Get To Know You – Dance Lesson Plans
RDT’s Embark is beginning a new series of posts for teachers who want to include movement/dance in their classrooms. The inaugural post, below, will inspire teachers to use simple dance moves with their students to help them get to know each other as the school year starts. The initial idea for what we are calling #RDTlessonplanofthemonth emerged from a joint teacher workshop held this past January in tandem with Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. In the forum discussion, many teachers voiced their desire for more frequent lesson plan ideas to assist in their teaching and to avoid “burnout.”
This year, using the blog as a landing page, RDT will present one, quick and fun lesson plan each month geared toward Jr. and Sr. High School Dance Teachers, but by no means limited to that group. In each post you can expect an RDT Dancer or Artistic Staff to present a dance idea with video and a brief written explanation.
We hope to inspire creativity and lead you to take the lesson plan to many levels. We also want to encourage you to share your results with us! Please post comments, videos, new ideas based on the original plan, etc. You can post at the hashtag #RDTlessonplanofthemonth. As a perk for your participation, you are eligible for a FREE Master Class if you post 3 or more times! Details to be announced in the next post.
Enjoy! And, again, please feel free to provide feedback and make suggestions below in the forum. Also, join us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter if you’d like to post pictures or video of your work with students.
GET-TO-KNOW-YOU dance ideas for the start of the new school year.
Name Game: such a simple and easy game to play with new students, helps everyone learn names, can be used to develop initial elements of improvisation, and teaches student how to pattern and remember movement sequences.
- Make a circle with the whole group. If the group is more than 30 people, you could do this in two groups.
- Each person must say their name and then design/create a short, simple movement gesture to go along with it.
- Practice saying the person’s name and doing the movement as a group. After a few tries, have the next person in the circle say their name and design a movement. Learn this one and add it to the ones before.
- The goal is to build a movement phrase with names and movements.
- If students struggle to come up with something, look at their body gestures and decide for them. A dancer who is unsure may shrug their shoulders when they say, “I don’t know.” Tell them they just came up with a movement and practice the shoulder shrug with their name.
- The goal is to reinforce that the movement can be anything – there doesn’t have to be a rule, a right or wrong, or a “good” kind of movement. Anything they come up with is great!
One Word Association: another simple game about responding without thinking or judgement. Can be done before OR after the name game.
- Make a circle with the whole group. Again, if the group is more than 30 people, you can do this in smaller groups.
- Decide upon a theme, for example, School.
- Pick someone to start. They must say one word or state a simple concept that relates to school. The person next to them then says one word that immediately pops into their head based on the word that the person before them said. It doesn’t have to be about school – but should be related/inspired by what the person before them said.
- Maybe one person says “homework,” the next says “books,” the next says “reading,” the next says “novel,” etc. Go all the way around the circle.
- Again, reinforce the goal that there is no wrong answer – no one can tell them that their association or inspiration is wrong. The only thing they can’t do is not participate.
One Movement Association: play the same game, but this time, do it with movement. Have each person come up with one, two or three short moves. The next person responds in some fashion to the person before them.
Names Across the Floor:
- Jog for 4 counts, on the beat.
- Step left across the body with the right foot, then step to right across the body with the left foot, finishing off the eight counts.
- Make a shape up high on count 1, hold on count 2, 3, 4.
- Make a shape down low on count 5, hold 6.
- Turn around and call out the name of the next person in line on 7, 8.
- The next person in line starts the same pattern. If people don’t know the name of the person coming next, make them introduce themselves.
- You can mix up and change the line so everyone gets to know each other.
I’ve done the circle game, and I love it! I like to start it out with the dancers walking in their own pathways, finding someone, introducing themselves, letting the other person introduce themselves, then moving on to find someone else to meet. Then I have them add a quick movement/gesture to their introductions; this time when I meet Kara who did a head roll for her movement, I respond with, “Hi Kara (roll my head), I’m Esther (and I do my movement).” Kara then responds by reflecting my movement. They can change their gesture as many times as they want. Finally, they get into a circle and choose a gesture that they’ll stick to. I took this from RW and adjusted it, so I can’t take the credit, but I have found that it is a nice scaffolding into them choosing a movement for themselves and not being intimidated by it.