Why Use A Dance Daze Dance Board?

As you may know, when the world first began changing at the beginning of Covid-19 hitting, I immediately began creating something every day. Part of this creation included me regularly recording educational dance videos outdoors in my front yard, both for children and for adults.

This regular activity of creating outdoor dance videos of taking action in an unprecedented time helped me in the following ways:

  • Gave me regularity, stability, and a sense of control during a time when everything was spinning out of control;
  • Gave me a feeling of responsibility, which is highly motivating for me;
  • Provided me with a sacred time where I could tune out the rest of the world and focus only on what I was creating, whether that was Instagram Lives, short dance videos for content marketing, or longer instructional videos for my free classes for adults at online.dancedaze.org;
  • Allowed me to experiment, express, and re-discover myself as an artist and as a creative person.

With all of these positive benefits that I experienced, listed above, I am happy that my partner offered to build me my own dance board so that I could continue my practice, experimentation, play, and creation. The sprung dance floor he originally made for me quickly evolved (because, I am an entrepreneur after all) into the Dance Daze Dance Board™.

Here are some of the reasons I believe the Dance Daze Dance Board™ can be useful to you if you are an adult dancer practicing at home or the parent of a child who is studying dance:

  1. The Dance Daze Dance Board™ might be safer than the surface on which you/your child is currently dancing at home. Dance Daze Dance Boards™ are made by hand with solid wood and a thin rubber bottom, which makes it skid resistant. The wooden surface is also better for dancing on than a carpeted floor, no matter the style of dance.
  2. When paired with a portable ballet barre from Amazon (linked my influencer shop!) and perhaps some mirrors from Target, you can use the Dance Daze Dance Board™ to create a mini home dance studio for yourself or your child.
  3. The Dance Daze Dance Board™ gives great sound for tap dance and absorbs some shock in the way that it is semi-sprung (with a very thin rubber bottom layer).

If you’re interested in purchasing a Dance Daze Dance Board™ for yourself or for your child, you can grab one from DanceDazeDanceBoards.com!

Move Your Body — Indoors or Outdoors!

For the past several months, I have enjoyed dancing outside in various spaces! While my personal journey of dancing outdoors began because of COVID-19 and wanting to find new and safe ways to dance and to create dance education content for others, dancing outdoors is something I want to continue doing!

While dancing inside of a studio is great, I enjoy dancing outside because it makes me feel excited in a different way! I feel braver, less critical of my technique, and more aware of my breathing when I’m dancing outside.

What about you? Does dancing outside give you a different experience than dancing inside of a studio or other indoor dance space? Which do you prefer?

In the Dance Daze Fall Activity Book, children are invited to answer the above questions and more! This seasonal activity book includes some foundational information about the elements of dance, writing activities, and several coloring pages. This activity book is included in membership for members of the Dance Daze Online program, and it is also available for purchase for non-members! Check it out here: https://online.dancedaze.org/dance-daze-fall-activity-book

Happy dancing!

Thinking of Your Dancers As Learners and Not Only As Movers

In my research for my doctoral dissertation, I’ve been looking into the teaching for understanding framework, with the intention of studying this instructional model as it relates to dance education.

Earlier today I was re-reading part of a book from my graduate studies: Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design: Connecting Content and Kids by by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Jay McTighe. Below are some of my favorite points from the first chapter of the book.

The text states, “In effective classrooms, teachers consistently attend to at least four elements: whom they teach (students), where they teach (learning environment), what they teach (content), and how they teach (instruction). If teachers lose sight of any one of the elements and cease investing effort in it, the whole fabric of their work is damaged and the quality of learning impaired.” (p. 2)

I appreciate this statement because I feel that often, dance educators are taught to focus on transmitting content–information about how to perform specific dance movements–and they are not ever taught to also be equally and as deeply focused on their students, the environment in which they are teaching, and they way they are making information accessible to students in the dance classroom. Later, we come to learn that the concept of “understanding by design” or “UbD” “emphasizes how we teach, particularly ways of teaching for student understanding . . . the ‘what’ and ‘how'” (p. 2).

Many dance educators will likely walk into a studio or a space where they will teach dance feeling entirely comfortable with the “what” that they will be teaching. Not focusing on the “how” of teaching, I believe, can make teaching dance to diverse populations of students or teaching dance in non-traditional environments (e.g., in an elementary school cafeteria, on a middle school blacktop, or in the extra classroom that is typically reserved for visual arts classes) particularly challenging for dance educators, especially those who are in the first few years of their dance education practice.

We learn in the first chapter of this book that Understanding by Design is essentially a curriculum design model and that Differentiated Instruction is an instructional design model, with a focus on “whom we teach, where we teach, and how we teach” (p. 3) and ensuring “effective learning for varied individuals” (p. 3).

There are 7 “axioms” and “corollaries” presented that show how the two concepts are related:

Axiom 1: “The primary goal of quality curriculum design is to develop and deepen student understanding” (p. 4).

  • Students will grow at different rates and each student requires a different kind of support in order to develop their understanding of concepts.

Axiom 2: “Evidence of student understanding is revealed when students apply (transfer) knowledge in authentic contexts” (p. 5).

  • “The most effective teachers use the evidence of variance in student proficiency to provide opportunities and support to ensure that each student continues to develop and deepen knowledge, understanding, and skill from his or her current point of proficiency, interests, and learning preferences” (p. 5).

Axiom 3: “Effective curriculum development following the principles of backward design . . . helps avoid the twin problem of textbook coverage and activity-oriented teaching in which no clear priorities and purposes are apparent” (p. 6).

  • This point, and the phrase “activity-oriented teaching in which no clear priorities and purposes are apparent” causes me to think of how many dance teachers out there approach dance classes for our youngest students, between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Often, I see dance classes for this age group that are focused on activity facilitation, more so than the classes are focused on purposeful learning objectives and creating intentional educational experiences for the students.

Axiom 4: “Regular reviews of curriculum and assessment designs, based on design standards, provide quality control and inform needed adjustments. Regular reviews of “results” should be followed by needed adjustments to curriculum instruction” (p. 7).

Axiom 5: “Teachers provide opportunities for students to explore, interpret, apply, shift perspectives, empathize, and self-assess. These six facets provide conceptual lenses through which student understanding is assessed” (p. 8).

Axiom 6: “Teachers, students, and districts benefit by ‘working smarter’ and using technology and other vehicles to collaboratively design, share, and critique units of study” (p. 9).

  • “A routine part of collaboration in academically diverse classrooms should occur between teachers and specialists who have expert knowledge about student needs and instructional approaches most likely to respond effectively to those needs” (p. 9)
  • I feel that in typical studio-based dance programs or recreational dance programs, there is an assumption that the dance teacher is the expert; though this is not always the case. Early career dance teachers often do not have a significant amount of teaching experience, if any, and it is rare that these early-career dance teachers–unless they have gone through a classroom-focused teacher training program–have been trained in differentiated instruction. However, I understand the challenge of having expert educational specialists on-hand as a studio owner or dance education entrepreneur. I believe that the best way to solve this problem is to ensure that more dance educators who are teaching dance to children have a background that includes an understanding of the art and science of education itself, including fundamental theories about teaching and learning.

Axiom 7: “UbD is a way of thinking, not a program. Educators adapt its tools and materials with the goal of promoting better student understanding” (p. 10).

  • “Differentiated instruction is a way of thinking, not a formula or recipe. Educators draw on, apply, and adapt its tools with the goal of maximizing knowledge, understanding, and sill for the full range of learners” (p. 10).
  • Effective differentiation guides educators in thinking effectively about whom they teach, where they teach, and how they teach in order to ensure that what they teach provides each student with maximum power as a learner” (p. 10).
  • The above statements explain what my primary goal is for dance educators who are teaching elementary-school aged children. I believe that it is essential that dance educators are viewing each of their students as learners and that the responsibility of educating and facilitating understanding for those learners holds significant weight when planning and preparing for dance classes.

Remember, to read more about the ideas presented in this blog about Understanding by Design and Differentiated Instruction, check out Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design: Connecting Content and Kids by by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Jay McTighe.

 

 

 

What Are Students Learning in a Dance Daze® Creative Movement Class?

Saumirah McWoodson, dance educator, researcher, podcaster, blogger, former classroom teacher, and the founder of Dance Daze, Inc. and Dance Daze in Schools, has been developing the Dance Daze® Creative Movement curriculum for over 10 years. Often the most popular studio-based class that is offered by Dance Daze, Inc. in each seasonal session, this class is a great introduction to dance for children between the ages of 2 and 4 years who are ready for a structured, high-energy experience and to move and grove while their parents watch from the sidelines. (For children who prefer dancing with their parents, we recommend Dance Daze® Dance With Me.)

In this class, students are introduced to the basics of dance composition and movement analysis, expression through movement, identifying shared and personal space, and so much more. We use fun, colorful props in every single Dance Daze® Creative Movement class, which we believe ads to the understanding and gives a deeper opportunity for exploration during that portion of the class.

We are active in this class, and we try to keep students moving as much as possible with very little downtime, as we discover different rhythms and develop our love for movement while listening to music from different time periods and from various cultures and genres.

If you think your child would have a blast in a Dance Daze® Creative Movement, sign them up today at DanceDaze.org.

What Are Students Learning in a Dance Daze® Dance With Me Class?

Dance Daze® Dance With Me is one of the new classes that we are offering at Dance Daze, Inc. studio-based classes! This class is designed for our youngest dancers (ages 18 months to 3 years) who are seeking a fun, high-energy, music-filled introduction to dance and movement. The idea for Dance Daze® Dance With Me grew out of observing students in Dance Daze® Creative Movement who strongly wanted their parents or caregivers to explore their dance class with them and join in on the fun.

Parents who bring their children to Dance Daze® Dance With Me can expect to experience the elements of movement and dance composition in a fun class that is guided by upbeat, kid-friendly music.

We will glide, slide, twirl, bend, bounce, and groove using props such as plush flowers, stuffed animals, scarves, ribbons, balance beams, wands, wings, and so much more!

If you think your child would enjoy a Dance Daze® Dance With Me class, sign them up today at DanceDaze.org.