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  • 1:11 PM - Westward Expansion and Pioneer Era

    Although I use a lot of these songs and dances in my own classroom, it is always a pleasure to revisit them through the eyes of another educator, especially when it is the dynamic Robin Hopper. Her insights on the lifestyles of the pioneers during the time of these pieces really enhanced the unit’s value for me. Kudos on the guest selection!!

    The idea of a play parties sound inviting even in today's times. I especially enjoyed revisiting some of of our "American music" from our origins. It brought back memories of elementary all-school assemblies. We as educators, are now primarily responsible for teaching about this great musical time in American history. In addition to our fairy tales and nursery rhymes, these important, seemingly disappearing pieces need to be kept alive and pertinent. Losing them is a tragedy we can ill afford.

  • Hi everyone,

    I smiled as I read these reflections; what delight to dance with Robin!  I am also anticipating many play parties being held in ASD schools in the next school year.  Hooray!  Terrific connections: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, SBA brain preparation, a beautiful (and seamless) way to teach manners and SEL concepts.  A great observation that dance in this era is much more community-based instead of individually-based.

    Thanks for heading west with me and Robin!

  • Liked Robin's idea of using this to teach life skills, smiles go along way, everyone has a partner, consider how you respond to others, building community, helping each other. Geat for first quarter unit - combine with lessons on gold fever, pioneers, moving west, wha life was like on the trail and settling in the west. Play party yes! 

  • Robin did a very nice job.  The dances were quick and easy to learn.  I can see how they would lift the spirits of the folks moving westward in such harsh conditions.  I love the idea of community.  I really try to practice this in my own life too.  When I coached cross-country running at my daughters' school, we would practice twice a week after school as a team.  Then one night a week would be family night fun run practice.  I had fun  cardiovascualr activities planned for the whole family to participate in that night.  It was great!  Our music teacher at our school also teaches all the students line dances.  Then when we have school wide events like a  luau, and the end of the year ice-cream social, she plays the music and leads the dances for all the students to come together and dance.  Everyone is having fun too.

  • I noticed that as we moved from the Minuet, on to the Waltz and on to subsequent dances, that there is a transition from dancing as an opportunity for a select few to be seen and as a way of reinforcing social standing to an activity that is becoming more participatory. Dance is becoming less and less a 'spectator sport' and more of a community activity. I will write more later!

  • Great class.  I enjoyed the idea of play party.  Teaching boys without some of the motor skills for foot work as they are growing without the nerve control is sometimes a challenge.  Boys need to have been taught and practice heel/toe  and weight shift early.  Good thing to talk to PE teacher to teach.  

    Like the idea of singing and really learning songs before some dancing..


  • I remember learning how to square dance in first and second grade (but we only learned one dance). We enjoyed learning how to square dance.  I haven't had much exposure to square dancing since then and one thing I really liked was seeing that square dancing can involve many types of dances.  The play dances that were demonstrated seemed to use some of the moves that the Waltz used and so it was neat to see some repeated movement in two types of music.  I really like the song Turkey in the Straw, now not only could we sing the song in class, but I could teach my class a square dance to go with it. 

  • Reflection #4 (Western Expansion & Pioneer Era):   I love how history and culture of the era are brought together via dance! Robin was so accurate in her desire to teach manors and the formalities of dancing and courting during this time period. The confusion that was experienced during the learning of the dance will be exponentially increased with our students during the initial learning period. To avoid this, when I teach folk dancing, I find it a lot more kid friendly to have the kids sit down after the dance is taught and before they perform it with the music and finger walk the dance with the music so they can hear me give directions and so they can hear the music and it saves a lot of frustration on both the teacher and students’ part. I find by doing this the amount of time it takes for my students to be successful with the dance decreases and the pace of the class increases.

  • This was a wonderful way to wake up in the morning.  Our instructor was inspirational and the love of what she does was evident.  I am going to definitely use what she taught us to enrich my class.  I will be emailing our music teach to see if she will collaborate with me to put on a Play Party!

  • I really appreciated Robin’s explicit inclusion of the social-emotional components of the Play Parties.  Eye contact is HUGE in my classroom, and that, coupled with friendly smiles, make Play Parties excellent community builders.  The other thing I really love about these group dances is the fact that friendly guidance and helpful encouragement are socially acceptable and even welcomed.  Even though I didn’t recall all of the steps perfectly, I felt well-supported by the other dancers in my group. 

    I think I sense a barn-raising in my future.  I’m contemplating partnering with our music teacher to teach my kiddos the pioneer songs and dances.  I started doing family-style pot lucks with my class this year, and we could easily add some music and dancing to those.  Maybe once I try it on a small scale, I would be willing to do it with all of elementary.  Perhaps we could couple it with our school’s auction fund-raiser.

    Scott Joplin wrote a ballet?!?  Ok, I'm gonna have to check that out!!

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