Professional Development: Dance Education Laboratory Summer Institute

I just returned from two transformative weeks in New York City at the Dance Education Laboratory (DEL)

I took two workshops: DEL Essentials and DEL Early Childhood

Essentials was a three-day intensive with a broad spectrum of people, from professional dancers to college students to working dance educators from New York, across the country (like myself), and the globe (Spain, Taiwan, Korea, to name three). We learned the philosophy of DEL, centered on developing a movement sentence of action words, which either stands alone or emerges from thematic content. From that point of departure, one layers on exploration through the Laban movement vocabulary and then further develops the material through choreographic tools. It’s very open-ended and student-centered.

We looked at advocacy as well, because each of us needs an articulate and persuasive argument for why dance is so important in education. Advocacy promotes understanding and support, so vital to our existence and continuation.

Early Childhood was a five-day workshop. We went in depth, developing a lesson and unit progression, writing our own unit and lesson progressions and sharing them, and learning more about child development and behavior management.

I recommend these workshops. They pair nicely with the Laban concept-based approach of Anne Green Gilbert . If you are already familiar Anne’s lesson progression and brain-compatible work, you will find the DEL work to reveal another facet of dance pedagogy.

Plus, you get to meet great people doing meaningful work in exciting New York City. I loved my time there.

You can register for next summer’s classes after January. Tell ‘em Kate sent you!

 

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July 13, 2016. Tags: , , , . Curriculum Integration, Lesson Plan Organization, Professional Development, Recommended Resources, Teaching Skills. 2 comments.

Professional Development Learning Opportunities

You may not know about the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO).  This organization has recently started offering on-line courses through the program they call the On-line Professional Development Institute (OPDI). Check out the link to see their summer and fall course offerings.

I was particularly taken with two course offerings:

OPDI-104: Creative Process for Dance Integration

Professor: Marty Sprague; Tuition $500; 3-NDEO endorsed CEUs; 10 weeks; 2 Undergraduate Credits available from University of North Carolina / Greensboro (UNCG course # DCE 245) for additional $300.

In this course, participants will explore arts integration using the creative process as a method for developing movement and integrating dance with other academic subjects. Participants will work through the steps of the process, documenting their thinking throughout using process portfolio forms as well as creating original movement and choreography. Created movement and dances will be videotaped and posted on the private (secure) discussion board for instructor and peer feedback. Participants may use their own students OR work through the process as a solo. Participants follow a logical progression of movement activities increasing in complexity from inspiration and dance design to creation of an integrated project. Book required: Dance About Anything by Sprague, Scheff, & Mc-Greevy-Nichols.

 

OPDI-114: Teaching Dance to Students with Disabilities

Professor: Theresa Purcell Cone; Tuition $500; 3 NDEO-Endorsed CEUs; 12 weeks

Dance for students with disabilities is a means for them to express and communicate feelings and ideas, collaborate with others and learn new movement possibilities. All students need opportunities to learn, create, perform and respond to dance in all its forms. Through this course educators will learn instructional strategies that successfully include students with disabilities in the P-12 dance program. The course also addresses legislation related to students with disabilities, current issues for inclusion, people first language, characteristics of different disabilities, Individual Education Plans (IEP), Assessment and Goal development, accessible learning environments, and content and teaching modifications for learning in dance education. Educators who teach in the P-12 schools, private studios, higher education, and community dance programs will find this course can assist them with the knowledge and learning experiences to provide meaningful dance education programs for students with disabilities.

Check out the site. The application fee is reasonable if you are not an NDEO member.

June 23, 2016. Tags: , , . Curriculum Integration, Recommended Resources, Special Needs, Teaching Skills. 1 comment.

Thoughts on Teaching: Working with Challenging Groups

This is the 5th post in my “Thoughts on Teaching” Series.

I just completed a two-week residency with a group of 4th graders at a public elementary school in my town. This was a large (28) and diverse group. There were a lot of concentration problems. Some were ‘too cool for school’ and their self-consciousness distracted them. Here were a few issues that came up.

Issue 1: “I don’t want to work with my partner”

A former college student of mine shadowed me on the residency. One of her questions was, “what do you do when kids don’t want to work together?”

Boy, does this one come up in every day life!

It can be very frustrating when one of two children (paired by their classroom teacher rather than self-selected) digs in and says, “he won’t do anything” about his partner.

For us, patience is a virtue. Try several points of entry, and remember that tomorrow is a new day.

1) “Show me what you’ve got.” I just ask them to show me anything and use it as a catalyst to build.

2) “What’s your idea?” Hear from both parties, and model pulling different ideas together. This is a good solution to the problem of: “my partner won’t do anything I say.”

3) “Take a break.” One person may be unable to work that day. Let her sit out, while the compliant student creates. The next day, they may be able to work together and there will be material to start from.

Issue 2: Listening

What’s the point of teaching if you cover the material but the material does not cover the child?

Some quick solutions:

1) “If you can hear me, put your hands on your __________” (head, shoulders, etc.) A quick scan around the room tells you who was tuned out.

2) Have them show (or tell) you. SHOW – When you review what you’ve just presented, have the group raise their hands when they hear the cue (or whatever the content is you are trying to impress upon them). TELL – If you call on the students who know, you’ll still have the space cadets floating out there. So ask the space cadets instead. Sometimes I will tell specific students that I will be calling on them immediately after I give the instruction, and they will have to repeat the key point.

3) Break it into chunks. Smaller bits are easier to digest.

Issue 2: Owning It

When students create and then perform their dances with no energy, apathetically, with small and cramped movements, and a sense of embarrassment, they need coaching.

1) Show 2 ways – Demonstrate the self-conscious, boring way and the energized, committed way.
Have students show, with their fingers indicating #1 or #2, which way was more interesting to watch. (They always pick the committed way). Then talk about why. “The audience doesn’t want to see your attitude about the thing you are doing. They want to see the content. Be committed to what you are doing. Let the audience see it.”

2) Make it bigger! Dances often ‘shrink’ in energy and size. Get everyone on his or her feet and have the students experience a big kinesphere of space, reaching in all directions. This gets the blood flowing and serves as a ‘reset’ too. Then, when they return to their dances, use the kinesphere image for overall size and energy.

3) It’s yours. Remind students that these are their creations. Own it!

May 23, 2016. Tags: , , , , . Behavior Management, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Special Needs, Teaching Skills, Teaching Tips, Thoughts on Teaching Series. Leave a comment.

Thoughts on Teaching Series #4: Teaching General Space in a Small Room

This week I worked with several challenging 1st grade groups in the music room. Not a big room, and at least 4 students had poor impulse control.

However, I wanted to do The Stick Together Game (from Step on the Beat) as a follow up to teaching Body Shape Jam (from AlphaBeat) for a lesson on Body Parts. This would involve traveling, stopping, connecting parts, then traveling again with parts connected.

Here’s how I set them up for traveling. First, we did a call and response of “General Space, Go!” with voice and gesture, clapping the syllables of ‘general space,’ and pointing across for ‘go.’

Next, I demonstrated traveling, with words recited rhythmically, while playing the pulse on my hand-held drum:

Move into the empty space/ bodies moves-mouths don’t/ listen for the stopping sound/ stop on your spot//

Each short phrase was 4 beats long, so the demonstration was 2 8’s long, which is a good duration for general space traveling practice. The last 4 counts included shaking the drum to indicate the stop was coming and playing a strong double beat to indicate stop.

I kept my key words to address body control, spatial awareness, and listening skills, which are crucial to success.

Then, we did it as a group, with my words and drum. A third practice was ‘drum talk’ only.

Happy to say that, when we did the group activity in general space, it was a success.

I might add that my locomotor choice for this activity started with walking on the pulse. We could graduate to gallop or skip if students demonstrated the crucial success skills.  But not the ‘r’-sounding one (let the children figure that out themselves!)

 

March 12, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , . Behavior Management, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Teaching Skills, Teaching Tips, Thoughts on Teaching Series. Leave a comment.

What to do with…Apples and Oranges (more ideas)

I’ve talked about Apples and Oranges in other blog posts, as well as in “What to do with…”

(If you don’t already have it, you can purchase Step on the Beat through my website, katekuper.com, or from West Music.)

Today I worked with a challenging group of 1st graders with poor body control, and poor interactive and listening skills.

Thought I’d do Apples and Oranges as a partner dance.

We started with slap and clap, building up from one slap/clap each to two each.

For the ‘circle round’ part –I would typically do as a right and left elbow swing – I had them ‘gypsy’ around = circle around a shared axis with only eye contact, not touching. Next, I attempted the elbow swings.

Not gratified by the outcome, I switched strategies.

We formed a circle, still standing next to partners. Each partner committed to being either an Apple or an Orange, and I checked for understanding with raise of hands.

I explained the ground rules for traveling – skip, gallop or side slide – and demonstrated the duration by modeling.

Then each group practiced.

I had to stop the activity to remind NO RUNNING. (In fact, I had to interrupt individual dancers during the activity for the same infraction…. but no injuries occurred and cooperation was restored!)

Next, we did slap, clap and turn around on our spots, as I have adapted for 4 & 5 year olds.

In the repetition of the dance, I had them turn to their partners for slap and clap. This gave the dance just enough social interaction/cooperative skill building to be satisfying to the age group.

The positive outcome reminded me that we educators can blend strategies from different developmentally appropriate categories to get just the right balance, instead of staying away from the activity all together.

 

Happy Dancing!

 

March 9, 2016. Tags: , , , , . Behavior Management, Teaching Skills, Teaching Tips, What to do with...., Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.

Thoughts on Teaching: How to make a story dance into a concept-based activity

This entry was prompted by a question from reader Kerry B., who is currently teaching at a ballet studio. She wants to know how to integrate the expectations of ballet for young students with the creative, concept-based approach.
Here’s the story dance exemplar she provided, and my response.

Example: “At the Castle”

For ages: 4-5

Story Outline:
Driving to the castle, skipping to castle stable, marching with soldiers to get horses, trotting and galloping with horses, marching to dungeon, creeping around dungeon, tip toe out, walking into garden, hopping on stepping stones.  Tip toe into room to prepare for ball, group and solo dances at ball, grande waltz, leaving ball

 

Music Suggestions:
Driving
– An American in Paris (Gershwin)

Skipping – Skipping Song from Songs for Dancing (instrumental only)

Trotting & Galloping
Galloping Song from Songs for Dancing (instrumental only)
The Magic Toy Shop: Tarantella, Shostakovich
Ballet Suite No. 1: Galop, Tchaikovsky
Swan Lake Suite, Op. 20A – 6 Act3: Spanish Dance

Marching – Firebird: Infernal Dance of King Kastchel’s Subjects, Stravinsky

Creeping – Op.46, In The Hall of Mountain King, Edvard Grieg

Tip toe – Walk – Hop – Tip Toe – Ballet Suite No. 1 – Music Box Waltz, Shostakovich

Waltz – From Coppelia

 

Concept Connections:

 

Driving to the castle… pathways and directions in space.

Skipping to castle stable, marching with soldiers to get horses…. light and strong weight (or can continue with previous concepts)
Trotting and galloping with horses….locomotor movement and speed. (Or can continue with previous concepts) Imagination – be the horses.
Marching to dungeon, creeping around dungeon…. levels in space.

Tip toe out, walking into garden, hopping on stepping stones…. structure a phrase with elements from each locomotor movement idea. Repeat it several times.  Can bring back the pathway and direction concepts.

Tip toe into room to prepare for ball…. This is a transition to reimagining the environment. Preplan with dancers for where they will end in the space for the next section. Potentially a large circle, so that in the next section, dancers will take turns in the middle.

Group and solo dances at ball…. opportunity for ¾ time lyrical improvisational dancing. Can tap dancers on the shoulder to indicate when they dance in. When you cue them to come out, they tap a dancer to take their place.

Grande waltz…everyone dances!
Leaving ball… end in a final body shape.

 

 

 

 

January 23, 2016. Tags: , , , . Creative Dance Lesson Plans, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Studio Teaching, Teaching Skills, Teaching Tips, Thoughts on Teaching Series. 4 comments.

Thoughts on Teaching #2: The First Day of Dance Class

Our lab program meets Saturday mornings. We run two rooms simultaneously.  There are generally 12 children in a class, who have chosen to take this class (self-selected). After our first day with the children (ages 4-5, 6-7, 8-10) here were some remarks I made in response to my college students’ comments.

Building Trust and Emotional Safety

  • Get on your students’ level, physically (particularly important with younger children). Go ahead, squat down!
  • Give them something to do right away (we always have interesting props set out on yoga squares so everyone can go to a spot and find something as they come in the door)
  • Be enthusiastic and supportive
  • Be honest and caring
  • Show interest
  • Be loving
  • Never be afraid of your students. You are the Alpha dog in the pack!
  • Give freedom within structure, which conveys permission to be expressive
  • Consider the “V” of freedom. Start narrow and gradually open out. (As with good parenting).
  • Plan activities that help kids get comfortable with community (like sharing yoga squares with more than one person) and a get-together, welcome, name song
  • Be flexible with the shy kids; the transition may be harder on them. But expect that by 3 days into the semester, they will have adjusted. (although our class rule is no parents in the room, I make an exception for the separation of that one child on that first day).
  • Make sure all voices are heard (call on others besides the raised hands)
  • “No” is a ‘wall’…..look for ‘window’ options instead. “No” is reserved for safety and boundaries (such as it’s not okay to hurt yourself or other people in class)
  • Learn and use students’ names frequently. We take pictures of every child wearing a name tag the first day, then never have to use name tags again.
  • On Day #1, the room should be creative, but structured enough not to be overwhelming. Otherwise, with too much freedom, issues would arise.
  • Set boundaries and expectations the first day, and have an easier time thereafter. Example: Always give instructions while students are seated.
  • Establish audio cues the first day that indicate “clean up, time to warm up”.  My go-to instrument for the start of class is a recorder (block flute) upon which I play a series of 3 simple motifs based around the notes B-A-G.  Each motif guides students to pick up, put away, find a spot for warm up.

 

October 6, 2015. Tags: , , , , . Behavior Management, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Lesson Plan Organization, Studio Teaching, Teaching Skills, Teaching Tips, Thoughts on Teaching Series, Transition Magic. Leave a comment.

Educators you should know about: Karen Erickson, Drama

I first met Karen in the 1990s. She has hugely influenced my understanding of applied arts learning and teaching in all dimensions. If you teach drama, you should know about Karen and her materials.

About the Artist
Karen L. Erickson, professional artist and Executive Director of Creative Directions, provides training in playwriting, directing, drama education, and arts integration nationally and internationally. Erickson is a Workshop Leader for the Kennedy Center’s professional development programs, including Partners in Education.

karen-erickson

Erickson is a certified teacher of theater, language arts, and speech communications. Author of seven drama education books, she co-authored the Illinois Learning Standards for Fine Arts, Chicago Arts Standards, and the Integrated Curriculum Arts Project (ICAP). Erickson served as Artistic Director of Trinity Square Ensemble Theater in Evanston and worked at the Goodman Theatre as Assistant to Tennessee Williams. Erickson continues her work as a playwright and stage director having written fifteen plays for youth and adults produced by theater companies across the United States.

You can subscribe to her monthly newsletter and find out more about
Creative Directions by contacting info@creativedirections.org

images
This article appeared in her most recent newsletter. It is so relevant to behavior management related to group work that I couldn’t wait to share it. I do so with her kind permission.

Article 1 – How to conduct group work

 

March 1, 2015. Tags: , , , . Behavior Management, Teaching Skills. Leave a comment.

Suggestions for working with physical and behavior issues in the Creative Dance classroom

Question: I would want to know how one would go about planning a lesson plan for children with physical or behavioral disabilities. Would it have more “easy” activities? 

Physical disabilities and behavior disorder are two different issues.

Physical disabilities require modification based on the disability.  First of all, don’t be afraid.  Treat the child as a member of the group.  Be matter of fact. Be empathetic without being sympathetic.

 

Hearing – Position the child close to you so they can read your expression.  Use a microphone (head set is best). Some schools provide you with a clip on microphone that goes directly to the child’s hearing device.

 

Sight – Use touch.  Sing.  Emphasize rhythm.  Use imaginative play.

 

Mobility – Use touch.  Encourage children to move the parts that are mobile.  Engage with facial expression.  Put a child with lower body mobility issues where they can participate as fully as possible, rather than off to the side.

 

Behavior disorder

Children act out for different reasons.  Some children are ‘low’ (low intelligence).  Some have focus issues.  Some don’t like to be touched.  Some have boundary issues, where they will invade your space. Some want attention at any cost. Some are insecure. (This is by no means the whole gamut of reasons!)

Some are very intelligent and disengage when there isn’t enough stimulation.  These are children who will likely be among your best students because they want to move and learn simultaneously.

The teaching skill is to honor this variety within a group and address their differing needs. Sometimes you just can’t win.  I once had a student who deliberately did the opposite of everything I was teaching, and talked aloud at the same time.  Challenging!

 

Strategies that work

  • Teach 2 of the Four Tools right away (Concentration, Body Control).  Add imagination and memory, so they don’t think you are only there to discipline them, but to honor their creativity and intelligence as well.
  • Remember that The Sequence (Braindance) helps wire the brain for concentration and focus.  Do it regularly!

 

Exercise released ‘feel- good’ chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin which indirectly influences self-efficacy. 

Studies suggest that student behavioral problems may be reduced when non-competitve, nonaggressive physical activities are introduced in school curriculum.  (pp. 78 -80, Learning with the Body in Mind, Eric Jensen)

 

Low intelligence – Applaud and compliment what the child CAN do.  Make the rules of the activity for that child simpler. Partner with that child to guide, or have another adult partner. In a room where there is a one-on-one aide with the child, actively engage the help of the aide; don’t let him/her just stand next to the child or stand and speak to the child but not move with him/her.  (This can be hard, but you have to take the lead on that.) Pair low children together to do a simplified and modified version of the activity.  Pair a low child with a compassionate child of typical intelligence, but don’t make that child be the partner all the time.  Not fair to him/her.  Stand near the low child to offer guidance.

 

Focus issues – Teach ‘concentration’  and ‘body control’ and ask for it by name.  Create a special signal with the child that means ‘eyes on me.’ Call the child by name, and pause to use the special signal.  Compliment the child frequently for using the tools.  “Catch them being good.”  Do a ‘shake your sillies’ out activity after a challenging one, to help with reset.  Use Mountain Breathing.  Use Resting in the lesson, but expect to keep it shorter, as that child may wiggle.  Adjust that child towards the beginning of resting, then remind them to respect the group by being quiet and still for a few more moments so that you can give other children an adjustment.
Good prompts during Resting:
“Do two things that begin with R: rest and relax.”
“Remember the two S’s: stillness and silence.”
“Remember the three Ps: be patient, peaceful and polite.”

 

Doesn’t like touch – Ask “may I touch you?” Smile at the child and say something nice…..allow them to come to YOU.

 Space invaders – Establish a class rule.  “You may stand next to me, but not ON me.”  “When you push me I feel hurt because that’s not respecting my body.”
If you must stop a child and sit him/her out, preface that with: “If you can not keep your hands and feet to yourself, I invite you to watch this next activity.” Return to the child after they’ve had time to watch the activity with: “Did you see how the children used their hands and feet? …….. You may come back in to the group and use your hands and feet appropriately …… Good job!  Etc.”

 

Bright but ADHD – Brisk pace.  Compliment good choices.  Don’t be afraid to stop the activity to ask how they can do something better behaviorally. Have them define the problem  “Oops, we have a problem!  What is it? Talking?  Running?  Right!  What can we do better?  Not run?  Good idea!  Let’s do it again.”

 

Use the body shapes for learning frequently (sit ready position, etc.), even during an activity as a reset.

 

Autism Spectrum – Transitions are hard for these children. Let them in on the lesson flow so they know what’s coming next. Make a private plan with this child. Ex: Agree on ‘reset’ cues: a shoulder squeeze or subtle visual signal that indicates ‘time to watch and listen.’ Be aware that touch, loud sounds and bright light may be an irritant. Be patient, kind and flexible.

 

For more good ideas….. see work by Eve Kodiak who had developed movement exercises that help children with mind-body integration.

http://www.evekodiak.com/

I suggest “Rappin’ on the Reflexes” from her work – a CD/book combination. Read more about it on her website and order the material.

 

 

 

February 21, 2015. Tags: , , , , , , , . Behavior Management, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Special Needs, Teaching Skills, Teaching Tips. Leave a comment.

The Rule of 3

Doing something you’ve never done before can be intimidating.

A couple of years ago, I decided to audit a hip hop class. Most of the students were college freshman. Then there was me, a senior……citizen.

The first day I had to make myself be okay with moving across the floor. That’s the part of class when it’s you and three other dancers and the rest of the class is either waiting to start or waiting and watching on the other side. I had to dig down into my ego place and let go of my fears about public risk-taking.

It was hard to come back to the next class, but I made myself do it.

By the third day, I got into the groove. During the semester I learned to loosen up, get more grounded, and expand my identity beyond “modern dancer.”
Not only was it a pivotal experience for me, but I also earned the respect of the freshman class.

Similarly, our students may start by being intimidated or slow to embrace the new things we are teaching. This creates chaos, such as acting out, laughter, or non-compliance. In classes with youngest children, some may sit out, be reluctant to enter the room, cling or cry.

However, by Day 3 this dynamic has shifted. The little girl who wouldn’t enter the room without Mom is now pushing Mom out the door. The little boy who wouldn’t take off his shoes and socks is now relishing the feeling of bare feet on the floor.

For us, the teachers, the Rule of 3 also applies. The first time I teach a new activity, my delivery may be a little clunky. I haven’t yet figured out the fewest, best words and movements to demonstrate the skills. By the third time I teach that activity, the flow is better and I have clearer expectations for the outcome.

How does the Rule of 3 apply to becoming a creative dance teacher?
The first time I taught Anne Green Gilbert’s concept-based approach and lesson plan structure – and this was after 20 years of following my own methodology – I felt like I was wearing borrowed clothes. Having children say the concepts aloud was new to me, as was including a time for constructive resting. I had to trust the act of leaving my comfort zone so that I could grow as a teacher.

The upshot is this: be patient with yourself, your students and the process. It takes a while to get comfortable with “the new.” But the courage and perseverance is worth the reward, for students and teachers alike.

 

February 15, 2015. Tags: , , . Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Studio Teaching, Teaching Skills, Teaching Tips. 1 comment.