Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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  Connecting With The Arts Home   A Teaching Practices Library, 6-8
  Two Dance Collaborations
  Watching the Video
  Connecting to your Teaching
  Addtional Resources
  About the School
  Q and A with Teachers
  Program at a Glance

Sheridan Global Arts and Communications School /

FAIR School

  Location: Minneapolis, MN /Crystal, MN
  Grade: 6, 7, 8
  Disciplines: Dance & Science
Dance & Math
  Description: Physical forces and geometric concepts are explored through dance and movement.



Q&A With Teachers

Roberta Carvalho-Puzon with Kevin Hennessy and studentsRoberta Carvalho-Puzon, Dance Teacher

What were your goals for this initial collaboration with Kevin?

I wanted to throw myself into a new experience because I think you always learn so much more from doing things differently instead of in the same old way. My goal was to explore a national, state, and district dance standard, where students explore the connections between dance and other disciplines.

What were your goals for the students? What did you hope they would come away with, in terms of understandings and skills?

My goal for my students was for them to be able to leap away from our normal routine. I planned on including a completely new way of integrating a scientific concept into our curriculum, and hoped that it would lead to students generating new and exciting movement and choreography. Another great breakthrough was introducing the habit of journaling in dance class. I have always wanted to establish this with my dancers.

How do you adjust your instruction when the students aren't getting the concepts you are teaching them?

You adjust and transform things as best as you can. You try one, two, three, four different ways, but if you are failing in your teaching to an entire class, you need to change your expectations completely, and still make the experience as successful as possible for everybody involved.

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Scott Charlesworth-Seile and Stephanie JohnsonScott Charlesworth-Seiler, 6th-Grade Teacher

Roughly how long does the circles project take?

We are developing a store of material to examine long before and long after the time when we actually create the circles - we read stories we'll later review for circular ideas, look at historic events and scientific ideas we can re-examine, etc. It is difficult to say exactly how long we spend building students' understanding as the process is ongoing and throughout most disciplines. The time we spend on the actual math formulas, the dance, and the physical objects that the students create may span 3 to 4 weeks.

Briefly describe how you approach the circles project in the various subjects you teach.

We use the idea of circles to help examine our commonly held science beliefs. We examine things like crop circles, the water cycle, and the food chain. We also examine the ways we, and our ancestors, have learned to accept the circle as our frame of reference. From Columbus and other explorers who tested assumptions of the earth’s surface, to the shape of the universe, we see the world through an acceptance of things circular.

Our examination of circles from a mathematical perspective concentrates on formulas, measurement, units, the creation of circles, historic mathematical understandings of circles, and the parts of a circle.

Social Studies
Topics include the social aspects of circles and circular ideas (dance, architecture, defense, the spread of populations and influence). Many human social systems have “circular” processes. For example, government and power changes often go through predictable changes that seem to bring things, at least to some extent, back to a similar place. We talk about how there seem to be cycles in an individual’s life or in the lives of a family. Students look at how they are cared for by responsible adults, and how they, in turn, will be in positions of responsibility as well.

Language Arts
Both individual pieces of literature and the art of literature itself have circular ideas. The art returns to similar themes over the course of years, changing and returning to important human concerns. We also examine the frequent references to circles in poetry, lyrics, and stories.

How long has the circles project been in existence? Has it changed from year to year?

I have been doing the circle project for five years. I began the project as something that I did with my class alone. The dramatic visual product and the pride the students felt in their accomplishment caused first one other sixth-grade teacher and then the others to begin doing the project as well. In the first couple of years of the study there was no connection made to movement. Then, after conversations with our dance teacher, the connections were informal, with students looking separately at circles in both dance and in the regular classroom. That connection has grown more formal and purposeful until this past year when the two were tied together very closely, with the students using the circles they created in dance class.

When the students made the circles, did they measure them out or were they given the bases pre-cut? How did they scale up or down the objects they represented?

At various times students have cut their own circles or used pre-cut cardboard. Regardless of the form of their cardboard, students are expected to be able to make the translation down in size (for an object like the moon) or up in size (for an object like a coin). Some students need to create formulas so they can change the type of unit of the original object to the units used on the cardboard circle. This can be within a measurement system (miles to inches) or from one system to another (metric to standard). We examine how different measures of a circle (diameter, radius, area, circumference, etc.) are affected by the translation.

Who helped the students with their circle artwork?

Students work on most of their art for their circle projects at home. However, some use school space and materials in after-school programs to complete that work. All students use the concepts from their visual art classes (perspective, shading, contrast, etc.) in the creation of their work. Visual art teachers were included in the assessment of individual pieces of art and in the building of our art assessment expectations.

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