As I began to problematize my imagineIT project, I conducted focus groups with teachers and students to help me formulate my plan for my imagineIT project. The teachers from my teacher focus group shared that I should consider utilizing strategies for getting students to be more comfortable and willing to participate. Teachers suggested using Kagan structures for cooperative learning and team building, such as “Rally Robin;” “Hand-up, Stand-up, Pair-up;” and “Mix-Pair-Share.” Another suggestion was to utilize a strategy for developing students’ knowledge about math/science and dance connections, such as the K-W-L. Teachers inquired about assessments and suggested diagnostics and periodic assessments, to include performance-based assessments. Students from the student focus group shared their thoughts about how math and science connects to dance. Their feedback included suggestions for learning about the concepts, such as Google searches, watching videos, visiting performances and creating productions of their own. Students also shared their experiences with dance, including everyday casual dance, cultural dance, formal dance training and shared ideas for utilizing styles from each category.
From this information, I looked at strategically implementing PBL and PBA in my STEMulating Dance class, developing student comfortability and taking on real-world roles. Students who were not used to this type of learning environment exhibited inhibitions and insecurities in math and dance. I decided to utilize the suggested tools to build student confidence with math and dance, thereby warranting more risk-taking. Instead of using the K-W-L strategy, I decided to use a version of K-W-L. I chose the a strategy from the book, “Problem-Based Learning,” It’s called K-W-H-L-A-Q (Know, Want/Need, How, Learn/Learned, Apply, Questions). In groups, students were asked the following questions:
K- What did you KNOW about how math and science is related to dance? W - WHAT you want to learn about how these elements are related? H - HOW will you search for these answers? L - What do you expect to LEARN? A - How will you APPLY this learning to other subjects and in real life? Q - What new Questions
I also incorporated a survey in which students matched math and science words that they thought related to dance. Unbeknownst to them, all of the concept words related to dance. I will also plan to give the survey again at the end of the unit as a post assessment to see if their views changed. I also plan to change my assessment schedule to include periodic performance-based assessments as suggested from the focus teacher group.
Also, from reading “The Dream Keepers,” I gained information about making learning relevant to African-American students. In the book, it states “Mohatt and Erickson investigated classroom interactions, specifically the differences in interactions between Native American students and their white and Native American teachers. The study revealed that the teachers who were most effective in communicating with the students used an interactional style that the authors ‘culturally congruent.’ This notion of cultural congruence is meant to signify the ways in which the teachers altered their speech patterns, communication styles, and participation structures to resemble more closely of the students’ own culture.” I have utilized these elements of teaching to help foster student-teacher relationships and based on student focus group responses about casual and cultural dance, I plan to do the same with my imagineIT project. I will use these elements to encourage them to think and share learning as we work together and building on their experiences. Ultimately, students will be confident learners, utilizing the knowledge gained to take on real roles related to dance productions while also incorporating math and science concepts.