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Maranacook Middle School

April 11, 2019

Dance Education grant

During the 2018-19 two schools in two different districts were the recipients of the Dance Education grant awarded by the Maine Arts Commission (MAC). Freeport High School and Maranacook Middle School created amazing units that impacted hundreds of students in Grades K-12. Freeport High School was highlighted in yesterday’s blog post with a description of the dance education opportunity that was provided during this school year.

G/T teacher Pat Godin, Teaching Artist Nancy Salmon, Visual Art Teacher Hope Lord

This blog post describes the dance education program that took place at Maranacook Middle School this school year. It is wonderful to see what occurred when teaching artist Nancy Salmon, art educator Hope Lord, and gifted and talented teacher Pat Godin collaborated! This is a great example of learning in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math).

Thank you to Hope and Pat for providing the plethora of information for this post – the story and resources!

DESCRIPTION FROM HOPE

My original idea was to have students create masks and then have them add lights with Little Bits electronics. However, after collaborating with Pat, we decided to teach the students about light circuits and how to soldier their own circuits. This allowed us to integrate science with the electricity and engineering with the design process. For math we introduced proportions as we discuss the features of the face and how to construct the masks and giving students the choice to increase the proportions of the face to make their mask more visible to the audience. We also provided students a variety of mask making materials, including a new medium called Thibra.  This is a thermoplastic sculptable material that costume designers and special affect artists use in designing masks and costumes. The students used the heat gun to soften the material and then molded it around sculptural pieces that were added to their masks.  

Students performing at the Arts Night Celebration

We showed the students examples of dance groups who performed in the dark with lights and the students wanted to incorporate black lights and glow in the dark paints in their masks and dance. As our dance choreography progressed, the students and Nancy determined which segment of the dance would be performed with lights on and which segment would be performed in the dark with black lights. 

The students started planning their masks with a group brainstorming activity called “brainwriting” where they all charted ideas of how they could represent themselves and their role in our school community. Students could add to other students’ ideas or write new ideas. Then students charted 12-15 ideas to help them plan their mask theme. 

The individual and small group dances came about through the students exploration of dance movement as a means of communication. Nancy helped the students experiment with movement and determine which movements could help them express their role and what their mask was communicating. For example, one student had a camera on her mask because she spends a lot of time taking photographs. She incorporated gestures that communicated someone taking photos. Next, the students worked in small groups and collaborated to create a dance routine that incorporated each of the students individual dance movements.

Nancy, Pat, and I also wanted to have the students end the dance as a community with the group dance. Our goal was for the dance to communicate that even though we all have individual interests and perceived roles, we are one school community.

Nancy introduced the dance collaboration project before we performed our dance since Pat and I were back stage with the students waiting to dance. We did not provide an audience handout because our dance was part of our Arts Night Celebration and listed in the program given to parents. The focus of the entire night was to advocate, educate, support, and celebrate the arts. That is why we chose this event to have the students perform their collaborative mask/dance performance. We feel our project communicated the value of teacher collaboration across content areas, including the Arts.

DANCE, VISUAL ARTS, SCIENCE STANDARDS

MLR Dance standards: A.Dance Literacy, B.Creation/Performance/Expression, and E.Visual and Performing Arts

NCAS:CR2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.

CR3: Refine and complete artistic work.

Pr5:Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.

Next Gen Science Stds. ETS:1, 2, 3, & 4 Engineering and Design

IMPACT OF SCHOOLING ON CREATIVITY

Research on this phenomenon is confirmed by Kyung Hee Kim. Kyung is a professor of Innovation & Creativity at the College of William & Mary.

In the last 20 years, children have become less emotionally expressive, less energetic, less talkative and verbally expressive, less humorous, less imaginative, less unconventional, less lively and passionate, less perceptive, less apt to connect seemingly irrelevant things, less synthesizing, and less likely to see things from a different angle (Kim, 2011).

BIBLIOGRAPHY SOURCES

Located at THIS LINK.

RESOURCES

Gem Activity

Thinking Matrix

Design Plan Sheet 

VIDEOS

Learning to solder – I DID IT!

Dance Practice Take II

The Dance Education grant is the only MAC grant that is a grass-roots effort grant. Several dance studios and two high school dance programs have a fund raiser each November. The money raised is what funds the dance education grant at the Commission. Without the dedication and commitment of many educators, dancers, parents, and community members this grant would not be possible. Special thank you to Thornton Academy Dance Educator Emma Arenstam Campbell for her contributions to being instrumental in making the Dance Education grant possible.

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