STEAMed Magazine January 2016 - Page 31

Last year, a third grade classroom of 10 girls and 8 boys had five hour-long sessions of movement to help them become investigative readers. Through dance, students improved their ability to infer by 30% and to identify story elements by 36%. Using dance does not require an educator to be a trained dancer. Fundamental movement skills can be taught and applied to classroom experiences to liven up learning and help educators understand their students’ personalities and reactions. TOP FIVE WAYS DANCE CAN HELP EDUCATORS 1. Revealing a students’ distinctive personality: How students choose to move, or non-verbal cues, provide educators with a glimpse into their personalities. For example, a student who exhibits extraversion traits will most likely move with their entire body (trunk, head, hands and extremities) and be highly expressive. A child who chooses to move but perhaps stays only with one localized part of the body could be revealing that they’re open to new experiences but cautious. A child who exhibits high neuroticism personality traits, may exhibit small, jerky movements in the classroom. These non-verbal movement cues can help educators understand what their students may be experiencing in the classroom. 2. Helping bring a student from Point A to Point B: Dance movement can help a tired body or sleepy brain adjust itself by moving fresh blood and oxygen through the body. Simple exercises can be taught by teachers to students on how to self-assess what their body is experiencing and how to make healthy changes. 3. Making innovative connections to core curriculum: Teachers can use movement to help students understand many different areas of curriculum. For example, language used can be expressed in gestural movements. The movement for rocking a baby is a universal movement that everyone understands regardless of language, age, religion, sex or ethnicity. Identifying how movement relates to language, math, science and history can help educators get the kids moving while making longlasting learning memories. 4. Giving authority to students to take ownership of their learning: When the students get to move within their own bodies, learning becomes personal. Since each student has different ranges of motion, the work becomes unique to each individual student. Giving them the authority to take creative license also allows them to discover new connections, create new pathways and map out their personal learning. 5. Teamwork or individual work produces wonderful takeaways: We live in a world that honors the extrovert more. For example, look at the classrooms. We place them in little pods and have the students discuss and decide together. While this may be helpful for extroverted students, it may hinder learning for introverted students who would rather process alone. Dance allows teamwork and solo work to be important, necessary and encouraged. STEAMed Magazine 31 January 2016 Edition