Categotry Archives: Educating Dance

Phonics at All Hands

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On Monday we had our All Hands Meeting. We have one every six months and it’s a chance for the team to get together, find out what’s been happening in the company and to plan for its future. Each time we try to have something a bit extra and this time we learnt a bit about phonics!

TRS Teacher Alice used to work as a teaching assistant and in her role at school she learnt a lot about phonics. She was kind enough to share a little of this knowledge so that we could get some insight into what the children learn in class. The Educating Dance teachers (the TRS Teachers training in the TRS cross-curricular approach) also gained some ideas for their classes.

Phonics is an approach used by primary school teachers to teach reading and spelling. Pupils learn sounds of letters and groups of letters and are able to break words down so that they can work out how to write/read the words themselves. They learn quickly and gain independence. When I saw Alice using phonics in her dance cllettersoundsass I thought it would be an excellent thing to share with the TRS Teachers. A chance for them to enhance pupils learning and make their classes flow well with what the dancers are already doing in school.

Alice shared the phonics sounds with us first (some are listed on the left). There are lots to learn. Not just the letters of the alphabet, but also the sounds as letters join together to create phonemes. It surprised the TRS Teachers that children learn so much in the process of learning to write and read. It works though!

20160229_133933Next we thought of some ideas for using phonics in class. Things like warm ups that involve phonemes that sound almost the same such as i, ie, igh etc. Perhaps the teacher could give a word containing one of these and the dancers could move to the space that represents the correct one. When we introduce keywords in cross-curricular dance we can now spell them out in a way that dancers will most relate to. Choreography often comes up in class and confuses everyone! This might make things easier. We also talked about the benefits of using phonics in our English cross-curricular classes such as Extended Sentences or during Book Week (the photo shows a BFG workshop during Book Week 2016).

We were left with many ideas and some new knowledge to put into practice! Thank you Alice for sharing. I look forward to the results.

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Gods and Goddesses

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This term Miers Court Primary welcomed back the school year with a Gods and Goddesses theme. Georgie and I had the pleasure of teaching Year 3 and we’ve really enjoyed ourselves. This was their third show so they knew what was expected and they totally stepped up to the mark.

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The six weeks have flown by, but we’ve gotten so much done! The first thing the classes learnt was their warm up. I taught them a warm up dance to Zero to Hero and we had a lot of laughs being strong and powerful. We talked about the differences between a hero and a God and then moved onto our God Motifs.

 

Each group had a different God or Goddess to teach the rest of the class about. They had to use the facts to choreograph movements and, once finished, they showed their motifs to the rest of the class and told them about their God or Goddess. Everyone worked really hard and there were some fantastic ideas. Favorites included Poseidon’s dolphins and the lightening of Zeus.

At the end of the first lesson both classes learnt about Mount Olympus (home of the Gods and Goddesses) and made a giant class shape to represent it. There were high, middle and low-level shapes and everyone had a different position to remember. For a bit of fun in the next five lessons, they had to rush into their Mount Olympus shape as they arrived. I only gave them one minute to co
me in, shoes and socks off, then into place. They somehow managed it every time!

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The final three sessions before the show were devoted to myths. The whole class wrote a myth all together. There were pot luck cards to choose from so that each class had a setting, two characters and something extra. It turned out they both had Hera’s peacock as the something extra and for some reason both peacocks were quite mischievous! Other than that, both Myth Motifs were very different.

We spent one lesson rehearsing and bringing all the motifs together to form a long dance. It was a huge amount to remember, but both classes rose to the challenge and, as the audience saw in the final lesson, they did really well. Not only did they remember the dance, but they remembered to use different facial expressions to show when they were being the strong hero, Hercules, and made energy flow throughout their bodies, even to the tips of their fingers.

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I’ve really enjoyed working with these dancers again. I see an improvement every year they come back and it is great fun. Here’s the auto awesome video, an automatically created video of photos and video footage from one of the rehearsals.

 

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Journey to the Island

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The Whale

 

This term the Reception children at Miers Court Primary School learnt about journeys, the sea side, transport and under the sea animals this term. They also used their best imaginative skills to choreograph their own dance about all the wacky things on their island! We were also joined by TRS Teacher, Bex.

 

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Who has the tallest sandcastle?

 

The first week I taught the children a warm up dance to Beside the Seaside and we talked about the things we need to do to prepare for the sun shine and a visit to the beach. They also learnt movements for each of the under the sea animals and we put them in order to make another under the sea warm up.

 

 

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The Rocket and The Train

 

One of the highlights for me this term was seeing how the children created their own forms of transport in small groups. They began with a freeze frame and then gave it little movements to make it even more interesting. They all took on this challenge really well and Bex and I were very impressed.

 

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The Walking Shark

 

The main choreographic task involved stretching our imagination. The Island that we journeyed to could have absolutely anything on it. At first we had normal things such as animals and plants, but then things got wacky and we included a walking shark, a game of hide and seek and a gigantic fish tank full of sea creatures.

 

The dance performance was their first at Miers Court Primary and the dancers did really well. At the beginning of term we didn’t expect them to remember everything, but they impressed us by ‘thinking what’s next’ whilst they danced. I’m looking forward to being back in class with them in the years to come.

Practicing the ‘Dancing Smile’!

20160706_13564820160706_144147This is the automatically created video of photos and video footage from one of our rehearsals, the outdoor rehearsal!

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Predator Vs. Prey

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20160518_140324Year 3 have been learning about food chains, how predators have developed to catch prey and how prey protects itself from being eaten. They’ve learnt key words like habitat, producer and consumer and have discovered that there is a lot more to animals than cute fluffyness! We brought the theme into dance class and have had a fantastic time exploring food chains from four different habitats, Dessert, Woodland, Seashore and Ocean.

“I’ve had lots of fun learning how to dance. I liked that it was about our topic.”

Toby Hopkins, Year 3 pupil at Miers Court Primary School

Warm up explored how prey protects itself. There were movements about spikes (year 3 even saw a porcupine when they went to the zoo!), hiding, fleeing, shells and threatening behaviour (such as the skunk wiggle!). Cool down was about Predators with lots of reaching, stretching, creeping and, right at the end, pouncing!

“We have really enjoyed seeing Rebecca teach the dance lessons to our classes. She has some fantastic ideas and is brilliant with the children. The end result has brought out the children’s creative ability and really enhanced their understanding of our topic of food chains.”

Miss Lewis and Mrs White (class teachers)

20160518_141934We worked towards the end of term performance, choreographing in the first 4 weeks, focusing on movement quality in the 5th week and rehearsing and performing in the final lesson. For each of the first 4 weeks there was a different habitat and food chain. I set tasks that the dancers had to interpret in their own way or as a group. Here are some examples…

20160518_140138The Cactus: This was the very first Producer we looked at. It was in the Dessert food chain and it is a plant. The cactus protects itself with its spikes so the group made spiky movements. This was also the very first movement in the dance so they stayed absolutely still at the beginning and then changed to movements that were quick, jerky, jagged and small.

The Eagle, Owl and Seagull: These are predators and they all appeared at the end of our food chains. The dancers were doing really well and I knew they were up for a challenge because I worked with them last year on Tudor Dances so I use the three birds to teach the groups a little about motif development. They choreographed three movements for the eagle. In the next lesson we developed these into movements on the spot for the owl and, in the third lesson, the group moved as one around the room to be the sea gull. 20160518_140548The Killer Whale: This was the very last item in our dance and it became the ending position. It was a shape rather than a movement, but the dancers did have to work on their transition from seal to killer whale. I said the them, “We’re going to make a giant killer whale using everyone in the class. It’s tail will be here and it’s head will be here. What other body parts do we need?” Each group had different ideas, but we ended up with two whole class shapes containing eyes, ribs, fins, teeth and other parts.

“It has been really fun to learn how to be animals without making a sound. I liked showing people different animals using movement.”

Isabelle Pearson, Year 3 pupil at Miers Court Primary School

In the last lesson before performance we focused on movement quality and the dancers learnt the difference between describing what the movement looks like and describing its quality and how it feels. By the end of the sessions they had really got the hang of it and both groups performed to camera spectacularly. One dancer said to me “It’s better than normal dancing because I can feel how the animal feels.” They completely embodied the food chairs and worked amazingly well as a team, flowing through the dance and moving seemlessly between the producers, consumers and Predators.

The dancers have been great fun to work with and have performed beautifully through out. I hope they’re really proud of themselves and their class team. I hope I get to do this theme again one day as it’s been a really good one!

Here’s the Auto Awesome video, enjoy!

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Dino Dancing

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This term’s Educating Dance classes at Miers Court Primary were ‘big’ in so many ways. From the fact we were studying Dinosaurs (some are very big!) to the number of activities and length of the finished dance, it was all fantastic and I really enjoyed myself.

I was immediately surprised by the number of dinosaurs the group could name. Our starter activity was a quick fire name the dinosaur game. Each class had to name as many as they could in just 1 minute. The first time we averaged 8. By the end of term we reached 14 in a minute. Most could even say Confuciousornis and Ornithomimids by the end!

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Warm up was all about the role of a Paleontologist. In cool down we nursed eggs. I showed the groups a photo of what a dinosaur nest could look like and we pretended the liquid gold looked just like it.

 

20160330_140207In between the dancers choreographed movements about dinosaurs. Three movements each for six dinosaurs meant a huge amount to remember, but they did it!

We also played Dinopposites. I showed the groups pictures of tall, short, heavy, light, fast and slow dinosaurs and, in pairs, they choreographed their own movements to represent the dinosaurs. We learnt how, in creative dance, everyone in the room can have a different idea though each pair knew their own movements and did the same week by week.

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I think this has been one of my favourite themes to work into a cross-curricular dance class. I didn’t know much about dinosaurs before I started and had to do a lot of research. Then I had plenty of ideas and the children seemed to enjoy it all.

I’d also like to thank the Year 1 adults who have helped throughout the term. They have excellent memories for dance and were a tremendous help when it came to filming! I hope they are just as proud of their classes as I am!

Some of the video footage and photos were made into a short ‘movie’ by Google Auto Awesome and it can be viewed below and on YouTube.

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