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.

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

Curriculum-Integration Techniques, and Ideas for K-2

As a Teaching Artist, I often had to generate dance ideas that connect with curriculum.

Here was my approach.

I would research the topic that the grade level was working on, and look for and jot down:

  • Descriptive words (nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives)
  • Sequence of events that create structure (such as science processes, words of a poem)

I might brainstorm and partially group-write a script or poem with the kids and clean it up later as needed.

 

Then, I’d seek to match my research with:

  • Action (in place)
  • Locomotion (traveling)
  • Shapes (individual, group) that stay
  • Shapes that move (e.g. water that sways, clams that open and shut)
  • Quality of Movement (including expression, emotion)

 

I’d look for:

  • Music selections
  • Words that would guide the action.

(Words and music could be the score, at the same time or alternately.)

Many of my own creations have come out of this process. 

 

Let’s look at some examples for working with younger students (grades K-2)

From AlphaBeat, a couple of science-integration ideas which you can find written up in the AlphaBeat Companion Guide

For 1st “Little Seed” and “Trees”

For mature 1st grade and 2nd “Snowflake Dance”  

Here are some ideas from other resources for 2nd graders

For a dance about the Water Cycle, see “Water Dance” by Thomas Locker as a terrific point of departure. You can excerpt material for spoken word.
For music, I recommend the storm section of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Marimba Dances – 1 from Light in Darkness by Evelyn Glennie.

 

For Habitats (Ocean,  Desert, Rainforest):

I group-wrote, very often, an ocean dance with the students (use Aquarium from Carnival of the Animals as your soundtrack).

For desert,  you can glean from Diane Siebert’s book Mojave.

I wrote my own poem and music for a rainforest dance.  (It’s in the Oct/Nov 2010 Issue of Activate Magazine…see later part of this post)

 

Here’s a list of topics I’ve successfully explored with K-2 students:

Language Arts

  • Alphabet Order
  • Simile
  • Metaphor
  • Punctuation
  • Folk and Fairy Tales
  • Verbs and Adverbs (more a 2nd grade and up thing)

For poetry, I particularly love The Random House Book of Poetry for Children edited by Jack Prelutzky  as a resource

Math

  • Telling time
  • Add – Subtract – Multiply

 

Science

  • The Seasons
  • Insects: metamorphosis, life cycle
  • Weather: water and weather, clouds
  • States of Matter
  • Animals: Adaptations, ways they move

 

Social Studies

 

A couple of other integration pieces (and this is just a small sampling)

Interdisciplinary Learning through Dance – 101 MOVEntures

A book/CD/DVD. Curriculum-integration lessons are divided into K-2 and 3-5th lessons

 

Rhythm of Math: Teaching Mathematics with Body Music (A Kinesthetic Approach)

Keith Terry

A 3-5 focused-curriculum

This resource is very rhythm-centric but it’s a very cool blend with movement and VERY math strong.

 

Anne Green Gilbert and her Laban-based, concept-based approach is great for fundamentals
Including Brain-Compatible Dance Education
and Creative Dance for All Ages, 2nd edition (which came out last year, and includes some video and additional resources as downloads).

 

Some of my documented integration lessons are in issues of Activate! Magazine.

This is mainly for music teachers, but also includes some movement. You can back-order some issues of  Volume 5 that include science-integrated activities for K-2 and companion strategies that go with them.

No. 2: Oct/Nov 2010 – Crazy Locomotion Relays (a great strategy for generating lots of locomotor movement ideas) and Rainforest Dance (Done to an original poem and includes music)

No. 3: Dec/Jan 2010/11 – Animal Tracks

No. 5: April/May 2011 – Water and Weather: Exploring Science through Movement (includes music)

 

If you have ideas of your own, kid-tested  favorites, please share!

 

 

June 14, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , . Creative Dance Lesson Plans, Curriculum Integration, Favorite Books, Favorite Music, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Teaching Tips, Thoughts on Teaching Series, Working with Kate's Material. 2 comments.

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.

Open Class or Informance “To Do” List

We just had our Informance – ‘informal performance’ – which we also call ‘Stay Day’ or ‘Open Class.’  We invite parents, family members, and friends to come, watch, take pictures or video, and best of all – PARTICIPATE!  This is the only class where parents can see what a typical class looks like. Otherwise, we are closed to observation.

In the fall, Creative Dance is a mentoring program for college students learning to teach, so we have several people sharing leadership during the lesson. My role is to narrate the rationale behind each section and to lead the final closure activities.  In the spring, I teach with one assistant only, and we trade leadership throughout. I continue to narrate before each lesson component.

I asked my students to come up with a “To Do” list that would help them plan future open classes.

HERE IT IS!

 

Informance/Open Class “To Do” List

PROMO:
At the beginning of the semester, include information about the Open Class. Two weeks before, remind parents about the upcoming informance/open class. The week before, post signs and send out an email reminder.

Print out business cards or flier promoting the class for the next semester and for referrals.

PREP:
Throughout the semester, track favorites activities from the lesson for Exploring the Concept, Developing Skills, and Creating.

Select from among those favorites to write lesson plans, keeping in mind the possibility of parent participation. Make sure the lesson plan is very complete. Divide up lesson sections among teachers and assistants. Practice parts thoroughly so as to be competent and relaxed in front of the parents.

Have a prepared introduction. This includes introducing all teachers and assistants and a brief summary of the concepts that we’ve worked on during the semester.

Have a prepared short description of the whole lesson structure, with specifics presented before each activity (including the rationale for each component). Integrate remarks into the lesson plan so all teachers and assistants know what’s coming, to help with class flow and a sense of community.

THE DAY BEFORE:

Set up seating for “audience.”

Have a sign when the parents walk in saying “Welcome Dancers and Families” as one last reminder, and to welcome them into our classroom.

Clean/sweep the floor.

Have props and materials all ready set to the side, easy to find.

Have the concept on the board written clear and large so all can see.

Have music on a playlist, organized, easy to find.

THE DAY OF:

Keep the before class-activity really simple, so anyone can join in. (We put out scarves)

Watch the clock or have a timekeeper to keep us on track.

Keep inviting parents and family members to participate throughout the class.

Make closing remarks, at which time you can get promo into parents’ hands.

Follow that with a fun, communal closing activity that includes everyone, and ends with the children and teachers organized for a group photo.

Be prepared for ‘hugs, hand shakes and high fives.”

Have parents help clean up.

Thank Everyone!

Note: A few activities (from Kate’ material) that work well for parent/child involvement in an open class:

Explore: Stick Together Game from Step on the Beat

Developing Skills (or Creating) for All: Apples and Oranges from Step on the Beat

Resting: Resting from Songs for Dancing

Creating (or Explore): Shape Maker/Shape Explorer from Step on the Beat

Closure: The Goodbye Song from Songs for Dancing

 

 

 

 

November 19, 2015. Tags: , , , , , , , . Recitals, Studio Teaching, Teaching Tips, Working with Kate's Material. Leave a comment.

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.

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.

 

October 3, 2015. Tags: , . Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Thoughts on Teaching Series. Leave a comment.

Teaching Size and Pathway in the Kinesphere

Last summer I attended a workshop on Language of Dance  with Tina Curran. Also teaching was Frederick Curry, certified in Laban Movement Analysis (which you can Google and find out more about).

Each day of the workshop focused on a different umbrella topic, including body, space, shape and relationships, and effort/dynamics. These concept categories are familiar to me through the work of Anne Green Gilbert. But the view lens and perspective of both LOD and LMA gave me a fresh take on concept teaching.

I’m going to talk about space, and in particular the kinesphere, because – since returning from the workshop – I’ve been exploring this in all my teaching to great effect. Lately I’m teaching children ages 4-10, college-aged students and people over the age of 50. Everyone is responding very positively to the learning.

Why am I so excited? Because sensing ourselves in space is so important.

Here’s what I’d like to share.

The kinesphere is the space around us. I give the image of a ‘hamster ball’ – one of those transparent globes that allow your pet to run around the house without getting away from you. I prefer this image to ‘bubble’ because it’s not as fragile. You can touch the inner surfaces without breaking through.

Within the kinesphere, we can grow and shrink, changing size. ‘Extension’ is the word for stretching and reaching the limbs in all directions. ‘Flexion’ is the word for bending our limbs at the joints, shrinking towards the core. Therefore, ‘extension’ moves us towards ‘big’ and ‘flexion’ towards ‘small’.

As we explore extension and flexion within the kinesphere, staying in one place (standing, sitting in a chair, or sitting on the floor would be options), we create pathways. Reaching directly out from the navel or core, we make direct pathways. This is called moving centrally. Upper and lower limbs can move centrally in all directions, challenging balance. Central pathways are straight, direct and radiate from the core.

Peripheral pathways touch the inner surface of the kinesphere. Movers sweep limbs across the space, in curves, in all directions. Tossing over the top is peripheral movement. Keep the image of touching the kinesphere to encourage big reach, and remind movers of the space behind and below, too.

Transverse pathways cross the midline, passing from one side of the kinesphere to the other, in front and behind the body while remaining in one place. Smaller, intricate movements may appear in this exploration. The pathways can take direct or indirect routes as they cross the midline. Encourage movers to explore all limbs, both upper and lower.

After exploring size and pathway in the kinesphere, take a walk or transition into a warm up and see how your sense of space is affected. How does this change your spatial awareness? Do you move with more volume? Are you aware of all sides and dimensions of yourself in the space, not just the front of the body?

This is a great way to start a movement exploration, and establish a bigger and more dimensional sense of self and others.

 

October 2, 2015. Tags: , , , , , . Elements of Creative Dance, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance, Studio Teaching, Teaching Tips, Warm Ups. 1 comment.

Recommended Resource: Creative Dance for All Ages 2nd edition

One of my blog followers asks:
I am trying to do an exercise, movement and dance course and need to prepare a movement sequence featuring air and floor patterns, for an adult class. Are there any resources you can suggest?

I always start by looking in Anne Green Gilbert’s book Creative Dance for All Ages.  It’s organized by concept.  Under ‘pathways’ you can find ideas.

Anne has just released a 2nd edition of the book.  It’s a real step up from the original 1992 publication.  I recommend it. If you don’t already own this book, get it.  If you have the original, get the new one.  She’s included music recommendations using Eric Chappelle’s Contrast and Continuum music and references the BrainDance (what I call ‘The Developmental Movement Pattern Sequence” as found on Brain Bop).

Here’s the link to Creative Dance for All Ages, 2nd edition.

Anyone have other great leads and suggestions?

 

 

June 8, 2015. Tags: , . Favorite Books, Kate Kuper on Teaching Creative Dance. 2 comments.

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