As soon as I walk into Bell Multicultural High School I can hear screaming of cheers and singing along with Miss Chi Chi Monet. I rush to the auditorium to find everyone from the age of 6 to 56 up on their feet dancing and moving to Chi Chi’s new single, ‘Move’. The audience loves the 10 year old rapper who is just too cute and boy does she have a voice! I see another little girl who looks just like her that is running through the aisles dancing and singing along. Later, I find out its Chi Chi’s younger sister Zoe who is clearly just as adorable and talented as Chi Chi.
After their performance they run off stage as everyone is still dancing and cheering for these two young girls who just rocked the show for the last few minutes. Excited to meet them, I eventually catch up to them and ask for a few minutes of their time. I cannot wait to hear their story and what they have to say about their music and inspiration! They even gave us another preview of ‘Move’ again!
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:
Lena Lamont was based on the actress Norma Talmadge
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?
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 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?
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!!
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 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!!
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.