Using student generated ideas as assessment for learning
I am currently teaching a grade 1 movement composition unit at Nanjing International School in China. In the introductory phase of this unit, the students explored a number of different styles of movement to music with and without props. This exploratory phase allowed the students to see and realize that movement composition is not only about dance, but can include many other elements. Through this initial part of the unit, I asked a number of questions to the students regarding what movement composition is and what is important to know in the unit. I recorded their ideas in my journal then used the ideas to create the visual that you see in the photo above. Please see video below of a whole group discussion we had directed at the ideas presented in the poster. This discussion took just over 3 minutes and was critically important to have at this point in our movement composition unit. I have always argued that their is sound pedagogical justification for slowing the class down to have these important discussions.
This allowed me to create an activity that could focus and work on the concept of timing. My teaching colleague, Jo Disher, had shared with me a great You Tube video of 2 young kids doing an amazing partner balance routine. We decided that it would be a great teaching tool to stress the importance of body control, strength and balance in movement composition. Here is the video below.
As they had yet to grasp this concept, it was a perfect teachable moment to introduce a challenge to them. Using a 40-second piece of music from the You Tube video above, I told the students that they had to complete the 4 partner balances in the time that the music was playing. At first they could not of course. But as we looked at the length of time and broke it down, the students began to see that they had to put thinking skills into action based on the time limit placed on their routines. Some students were finishing their 4 partner balances much too soon while others we not even close to completing their 4. Check out the video below. It shows an important discussion I had with them about breaking down the time limit placed on their routines.
Written down on the mirror are some of the numbers I was playing around with and discussing to help get the students thinking more about how they were going to fit in the start of the routine, the 4 partner balances, and the finish of their routine within the 40 seconds. You can see on the right side of the picture that our discussion led to giving 3 seconds for building the partner balance, 4 seconds for holding the balance, and 3 seconds for unbuilding the balance (10 seconds total for one partner balance).
By using student generated ideas in movement composition I was able to create a visual that was used to help stimulate important discussion about the big concepts in this unit. Referring to my journal notes it was evident that I did not do a good job at covering the concept of timing (which is a key learning outcome). Using the students' ideas to create a visual allowed me to design a learning engagement that could focus on the concept of timing in today's lesson. I can say with full certainty that the majority of students now understand the importance of timing in a routine. To consolidate this understanding further, we will continue to work on timing over the next couple of classes. I know this was one of my longer blog posts, but I hope you got something from it. As always, thanks for reading!