Recently in a dance of 5/6th graders, a paraprofessional told me that the only thing his student has done all morning was participate in my dance class. Talking to him more about the child, I found out that he has a hard time focusing and that when he is in dance, he's a completely different kid. We talked about the strategies that I use in my classes, like learning to find stillness through deep breathing and movement exercises that would be good for him to use before the student has to focus in his other classes.
This is what CDE means when we say we teach beyond the dance steps and the lines in the play. It's about reaching and teaching each child for their specific needs. The shy child might only be able to say one line or stand on stage without being nervous. For bilingual students, we translate scripts so that everyone can understand. In dance classes, we show videos to breakdown stereotypes teaching that dance is for all regardless of gender, body type and physical abilities.
We teach the whole child. We believe in process over product. We believe in investing more time in the classroom and establishing relationships with schools and community centers so that over the years to come, we can see the development in a child's learning.
Executive Director and Founder
What is Cross Lateral Movement & Why is important?
A cross-lateral movement is any motion that requires coordinating movement on both sides of the body. When the movement crosses from one side of the body to the other, it is called crossing the midline. The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, and vice versa, so moving the left hand to touch the right side of the body activates both sides of the brain. Some movements, such as marching, are cross-lateral movements that require brain-and-body coordination even though they do not cross the midline. Eric Jensen, author of "Brain-Based Learning: The New Paradigm of Teaching," recommends that students get up and move every 20 minutes.
Teaching Miss Mary Mack
Above is a video of first graders who learned this complicated yet fun movement pattern to "Miss Mary Mack." I love teaching this exercise to the kids as an assessment of their learning and to see who might have difficulty with more complicated steps like a skip or marching to the beat. Children who lack cross lateral movement often have difficulty with speech, focus, memory and overall body awareness just to name a few. Over the weeks of teaching this, along with other of Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble's "Songs and Stretches" and the "Spelling Dance Warm-up," students become stronger connecting their body with their brain.
The kids have fun. It's a challenge. We normally do it two to three times in a warm up playing around with various ways: fast, slow, with a silly voice or my favorite, like an opera singer!
Try it with your students or at home with your kids have a little fun!
Further recommended reading about the importance of cross lateral movement is at http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/104013/chapters/Movement-and-Learning.aspx
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