We dance because it keeps our minds and bodies strong and healthy. We dance because it helps us understand what we are studying in new and memorable ways. We dance because it builds community and helps create a safe place where everyone can grow.
Last Year’s Dancing Third Graders
I am excited to announce that on Monday we begin our next Unit of Inquiry: “Let’s Dance.” This is one of my favorite units to teach, and I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts on the benefits of incorporating movement into the curriculum.
Anne Green Gilbert, a recognized dance instructor from the Seattle area, created what is called the Brain Dance to help students, “become focused, energized and ready to learn.” This sequence of movements strengthens reading and writing skills, increases emotional stability, improves social skills and gets our hearts pumping. The Brain Dance also helps us relax and open our minds to new and challenging learning.
We move our bodies to increase flexibility, improve coordination, as well as to squeeze some cardiovascular exercise into a day spent primarily in our seats. When students create their own dances, we challenge them to think creatively and practice their problem solving skills.
Dance is also a great way to explore ideas taught in our regular curriculum. In particular, dance can increase students understanding in math. Choreographing short performances, which requires students to exercise their creative problem solving skills, can also improve students’ writing. This opportunity for self-expression is also a healthy way to release emotions, and discover a positive self-concept.
Dance not only benefits the individual, but it also fosters a positive learning community. These shared experiences bring joy, build trust and cultivate respect. Every student is celebrated – we practice giving compliments as well as constructive feedback.
- Dance class helps Parkinson’s patients use movement as a strategy (seattletimes.nwsource.com)