All posts by Grace V - MECKids Intern

100th Birthday & 50th Anniversary!!

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This is the 50th anniversary of “Singing In The Rain” and the 100th  birthday for its star, Gene Kelly!!  Use this anniversary to do a video survey of the movie, which is a classic!  You may have to help your students understand certain parts but, they will love it!!   Once you have watched the movie, have students create fun fact lists in your computer lab.

Example: many of the characters were based on real people:

  1. Lena Lamont was based on the actress Norma Talmadge
  2. Gene Kelly made the iconic “Singing In The Rain” number while battling the flu with a 105 temperature!!


What did your students have to say about the movie?

Everything Comes Back!!!

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I was happy to read in the newspaper about a study that was recently published about the impact of recess and free play; it is good for children on the physical, social and educational levels.  Many students have lost the required 20 minutes of free play and 40 minutes of organized physical education due to the need to work on testing requirements.  This time varies from state to state with some states having no required physical education.  Let’s have our kids put down the electronics and GO OUTSIDE!!


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Once students have established a movement vocabulary, I like to have them write the rubrics-using a 1-4 scale.  I keep it simple and have them create under three areas:

  1. Technique
  2. Artistry
  3. Intent

Under technique, What is a 4?  (Pointed feet, jumps that leave the floor, land quietly, etc).

Divide the class into the three areas and let them own the learning!  This also helps them in regards to peer and self evaluation to be able to put into words what good dancing looks like!

Hero Dance Pt. II

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Now that students have created their movement piece about their hero, have them present to each other.  To further advance the meaning, have students bring in an artifact that represents their hero (like a picture or an object).  Students will lean towards people that are not living. Express to them the hero can still be living AND the dances can be happy!   Whatever the hero or dance, the purpose is to convey meaning!!  Use the peer evaluation as a tool to edit and re-edit the dances.  Once this has taken place, record the dances and have students do a self evaluation:

Did the piece convey the intended meaning? Was the movement story clear?

Have fun & be creative!!!

Write and dance together yes really!

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Have students brainstorm about their personal hero.  Is it their parents, classmate, pet, someone from pop culture?  Whoever it is- it’s OK!  Have students write an essay explaining their choice- what makes them special? How have they impacted their life? Do they have any special personality traits or funny habits?

My example to my students: I used to have a dance teacher that used to take a picture of herself in a bikini every year on her birthday (she did this until she was 80).


Because she always wanted to be honest about her body.

Students will select music that represents the essay and create a movement piece!!


Who did your students pick as their hero? Who is your hero and what would your movement piece include?

Taking cues from Dancing With The Stars!!

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One of the things that I love about DWTS is the fact that it brings dance and specifically ballroom dance to a new audience.  An easy way to start a unit is with the lindy swing, which is 2 steps and a ball change or back step.  Once you teach the basics to your students- let them figure out the mirror image- first with no hands-just facing each other.  Then try a simple hand to hand connection-palm up for the leader and hands down for the follower.  Another great footnote is sanitation first- clean hands always!!  You can try a variety of music styles not just big bands- let the kids try current music.  Remember- the learner owns the learning!!

YouTube as a Teaching Tool

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Everyone knows about YouTube to see a kitten playing the piano but, what about as a teaching tool?  In my classroom, I use it all the time as a way for students to witness some great historical dances and icons from the field.  Here’s an idea: have the students watch a scene the New York City Ballet’s, Swan Lake and the Knicks last home game.  Just a few minutes of each, then try to create movement phrases based on what they witnessed.  Grab a partner and share ideas.

The Assessment Issue…

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The new buzz word for physical activity folks – ASSESSMENT!!  Folks that are not actually in a classroom lose perspective of this issue.  In a nutshell- keep it simple!  Teachers assess students daily to determine the level of the class and also how to pace the class, which is “formative assessment”.  When you are at the end of a unit of instruction and give the final test, you are performing a “summative assessment”.  Physical activity specialists, PE and Dance teachers perform these tasks daily without even thinking about it- don’t get caught up in the “edu-speak”!!  I bet you are already doing it!!

Relevance & Rigor!

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As a dance teacher at an inner city school, one of my best ways is the music that I select or should I say let the students select.  I keep a stack of blank cds and I distribute these to students for music with the parameter that it must be “Rated G’ and school appropriate- it has to pass the Grandma test- Would you play it for your Grandma?  Do students ever try to sneak music past you?  Yes!! As long as you are consistent, it is amazing how students will police each other.

Getting Them Up And MOVIN’!!

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According to all of the studies by the American Association of Pediatrics and others, our nation is facing an epidemic of childhood obesity!!   How do we fix it?!  Our children need a combination of diet and exercise; our first line of defense is to make this part of the school day.  Students will embrace this combination when it seems relevant to where they “live” today.  As teachers, the sooner we master this notion the quicker we will get to the heart of the issue.  Why not try to use the influences of today’s media to get students engaged quicker?  Over the next few months I will provide a variety of tools to get your kids up and movin’!