Boosting Test Scores Through Movement

The elements of dance, such as Space, Time, and Energy are not new concepts for most K-12 dance educators but are often new even to students that have been studying dance for several years in other settings.

IMAGE A bridge to the sky IMAGEDissecting these topics allows us to discuss dance performance and creation from an objective perspective, providing us with tools that can enhance our articulation of intent either as the dancer or as the informer.

If these concepts are new to you, peruse the following brilliant articles by Stacey Pepper Schwartz for more information.  Teaching Dynamics:  It’s All in the EffortSpace:  Inside, Outside, and Through

Teaching in the K-12 scene (and great private studios that really care about assisting the development of well-rounded people) requires that we explore dance in a larger scope than most expect.

What may not be as readily considered by the average instructor is how these concepts can facilitate larger discourse and help students connect ideas to other subjects or discussions they are having throughout their academic day and their lives.

Time is of the essence! 

Journals can be used to support this development of thought and further guide class discussion. If students can organize their thoughts prior to class discussion, the flow of conversation increases and the quality of the dialogue is enhanced.

Here are some examples of how to project our dance elements onto mainstream notions important in the production of engaged citizens:

SPACE

In the studio:  Exploration of performance space (organization of area including levels and relationship) and personal space (development of kinesphere)

In the classroom:  These may impact self-concept, self-efficacy, self-esteem

  • Location and Destinations: how might culture be reflected in these two areas and how might dance relate to those cultures or perspectives? How might social dance reflect the culture and values of the community/society? How do the norms of these places compare/contrast?
  • Local and Global:  how can we (individually) be locally engaged in our community?  How can we as dancers (group) serve our community (see another great Stacey article…) How can we (community) have a global presence?  How can we (society) share a global perspective?

IMAGE Rows of empty desks for test-taking IMAGETIME

In the studio:  Organization of time- Musicality, tempo, rhythm,

In the classroom:  These are great for test-taking skills and/or everyday function

  • Ephemeral quality of dance– it can never be replicated and is new each time,
  • Ephemeral quality of life– time management, organization for efficiency, deadline

EFFORT

In the studio:  Articulation of energy and clarity of intent

In the classroom: Enhancing emotional intelligence

  • Articulation of goals, relationships and personal boundaries to be explored through the creative process
  • Examples:  What are my goals?  What do I need to do to accomplish these goals?  How do my relationships support these goals? How do I measure success?  Who may help me in this process?  How might others serve as deterrents in this process? How can I safely express my feelings through movement?  Which movements best convey my meaning?  Which words best convey my meaning?  What do I have control over?

Through these processes, students encounter a long list of words that clarify their understanding of dance but also relate to the “real-world”.

For eleventh grade students, this world includes ACT and SAT assessments.  You may also aid them in strategies for completing these tests in how you choose assignments that explore these big ideas.

In the end, you’ve used dance to make them smarter, social, and better prepared for the world they inhabit.

Heather Vaughan-Southard
Heather Vaughan-Southward specializes in connection and community building. She offers project-based learning in K-12 and healthcare contexts, pedagogy consultation, and creative-self-care experiences. Heather formerly directed dance programs in Higher Education and K-12 settings and danced professionally in Chicago, NYC, Los Angeles, and through-out Michigan. She represents Dance for the Michigan Arts Education Instruction and Assessment project (MAEIA), serves as a columnist for Dance Advantage, authors the blog EducatingDancers, and was invited to the Editorial Board of the Journal of Dance Education. She is a national conference presenter in the fields of dance and movement pedagogy and is completing a comprehensive pilates certification through the McEntire School. Heather currently serves as Director of Health and Education Services for Happendance, Inc., a non-profit dance organization based in Michigan. Heather is married to author Scott D. Southard and has two children who seem to be in perpetual motion.
Heather Vaughan-Southard