Front-loading

Front-loading means, “to concentrate maximum effort on (an activity) at the outset.” (Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc.)
Front-loading reveals the activity road map, helping children confidently assume ownership of their movement experience. It clears up misunderstandings and helps minimize the need to backtrack.

Front-load to clarify movements, interactions, and transitions within an activity.
Select the fewest, best points.
Then, layer on additional details as children move and dance.

Front-load musically. When a song and dance go together, I often sing the melody with my own instructing words. This helps children experience the structure of the activity and anticipate the transitions before they even hear the music.

I’ve been thinking about front-loading a great deal lately, because it is so key to success. It doesn’t have to be boring.  It can be fun and engaging to the students as you deliver the content with enthusiasm as well as clarity. When done succinctly,  you can get on to the activity quickly and smoothly.

I’ve also been thinking about our verbal “um”s that don’t deliver content, such as “Now we’re gonna” and “Okay, so now” and the ubiquitous “Okay?” How to get minimize those?

First, monitor yourself. Notice your habits.
Next, take a breath and allow for silence in those spaces. It’s alright.

Frame the experience to begin. You can say “This activity is called….”
You don’t need the extras: “Okay so now we’re gonna do an activity called…..”

Reveal the big picture: sequence, common sticking points, including social interaction (changing partners, holding hands, hooking elbows). Demonstrate the right way with a student helper and point out why it is the preferred choice.  Stop the activity when students do it the “wrong” way and have them model for the group.  They’ll self correct under scrutiny!

Use visual supports.  Lately I’m aware of Universal Design for Learning and the use of sequential picture language for students who learn better visually.  I recently taught a simple circle dance with visual supports for 4 – 5 year olds: brown arrows to show “go in,” green up and down arrows to show “jump in place,” orange arrows to show “go around, ” and blue arrows to show “go out.”  Anything that repeated, of course, was identical. Children could easily see and remember the sequence, and we could talk about it during reflection based on color and directional arrows.

What are your front-loading tips?

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October 16, 2011. Tags: , , . Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance.

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