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Students will learn about different cultures through dance.
Teachers don't need to be dancers to teach dance to their students. Through inviting music and simple choreography, dance is an exciting way to help students understand different cultures, including their own. Students should have background knowledge in the concepts of personal and group space before learning folk dancing. Simple musical concepts, including rhythm, are helpful but not necessary for students to achieve success. If you have students with limited movement abilities, refer to the adaptations section at the end of this lesson.
Although the following lesson will detail only one dance from the people of Hawaii, dances from other countries and cultures could easily be taught throughout the year following the same instructional procedures. Each teacher will have a different cultural focus based on the population and background of her classroom. Students will be interested in different dances based on the countries of both their relatives and their friends. Specific dances can be connected to events, like the Olympics, and holidays, like Chinese New Year.
The following words will also facilitate dance education. These words were taken directly from the Utah First Grade Core Curriculum, Math III-2. Spatial relationship vocabulary: between, before, after, middle, left, right, closer, and farther.
Folk dancing can be taught in a classroom or a bigger space if available. Clear the dancing space of objects.
Keep in mind that children will mirror their teacher when learning a dance. Practice doing the dance in the opposite direction of the students if you are facing them or face the same direction as the students if you want to move the same direction as the dancers.
6. Communicate clearly in oral, artistic, written, and nonverbal form.
Invitation to Learn
Ask students to think-pair-share with a partner about the different kinds of music they have heard. Have several students tell the class their ideas.
Next, ask students to think-pair-share with a partner about places they know. These could include cities, states or countries where the child or his family has lived, where he has visited, or where he would like to go. As before, have several students tell their ideas to the whole class.
Ask students if they know if some of the places they have mentioned have music specific to that culture. Lead a short discussion on how music can relate to different places and cultures.
Ask students to again think-pair-share about certain music their families use at different times. For instance, a special song at bedtime or a song learned from a grandparent. Allow several students to talk.
Explain to students that they are going to hear music and learn a dance about the culture of Hawaii.
(Use the following directions with any song from any folk dancing CD. Details such as the country and the specific dance steps will change, but the format will stay the same.)
Curriculum Extensions/Adaptations/ Integration
Goetz Zwirn, S., & Graham, M. (2005). Crossing borders: The arts engage academics and inspire children. Childhood Education, 81(6), 267-273.
Successful arts education influences effective, multicultural experiences. Dance and other fine art activities make connections between what the student learns at school and what he knows at home. These connections can further understanding of the mingling of cultures.
Clark, R. (2002). Performance assessment in the arts. Kappa Delta Pi Record, Volume 39 (Issue 1), pp. 29-32.
Performance assessment methods, including well-constructed rubrics, allow teachers to assess students easily and equitably. Rubrics inform students of specific criteria that will be assessed.