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  • I wonder how many dances and songs have been lost forever? It is sad to think of how many were suppressed, not passed on, or forgotten as the nation transitioned from slavery to no slavery. Still, a rich treasure trove exists and the best part is that it is so accessible. The Library of Congress is free and hosts lots of digital resources. I cannot wait until the opening of the The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture! It will open in 2015. The location on the National Mall highlights the importance of the collection to be housed and displayed at the museum. 

    Admission is free at all Smithsonians. I hope lots of educators can visit this new American treasure. For those who can't or who want to use materials after their visit, I hope there will be lots of digital resources available.

  • That was fantastic!  I loved the motions that were representations of different daily movements.  I’ve done traditional Japanese dance before, and there was a subtle similarity in the small little hand movements. This would be fabulous for kids to learn and DO!  Kids today tend to do more repetitive movement play, like soccer or baseball.  This dance made me feel like I was using everything.  Wonderful!  I LOVED the movement.  Wow!  What a fabulous teacher! Phew, now I need a nap!

  • I think the conflict between the beauty and the sorrow of the Negro Spirituals is an interesting topic for discussion.  I do think students can relate to sadness, injustice and oppression at different levels.  The music captures a feeling of an oppressed people that I could never describe or understand.  It is also fascinating to acknowledge that these songs served not only as entertainment but had secret message.  The process of decoding the songs for historical references as well as potential directions might be a difficult one for my third graders but even realizing that this process is possible, I think, would be really captivating.

    The experience of African style dancing was engaging and uplifting.  It might help model aspects of different lives and daily tasks.  It is certainly something I would need resources to recreate with kids as I could never teach this dance with authenticity.  It might be a neat experience for us to go through together, both to model risk-taking as well as learning about a culture different from my own.

  • I find the spirituals useful now in teaching my freshmen, in World History, about our Judeo-Christian heritage. I play a recording of "Go Down Moses," have students analyze it in writing (in regard to Biblical allusions), and offer extra-credit to whoever will rehearse and sing it to the class. There is usually one taker on that.

    The African dance was a good example of a dance form that reflects the daily life and concerns of the dancers. A vigorous dance style that would be interesting to examine in light of its influence on later, 20th century dances.

  • THAT WAS AWESOME!  It was so neat to see the connections between the worlds natural aspects, history and music combined with dance.  I give an African Drumming unit in the fourth quarter of every year.  Next years unit will have to include some of this dancing.  My kids will love being able to move, explore high and low space, and what better way to teach tempo :)

    In reflecting on the African spirituals, I loved Elizabeth's connection to how our own students feel.  They often feel mistreated or unfairly treated.  It is such a great way to show how music and dance can coincide with history and how the times can or are reflected in our own experiences.

  • "Wade in the Water" was a beautiful spiritual. In trying to explain the lyrics of the song to my fellow classmates I realized this song would need lot's of background teaching in Christian allegories and biblical scriptures for the kids to begin to understand the meanings slaves would have ascribed to the songs. I don't feel I could spend the time explaining all of this in my 45 min.time period. I want to find some spirituals I could use. I will spend some time looking up Patriot songs.

  • I feel like I have learned strong, basic dance moves with which to tell a spiritual  story.  I would like to further pursue putting these moves to a Negro Spiritual. I missed the connection of music and story and would like to see a performance and learn a specific song and set of dance moves to teach my students. This is the logical next  step.  I wonder if there is an artist in town who can visit my classroom?

  • The guest dancer was amazing and I think it would be so much fun for my school families to attend one of her public events. I will recommend this to my families as they are looking for exciting learning opportunities.  I hear a lot of voice in the songs of this time and their could be so much learning especially within the older grade levels. 

  • This was a difficult time for many people, but the dance helped make things easier and tell their stories. I enjoyed doing these dances. It seems as though there is some type of movement that will tell any story and show all different types of emotions. There were very strong themes and emotions during this time period.

    The songs are ones I would use with my students. I think they could look at the language and notice things. I think this period is an important one to share with students because they can relate to some of the hardships in their own personal lives.

  • Excellent use of time and energy!  I learn by doing and by having the opportunity to dance and move and to know WHY was exhilarating!  Kids would love participating in this type of dance because it's so active and literal.

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