5 Practical teaching resources for dance

Primary teachers are always looking for practical ways to implement the arts in a student-centred classroom. Here are five ways to ensure that your dance lesson is not only engaging and rewarding for your students, but that it embodies the theoretical underpinnings of your teaching strategies.

These teaching resources are easy to use and will ensure that your dialogue and actions in the dance class are enabling students to create using their imaginations and their lived experiences rather than just duplicating movements.

Teaching Resources for Dance

As teachers, we are always modelling for students to encourage participation and expanded ideas of what may be possible.

However, providing activities that support students’ creation rather than prescribed movements develops confidence, resilience and individual creativity.

1. Encouraging Divergent Movement Responses

In this activity teachers provide open-ended learning tasks with verbal clues to help children explore various movements.

In this example students are asked to transition from still angular shapes into moving curved shapes and then back again.

The dialogue may sound like this:
• “Now we’re going to take the angular shapes you’ve made and make them curvy and moving”.
• “Pretend that one arm is kind of like a slithering snake. It’s going to come out from behind your back and begin to find different ways to move using curvy shapes”.
• “When you return to your angular shape make each body part separately become angular and still. Your body won’t stop moving until the final body part has transformed into its angular shape”.

Using description rather than modelling movement acts to develop students’ vocabulary and encourage individual movement exploration.

2. Engaging Transformation of Ideas

Here students are asked to represent their movements they have created about how they are feeling in another form. They could write a description of their movement. They could draw a series of pictures with or without captions. They may even want to create sounds to represent their movements.

The dialogue may sound like this:
• “Some of you have written in words. One of them is “I would go in circles”. In this dance that someone travels in a circular movement.”
• “Here is one who said they would shout, so instead of shouting with their voice, they might be shouting with their body.”
• “In this picture you are jumping, and the caption says, “I would jump up like fireworks””.

By sharing ideas that are represented in a range of forms students come to understand that there is more than one solution to the movement problem.

3. Inviting the sharing of ideas

Discussion is an important part of creating in dance. Many students struggle with the idea of others ‘cheating’ off them or ‘stealing’ their ideas.

Teaching resources for danceIn this activity the discussion about an echo starts the creative process. Make sure you include the science behind the echo. In pairs they explore ‘echoing’ each other’s movements; with one being the leader and the other being the ‘echo’.

The dancers then move in response to a range of objects in the space representing soft and hard surfaces. For example, if the ‘echo’ dancer is near a soft surface their movement may be small or not at all and if they are near a hard surface their movement could be amplified by using the elements of dance.

The dialogue may sound like this:
• “What is an echo? What makes an echo occur?”
• “Does an echo always the same as the original sound? How could you show this with your movement?”
• “Two students share their movement ideas with the class. It’s OK if someone looks at your idea. It could spark some really good movement ideas that will be quite different.”

The sharing of ideas encourages collaborative Arts practice in the Primary classroom.

4. Guiding Students’ Elaborations

Encouraging students to expand their ideas by giving constant feedback or suggestions can be structured into activities.

For older students this can be a reflection sheet that has questions about the process of their choreography. Younger students can elaborate on their ideas through discussion or suggestions from their classmates.

Here is an activity that is about creating a dance in two parts about the Tropical Wet and the Dry Seasons. Using photographs and information about places that have distinctly different seasons the students, in groups, devise a dance that shows the contrasting moods that these seasons may create.

• “You were asked to create this dance in two parts (Binary Form) but, as an audience, what made you think this?”
• “Did you notice something about the way they used levels? How did it make you feel?”
• “Is there something you would like to ask the dancers about their movement in that first section?”

Using questioning throughout the dance lesson can focus the intent of the choreography.

5. Engaging students’ metacognition

Planning for design and production and assessing the final product are important parts of the creative process. Students can apply the knowledge gained by using the steps in this process to a range of other areas in the curriculum, including STEM.

In the activity above students are asked to plan, come up with solutions to problems, implement solutions, revise and refine, perform and report.

The stages of the process may proceed like this:

• Planning out ideas in response to the photographs and information
• Create movement in two parts to signify the two seasons and how they will make you feel.
• Adjust ideas and the movement product after discussion and reflection.
• Concentrating on performing movement to the rhythm of the music while portraying the meaning and emotions of the movements.
• Self and peer assessment of the dance either oral or written.

The creative process requires students to use metacognition as they solve creative problems, often regulating thinking and movement responses simultaneously.

Using teaching resources for dance in your classroom

Whether you are coding a new functionality or writing an article or making a piece of choreography, you are involved in a process of creating. By learning about this process through movement your Primary classroom becomes active and alive and awake to the possibilities of the unknown. Using teaching resources for dance value adds to your current teaching strategies.

Dance Teaching Ideas resources will take your lessons to the next level. You can find tips and strategies with high quality, ready prepared content for using dance.