In this post I explain our collaborative planning experience as we revisit an established unit of inquiry, as well as, how that leads to teaching oneself and creating practical resources for our students in an attempt to make sense of it all. Planning and resources are shared.
How We Got There
Last year I could say that I loved dancing but didn't know much about how to teach it.
During our weekly phasal (Year 3 with 7-8 year olds and Year 4 with 8-9 year olds) planning meeting, we discussed that Year 3 could focus on Drama and we could focus on Dance for the purposes of vertical alignment for our whole school POI (program of inquiry) and for the overall balance of The Arts (Music, Drama, Dance and Visual Arts). With weekly Music lessons and Visual Arts being a substantial part of many units, Drama and Dance were often being left behind.
My heart sank a little because I felt more knowledgeable and experienced teaching Drama, and therefore much more comfortable doing so. However, I had also noticed that our students were still wrigglers or movers at this age. I could see that they may thoroughly enjoy a unit heavily focussed on learning through what seemed their natural learning style or mode. Besides that I loath being idle so dancing suited me just fine.
With the arm-wrestle over and decision made, Dance was our focus so it was time for me to learn....A LOT!
When I dive into research I like to simultaneously synthesise to make practical the meaning I am making from what I am reading. After which I then enjoy open-sharing with others. This allows colleagues, locally or globally, to catapult forward making us all stronger as a team. It also allows for better development or improvement of an idea or resource which, in turn, I love to collect again...and so the cycle continues.
So the resources shared on my post Dare to Dance? were the result of last years' learning. My Year 3 colleague, Nic Monnin, joined me to take sharing further by running an evening workshop with colleagues from our Singapore PYP Network. It was rewarding to share research and practical resources with fellow teachers who faced the same challenges of know-how which I did.
This year when we sat down to review and plan our How We Express Ourselves unit of inquiry, our PYP Coordinator, Tim Burch, threw us learning accountability questions. Don't you love it when you are totally pleased with your progress in an area of teaching and learning, and then you face a curve ball from left field that challenges you to step-it-up? It is both totally frustrating and completely rewarding at the same time. Frustrating because I could now see the holes in the unit but rewarding knowing that I would be throwing myself right back into the thick of learning again.
Also Nic had moved into Year 4 this year and as a result was asking many questions of how the unit tied together. This was nagging at my mind, somewhat disturbing me. It is one thing to create something useful but another challenge all together to articulate how you use it so others can understand and independently use to teach. That is precisely what is great about the unit planners, they force you to think through a process and articulate why, how, when/where, what and who. I love to blog for exactly the same reasons. Reflecting makes your thinking clearer and in-turn influences your practice.
I like being disturbed or frustrated. My cello teacher once said, "Frustration is your friend. You know you are about to learn something worthwhile if you are feeling frustrated." I guess that is also a lesson in persevering.
The unit needed more. It needed clear assessment as learning. This meant that I needed to learn more and knew the best way for me to do this was to research and create something useful. I have found that if I keep my students as my target audience, then whatever is made, is not only a great tool in the classroom but one that is just as easily shared and understood by colleagues and parents.
In addition to the Dance Elements and Task Cards from last year, there are now two journals with rubric-continuum assessments, one for creating and one for responding that can cycle into each other:
In addition, I plan to recreate the responding to journal, currently particular to Dance, into a Arts Responding Journal. I think the Criticism-Content-Connection-Creative approaches are suitable for each of The Arts.
I am back to feeling good about what has been accomplished, created and shared within this blog post but I am also looking forward to what learning next year will bring. Watch this space - I'll keep you posted!
What It Looks Like
How It Works and Resources To Make It Happen
Hi, I am Natasha Hutchins an international teacher collaborating, exploring and sharing ideas with others, like myself from around the world, for our collective professional development and enjoyment of learning and teaching.