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.
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!
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.
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.
I suggest “Rappin’ on the Reflexes” from her work – a CD/book combination. Read more about it on her website and order the material.
Last year we had a few students (between the ages of 4 – 10) who were on the autism spectrum and needed a little something more. We learned about The Autism Program here at UIUC which is housed in the Human and Community Development program. We got some good ideas for helping students adjust. Here are highlights:
1) Provide a “social story.” We made a powerpoint that showed, step by step, what it would be like to come to class. Every page had a photo and a caption. This included exterior shots of the building and basics of the interior (dressing room, where to leave shoes). Inside, each lead teacher stood by her room waving hello. Then we showed a chart of the daily schedule and some caveats like “there may be some college students in the class dancing with you and the other children.”
We sent the “social story” ahead to help with the transition into the program for incoming 4s and 5s. They could read it with their parents ahead of time. We also had a copy at the studio in case someone needed a little additional emotional scaffolding on site.
As it turned out, we didn’t have any kids this year who were neurologically atypical BUT we found that the social story ELIMINATED the tears and separation anxiety that usually afflicts new, young students on their first day! We are going to continue doing this in the future with all new students.
2) Put a stop sign on your door. It helps keep kids from running out.
3) Have a daily schedule poster so children can follow the sequence of the class. With the 4s and 5s, ours is:
4) Children on the autism spectrum need to know there is recourse if they are starting to melt down. We have a ‘I need to take a break’ card that we can hand to a child who looks like he/she needs it. On the flip side of the card are some ideas (in pictures) she can look at for how to unwind: Mountain Breathing, Resting, Spinning, Watching. There is a place in the room designated for taking a break. We didn’t need to use that this year, but I believe it will be effective in the future.