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Dance – Concepts, Visual Learning and Formative Assessment

Lesson 1

A few months ago I posted about our Just Dance unit for Grade 7 students.  This was a big change for us as Dance educators and has really been a valuable learning tool for our students.

As this was so successful for our G7 students, we decided to run a more advanced form of it for our G9 and G10 students.  We wanted them to experience a Dance unit that allowed for success for everyone and that ensured we have a chance to formatively assess along the way rather than leaving the final summative assessment as the be-all-end-all of the unit.  We also decided to use a Visual Learning approach with each lesson up on the Gym wall for students to write on/add to and go back and reflect on over the unit.

Unit: Dance

Length: 10 lessons (about 6 weeks)

Unit Question: What makes a great performance?

Area of Interaction: Human Ingenuity

Lesson 1-2 – we introduced the unit, then we looked at Just Dance, we then chose our song and formed groups based on specific criteria that we agreed on as a Grade.  We also looked at different Dance styles and looked at the criteria for how effective groups work together.

Lesson 3-4 we taught them specific parts of the Just Dance song through the video and then determining details of the choreography.  We then set tasks that came from the MYP Criteria B and C assessment rubrics – eg. can you take 3 different dance moves from your Just Dance song (and we told them which part of the song to choose from ) and now can you create a Canon; mirror; symmetrical arrangement of the dance and then speed up/slow down the dance steps.

Lesson 5 – Formative assessment of use of Space and Time.  We asked students to use their previous work and to take 3 different dance moves from your Just Dance song (and we told them which part of the song to choose from ) and now can you create a 30 second dance that demonstrates creative use of space (and we talked about what this might look like and did some demo of different ways we could use space).  Students had about 40 mins to do this and we assessed them and gave verbal feedback at the end of the lesson.

Lesson 6 – Creative lesson – we introduced the paperwork to notating details about the choreography, worked on this and then the groups went out to create.  We introduced a rubric about Engagement – speaking, listening and participation – and we set the next three lessons to self assess this.  Teachers sat and spent observing time with each group in Lesson 6-7 to see how they were going and recorded information based on their group engagement during the Creative lessons.

Lesson 7 – Save as Lesson 5 but we actually asked to see the whole 1-min choreography.  They had to demonstrate use of , force and energy for the Performance part and they had to show creativity, imagination, time, space and flow (transition) for the planning.  Each group was assessed on the plan as a group grade and then each individual got a Performance grade.

Lesson 8 – Performance focus – now that the plans are complete, work on How to Perform… learn the dance and feedback on this from peers and teacher.

Lessons 9-10 – first half for practice; second half performing to a crowd!


Formative BCD – twice in the lead up to their final Performances.  Use of Coach’s Eye to film their work and share via Google Drive once after the second formative assessment.


Crit B – The plan of their 1-min creative minute as a group – on paper/video of performance.

Crit C – Individual Performances from students in the group

Crit D – Engagement over the unit but focused on the Creative lessons and Performance days – use of Self assessment tools and Crit D rubric for discussion.

Crit A – screencast of another group’s dance performance with useful advice for performers based on summative work.

Visual Learning

I took photos of our Visual Lesson plans for you to see, they aren’t gorgeous, but they were very useful and functional in this setting.  I have not included the Criteria based boards that we use – students had Crit ABCD on different boards and I created cards with key vocab on them for each criteria.  Students then wrote their ideas for how to demonstrate these for each Criterion as the unit unfolded.

lesson 2

Lesson Two

Lesson 3

Lesson 3


Lesson 4


Lesson 5


Lesson 6

This unit has been very rewarding so far, and with Performances coming up soon, we are excited to share with the students in this journey and show-case culmination.

Notes for next time:

Visual Learning was a big draw card and this was a neat way to add to our learning.  I would go for more one more formative assessment very early on with an individual performance of 8 beats (taught) and add 8 beats (of student work) so that they have to show their work (energy, creativity, imagination, engagement ability to work under pressure) before choosing groups to work with.

I would use QR codes to show some styles of dance (eg. Hip Hop, Waltz etc) for those who are interested in more visual examples as well as student video-made examples of the different words in the Rubrics (eg. flow, force, speed up, slow down, canon) so they can see what this is and refer back to them.

Happy Dancing!


  • mhamada

    Simon, I would be honored and you will remember we started some of this together in G9 dance. lots of formative stuff. Things will change with the new MYP crit but I think can be adapted. I will share this new Dance unit (with new MYP Next Chap) work in coming months. Enjoy!

  • Simon Mills

    Hi Mel
    Struggling with the new criterion for Individual planning in a group dance. Glad I found this. I hope you don’t mind if I use some (or lots) of this??

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