Student-centred learning environments, curricula and pedagogies are ideal learning contexts in which to engage with differentiated learning strategies. Dance education inherently provides opportunities for social justice in education through social dances and authentic arts pedagogy that empowers students to work at their individual level of understanding, skill, and cultural knowledge, which is enriched through Lev Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development; during Arts based learning environments and group work activities (McDevitt, T. M. & Ormrod, J. E., 2013). In these contexts, teachers can provide equity within the learning environment, by reflecting on the culture, ethnicity, physicality, gender, background knowledge and experiences of their students, to involve and engage all learners. Below is an example of how you can integrate Maths and Dance for Year 3 students:
Display images with symmetry and asymmetry and discuss the features that help us identify them. Can anyone see a symmetrical shape in the room? An asymmetrical shape in the room?
Warm-up: Students’ copy teacher performing symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes with their bodies. Shapes should include reaching up high; bending down low; twisting; balancing on one foot with raised leg extended in front, behind, or to the side; small and large movements. Ask students to pair up and practice symmetrical shapes that require their partner to remain balanced (i.e. holding hands while leaning away from each other).
- In their own personal space, students create a low symmetrical shape with their body (i.e. lying on the floor, crouching or resting on one or both knees). Students make another symmetrical shape on signal (i.e. drum hit, hand clap, etc.) and then another (section 1)*.
- Discuss the term transition to students (i.e. moving from one dance action and/or space to another in a logical and flowing way). Demonstrate a transition from crouching, kneeling or laying on the floor to standing tall, while focusing on balance and flow. Ask students to practice transitioning from the floor to standing tall in their own time. Repeat this step until students are comfortable moving with balance and flow. Encourage students to use two points of contact on the floor at any one time (e.g. left foot and right hand).
- Standing in their own personal space, students create high asymmetrical shapes with their body (e.g. standing on one leg with arms outstretched, or with legs together and one arm extended to the front, the other bent across the body. Students make another symmetrical shape on signal and then another (section 2)*.
- Ask students to find a partner and create symmetrical shapes that require their partner to remain balanced (e.g. holding hands while leaning away from each other). Pairs make another symmetrical shape on signal and then another (section 3)*.
- Ask students to find a personal space and transition back to the floor where they will hold low asymmetrical shapes with their bodies on signal (section 4)*.
- Combine the four sections of the dance together and inform student to perform the movements in the same order as they learnt them the first time; the second time, they can choose which order to perform them in. Teacher supports students the first time through. Encourage students to use logical and flowing movements when transitioning between each section of the dance. Teacher cues movements by hitting drum or clapping hands throughout the performance.
- Design a follow-up lesson on 2D and/or 3D symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes**. Begin the lesson with a reflection on the type of shapes students’ represented with their bodies in this lesson.
* Year 3 (location and transformation): Identify symmetry in the environment
** Years 2 and 3 (shape): Describe and draw two-dimensional shapes without digital technology and/or make models of three-dimensional objects and describe their features
McDevitt, T. M. & Ormrod, J. E. (2013). Child Development and Education (5th ed.). United States of America: Pearson.