Evaluating and Watching a Dance Show

As part of my Expressive Arts module’s Portfolio, I had to evaluate a dance show. What better dance show to evaluate than one of my own?

I chose my most recent show that the dance school I help teach at put on in March of 2015. I thought it would be interesting to evaluate something that is potentially my own as I have never thought to or done this before. As I watched, I considered all aspects of the show such as choreography, the stage, the lighting, sound and costume.

The show had a movie theme, with each section displaying the likes of The Bodyguard, Tarzan and Hairspray to name a few. This kept the show organised and family friendly as we used well known films to try and encourage the audience to clap and sing along.

The show opens with a compere introducing the audience to the name and theme of the show with a couple of cheesy jokes to get us laughing. The lights then rise slowly to show the dancers standing waiting and when the music starts a range of fireworks go off! This is a great opening to the show using sound and light to surprise and excite the audience.

Throughout the show, the choreography differs depending on the song. It ranges from modern, to hip hop, jazz, african tribal, contemporary and disco. It is great to see a wide range of dance types that not only differ in style but also in tempo and difficulty.

The stage stayed the same throughout the entire performance. I think this is down to not only the lack of facilities at the venue but also – in this type of dance show there is no need to change the stage set up as it may detract from the dancing. It is just a plain back rounded stage with a white backdrop. The white backdrop was used as a screen on which pictures, words and videos were displayed along to each track. It was a really nice touch to go along with the songs and dances instead of having a plain back drop.

Depending on the song, the lighting differed dramatically. Usually, the lights reflected the mood and theme of the song and performance. For example, with the little ones doing a song from Frozen, there was lots of blues and pinks: blue to represent the ice and snow and pink as it is quite a cute and innocent colour. Whereas when the seniors did Chicago, the lights were darker and red, giving a more grown up, sultry feel to the dance. Noticing the different lighting effects used for each dance made it more apparent to me how important lighting is in portraying an emotion and how it adds to the performance of the dance as a whole. Despite this, i felt that there was a lack in the variety of lighting, for example, there was no strobe lights or spotlights. It might have added a wow factor if there was if these had been included. Also the abundance of pink and purple tones of light were stereotypically quite girly despite there being several boy dancers… could this ave been avoided with the use of blue lights or would this have altered the mood of the performance?

The compere introduced each dance with the name of the song and the group who was dancing each time, which let the audience know these details before the dance started. The compere was funny and made the audience laugh which raised that atmosphere in the room. The volume of the music was loud but not too loud. The music ranged in genre and timeframe which ensured all needs of the audience were met in terms of age and music preference.  The only issue was that on the DVD of the show you could hear the audience chatting in the background which i found to be distracting and rude.

The costumes in dance shows are a crucial part in the stage presence of the dancers. Again, costumes differ depending on the types and style of dance and song. Some were modern, some were old fashioned, some were cute and some were sexy. I especially liked a specific costume that the children had obviously designed and chosen themselves from their own clothes. You could tell that they were really pleased with themselves and it added a sense of personalisation to the dance itself. Along with monkey costumes, there were 1920’s headpieces, 70’s leg warmers, crop tops, sequin jackets and fur lined dresses! The range on display were fantastic and really highlighted the dances and the show as a whole. Some of the children did look a bit uncomfortable in their costume, and were obviously not consulted in the costume before it being chosen. Maybe in future the children’s opinions in costume could be taken into consideration a little bit more.


My favourite part about the show is that I was a part of it. Im sure all of the other dancers would agree. Being a crucial part of the behind the scenes madness, the quick changes, the tears, the false eyelash drama, the glitter spray and the sheer adrenaline that lingers in the atmosphere is something that you just cannot taste by being merely a spectator. The sense of family that is achieved by dancers is unreal and something that  cannot be fully described until one experiences it themselves. I loved the theme of the show and being fully immersed into the differing themes through the mediums of lighting, choreography, costume, lighting and of course the music – sound!

I feel as though there could have been more variation amongst everything. Something wildly different in the choreo, the lighting, the costumes – something that would make the audience gasp! I think props and stage setting could also be used in future to fully enhance the performance to its fullest potential. Technology and pyrotechnics etc, could also be used in performances such as these to add to the already brilliant atmosphere.

Developing Effectiveness in Teaching and Learning – TDT- Ocearch!

Me and fellow student Samantha MacDonald decided to focus on one resource from Derek Robertson’s input – that resource being ocearch.org .

This is a shark tracker which shows the real time location of sharks movements. All the sharks have been tagged on their dorsal fin and have been given names by the organisation. You can find out the length, weight and type of shark as well as its recent locations. Above this you can focus on certain geographic locations, such as countries or even continents and track the sharks who live in their surrounding waters.

shark-track                  An example of Oscar the sharks recent movements off the coast of new York.

Here is a link to Oscars profile – http://www.ocearch.org/profile/oscar/

We think that this is a great ICT resource for ensuring the enrichment of learning across subject boundaries. Not only does it tap into science, for example, a topic on sharks in itself, but it also looks at geography. This resource can also link to maths and literacy.

By looking at the weight, size and types of sharks that exist in specific area, the children could look into why certain types of sharks inhabit specific areas of the world. For example, hot and cold climates.

This resource can also help children practice their map skills, and help them become familiar with continents, countries and oceans.

We can also launch an investigation into why these sharks travel so far and so erratically, possibly discussing what they eat, how they mate and how fast they travel. By looking at distance, speed and time, this could be incorporated into their maths. Looking at their diet and how they mate is again tapping into science as they explore further into the sharks habitat.

This could be done in groups or as independent study depending on age and ability of children. This could then turn into a literacy project where they can either write up their findings in the form of a power point, a booklet, a poster or a report.

This is a brief look into how this resource can be incorporated into interdisciplinary learning. We plan on looking into this further while researching for our assignment.

By Kirsty and Samantha



Differentiation in Maths Lessons

My group were instructed to create a questionnaire to find out what the most popular flavour of crisps were in the class. This is a very easy and common way to practice data analysis in the classroom. We had to decide what questions we were going to ask, how we were going to record the answers and how are we going to display the results. It was fun to put ourselves in our pupils shoes for a change! We decided to ask “What is your favourite flavour of walkers crisps?” and record the answers using a tally table with pre decided flavours. We would then display the results using a graph!

However, Tara made us consider the different abilities in the class and how we would differentiate to suit these. We decided that as teachers we would hand out pre-made tables to the lower stage workers, where higher groups would design their own. We also decided that we may pair a less able pupil with a more able pupil to work together, so they can learn from each other, as well as the option of group work and working alone. For the lower stage pupils, they may want to record data using forms other than tally marks, for example bullet points, or whatever they feel comfortable with. For displaying the results, the children could choose between a list of various means of displaying data. Starting with a bar graph, up to line graphs and even further. We made a list of all the different types of graph and put them in the order we would teach them.


As a teacher we could also provide a pre made axes for the graphs to the pupils who required it. For others, squared paper and rulers. Also, for the pupils working at a higher stage, they could covert their answers into percentages if I gave them a list of questions. For example, “what percentage of people preferred ready salted crisps?”.

graphs 2

It is always important to consider every one of your pupils needs in every aspect of their learning. Even in a simple lesson like this 🙂

General Progression through Science and Maths

In a recent lecture we discussed the main points of progression through science and maths – points that can progress through every topic.

We spoke about unstructured play, concrete experiences, teacher dependence and the type of language used. When children are first introduced to the world of science or maths, whether that be in the early or first stages they will partake in unstructured play. This is where they play on their own, or with friends and do their own thing – pick their own toys and play as they wish. An example of this could be filling jugs with sand and pouring it out, or mixing sand with water to create sludge. Now as they progress through the curriculum and their knowledge is increased, they will advance onto structured play. This is a more focused form of play where the child knows what they are doing and chooses how they play based on their knowledge. This could be measuring specifically using millimetres and knowing mixing two substances can create a chemical reaction.

For a child to progress from concrete experiences to abstract experiences means that they move from using what happens around them or their previous experiences to thinking in an abstract and creative way. It requires them to use their brain to think up new experiences in their head rather than relying on things that they already know to be true. For example, their concrete experience of numbers is that they start at zero and work up in ones – 1,2,3,4 etc. However, when negative numbers are introduced, and decimals, fractions or percentages they must begin to think of numbers in a completely different way and use their imagination in order to help them progress further.

One of the biggest parts of progression is for the children to develop from being teacher dependent to being teacher independent. This speaks for itself, in the sense that in the beginning of any learning, the child will rely quite heavily on the teacher and the teachers instructions and guidance. In order for the child to move away from this and become more independent they must gain confidence in themselves. One of the most simple examples is when the children start learning the 2x table. They begin by repeating after the teacher, looking to the teacher for guidance or advice if they aren’t sure, reciting at the same time as their teacher. However, once they have fully learned the 2x table and become confident, the children are capable of tackling it on their own – independent of their teacher.

Another point of progression is the type of language used. In the beginning of learning, we use everyday language in maths and science, which develops into using the proper terminology of mathematic and scientific language as they get older. An example in science is that we speak about ‘guessing’ which turns into ‘hypothesising’, and when we learn about how flowers grow in the first stages, there is no mention of photosynthesis until second stage. This is important as at a younger age or lower stage there is no need to confuse the children with complicated words. What is crucial is that they fully understand what they are learning first, this way, we ensure that progression is a smooth process.

Science Investigations!

We began our input today discussing what we though science was in 3 words….BLANK. How do you even answer that question? It is everything. My group decided on: DISCOVERY: ANALYSIS: INVESTIGATION. These are three things widely used throughout science – things science would not exist or be successful without.

We also learned that things such as, planning, data handling, estimating, predicting, hypothesising, observing, measuring, recording, and planning and carrying out investigations.I have quite a lot of experience with scientific investigations from doing two sciences all through high school. Having said this, it is not something I am particularly looking forward or am excited to teach in the classroom. Liz showed us ‘brainstorm’ or ‘planning’ sheets to help us plan our investigation. I had never seen or used these before so it was great to be able to use them myself for the first time. These sheets set out all the information that is needed for the investigation, and all the information that is needed to obtain, as well as asking for your investigation question and hypothesis. These will be great to use in the classroom as it ensures all pupils are on the right track and are given guidance on how to set out the information needed before and after an experiment. These sheets also enforce the idea of constants and variables, which are sometimes very hard to get your head around. Basically, you can have constants – which must stay the same throughout the whole experiment – and one variable – something you alter throughout the experiment.

For example my group were investigating the length of time different materials took to absorb water – our constant being the volume of water, our variable being the material used for absorption. We found that the thicker the material, the quicker it absorbed all of the water – which is what we predicted in our hypothesis before hand. I also learned today that a hypothesis is an educated guess!

What we thought we could do next time to make our investigation better would be to gather more evidence, so possibly carry out the experiments exactly the same a couple of more times, and then come up with an average which makes it a bit fairer. Luckily, our investigation worked for us, and we proceeded to display our results in the form of a graph.

I would really like to use the planning sheets in the classroom if i was to ever do scientific investigations. We used sticky notes to fill in our answers on the spaces today, but I would prefer to blow them on and the children could write on them themselves when needed. I think I would need to plan a series of lessons leading up to the actual investigation to ensure that the children were completely aware and comfortable with the range of scientific terms and problem solving that comes along with it. Things such as, drawing graphs, how to collect information, use a timer, set up the apparatus needed, understanding words such as hypothesis, and to to work their way through the planning sheets. Learning how to successfully carry out investigations from a young age provides a solid foundation for their use throughout high school, which will hopefully aid them in scientific subjects as well as increasing their scientific knowledge and developing scientific language.

The Significance of Maths in Science!

“There is a strong relationship between science and mathematics.  Science is about exploring, describing, understanding and explaining our Universe.  To do this scientists have used mathematical tools for analysis of natural phenomena and describing the relationship  between natural phenomena in succinct and predictive ways.  Today many of our more abstract advanced ideas of nature can currently only be expressed in mathematical terms e.g. aspects of quantum physics, string theory and Dark Matter/ Dark Energy.” – Neil Taylor

Recently, we had an input in Discovering Maths from Neil Taylor, who is a Science Lecturer at the University of Dundee. He first of all asked us to write down every aspect of maths that we think is used in science. We came up with quite a lot:

IMG_8688Having done Higher Chemistry and Physics myself I felt very aware of the maths used in science, but didn’t quite realise how much!  In science, everything is measured. And I mean EVERYTHING; volume, density, speed, temperature and time are all to name a few. All equally studied in maths separately as well as under the term of measurement. The use of formulae in equations, for example in the top right of the photo is Distance=Speed/Time – a very useful and renowned formula that Science wouldn’t work without.

The use of graphs, charts and tables to display data is a huge one. This is important in science as all findings are tend to be shown in the form of a line graph, scatter graph, bar graph, or shown in various types of tables and charts. It is the easiest way for us to understand scientific findings, and its all down to maths! – E.g of my own graph from the input:


Even the use of positive and negative numbers that maths gives us – makes it easy to understand temperature, not only in Celsius but in Kelvin scale. Another couple of big ones are shapes, ratios, and converting numbers. Who could be bothered writing 1nm (nanometre 1×10^-9) as 0.0000001m every time? Not me! Not anyone in fact.

It just goes to show that our knowledge of maths is used in other areas, and are very important in these areas. This links in with a fundamental knowledge of maths, as it is allows us to revisit basic ideas from our early learning in maths and adapt these to suit the situation. For example, we all learned to do a very simple bar graph in primary school, a line graph maybe by p6/7, but never really used them again, or never used them for a purpose, only to answer a questionIn science, it is essential these graphs are used to display your OWN findings, so we are conducting a real mathematical activity.

It also allows us to form links between different subjects in maths. I must say I found the use of formulae easy in Higher maths as I had been regularly using it in Physics and Chemistry. Although they were used in completely different contexts, the concept remains the same and allows you to develop your skills in using these specific things.

Maths is extremely important, fundamentally, and every other aspect of it, especially in science. Science is one of the most progressive fields out there, and splits up into hundreds of different categories, where Maths is apparent and important in each. One part that is extremely important to the future of our society is energy – renewable energy. The use of turbines for wind energy, wave turbines for wave energy, and solar panels for solar energy are all on the rise in terms of popularity due to our finite resources such as oil and gas suspected to run out in the next 100 years or less. This means that the most efficient means of renewable energy must be implemented and this is all done by scientists and scientific technicians.

Also, in terms of the health sector, hundred of biologists and chemists research every day in order to find and improve medicines for our society. This could be done by carrying out tests which requires estimation, measuring quantities and displaying results on graphs – all areas of maths.

By having a fundamental awareness of maths we are able to use and apply mathematics in different contexts and relate the different concepts to form one body of knowledge. I feel as though this is done in Science to a degree, and science is crucial to our future. Therefore a knowledge of fundamental maths is also significant to the future of our wider society.


Musical Maths

Music and Maths – two subjects you rarely think of as being connected with each other. One deals with numbers, the other with sounds. Well, actually, they identify with each other more than you think.

“Rhythm depends on arithmetic, harmony draws from basic numerical relationships, and the development of musical themes reflects the world of symmetry and geometry.  As Stravinsky once said: “The musician should find in mathematics a study as useful to him as the learning of another language is to a poet.  Mathematics swims seductively just below the surface.”

– Marcus du Sautoy (2011)

So, maths is related to the rhythm of the music. Not only this but it is related to the beats in a bar, the chords, the tuning of the instruments and the scales. Specifically when tuning the instruments, we use frequency which is a mathematical term. Without the use of this, the instruments would not be able to be successfully tuned and we would be listening to some awful, awful music.

Personally, I use rhythm and the beat of a music a lot in dancing as I dance very regularly. We count in sets of 8 and generally choreograph a dance and speak of the dance in terms of sets of 8. For example, “We’ve learned four sets of 8 and only have another two sets until we reach the chorus”. Most, if not all, songs work in sets of 8, which repeat themselves over and over until the songs finish. This, fundamentally, is repetition which is an area of maths. Now every set of 8 is not the same pitch wise –  it varies, which links in with variation. Now because I know a lot more about dance than I do about music and its instruments, I’m going to focus more on this.

Again, society would probably argue against any correlation between a tango for instance and a higher maths topic, however it is not the specific topics in maths but the fundamental concept which is important in the world of dance. –

“Mathematics is present in dance. It is not the mathematics of simple number manipulation; we do not attempt to add or integrate through movement, instead we would like to employ abstract mathematics and various methods of analysis to understand dance at a deeper level.” – http://archive.bridgesmathart.org/2012/bridges2012-453.pdf

If we move on from the aspects of music in dance we find ourselves in the types of dances. Of these, there are hundreds, but probably the most mathematically equipped are line dancing, Scottish dancing, and even hip hop. I am going to try and bring to light the fundamental maths which lies within dance.

Line dancing (although I am not an expert), tends to be done in lines, with very abrupt changes perhaps turning 90 degrees or 180 degrees, perhaps moving in a square or rectangular fashion. This obviously associates with shape and angles which you must be aware of whilst dancing this type of dance.

As for Scottish dancing, in most dances, especially with a partner, you are mirroring exactly what your partner is doing – my personal favourite is the Canadian Barn Dance. As you are mirroring what your partner is doing, you are in fact practising symmetry, which of course is a mathematical concept.

Lastly, some hip hop moves are extremely technical, with precise movements of the limbs, head and body to create different shapes. Hip hop is also one of the hardest types of dance to master as you have to work intricately with the beat of the music, sometimes dancing off beat. Now in order to do this you must have a strong understanding and concept of the beat in music, which relates to simply being able to count in your head and hold this count in your head (harder than it looks may I add!).

Lots of extra points on the matter here.

The hidden secret of The Simpsons

The Simpsons is one of the most popular TV shows in the USA and the UK, but did you know that its actually one of the most mathematically sophisticated TV show ever made?! Me neither!


“Most people are unaware that The Simpsons’ writing team is bristling with maths PhDs, and that the programme contains a huge amount of mathematics in its content.”  – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-24344912

These writers, one of whom went to Harvard to study maths at 16, hide hundreds of maths references throughout The Simpsons’ 581 episodes. This includes a joke about Fermat’s last theorem, the most notorious equation in the history of mathematics!

Another example of hidden maths is in an episode involving a baseball game. On the way in, the camera shows a board with a list of numbers that show the possible attendance.


These digits might seem pretty random, normal, good guesses in fact, but they actually represent a perfect number, a narcissistic number and a Mersenne prime. (!!!!!!!!) What does this even mean!?!? 

Im not even going to go into what they mean as it is generally far too confusing. But it just goes to show that something that millions of people have probably turned a blind eye to whilst watching their favourite dinner time show, actually means something – something very complicated but also very true! These mathematicians have almost got too much time on their hands. It just goes to show that maths is literally right under our noses without even noticing.

Simon Singh has even released a book called ‘The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets’.

Here is him discussing the numbers of attendance I have just spoken about, he probably explains it better than me…


I could literally be here all day talking about The Simpsons and its hidden maths, but that isn’t the point. The point is the maths hidden within the show. This scenario happens in our every day life, where maths is actually concealed behind things we would never expect! Although we do not notice it I still feel it is really important as it means mathematics is still around us and even whilst we are watching the Simpsons we are still getting a taste for numbers and sometimes, extremely difficult mathematical equations.


Logistics and maths and supply chains!

Recently in maths we were introduced to the idea of logistics and supply chains. Richard asked us to think about the food we eat, how it grows, where it grows and how it gets to us. It’s something that is an extremely important process yet one that I rarely ever think about! I just walk into Tesco and buy a bunch of bananas, not blinking an eye as to what their journey to the supermarket might have been like. Many things need to be taken into consideration; the shape of the product, the weight, how far it has to travel, how long it takes till it goes out of date, the temperature the product must be held at (we don’t want the ice cream to melt!), the packaging it comes in, how many are delivered and where they are delivered. The list could go on further, but it just goes to show you how we must mathematically use our brains even just thinking of factors of a food’s journey! Another example of how maths is all around us.

An interesting example of how the shape of the product can prevent the full potential of products being shipped is the watermelon. Because they’re round, lots of air is left in the packaging which is basically lost money for the distributors! So Japan came up with these,




Squared shape watermelons so they pack more easily! The Japanese using their mathematical knowledge and applying it to food distribution… However, it didn’t catch on.

On the receiving end of the food, are the supermarkets! Where a majority of us will buy our messages from and expect to find everything we need, in their usual place in the same aisle every week. However, the supermarkets don’t just receive a random amount of food and hope for the best – this is where demand planning comes in. Demand planning is something I have never particularly heard of or new existed, but something that supermarkets and retailers – any business actually – can simply not survive without! It’s when someone estimates how much of each product they must order in to their store that they aim to sell, not wanting to end up with too little stock which will reduce profit, and too much stock which will increase waste as it will go off. They must use their estimation skills, and knowledge of the market, their customers and general common sense in order to come to these conclusions.

In pairs, we went off and did our own demand planning, starting with a budget of 5000 euros and a list of products to choose from – Team ‘Synergy’ got started! We chose 5 products over a 3 month period, so over the summer season we opted for crisps, juice, beer – summer holiday essentials! The Christmas season brought turkeys, selection boxes and biscuit trays to mind, and these were reflected in the sales which were around 90 to 100% for all of these products throughout December. It is this problem solving and abstract thinking which is the fundamental maths we use when coming to these conclusions as we have to reason with ourselves and use our knowledge of the world to solve problems. In the end, we made a healthy profit of 25000 euros in 9 months, and only lost about 25 euros worth of bananas, which turned brown (yuck). Not too bad at all!

Maps and Maths

The other day in Discovering Mathematics we were learning how to incorporate outdoor learning with Maths, but not your typical kind of maths (numbers and sums). Will asked us to discuss how everyday objects, buildings and activities involve maths. For example, a building site – the maths needed to measure the size of parts needed, the machines needed to carry the weights, the way in which the building is built, the design of the building itself… it all is centred around maths!

We then moved on to focus on maps and map skills, something I am completely rubbish at. I realise now how important having a basic knowledge of how to read a map and how to work a compass is, and why children should be learning this in school. It is also something you can do outdoors! Something that is encouraged in Curriculum for Excellence and of course that children love doing.

To practise, we were given the task to draw the classroom we were in as a map from above.


Later in the lesson, we were given another task to create a resource or a lesson based on maps and using maths/maps skills. I decided to use my drawing of the map of the classroom as I was pretty proud of it!

In partners, we decided to use the map as a kind of treasure hunt. We were going to hide clues in different places in the classroom and mark these on the map given. The children would then have to figure out where in the classroom the clues were by adjusting and associating themselves with the map. Once they got the clue, which is actually a puzzle (or anything along those lines), they must figure it out. Once they have the answer, they return to their base point and add answer to chart. (Returning to base point is a very basic but extremely important factor with orienteering as it ensures that you never get lost and keep an eye on your surroundings).

Here was our notes for the task…

IMG_8340 IMG_8339

Before hand, I would probably introduce the idea of maps to the children. Possibly get them to draw their own maps, of their bedrooms, living room, their classroom etc. This ensures they will get the gist of reading this type of map. This is a fun activity and can be used as a follow up activity of possibly some textbook work, or as an initial activity of which you can follow up on. Either way its incorporating maths with an activity that doesn’t feel necessarily like maths, and makes it fun for everyone involved by actively learning.