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  • I greatly appreciate the idea that people were generally relaxing during this era. Even more rigid pieces like Souza's marches have drum beats that would be at home in a rock song today (crash and bass drum on 1 and 3, snare on 2 and 4). I think one of the major ideals of this music is the idea that the common man can make music that is enjoyed in informal settings. As people headed west, even the tin pan alley music was hard to come by, so it truly was the American ideal of music that was made "by the people, for the people for the people."

    Its a perfect multisensory way to teach that founding American ideal in the classroom. I feel like abstract concepts are one of the hardest things for students to understand, so this is a concrete example they can see, hear, and feel.

  • The simplicity of the wheel dance really reminds me of challenges western settlers  had with the environment.  As stated during our session, only the lighter more durable instruments could be brought on the wagon trains west.  Also, the dances needed to more simple yet energetically fun and exciting.

    This period's style of dance, history, and music would be great for a parents night.

  • This era is something that my students can really sink their teeth in and we could have a lot of fun with.  We're reading a book called "Colony Kids" that focuses on the Pioneers of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan that came up to Alaska to try out a new life during the Depression.  This is something that I could tie to that because they were pioneers just like the people during the westward movement were.  Introducing these dances could be a great way to talk about how they spent their 'off' time, the little that they had.  Community coming together and dancing and helping each other out was the pioneers montra in a way and showing the students that, through the dances could be a lot of fun and another way to connect to what they're learning.

    Home on the Range was a lullaby of mine as a kid so that would be fun just to listen to as a class and talk about the imagery that they were seeing.  Have the students point out the different images and draw what they think the pioneers saw on the trail towards their new home.  Use this as a vehicle to talk about the challenges that they might have encountered.  Use Oregon Trail too!  :D

    Amelia and I were even thinking that the 'barn dances' would be a great way to entertain our younger students in the morning.  We have a traffic control problem in the gym with breakfast and this could be a great way to distract and entertain them until their teachers come and pick them up.  Plus they will be awake and alert and some of the 'wiggles' will be gone.  Even my older students, it's a great way to release energy and wake them up, I know my heart was pumping afterwards.  The Turkey Dance will be done at our Thanksgiving Feast...it's going to happen :D

  • "Home on the Range" gives us a good feel of what it would have been like, as Chip said, to go from polluted urban cities to the "Wild West," where the air was clear.  I think students would be able to understand this imagery, especially if we compared it to Alaska.  Part of what makes Alaska "The Last Frontier" is that it's still relatively clean and free of the negative aspects of city life.  Many people who come to Alaska from other places are coming for that very reason--to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and return to a simpler time.

  • I hope to pull this back out second semester and use it in American Lit, when we get to this time period. In the meantime, however, I think I know where I want to go next with my junior high PE class! I would love to teach them some country-dancing...I know it will be awkward for them (7 boys and 3 very takaryuk girls), so I hope to teach it with the vision that we're going to teach this to some K-2nd graders as soon as we learn some dances. Then I think, why not use this in a Grizzembly or family night? I think that if some older kids know what to do, and have a role of teaching others, they won't be quite so resistant.

    Hooray! Thanks for the great ideas!

  • Love, love, love the idea of family dance nights!!  What a great way to have families connect to school, learn a bit of history, get a workout, and have fun (especially during the winter months)!  I have used the New England Dance Masters and found they work with all ages and all abilities.  What a great way to teach history, social skills, get kids moving, and have fun.  As you can tell, I can't say enough.  lol

    Thanks for the new resource idea.  I definitely will purchase the "Barn Dance" book. :)

  • These dances are fun and will be engaging in my room. I like how the dances are simple and anyone can do them.  I know sometimes when you try to get students to dance they don't have the confidence. I think these dances will give everyone the confidence and show them that anyone can dance. I really want to have a dance night at my school and am going to look at doing these kind of dances.

    These dances would truly create a fun atmosphere for anyone.

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