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  • Two years ago I had to dance the first dance with my son at his wedding.  I had never danced, and being my son, he said not to worry he would lead and all I had to do was follow him.  Well, that didn't work.  His wife then stood up with her father and they did a flawless dance.  How do you spell embarrassing?  Dancing is a social skill that will stand students in good stead throughout their lives, and is a skill that few of them will have the opportunity to learn on their own.  Dancing teaches them to move gracefully, to interact with one another appropriately and politely, and to develop listening skills and social cues.  I think with 3rd graders I might even give them tags to wear, such as "raven" and "wolf", (rather than girl and boy).  When you are the raven you lead, when you are the wolf you follow, (or vice versa).  This will help eliminate the problem of too many of one and not enough of the other, and will help students understand both parts of the dance, (this could be a mini-lesson on empathy).  This reminds me of learning to drive; we take turns being the horse and holding a bit while our partner guides us with the driving reins.  It teaches soft hands and an understanding of what message is actually being communicated to the horse.  Dancing the waltz is a great example of nonverbal communication and how what one person thinks they are saying is not necessarily what another person is hearing.  I am sorry if this sounds a little disjointed, I just think there is so much that can be done with this, my mind is starting to hop.

  • There is a natural contrast/comparison between the dance as social interaction and as dance as an oral history.  Native dances told stories or taught skills or religious concepts, while European dances served more as the baroque equivalent of Match.com.  

  • I have always used songs as starters for new themes in social studies. I often have the students make theme songbooks and sing along with songs of the period we are studying. I am not a dancer, so have not incorporated it into the lessons, but am now trying to think of ways to use it. I have unexpectedly been moved to third grade for next year and had already decided to do a min-unit on Yup'ik dancing, but now I am thinking of ways to compare and contrast Native dances with those brought to Alaska by Europeans. The very stylized movements of the minuet would contrast nicely with some of the Yup'ik dances with their steady drumbeat.

    Misty Circle

  • As a PE teacher, I would collaborate with the classroom teachers to see when they are teaching Native American studies, Renaissance and Baroque Era.  I found that the Welcome dance from the Native American era would be a non-threatning way to greet each member of the class.  It is a wonderful way to say hello, look at each member of the class and have movement.  This could be used at any grade level with its simple repeatative pattern.  

    The Renaissance Era is much more formal.  I would wait until classroom community was established because the dance for this era is done with a dance partner.  Partners hold hands, lead one another around and follow more complicated steps.  The dance was performed one couple at a time, in order of rank.  The King and Queen would be the first couple to dance followed by a decension of ranks.  The music was light and airy so the  dancde is performed on your toes.  I think students would enjoy the feeling of performing to royalty.

  • In performing the "Yakima Welcome Dance, " i noticed everyone smiled.   An accommodation would be to have some drums especially for some students who may not be comfortable in another person's space at the beginning of the year, or who have space/touch issues.

    I consider myself to be left/right, as well as musically, challenged!  Even so, I enjoyed learning the minuet dance and felt we practiced enough that I might be able to replicate it in the classroom.  I would have to keep practicing over the summer to know it well enough to teach it in the fall, but I'm also thankful for a coworker attending this class, so we can help each other remember. :)

  • I found the Native American music and dance to be the most useful for my purposes.  The Yakima Welcome Dance is incredibly easy to learn and is a good way to connect with an entire classroom.  I am always looking for good ways to get to know students the first couple weeks of school.  I could use this most easily in my Geography class.  I think there is great potential for students to share any of their own cultural welcoming practices to the class.  I am on an ELL team, so the diversity is great.  Once you give students an opportunity to share their culture they usually are anxious to share.  

    I am also excited about the possibility for using the Indian Ed resources!  In Language Arts we read "Two Old Women," and using music and dance as a lead in to the novel could be very promising.

    I found the Minuet to be very confusing.  If I ever teach a history class I may use it (especially the excerpt from the dance instruction book), but I foresee much chaos in trying to teach 30+ middle schoolers the dance unless I am REALLY familiar with it and have more space.

    Because I teach Geography, I am much more interested in traditional world dances, especially from areas of the world that are not as well studied.  Europe is but a small portion of our world.  I am hoping I can take the concepts from this class to apply to a wider world view.

  • Pre-Columbus Native America - dancing was very organic.  Themes originated in things that were important to the people or tribe - a life event such as births, battles or visitors, or relationships with nature such as the full moon or the need for rain.  Dancing was done as a solo or with a group, but not with a partner.

    Renaissance - Social dancing is hierarchically-based.  Money/Title equates to going to balls, your time to dance throughout the evening, and acquiring a dance teacher; the better the teacher the more intricate the dances and the more attention brought to yourself.  

    Baroque - The more lavish and intricate the ornamentation, the better, whether it was in architecture, music, or fashion.  "Era of Enlightenment" - explosion of knowledge in math and science.

  • Since I teach in middle school, my first thoughts are matching the dances to curriculum.  The Native american dances (representing pre-columbian) fit in very well.  I would like to find more AK native dances.  These dances would fit into PE's NYO unit and into the school's overall diversity and curriculum goals.  For my own learning I think I will start with teaching them during the lunch time native cultural activity room.  I hope Indian Ed will loan me your suggested materials over the summer to practice. 

       The minuet that we learned as representing Renaissance and Baroque eras was fun but I do not see how it fits into the curriculum for middle school.  I would like an American country dance that could be done to represent this period in American history.  If this dance had not been so complicated (for middle schoolers), I could have used it to contrast European and American attitudes.

       If I taught social studies, I think I would make a display case show casing the fashions of the time.  I would also put the music on as background during work times. (After a focused listening.)

  • I love the native greeting dance we learned at the beginning of class and will definitely try it out. I'm feeling very intimidated by the Minuets we learned and will need a lot more practice before trying it out with the kids. I think the dances can also double as a team building activity and I plan to debrief them to see how the group can help each other learn them together. If this is done on a regular basis, I think even the most reluctant kids will build confidence.
  • My favorite dance so far this morning, and the one that will be the easiest to share with my students is the Native American Welcome dance. The friendship dance sounds fun too! It seems like a great way to break the ice, and, in the past, I have done a little mini unit on different cultural greetings around the world. This would fit in perfectly. As for the minuet, I personally find it intriguing and beautiful. However, I can see that it would present a number of challenges for my students. Just teaching the steps would be very time-intensive, and, although the pair just barely touch hands during this dance, I can already hear my 4th graders going "Ewww!". Gotta love 'em.... I am definitely interested in the resources Title VII has to offer, and I can see using a number of dances as a brain break and as a way to support the 4th and 5th grade social curriculum.
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