This week’s input started with Zara putting us through a warmup we might do with our learners. We did some stretches to begin then Zara described some more ideas about warm up games:
- Disco tig
- Bean game
Each game has the aim of getting the children moving around and loosened up ready to start their dance. Although we could not try these they sounded like great fun. I look forward to trying them out with my learners. Next, we went back to the ten basic dance skills we looked at last week and had a practice by changing the sequence of numbered activities a few times. Zara also asked us to come up with a beginning move and an end move to add in. After being given a number variation for our group we were given the task of drawing a picture that personally represented Christmas and these were shared in our groups. Each group chose one picture, invented a movement and added it into our dance routine. It was great when it was all pieced together. I could not believe how easy it was to come up with a full dance routine with these few easy steps. The fantastic thing about it was everybody could take part. The activities were fun and engaging and I could imagine the children collaborating and sharing without realising the creativity going on. To finish off, as we would with a class of children, we did some cool down stretches. This is a very important part of the full activity as it will prevent the children have a strain injury and allow more excitable children a chance to relax and settle before moving on. To help us understand what we did today Zara suggested we read an article by Theresa Purcell Cone (2009) Following their Lead: Supporting Children’s Ideas for Creating Dances. On reading this I was able to ascertain that as a teacher I should be guiding the creative learning with the children by providing questions about topic and allowing them the freedom to discover and experiment and explore their ideas. Children will naturally come up with ideas that reflect their own desires, worries, needs and happiness. It made sense therefor that as Zara allowed us to create our reflection of what Christmas means to us and debating which image to use and how to make it physical that we were doing exactly as Cone describes. Cone also explains “Following the lead of children in the creative process required me to believe in the validity of children’s creativity, support children’s way of knowing, and be willing to bracket my vision for the dance” This statement indicates to me that as a teacher I should be able to allow the children to lead their learning and not redirect their creative thoughts or dismiss their ideas or meaning.
This input was conducted by Zara and Julie. Zara explained that creative partnership is about providing experiences for children and young people by involving those outside school to help make opportunities for creative learning. This can be done across the expressive arts. We looked at an East Ayrshire initiative which Zara led where young people were invited to join a course involving dance and parkour. The lessons took part with an expert in parkour who along with Zara taught the youths parkour moves and how to create a routine which they could use to demonstrate their learning. The project was a great success. The group of boys presented a display of their skills and many of the boys involved showed special aptitude on the course. Some of the achievements noted from the group were changes in behaviour such as resilience, respect and self-esteem and development of skills such as organisation, collaboration, decision making and problem solving. It is important that as a teacher I remember to tap into and become involved in these projects and initiatives as they will offer children and young people life chances that are not always possible in school or even out with school, but which will enhance their learning experiences and skills. Julie explained that there are always opportunities to take up funding to provide chances for children to explore the expressive arts and the achievements that come with it. It is up to us as teachers to seek out those people such as parents, friends, organisations and sponsors who can help contribute and design projects in which pupils can participate.
Today Diarmuid discussed how the process of analysing our work and finding out what it means leads to enhancement on other areas of the curriculum. He suggested that linking our artwork throughout the curriculum could be the way forward to teaching and many teachers do this already. It was interesting that he pointed out that we live in a visual world now for example, the internet speaks through images and so it seems we have an innate desire within us to visualise everything we do. Referring to last week’s exercise where we made the paint brush, he continued that ordinary manufactured paint brushes could standardise what we produce and by constructing our own tool for the paint we are therefore improving the relationship between ourselves and the painting and creating ownership and a unique and meaningful work of art. Carrying out this task is just like any other subject where the learning objective is a problem needing to be solved. Through the design process we are developing problem solving skills which will benefit other curricular areas too. Diarmuid went on to demonstrate another activity that could be conceived as cross curricular which was the integration of a poem with art. It was interesting to see how literacy could be combined with art by using metaphors in the image. This would also allow for children to talk about their art and develop their vocabulary and even for a performance aspect which is formally what poetry is about. We were able to see an example by watching a short film which showcased a poem called Homecoming and children’s artwork visualising the written words. Another film we watched was a presentation of a primary four pupil’s art portfolio. It was clear to see there was a teaching issue with regards to the planning of the art lessons in the school. From Jason’s discussion of his work, it was apparent that the lessons were a little random and there was very little continuity in the planning for lessons. Much of the work was also associated with topics. Diarmuid explained that if there had been more planning of materials and concepts the work produced by the child would have been richer in content. The final point we considered today was that children often find it difficult to talk about their artwork. We were directed to Rod Taylor’s higher order questions. These should be used to help children approach talking about their artwork which will encourage them to become more critically minded and able to articulate about their artwork more freely. We have been encouraged to use it too and below is my effort. I used my paining from previous weeks workshop.
This work has been made with a personally designed painting tool which allows a unique style of mark. Earthy colours have been created and the pallet limited to yellow, red and blue. The scene is imagined but described in words to the artist. The painting conveys a feeling of nature somewhat familiar to the artist.
I really enjoyed this week’s classes and I feel my appreciation for expressive arts is growing as much as my understanding of their importance in primary teaching. Overall I have a growing enthusiasm to teach creatively and to encourage children to reach their creative potential.
Theresa Purcell Cone (2009) Following Their Lead: Supporting
Children’s Ideas for Creating Dances, Journal of Dance Education, pp.81-89, DOI:10.1080/15290824.2009.10387390