This proposed unit is part of a larger unit on cultural
awareness. It is written for a 6th grade class, a class
whose makeup is representative of the larger community. 80% of the
students come from homes where English is not spoken, and 90% are
on free or reduced lunch. Being
largely an immigrant community, students come to school with a
variety of experiences to share. The larger unit on cultural
awareness is an attempt to share with others these experiences and
the pride of diversity. The
Lion Dance in particular find its roots in Asia .
Objectives for The Lion Dance:
Analyzing parts of ideas or objects: The Lion Dance has a
specific story line and sequence.
Students will research and refine this story to be turned
into a dance sequence.
and testing patterns: Students will create movement sequences,
based on the elements of dance, to tell the story of the Lion
the salient feature of an object or an idea:
Movements will replicate the mood and image of the Lion.
Finding value in tradition:
Students will interpret the tradition of the Lion Dance in
connection with a cultural past:
Students will perform the dance
for the community.
Students will cooperate with each other in creating and
performing the dance.
and using elements of dance:
Students will use the elements of dance (See assessment
Working with the PE and Music specialists is critical.
Early in the year we will get together to identify and
focus on the elements of dance and movement.
I particularly like the continuum in Jennifer Zakkai’s
book, Dance as a Way of
Knowing (24). The
awareness/responsibility as a mover
while singing – Music teacher
from area to another – Music teacher, PE teacher, me
associated with work – PE teacher, me
into action (verbs, nouns, etc.) - me
Movement Phase: Students
explore and solve problems
of dance – Music teacher, PE teacher, me
to the curriculum – Music teacher, PE teacher, me
movement sequences – Me
Movement Phase: Students make dances – the Lion Dance
suggests a linear progression but I see it being more fluid.
I will have a big chart in my room, similar to the one on
page 28 of Joyce’s book (I like the inclusion of the Body as an
element). I believe
in having language all around the classroom so if I am going to be
referring to an element in a practical way, it needs to be posted.
A teacher could go wild just with the vocabulary.
Once we have become comfortable with movement and explored
its more refined elements, then we can go about creating our
All formal activities will take place in conjunction with
the other specialists. An
example of an activity from the Natural Movement Phase (that also
loops into the Creative Movement Phase) would be an adaptation of
a lesson I did with poetry. Instead
of having students brainstorm words to go with a piece of music,
they would brainstorm movements or patterns of gestures.
Then we would tie this in with vocabulary and after putting
together a few of the gestures, we could identify some of those
words and write about how their gestures fit in with the elements
Another example would be in one of the activities we do in
the Challenge Course in PE. Students are asked to move from one location to another while
tethered in an unusual way. This
is intended to be an exercise in team building but can double as a
lesson in movement as the various solutions are identified by
element. Then it can
be suggested to groups to try the activity again using just
certain parts of the Body (such as a certain step), while assuming a Shape
(such a direction), in Time
(such as tempo).
Assessment can be on going, performance based as much as
possible, with the support of journaling.
It has been my habit after we take PE together, to have
students journal about aspects of the experience.
I often refer to a graphic students made that illustrate
many of the elements of their current activity.
For instance, the above activity in movement would be
assessed for performance in what elements the group is able to
journaling about the activity, students would write about the
elements they included. When
in comes to the actual Lion Dance, students will be assessed for
the elements they are able to include while remaining true to the
image of the Lion and the Lion’s story.
I am much farther than I thought. I have no fear of
introducing and maintaining movement and dance with my class.
It just occurred to me that I will have a great leap
forward when school starts since my 6th grade class
will be going to Outdoor School in early October (we usually
don’t go until the end of the school year).
This has traditionally been the time they learn the camp
dances, the camp songs, etc.
This will be a great time to introduce at least the
vocabulary and see how it applies to what they have learned
(rather than created). It
will also go a long way to establishing an atmosphere of movement
and risk taking. I
see two huge challenges ahead: 1) keeping focus and intentionally
including movement all year, and 2) finding out more about the
Lion Dance. There
used to be a group at the local middle school but that was
disbanded a few years ago. I
now need to seek someone from the community to help me with the