How can enhancing music literacy through folk dancing expand physical literacy while also promoting student social, emotional and physical well-being?
Movement is an important aspect of my Teacher Mentor’s music program, and this year especially it is proving to be a Covid-friendly way to teach musical concepts. With my TM’s guidance, I decided to focus my PIP on the benefits of folk dancing for students. Through research, I discovered the connections folk dancing has to physical literacy, music literacy and social, emotional, and physical well-being. During my internship, Grade 4 worked through a circle dances unit I had created and gained experience with long-way set dancing. Grade 3 worked on a variety of line, scatter and circle formation dances and Grade 2 and Kindergarten focused on 4 and 8-beat phrase movement in scatter formation.
I gathered students’ thoughts on the use of dance in music class, which were very positive. From my own observations, students are demonstrating proficiency at the musical skills dance requires (such as listening, moving and creating), and are showing that they understand the key musical concepts presented in dance (such as rhythm, form, melody and expression). I have seen high levels of participation in all movement activities, and students collaborate well with each other through these inclusive, hands-on learning experiences.
The applications to physical literacy development are also particularly evident. Teaching movement and dance is a sequential process. Younger students experiment with symmetrical locomotor and non-locomotor movements and spatial relationships in personal space. Older students will progress to more complex, collaborative dances that focus on phrasing and steady beat, and sequence locomotor-and non-locomotor movements in structured formations such as concentric circles and long-way sets.
The results of this project suggest that folk dancing is a great way to build community in any classroom and is not limited to music classrooms only.
Rebecca is a music major who plans to graduate with a combined BA/BEd degree this spring. She was placed at Mike Mountain Horse Elementary School in Lethbridge for PS III, currently teaching music to Kindergarten, Grade 2, 3 and 4.