I recently attended the only dance input I will be given at University until 3rd year. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a dancer unless I am at a scottish ceilidh, playing just dance on the Nintendo Wii or it is a half hearted waltz after a glass of wine. The only dancing I was taught in school was ceilidh dancing being from a small rural school in the Scottish highlands. Even outside of school the only contact with dance I’ve ever had was watching Dirty Dancing and Strictly Come Dancing. So I’d be lying if I said I was not apprehensive when I heard as a teacher I would have to teach dance as part of the Scottish curriculum. However, along I went to the dance input and I really enjoyed it. After the dance input we were asked to think about how we could conduct a dance lesson for a class of P5s and to do a lesson plan.
I thought long and hard about what I would do for a dance class and came to the conclusion that I needed context. So I thought about doing an Under the Sea theme with the children, learning about sea creatures with an end of term performance in front of the school at an assembly. The children could draw them for Art and make some costumes for our performance, do animations with information about different sea creatures on a computer for ICT for the background of our performance, read a book involving sea creatures for literacy in their reading groups for literacy, do some learning about turtles and dolphins being caught in nets and the government trying to stop fishermen doing this – there are a lot of possibilities. However, this was a dance plan so I chose my outcome from the curriculum for excellence and thought about warmup and cool down games that might involve the sea. I remembered that on the Nintendo Wii I used to play just dance which had Under the Sea from the little mermaid on it. I thought this could be a good cool down activity, especially before lunch because it is quick, fun, easy – so the children can participate whatever their dance level/experience, it has a lot of repetition of dance sequences (potentially a mathematics link) that the children can learn and could also lead us on to the next dance lesson I was thinking about, of bringing mermaids into our end of term performance.
I planned my lesson for 50 minutes because getting to and from a gym hall might take some time and also children may need to change into and out of gym clothes for this lesson. With it being the first dance lesson of the term I decided just to do some simple group dance activities with music to build team working skills and also being a considerate audience member who gives positive feedback. Everything I have chosen though does link into our key topic of sea creatures and we end the lesson with a fun activity that could lead onto the next lesson.
I feel that given my lack of dance experience from a school perspective that in the past perhaps some schools have not given dance the lesson time it deserves. It gets children exercising and using their creativity, two things which I think are important. Creativity is also something that is mentioned in “Learning to Teach in the Primary School” and that there seems to be a lack of it being taught in schools. I think it is up to teachers to make dance something that is part of the weekly lesson plans, like mathematics and English because of the benefits it brings and at the very least make it a regular part to childrens learning in class if weekly is not feasible. With new schemes and programmes like “Change 4 Life” dance is something that I hope will become more common in schools. I’m looking forward to my third year dance input and learning some more about teaching it, ways of teaching it and also putting into practice what I have learnt in my inputs on placement.
Arthur, J. and Cremin, T. (2014) Learning to Teach in the Primary School. 3rd edn. Abingdon: Routledge.