Digital Cameras in the Dance Studio

I’ve been experimenting with using a variety of digital technologies in my elementary school dance classes. I’ve been motivated by the tech-savvy skills of my students as well as a desire to share the benefits of dance with larger audiences.

For my first post, I’d like to share a specific example of how kids are using digital cameras as an integral part of one of my lesson plans, “The Dance of the Scary Hole.”

You’ll find below the lesson plan and its accompanying assessment rubric, and images taken by students during the class. I conclude with a discussion of the key benefits of incorporating digital technologies in the dance teaching process, which include:

  • Kids are more engaged and committed when they use digital cameras and other technologies.
  • Kids are more invested in the outcome of the lesson because they are directly involved in the documentation process.
  • Digital documentation of a lesson plan can be shared with the larger school community which results in dance becoming more visible.

Lesson Plan for The Dance of the Scary Hole

Dance of the Scary Hole is an interdisciplinary three-session lesson that combines dance with literacy, visual art and technology. The below bullet points provide highlights of the lesson plan. You can view the entire lesson plan at the end of this post.

Scary Hole Dance Curriculum and Group Picture

First Session

  • Students discuss what they are scared of.
  • Students show body shapes and facial expressions that reflect fear and happiness.
  • Students learn the Scary Hole, a folk dance from Denmark.

Second Session

  • Recap of first session: 1) Making shapes and expressions and 2) Review The Dance of the Scary Hole.
  • Students use two digital cameras to document scary body shapes and facial expressions and use the rubric (see lesson plan) to assess and revise their work.
  • Students visualize and represent what is scary through drawings.
  • Drawings glued on to large, circular black paper that is put on floor in middle of room.

Third Session

  • Review with children the Dance Assessment Rubric for “Scary Hole” dance (see below).
  • Perform the Dance of the Scary Hole.
  • Children, using two digital cameras, take pictures of the group’s scary shapes and expressions around their drawings inside the scary hole.
  • Pictures are quickly transferred to my computer.
  • With entire class, digital images are shared, discussed and evaluated with the students, as criteria from rubric is used to share their challenges and successes.

Reflections and Benefits

Overall, by incorporating digital cameras directly in the lesson plan, young dance students become very excited and invested in what counts in the classroom. They are comfortable using digital cameras, enjoy playing a direct and creative role in documenting the process and benefit immensely from being able to see and evaluate their work moments later.

Additionally, digital documentation of dance classes creates new possibilities for extending the value of assessments and allows dance teaching and lesson plans to be shared with the larger school community:

Assessment: For digital technology to contribute in a meaningful manner, it must be part of a pedagogical framework that benefits from the incorporation of real-time documentation. In the case of the Scary Hole lesson plan, we coupled the digital pictures taken by the students with Larry Lavender’s “ORDER” method of critical evaluation as described in his book “Dancers Talking Dance“:

  • Observation
  • Reflection
  • Discussion
  • Evaluation
  • Recommendations for revision

With our pictures as a concrete, visual starting point, we discussed them according to the “ORDER” methodology and used the rubric as both formative and summative assessment. Formative is ongoing assessment, giving students a chance to direct their own learning, and summative assessment is given after instruction has occurred to determine at a particular point in time what students do and do not know. Since I do give grades in dance in Kindergarten to Grade 5, it is helpful to have data to support my grades, and to help me in differentiating instruction for a diverse student population.

They used the photos they took, along with the third criteria in the Dance of the Scary Hole Rubric as formative assessment. Although the photos themselves do not show whether or not they were able to do this quietly, this was noted on the rubric when they assessed themselves. At the beginning of session 3, the dance is performed and photos are taken around the scary hole. Summative assessment is based on photos, as well as observation, discussion and evaluation based on the criteria in the rubric.

Making dance visible to the school community: The photos of the students, combined with the rubric and the childrens’ artwork (the scary holes) were hung in the hallway in the school. I typed up the Blueprint indicators that were addressed in this lesson, and the children photographed these as well. Displaying evidence of student dance and visual artwork, formative and summative assessment and the standards (NYC Blueprint for Dance) addressed, informed children, parents, teachers and administrators exactly what was learned in The Dance of the Scary Hole lesson.

The Scary Hole Dance Lesson Plan and Clos-up Shot

Creating the Scary Hole

Lesson Plan and Rubric: Dance of the Scary Hole

Written by Kisaac Isaac on March 3, 2010
Categorized in: Digital Cameras
Tagged: , ,

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