about erosion and other interactions of water and land. Currently, I’m using cultural dances to fill some huge gaps in my students’ understanding of geography, a sad consequence of what happens in a school where the entire focus is on improving reading & math scores.

In the area of integrating dance with other academic subjects, I’m always grateful for ideas and inspiration. It seems like I’ve integrated dance in a million ways over the years, and still it’s refreshing to hear more!  Some dance specialists are fortunate to be in programs and models where collaboration with classroom teachers is built in and where the integration is a two-way exchange; I’m on my own.

Here are two articles that just came to me via Melissa Greenblatt of the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO)… Thank you, Melissa, for sending them out!

Schools Integrate Dance into Core Academics

Science with Dance in Mind

6 Comments so far ↓

  • Deborah Robson

    Cool. Science could have been a lot more fun and I’d have remembered more of it.

  • Karin Galligan

    Excellent. I love when dance can be incorporated to broaden and gel ideas in the minds of young children. Informally, I use dance at home to help my daughter remember what she learns in music and math. Dance is also an ideal lesson in physics:-)

  • Antoinette Crawford-Willis

    The commentary on integrating dance into curriculum leads me to believe a studies should be done on teachers comfort level with integrating dance into classroom content. I have been toying with a mentoring idea where the dance educator starts a mentoring program using dance and classroom educators.
    Everyone, please let me know your thoughts.

  • megrm

    I read your comments & fuller explanation of this mentoring idea on the NDEO/K-12 SIG (a National Dance Education Organization special interest group forum), and I would hope that most feedback from NDEO members about your idea would be directed there, within the group’s email exchange. Folks not belonging to NDEO who are interested in this topic could certainly weigh in here, or else join NDEO & the online discussion! Thanks for visiting the blog, Antoinette!

  • Barbara Javors

    I am designing a program at the Manhattan Midde School for Arts and Academics in Boulder, CO. These articles are so helpfull in helping other teachers understand how we can introduce dance as a medium for learning in a an atmosphere of kinesthetics. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • megrm

    It’s great to find things that pertain to what you’re doing at the moment! Good luck with your program!