Whole Class > Bodystorming the Natural Environment
Ask students to consider the concept of a forest ecosystem. Have them identify what makes a healthy ecosystem (i.e. plant and animal life living in harmony and depending on each other.) Ask students to consider what forms of life they might find in that ecosystem. Prompts: What forms of life might we find in a forest ecosystem? What type of plants or animal life?
Ask students to brainstorm a list of what type of life might be found in a forest ecosystem and record this on the board (e.g. trees, plants, squirrels, bears, etc.)
Have students spread out in the room and indicate to them that they will be improvising movement in their own personal space. Use the list brainstormed by students as the oral prompt for this activity. Adding music as a stimulus is also valuable at this time as it will help inform the tempo of movement. Begin with the first type of life on the list. Ask students to move as that life form would. You may need to add additional oral prompts during the improvisation to stimulate movement. Prompts: How might a tree move in the forest? How would the branches move if they were blowing in the wind? What type of energy would the movement of a tree require? Use your body to demonstrate how a tree would move in a forest ecosystem.
Continue bodystorming, going through the list on the board. Students should begin to show a variety of movements of plants and animal life in a forest ecosystem. Allow students to experiment with different types of energy when exploring the ecosystem. Select a variety of students after each oral prompt who demonstrate an effective use of the elements of dance. While the entire class is improvising movement, ask them to observe each highlighted student and invite the class to incorporate some of the strategies used by that student. The class can also repeat the movement. Prompt: Look at ________'s swaying moments of a tree on a high level. Now you try to sway on a high level. Discuss with students which movement was most effective and why.
Key Questions for Discussion:
Which movement best represented the concept of a ___________? (tree, bear, bird, etc.)
How did isolating (or not) your _______ (arm) really demonstrate the movement of the _______ (tree)?
What part of the movement made it clear what was being represented?
What did you notice about the use of levels in __________’s movement?
Which was more challenging to represent through movement - plant or animal life? Why?
How did you use different parts of your body to show a _______?
Connections: This activity serves as a “warm-up” for the activity to follow. Students should be comfortable with movement representing nature and be able to demonstrate their understanding before proceeding with the next portion of the lesson. Referring to the anchor charts will also help support student understanding.
Differentiation: For students experiencing difficulty with improvised movement, consider separating the class into two sections during bodystorming. Allow one group to observe the other, and then alternate, giving students an opportunity to both experiment with movement, and observe their peers. Create a list of verbs associated with the movement of the various life forms being explored from the ecosystem. This can also be helpful when informing movement.
Assessment as/for learning: Students will have the opportunity to provide ongoing descriptive feedback to their peers. Give students feedback as they explore the movements independently. Post the following success criteria for the movement:
- uses different levels
- uses locomotor and non-locomotor movements
- isolates some body parts
- meaning is clear
Suggestions for success criteria can also be co-created with students.
Small Group > Flocking to Represent the Forest Ecosystem
Students will work together in groups of four to create a movement piece led by the students to represent a flourishing ecosystem by flocking.
Ask students to organize themselves into groups of four. The students will create a diamond formation. Instruct students to consider their bodystorming explorations and to move in a way that represents a healthy forest ecosystem utilizing the elements of dance. In this exploration, students can choose to represent either animal or plant life through their movements. Students should begin by following the lead of the student at the front of the diamond formation. When the first student is ready, they will turn to their right (as will the other students), creating a new leader who will then choose their own movements to lead the group with.
After each student in the group has an opportunity to explore this, split the class into two groups. Have one group observe the other and then switch. Students should be given time for descriptive feedback. Incorporate using BLM #13 Dance Peer Assessment Checklist from the CODE Critical Literacy document as a resource.
Differentiation: For alternate groupings, students unable to form even groups of four can have one student stand in the middle of the diamond, or alternately, groups of three will work by overlooking the fourth space in the formation. Students experiencing difficulty in the leadership role, could be positioned in the centre of the diamond. This will provide more time and practice so that the student can be successful when in the leadership role demonstrating improvised movement.
Assessment for learning: Side coaching is essential during this exploration. Move about the room, providing feedback for improvement. You may also choose to record any anecdotal observations.
Small Group > Contrasting Environments
Bring the class together to discuss their observations from the previous flocking exercise. Ask students to consider what made the most effective movement piece. Prompt: What did you observe about __________’s dance that was effective at communicating ___________? Co-create a list of success criteria for flocking to represent a forest ecosystem.
Combine two groups of four to create groups of eight. This new grouping will represent the impact of humans on the forest ecosystem. Explain to the students that the two groups within one larger group will be representing contrasting ideas in the forest habitat. Students should begin with the two smaller groups starting at the same time. The diamond formation for each group can overlap somewhat like a Venn diagram.
The group will begin by doing there “flourishing” movement sequence. Remind students that they should ensure their movements are clear, distinct and effectively communicate meaning. Encourage students to incorporate the use of levels and body as well as referencing and using the success criteria when building their final movement piece. After one full rotation of the group, one of the smaller groups will continue their movements to that theme, while the other will create new movements that represent the devastation of deforestation (e.g. person cutting down trees, plants dying, animals without homes.) Each group of four within the larger group will continue to move at the same time; however, one part of the group will be representing a healthy ecosystem, while the other will represent the negative effect that industry can have on the natural environment. This will create a contrasting movement piece. Invite each group of eight to share independently, or ask for two groups of eight to present simultaneously pairing the sharing of groups based on observation during creation.
Extension Ideas: A similar sequence can be built using the concept of an ocean ecosystem and the effects of overfishing, using the same model.
Differentiation: Allow students the opportunity to present in the space they have been rehearsing in, if possible. Based on the needs of the class, provide opportunities for creative sharing such as: two groups share simultaneously, sequential presentation of all groups with an eight-count overlap, canon etc.
Assessment of learning: Growing Success allows for students to be assessed in groups, but evaluated independently within the group. Students will be evaluated using the established criteria. (Incorporate using BLM #14 Dance Assessment Checklist from the CODE Critical Literacy document as a resource).