Welcome to the AK-CSS Members Forum! Please sign up to join the discussions.


  • WOW!!

    Amazing connections!!  Thank you so much for taking the time to delve into this era!  We are delighted that the dances and fashion and evolution of both are speaking to you in such vivid ways!!

    Fantastic ideas about bringing Jefferson and Liberty to Assemblies, Monday Mornings and Brain Breaks!

  • I just attended a conference where the guest speaker, Gylton Da Matta, pointed out a major flaw in our teaching/learning practices. Often times we scorn and criticize others (or ourselves) when we fail. For example, while playing a team game such as baseball and a player drops the ball, he gets a “Why did you drop it? Oh geez!” from his teammates. When playing toss and catch, your partner throws the ball to you and you drop it. “Oh man, you dropped it!” So over time, we’re not building self-esteem or having fun. But in fact, we should be celebrating failures because that means that we’re actually learning. That’s the evidence that learning is taking place and we can then measure the growth and improvement over time. While dancing, Elizabeth commented on how she loved that fact that we were smiling and laughing especially when we messed up. Isn’t this what learning is supposed to be about? Having fun & making mistakes. And getting better every time. So it’s our responsibility as educators to be the facilitators of celebrating not just successes but also failures because it is through failures that we improve and learning occurs.
  • First of all, I totally want to teach my 6 year old to waltz. She loves to dance and would eat it up! Thanks for inspiring me! ; )

    Secondly, I would love to do a dancing unit in PE, and I think it would be so fun to teach contra dancing (should I call it a reel?) - it is also something we could bring to a Grizzembly. I like Stephanie's idea of STARTING dancing with something safe, and this style seems about as safe as it gets. ; )  If I possibly could, I would try to teach some waltzing to my junior high PE kids, too, because I wish I had known more about "formal" dances when I was young, so I'd be happy to gift my students with that, although I can't quite envision getting those kids to dance with each other. But it's something to shoot for!

    As far as a classroom history application goes...my head is kind of swimming, trying to think of how to incorporate what we did just now in my American Lit class, since this is the period I'm currently teaching (though not for much longer!). Aside from Nathanial Hawthorne, I'm going to teach Thoreau and Edgar Allan Poe. Does contra/reel dancing fit in with any of those? Or would a waltz be more appropriate? Maybe I need to get a little more background on the specific time period before I decide.

  • We transitioned from Baroque Era dancing where people exclusively from the upper class were formally trained to make all the right steps, and dressed in expensive clothing, to the Revolutionary Era of circles and long-way sets where people in plane clothes could easily learn steps to dances designed to have fun and celebrate freedom from aristocracy.  Music also made a transition to a more standard written form where it could be played universally.

  • Contra dance is a great team building activity.  It would be wonderful as a jumpstart when students are sleepy after lunch. It would integrate well into a PE class as well as social studies because it promotes working together, rhythm and movement, cardiovascular health, etc.  It's also a safe way of learning to dance because it's more of a group dance than the waltz.  That being said, I felt like I had accomplished something major when I did several waltz steps correctly and I think students would share that feeling of pride.  It was surprisingly fun and less intimidating than I imagined.

    In my art class, I would use appropriate music in the background when analyzing art from the eras to set the stage for a deeper look into the events.  This would be beneficial when looking at paintings of war scenes as the music tends to be up-beat and patriotic and may help students understand the mind-set at that time.  I am imagining putting together a unit on freedom and the kinds of songs and art that reflect different types of freedom.  The theme can be carried from pre-colonial time to the present.

  • This is a fun era to work on, as it is what I am teaching right now in my classroom.  I think I will use the Chester lyrics in my classroom when we get done studying the Revolutionary War, and then play our national anthem.  After that I think I may have my students create a new anthem that they base on current events now and what they think American Ideals are founded on. 

    I also now have a greater appreciation of the fashion of that era, and plan to point that out to students when they watch a movie based on the Revolution.  I think it will be fun to hear their comments about the clothing.

    I also think the Irish reel will be a great one to use in class, especially when my students are tired and need to move. 

  • I am thinking about thanksgiving and I am thinking about making the Colonials more real... Paying attention to deeper social issues and how their situation, physically and socially, affected their dancing and dress would bring a thoughtful addition to the normal thanksgiving ideas.  I love country dancing...gets the heart beating!  I do believe these dances would be great especially with our dual partners and quads...extending their collaboration and cooperation into dancing would be yet another great team builder!  Kagan would be proud!

    I love the drumming and the fife music.  Drums are such a cultural connector--so many drums with so many unique sounds and shapes--and could make for interesting discussions and more.

  • During the Colonial and Revolutionary Era there was a lot of tension amongst everyone, so music and dancing became one way to neutralize this anxiety. Creating an environment that was more relaxing and bearable to those who were most affected by the negative social problems.

  • I think the juxtaposition of the contra dancing with the colonist army's marching songs provides an interesting cross section of some of the struggles of the colonies during that time. We were forging our own identity as a nation on the world stage, but we were also forming our own identity as a group of people whose roots spread across most of Western Europe. It could even be a way to compare and contrast cultures and show how they evolve over time without stepping into discussions that may make some students uncomfortable.

    An exercise of dancing contra back to back with a minuet would be a great way to explain the divide that had formed between the colonies and Britain, where the two groups had separate identities that could no longer exist side by side. It also could be illustrative of the attitudes of the two sides: the British, who look at the colonists as rabble and criminals, and the colonists, who look at the British as strict and abusive. The minuet is strict, and the contra dance is sort of rabble-ish, for lack of a better term. It can even connect to more recent times (if selectively compared), with things comparing the subtle wordplay of BBC comedy to the blue and screwball themes of US comedy.

    To jump to the team building aspects to which others have alluded, I may very well have my volleyball team do some dancing as they tend to tense up and become uncomfortable in close games. Perhaps the star part of the contra dance can provide some levity in the team huddle if it is needed.

  • The waltz is a beautiful dance but it is something that I will have to practice more before I intro it to my students.  I like the circle dance much more.  It was free and easy. If we made mistakes it just made us laugh.  This would be fun to set up a team building activity with this.  I liked the discussions of having the kids hold hands.  No one has kooties, your not allowed to be anything but pleasant to your partner in this situation, etc.  That right there would be a great lesson to teach the kids.

This reply was deleted.