Dancing with Pathways & Edgewood

Looking back on my PD Workshop and embedded residency with the staff of Pathways (workshop) and Edgewood (embedded), I can’t help but smile – THEY DID NOT WANT TO DANCE. (We did.) And it was great.

Edgewood: The three teachers I worked with were game to try new things – and GAME is the word. For all classes, we made movement a playful ritual that started each class. Armed with painter’s tape, oversized post cards, a sound system, and the curriculum, we set to work.

In math class, we created visual displays all over the room using tape and “walked” our shapes to help determine the area of squares, triangles, rectangles. Memorizing the formulas, measuring shapes around the room (the door, windows, boards, desks, etc) and applying the formulas kept us on our feet and moving through class.

In science, we made large notecards to reinforce the vocabulary words and key concepts from the text on deforestation. Our game was to scatter the notecards on the floor and have each student select a card from the pile until all the cards were selected. Students wrote the definition on the back of the card and shared the card with the class. One by one, we built a word wall that was taped up, large enough for all to see. If a student forgot a word, they could go pull it off the wall, review it, use it, and return it. Eventually, we organized the key concepts into a grid by category and “filled in the blanks”. Students also drew forest scenes and created a dance about a healthy forest, including the animals and brush growth and demonstrated the effects of deforestation through the depopulation of their “stage”.

In Language Arts, students wrote a play as a collaborative process. They learned the elements of a play by creating a play based on their own experiences. On large pieces of easel paper, we defined the plot, setting, characters, and plot sequence: intro, background, rising action, climax, falling action and conclusion. We danced the elements across the floor. We wrote dialogue. And Revised. The process took our time together, I did not see the final product, but I did witness active learning and creating from kids who have a lot to say. Success!

PD Workshop: WHEW! Talk about a tough crowd. Initially, the teachers of Pathways did not want to dance. They. Did. Not. Want. To. Dance. But, minute by minute, the teacher’s melted into the flow of our moving introduction, praising each other’s moves, and getting to see each other in a whole new light. We explored how to teach math through movement. We created a math poem as a group. We moved our poetry and used tableau as a starting point for movement. We laughed. We hugged. We learned. The group came together in a raucous and beautiful way that created some lasting motivation to incorporate movement into the curriculum.

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