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make your day dance

Dance is to report card criteria as…

July 9th, 2011 · 1 Comment · Tags: ····

Colors are to numbers
Dreams are to budgets
Flow is to schedule…

Such are possible analogies to highlight how jarring the idea of grades can be to dance specialists focused on inspiration, creativity & collaboration!

My district, Seattle, recently decided to revise the reporting of the arts on the elementary report card. Previously, what’s been available on the report card has been the name of the art form and a ✓, + or -.

Dance: ✓
or Dance: +
or Dance: –

…a highly subjective system that says practically nothing. Does the ✓ refer to behavior or to achievement?!

So revisions have been called for.

I put out a call for ideas & samples from other dance specialists, via the NDEO K-12 Forum, as well as to fellow members of DEAW, in order to gain some perspective, and I got a few responses, all of which seem to have uniform criteria across the elementary grade levels.

In Vancouver School District in Washington State, students in 1st-5th receive two grades for Art, Music, Creative Movement, Physical Education, Social Studies & Science, each on a four-point scale, using letters instead of numbers [thanks to Deb, Dawn & Amanda!]:

  1. Understanding concepts & developing skills [C-consistently, O-often, S-sometimes, R-rarely/never]
  2. Demonstrating lifelong learning skills [C-consistently, O-often, S-sometimes, R-rarely/never], with 10 lifelong learning skills delineated: strives to produce quality work, shows enthusiasm for learning, shows respect and courtesy, cooperates with others, practices self control, follows school and class rules, uses class time wisely,  and completes assignments on time.

At a magnet school in the Bethel School District, Washington State [thank you, Krissa!], all content areas are on a 1,2,3,4 system, including dance. Criteria are:

  1. Participation/behavior in dance
  2. Achievement in dance

From Lynn Monson in Arizona [thank you, Lynn!] is a report card including five criteria, with rubrics for each on a 5-point scale:

  1. Responsibility for Own Learning
  2. Positive Self Esteem
  3. Response to Teacher-directed Activities
  4. Self-control
  5. Social Interaction

My district is aiming for grade-level specific criteria. For example, a kindergartener is graded (on a 4-point scale) on “Names upper case letters” and “Retells a three part story in sequence (beginning, middle, end,” among 12 criteria for Reading. Writing has 11 & math has 13 grade-level specific criteria on the kindergarten report card. Real estate on the report card is a bit scarce, so each arts discipine will have no more than 2 or 3 criteria. The criteria should have:

  1. Endurance (knowledge or skill needed beyond this grade level)
  2. Leverage (knowledge or skill transferable to other content areas)
  3. Readiness (a necessary entry point into the next grade level)
  4. Success (knowledge & skill emphasized on benchmark assessments).

Oh yes, and be meaningful to our parents, as translated into their own language.

Clearly, I hadn’t seen a model for grade-level specific criteria when we went into our working sessions. Here’s the result of our 1st run at the task:

K-5 Dance Elementary Report Card Standards

Skills/Technique Problem-solving Collaboration
K Demonstrates movement in self and general space Demonstrates clear response to directions Moves safely, independently and with a group
1st Demonstrates basic locomotor and non-locomotor movement Improvises with focus and concentration Performs a movement sequence in small and large groups
2nd Performs combinations of locomotor and non-locomotor movements Uses repetition and rehearsal to improve performance Demonstrates a variety of spatial relationships within a group
3rd Performs combinations of movements, using the elements of dance Creates & performs a movement sequence with a clear beginning, middle, and ending Creates and performs a movement sequence accurately within a group
4th Performs movement sequences fluently, using body, energy, space, and time Generates a movement sequence independently to express ideas or feelings Creates and performs a solo within a group dance
5th Creates & performs dances using full body extension and intentional energy Performs with expression and stage presence, demonstrating perseverance Creates, performs, and refines  a dance as part of an ensemble


So reporting for “dance” on the report card will be different starting next year. Fortunately, there will be time to get feedback & revise!  And of course, we’ll need rubrics for each area. TBD.

Meanwhile… do you or your district have grade-level specific report card criteria for dance that you’d be willing to share?

Or maybe you have some different analogies for “dance: report card criteria” that will further the process of integrating dance as a content area in the mainstream of education?

Do share!

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