Our Grade 9 students all take PE at the same time, so we have 65 students and three little spaces to play. Our PE department made the decision a few years ago to do Dance at the same time as to share the Gym and our Dance room and avoid the Turf during the winter cold and usual rainy seasons. This has been a good decision as it allows our students to mingle out of class groups and for us to really share the work that is happening in our unit.
This unit focused on What makes a Great performance? and we look at a whole host of important features in Dance. Each lesson focused on a different part of the assessment rubric and the students learn a set dance or a piece of a dance and then have to use this feature or style to create some part of the dance. For example, we taught the students a simple Proud Mary dance and then they had to try and create as many Transitions as possible where the group changed formation while continuing to dance the learnt dance. We looked at how many different ways you could do different formations with 4,5 or 6 people in a group and then we did a sharing where groups came together and watched and gave feedback based on what they saw.
In another lesson we asked students to learn a set part of Matt Stefanina’s Turn Down for What choreography and then the students had to perform this with focus on their precision and style but also on use of a Canon in dance. We then ended our lesson with the students standing in a circle with the students who learnt Part A together, Part B together etc and then we danced as as whole class – all great fun! My favourite part of this video is the whooping and shouting of support of the students as the dance moves on.
In this unit, the students had a different part of the Task-specific rubric tried and tested and discussed as post-performance feedback every lesson. This was so important for the conversations about how they would be assessed were very easy and they became very detailed in their peer conversations about what grade they would get and WHY! (Crit C)
We then asked the students to bring to class a resource that would assist in the planning of their summative dance performance. The students then shared with their group and we brainstormed and offered them questions to ask their group and for the group to ask them. Listening to group conversations and then interviewing students 1:1 was a great way to see if they were prepared and had offered a resource and idea and conversations about WHY that was going to be useful for the group. We followed up with four set questions and these were shared in advance. This was assessed over three lessons while the students created their final dance work. (Crit B)
Finally the students in my class chose an Interpersonal and Personal skills focus. They were graded on the demonstration of these skills as I went and sat with the groups and had time to really intermingle with students it was clear who was demonstrating these and who wasn’t and there was time to chat and ask students about their work along the way. (Crit D)
The final performances were part teacher driven and part student created. We gave the 4 options of dance videos that we felt had a range of basic and complex movements and they had to learn a set section of one of them and then create dance to compliment these steps. Groups then had to use their time away from class to learn their set part (thanks YouTube) through tutorials and then come to class with this learnt for us to assist and guide them with more minor feedback. they then spent time creating either pre or post or both sections around the set dance they had learnt.
I am sharing the Playlist here of our students, we were blown away by the high level of achievement in this unit of all three assessment tasks and will certainly look to run this unit again next year for our new G9’s.
The best part of our Performance day was that I had invited all of the school and G9 parents to come to see the students. We had a lot of Elementary aged classes come along and they were so excited to see their big G9 friends in action. The G9’s MC invited the audience to come up and dance with the G9s and teachers. This was amazing. The whole Gym community got up and danced together. Then spontaneously a crowd formed around two G9 boys and they danced in the middle of this crowd circle. As they finished, two more G9 students went in and soon enough we had ES students in there, G9’s a mixture of HS and ES and teachers all through. Just spectacular and so organic. I have never been a part of a school that just gets up and comes together like this and it was a spectacle I will take with me as I leave. Just awesome.