The Art of the Digital Dance: Transforming Dance with an LMS

Contributed By

Philip Charles Stephens

Contributing Writer

The Art of the Digital Dance: Transforming Dance with an LMS

Posted in Community | August 11, 2016

When dance teacher Taylor Halliday heard that her school district in Lima, Ohio was adopting Schoology, she wasn’t sure what to think.

“I was skeptical that it could benefit me in my classroom,” explains Taylor, an Instructor of Dance at Liberty Arts Magnet School. “Why would a dance teacher need to use computers during class? But I tried to think outside the box and I am so glad that I did!”

Learning the Moves

An important part of Taylor’s class involves dance criticism. Traditionally, students would watch a series of dance performances in class and enter their critiques in their dance journals. Later, they’d be tested on it.

This worked fine, unless students were absent or lost their notebooks. With Schoology, Taylor found a solution to these problems.

“I started using Schoology to post the links to the dance pieces we watch, then I developed a critique using the test/quiz feature,” Taylor explains. “Now my students can complete their critiques anywhere. They don't have to worry about losing their notebooks, and I don't have to carry home a crate of books to grade!”

Streamlining Made Simple

Taylor also posts assessments of student work, either using the rubric feature or by scanning the written assessment and attaching it to each student’s performance as a pdf. “This is something that was always a part of my class,” she points out, “but now the process is streamlined.”

Encouraging Discussion

After modernizing her critique and feedback techniques, Taylor found a way to encourage more discussions about each dance performance. Students are now required to weigh in with their own opinions on the different dances, as well as respond to their classmates’ critiques, which has stimulated more robust discussions. They use the platform to talk about their progress with their own dancing and choreography, share ideas, and ask their peers for feedback.

Choreograph Class Assignments

Taylor especially loves the folder feature.

“My eighth-graders recently choreographed dance tributes to the events of September 11,” Taylor says. “I created a folder of resources that included information about the events of the day as well as different perspectives [first responders, victims, survivors, etc.], musical tributes, and other dance tributes for reference.”

With the background information and examples available online, students were able to collaborate by discussing their creative process as they worked on their dances, saving time and concentrating their focus on the project.

Playing for an Audience

When it comes to interpretation, dance, like all art forms, is very subjective. It can be hard to grade and difficult to track progress, especially when considering the various levels of ability demonstrated by the students. This is why Taylor records all her students' in-class performances on an iPad, then uploads them to Schoology.

“By using the assignment feature, I can post the piece to individuals or small groups so that they can view their own work,” Taylor says. “They then use a Google doc to complete a self-assessment which they submit via Schoology. But the best part is not only can they see their work, but their parents can also log in and see what they have been doing in class.”

If parents want to know why their child earned a particular grade, they can log on to their Schoology account to watch the performance and read the list of requirements. Educators, students, and parents are all on the same page, allowing everyone to address issues and meet problems as soon as they occur.

With more focused students and a more manageable workload, Taylor is no longer a skeptic. “I love that the kids can access it from anywhere and that it gives them a way to connect that they are familiar with,” she says. “I'm now a huge advocate for my building and my district. If I can use it in the dance classroom, anyone can use it!”


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