Dance is a statutory curriculum requirement at both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, but it is no secret that a large proportion of Primary teachers worry about a lack confidence and subject knowledge when it comes to delivering high quality curriculum dance. When we survey our CPD attendees at the start of our courses, whether they are PE specialists or not, around 75% of teachers rate their confidence as moderate to low in this curriculum area.
Pedagogy over Performance
The good news is that it is not as difficult as we first think to teach dance well. The key is to focus on pedagogy not performance. So many of us think a dance lesson means standing at the front, teaching a dance we have choreographed, or putting on a video for our children to copy. We need to think however, about using dance as a tool to develop the whole child, rather than focusing too heavily on creating a West End worthy dance.
Here are our top “Dance to School” tips to curriculum dance delivery, with some practical examples that you could incorporate into your lessons or schemes of work.
- Make it theme related:
Choose a theme from your broader school curriculum to help reinforce and deepen existing learning in a practical setting.
Get your children to create a mind map of all the words that they can think of relating to your chosen theme.
Ask the class to experiment with creating movements for the different words. The children can piece 3 or 4 actions together into a short motif. A motif is a set of actions that represent your theme.
For quality, you may want to get the children to consider how they transition from one action to the next so that the actions flow nicely, rather than in a stop start, abrupt nature.
- Use a range of Choreographic Approaches:
Use different ways of creating ideas. Try Improvisation with KS1 pupils. Play music and let them move freely, then pick out movements from different children and combine them into a short phrase.
Try a small group choreography task with KS2: Put the children into small groups and get each group to create 8 counts of movement. Combine each groups’ actions into a longer phrase everyone can perform.
Try whole group choreography with any age group: Call out a word from a poem or show a picture on the white board and ask each child to create an action or movement they feel relates to what they see or hear. Select 3 or 4 of the movements and piece them together into as phrase.
- Use inspiring stimuli.
A stimulus is something that a dance can be based on. Try to find pictures, poems, articles, videos or props related to your theme to spark pupil imagination and movement ideas.
If you use a poem, begin by reading it aloud to the class. Encourage your children to identify inspirational words and discuss how these could be translated into movements. Experiment with one word as a whole group to build confidence and share ideas, before moving on to creating longer phrases individually, in pairs, or in groups.
If you use a picture, get the children to think about the shapes they can see, what the colours might mean, and how the images make them feel. Can they create a short piece based on these shapes, meanings, and feelings?
Try using a prop, get the children to touch, feel, and describe the item, then try to replicate these elements through movement.
- Consider the ‘Where”
Once children have created some theme related actions using the ideas above, get them to experiment with:
- Consider the ‘When/With Who”
Challenge your children by getting them to work in pairs or in groups. Can they add interest to their movements by incorporating unison, mirror and canon.
- Performance and Evaluation
Always provide opportunities for peer and self-evaluation during your lessons. Performance and evaluation can happen at any time in the class, not necessarily at the end. Link the evaluation to your lesson objectives and ensure pupils can give meaningful feedback using appropriate terminology.
Create a simple feedback checklist for children. You may choose to focus on any of the following: good timing, use of levels, direction, pathway, canon, unison, mirror image, good extension, good posture, control etc.
You could use a digital device to film performances at the end of each week to document progress and for the children to watch back in class.
About the Author:
Eve Murphy is a highly qualified professional with over 20 years’ experience in education. She created Dance to School following a celebrated career as a PE Teacher and School Sports Co-ordinator. Eve is a truly passionate advocate of all things creative and physically active and is a firm believer that all pupils deserve to experience high quality dance, and that all teachers have the ability to deliver this, given the right support.
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