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Teaching dance in PE can help academic achievement

This is an excerpt from Dance Units for Middle School by Judi Fey.

As research continues to confirm the link between participation in the arts and academic achievement, more school systems are adding dance to the middle school experience. However, hiring a full-time dance education-certified teacher may not be in the budget initially or at all. Therefore, volunteers in the form of physical educators, faculty members with an interest in dance, teachers' aides, or any other staff members may be tasked with teaching dance. This book, DVD, and CD package has been created for just such volunteers. Conceptualized by physical educators who are also dance trained, this resource offers step-by-step help to middle school physical educators (or other non-dance-trained or certified staff members) charged with teaching middle school dance.

Using This Package to Teach Dance

This book, DVD, and CD package offers a proven and easy method for bringing the benefits of dance to your middle school students. Three dance units with ready-to-use lessons are presented: improvisation, dance for athletes, and jazz dance. These lessons walk you through the process of planning and teaching a dance unit step by step, from introducing basic dance and fitness terminology to facilitating a student-created group performance at the unit's end.

The lessons are easy for instructors without dance expertise to use. Basic dance terminology and fitness terminology are meshed. Basic dance steps are used that are similar to what students and teachers may already know. Each lesson even features a script that you can follow word for word in class. The script is based on the experience of many teachers using these units and makes even novices feel confident.

Because the lessons have been designed by and for instructors, they address each aspect of the instructional process, from preparation to assessment. Each lesson lists the materials needed, objectives and National Dance Standards met, dance terminology used, and preparation required. Homework and assessment are woven throughout the lessons so that students spend time applying the material and evaluating themselves. Self-assessments, group assessments, and teacher's assessments are included so that both instructors and students can easily gauge students' learning.

The music CD bound into the book takes the work out of selecting music for class work and performances. Songs of various styles and tempos are available to suit the particular needs of your classes. The DVD bound into the book supports the instruction of the lessons with visual aids, student handouts, homework assignments, and rubrics. The DVD also includes video demonstrations of correct technique for the skills taught in the lessons. With the demonstrations, you and your students can know for certain how the skills should be done.

There is continuity from improvisation to dance for athletes to jazz dance. Students will recognize some of these skills and build on them. After teaching the units several times, you will establish your own routine and be able to add your own creativity. You and your students will be amazed and proud of what you create and how your performances improve from grade to grade.

You Can Do It!

If you are a physical educator, many of the tools you need are already at your disposal:

  • Facility: A gymnasium or other large space with appropriate flooring is needed.
  • Familiarity with movement skills: Physical educators know basic footwork and coaching cues for a variety of movements and sport skills.
  • Knowledge of moving students safely within a space: Physical educators are familiar with drill formations, lines, squads, and the use of equipment.
  • Knowledge of anatomy and exercise physiology: Physical educators have been trained to analyze skills and movement from an anatomical and physiological perspective.
  • Coaching skills: Physical educators have been trained to coach for improvement.
  • Physical fitness, physical education, and dance are a good match because of the fitness components involved in dancing, the similarity of movement, and the discipline necessary for training in dance and sports.

But these units are not just for physical educators—they are easy for anyone to use! You might be someone who

  • coaches or has played a sport;
  • takes dance, Pilates, yoga, aerobics, or similar classes;
  • plays a musical instrument or has a music background;
  • enjoys social dance;
  • regularly works out at a gym or at home;
  • is interested in theater or performance; or
  • wants to learn some dance skills with your students.

Teaching dance should be fun for both students and you, the teacher. In this book, DVD, and CD package, the students are given clear instructions, and they create dance projects. You are the director, not the dancer. You learn with the students.

The dance units in this book have already been taught—and they work. Students have had fun, learned new movement skills that have helped them be better athletes, found an outlet for their creativity, performed their projects, and assessed their work. Your students can have that experience too!

Listen to an audio clip from the CD.

Learn more about Dance Units for Middle School.

More Excerpts From Dance Units for Middle School