The week before, the night before, that very morning, can be the moment we do some planning…
Be it researching a topic to find a fascinating fact or quite simply just picking the right play list. Planning and preparation are key bedfellows that can result in a great lesson and something we rarely get paid to do as freelance dance artists. All the same, we still do it to ensure that what we offer our young people is enriching and rewarding. And even if you never look at your notes/lesson plans again, the essential “what am I going to do” is there.
So where do I normally begin?
A theme, a topic, a suggestion.
For the curriculum classes I teach this can either be set by the teachers, something I select from a whole school topic book or something that has sparked my interest. This term for example I am looking at:
- Dragons – fact or fiction? (year 4)
- Dance Styles (year 6)
- Africa (year 2)
- Asia (year 4)
- The Four States of Matter (year 5)
- Space (year 3)
- Dance Elements (another year 5)
As you can see – pretty varied! Some are prescribed, some I have selected. Pretty broad and up for different approaches, be it from a literacy, geographic, historic, scientific or numeracy angle.
Next is research
Thanks to the www, this has never been easier, more fun or gives you the time consuming chance to become utterly distracted! For example – year 3 ‘Space’. We will be looking at gravity one week and to demonstrate the simple principal of ‘what goes up must come down’ I went to my first port of call for information – You tube, and found the footage of Felix Baumgartner falling back down to earth from his epic height of 24 miles. But guess what I also found? A completely accurate reconstruction with Lego! Amazing!
You Tube – a brilliant visual reference library that can take you on a fabulous journey of discovery. Word of caution: always watch the clips to the end, ensure they are no longer than 4/5 minutes and check your tech before you start. Most ‘child friendly’ clips have no big ‘issues’ with either language or visuals, but when not strictly for children you can encounter problems. For example a clip I showed once from ‘Still Life at the Penguin Café’ (I hadn’t seen the whole of the dance, just parts of it) had boobs on display and caused a lot of giggling! Any longer than 4/5 minutes and they cut into most lessons way too much. And if your tech isn’t working, you need a back-up plan!
The joy of having so much information at your fingertips is clearly obvious, but when planning I do tend to have a few favourite sites. You Tube, Wikipedia, BBC Bitesize, TED, TES. Strangely the sites I am a member of ie People Dancing (Foundation for Community Dance) and NADT I don’t tend to go to for resources or research. Curious. I use my own networks and here again the internet and social platforms such as Facebook for help. The bane of my planning life is finding music and many a time I have put a call out on FB for suggestions of new music, with great results.
It is always good to re-visit a topic with a new class and try and develop what you did previously. It enables you to change and improve what you offered, remembering what worked and what didn’t. It is great to have a basis on which to plan, as opposed to having to start from the beginning. Because as I stated at the start of this blog, we rarely get paid for this extra work. So building up a bank of lesson ideas saves you time. One day I will publish what I have and make millions!
Power Point is really useful to gather all of your info and to show classes something visual to get them thinking. Here are a couple of examples: