Thoughts on Teaching #1: Making Developmentally Appropriate Choices for Student Activities
Every fall I teach a course called “Creative Dance for Children” that is both a lab program for children ages 4 and 5, 6 and 7 and 8-10 AND a mentoring program for college students who are learning the concept-based approach to teaching dance, based on the work of Anne Green Gilbert. These students attend the lab classes, gradually taking over lesson components as the semester progresses.
This is the first in a series of thoughts on teaching, based on my responses to the college students’ journal entries on different topics.
- Don’t stick with any one activity for too long, yet examined the same concept through many different activities.
- Watch how your students move; it may teach you something about where they are emotionally.
- Give quick directions that did not confuse.
- Make positive reinforcement authentic. Don’t say ‘good job’ in a rote way. Believe it!
- Use ‘Say and Do’ as a means of teaching ALL content. Holistic, multi-model learning is hugely effective for retaining information and ‘owning ‘ it. When we are moving, we are learning.
- Let students figure some things out for themselves. Co-construct the knowledge with them.
- Provide opportunities to take risks by giving students movement challenges.
- Give choices – copy me, invent your own, copy your partner, AND model variety.
- Use the power of visual supports! (words, symbols, drawings, pictures, etc.) to reach ALL learners, including English Language Learners.
- Don’t always teach from the same side of the room. Change ‘front’ to change up the brain, too, for older students.
- Include ‘relating to one another’ in your teaching! Isolation makes dance training much harder! The sense of community we build in the classroom can even spill over into the hallways, lunchrooms and playground. Positive!
- When you keep it moving, keep it structured, and use student demonstrators… kids stay focused and on task. The teacher has control because the students have self-control since they are interested in what is happening.
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