Each time I attended our annual CoAHPERD conference in the past I would leave motivated to teach dance. I would have attended some charismatic teacher’s session and think to myself, “this was so fun, I can teach this!” However upon returning when I gave it a try, MAJOR FAIL! I would have students standing at the back, not dancing, looking at me with faces that portrayed betrayal. “How could you?” they seemed to say. Between my own lack of ability, and the students’ defiance, I would give it up, thinking, “I just can’t pull this dance stuff off!” So what has changed?
My approach is very different than those earlier failed attempts.
First of all, I teach dance in a way that fits my teaching style. So I will outline how I have found success, but know that each teacher ultimately needs to figure out what works best for them.
Lesson 1: 5 min. max as part of another lesson. Introduce 5,6,7,8 dance one time through no music,
Lesson 2: 5 min. max as part of another lesson. Practice 5,6,7,8 dance one time through with music
Lesson 3: Partner Created Dance 30-minute lesson
Partner Created Dance with props video final dance 30-minute lesson
Lesson 1: Beginning in kindergarten-second grade I teach students to the line dance 5,6,7,8. I chose this dance for a couple of reasons;
1. Steps are easy to modify and remember
2. Each segment can be counted in 8 counts
3. There are only four parts
4. These four parts repeat seemingly forever!
As I describe the dance steps, hang in there with me. They really are super simple! Check out the OVERVIEW: “step, together, step and clap right, step, together, step and clap left, march forward 8 steps, (tap) hip, hip, bottom, bottom, clap, clap, raise the roof, 8 steps back. Repeat! Detailed steps are at bottom of page.
When I teach this dance, I don’t do an entire class of one line dance AGHH! I might teach two minutes before we line up at then end of class. I have student spread out on poly spots facing me. We go through the four parts with them mirroring me. I have seen this taught in a jigsaw method where students get different partners for each section. However, I just don’t like to spend that much time on this dance.
We dance at the end of class one time without music.
The next time we review without music then try one time through with music. I grab a couple of students who look like the have it, ask them to be student leaders, they stand in front. The song repeats so students can keep trying.
Lesson 3: Pre-requisite: TWO SESSIONS 2-5 MINUTES EACH. Not a whole lot of time! This is one reason my students like dance. It never takes the place of an activity, we squeeze it in.
I begin by asking students, “Did you notice how the four parts keep repeating? Did you notice how we were counting each part 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, Did you notice how when we all danced together we looked like twins? This is called being SYNCHRONIZED.
Students choose partners and stand next to a cone. Cones are placed along perimeter of gym. Students are directed to create a two part, 8 count dance. I give them samples of dancing. Samples might include: the twist, bug squish, air dribble, sprinkler, finger snap, clap, toe tap…I show them samples of very conservative movements that qualify as dance. This is very important so that all students feel safe enough to take risk of dancing. I include some sports mime moves that can be done in 8 counts i.e the quarterback look and throw, the umpire yourrr out…. Next they pretend they are my partner. I say we take turns on ideas. I will go first, lets do the bug squish (place your the toe of one foot on the floor and twist it back and forth like you are squishing a bug) I have them mirror me counting to eight. I explain that when we dance we usually match each other like twins, not mirror each other. Then I ask one of them for an idea, we all try it. Then we put the two ideas together and VOILA we have created a dance! We repeat twice.
Next I turn the students loose to create dances with their partner while upbeat fun music is playing. When I see a group has created a dance I ask them if they would like to “perform.” I stop the music, students freeze, I ask them to watch their peers, who perform their 32 second dance, we clap and continue. Sample Dance
Teaching Cues: Count each part out to eight, you and your partner should look like twins and be SYNCHRONIZED. You and your partner should each create one part of the dance.
After a few minutes I have students rotate to a different partner. We rotate a different way than usual on dance days because I really want to be sure students get to dance with a variety of partners. On “rotate” one partner moves clockwise to the next cone and one partner moves counter-clockwise to the next cone. We continue creating dances.
Extensions: Ask groups who are quick to create a 3-4 part dance. Video groups have them watch video and try to improve, send parents their dance in a text message. Have dance requirements i.e your dance needs to include high and low moves, twists or curls, bends and extensions…
Creative dance. Students come in and stand at cone. Each cone needs 2-3 people. At the cones two pieces of matching equipment some examples are: 2 Mats, 2 Ribbon wands, 2 Pompoms, 2 Hula hoops, 2 Giant Scarves, 2 small scarves,…. Students complete the same lesson as described in Lesson 3 but with creative equipment. Students who are at the mats can make their dance with gymnastic moves i.e forward roll, leap, forward roll, leap..
Lesson 5: Creating a class dance. Students come in and stand at cone. Gym is set up like in lesson 4. Instruct students when they have their two part dance completed they will then create an entry and an exit. Their entry will be how they move from their cone to the center of they gym. Then in the center, they will complete their two part dance, then they will exit by moving back to their own cone. When each group is ready it is time for class dance! I played the Olympic Theme song for Class Dance and I videoed. On my signal groups came into center, performed, and went back to cone. While one group was exiting, one group was entering. I then showed students their dance! When they watched the students felt like they had created their own Opening Ceremonies!
Here are the dance steps we use for 5,6,7,8
First 8 Counts: starting with lyrics “my boot scootin…
A. Grapevine right clap, Grapevine left clap (Modified steps: Step, together, step (going right), clap, repeat going left) Count is 1,2,3,clap, repeat left
B. Sashay right, sashay left, sashay right, sashay left. We call this Gallop right, gallop left… (Modified steps: march forward 8 steps)
C. Facing forward tap Right hip, Left hip, Right Bottom, Left Bottom, Clap, Clap, Raise the Roof (hands over head) We count this as “hip, hip, bottom, bottom, clap, clap, raise the roof”
D. Take 7 steps backward to original spot and turn 1/4 to the right (Modifications no turn) (can make more advanced by adding cowboy rope swing arms while stepping back.