When I first began teaching movement composition in PE, I felt that the entire unit needed to be structured around dance, however my views and my practice have changed over the years. Movement composition is indeed an excellent unit and an important one to cover in physical education, but giving students as many different ways as possible to engage in learning in this unit is the key. This means that part of the time, of course, movement composition will revolve around dance, but what I also do is to infuse elements from gymnastics, cirque du soleil, stomp, and yoga within the unit. This allows the students a multitude of ways to explore movement composition and all that this unit has to offer.
By letting students explore various themes and movement styles under the broader transdisciplinary theme “How we express ourselves.”, we are encouraging not only deep inquiry, but also making it possible for the students to tap into areas of movement composition that they really enjoy or want to develop.
In this blog post, I am fully documenting two 80-minute lessons that I did with my grade 4 class over the past couple of weeks. I will detail, step-by-step, what it was we did, with examples of video, as well as describe the formative assessment that went along with these activities. I will include examples student assessment below as well.
Even though this learning experience was broken down into two 80-minute lessons for me, if you are interested in trying it out, depending on your own schedule, it may end up being three 60-minute lessons or four 40-minute lessons.
To Start Off (Part A)
Have the following questions posted on the whiteboard or on chart paper and use the questions to stimulate discussion about movement composition. If possible record your students’ answers.
Describe the difference between an OK and a very good movement composition routine?
Why is it important to match movements used in a routine to the piece of music it is being performed to?
This part of the lesson should take no more than 5 minutes and the You Tube video seen below is what I had my students watch. It is a funny, entertaining clip of 2 Cirque Du Soleil performers doing a juggling scarves routine. One is juggling and the other one is using drums to create a distinct beat for their routine. After watching the video the students answered the following questions.
What created the music in this routine?
How did the movements of the juggler match the beat of the drums? Give specific examples?
What are some juggling scarves movements/tricks that the juggler created as part of his routine?
Tuning In (Part B)
Giving the students only one scarf each and putting them into their own area, they had to explore different types of tricks and movements that they could do with their one scarf (NO MUSIC played at this point). The following questions are asked at this point.
What movements/tricks are easy for you?
What movements/tricks are more difficult to do?
Video and Audio at this point (Part C)
Giving the students 2 scarves now, I have them watch the video of the juggler and obviously hear the beat of the drums. They are to copy, as closely as possible, the movements of the juggler in the Cirque video. They love this part!!! I give them a few goes at copying the juggler.