Monday, April 27, 2009

African Stepping- (D Lab)

When this assignment was originally given I must admit that I was a little overwhelmed about trying to teach a non-traditional dance lesson that I had absolutely no clue about.  I did some research online and contacted a group on campus called The Cortland Elite Steppers to gather more information.  It was really interesting to learn about the history and to watch YouTube videos of dancers in action and competition performing this high-energy dance style.

When the day arrived I started with an Instant Activity dance called "The Cha Cha Slide" and got them into activity within 30 seconds of class beginning.  Many of the components of this dance are also involved with African Stepping.  In the song instructions are given to hop, stomp, and clap and everyone recognized and was receptive to the catchy beats of this popular party song.  It lasted right around four minutes and got everyone warmed up and was a nice segway into my lesson.

I gave a solid but brief introduction about where, when, and how this dance originated.  Next, I had a little surprise up my sleeve.  Instead of showing them a video of a demonstration I coordinated a live demo from two of The Cortland Elite Steppers (Brittany and Alex).  I thought that this was extremely powerful and noticed the wide eyes of the students when I whistled for the two dancers to enter the gym.  In hindsight I realize that if a teacher can be creative like this it will really captivate and motivate students.  The choreographed demo in unison was awesome! Thanks Brittany and Alex!!

After the demo I told the students to spread out and offered a safety statement about watching where they stomp and to give ample room for each other.  Then we moved on to the basic components of African Stepping and I gave appropriate cues to follow.  I was able to pinpoint and offer some intra-task variation (see clips below) and give feedback...mostly general.  

Here are some examples of...(SEE VIDEO AT BOTTOM OF POST)

Pinpointing:  (I single out Dylan at the 7:45 point in the video and show the class how he properly stomps down from a 90 degree angle on both feet).

Intra-task variation:  (At 8:28 in the video I give Ephrain an easier option for clapping between his legs and then go over to Kevin to give him a more difficult task.  Then I came back over to Chris to give him an easier variation as well).

I decided to break the large group up into two smaller working with Brittany and Alex and one group working with me as we learned more detailed steps.  I had a nice visual poster that instructed the proper dance moves so if I stepped away from the group for a moment they could carry on without me. Periodically I sent people over to the camera/t.v. station where they could see themselves on video performing some of the learned tasks.  I thought this also worked well but looking back I would have done something different.  I would have had Alex at one group and Brittany at another with me moving back and forth and around both groups.  Also, I didn't give enough specific congruent feedback to the students but offered many general feedback comments.

To wrap up our lesson right on time I brought everyone in and checked for understanding once again.  I also was able to hook them into our next lesson by telling them that next class we were going to have home made instruments along with our dancing.  I thought everyone had a great time and I feel that I touched on the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains in this lesson and I definitely felt much more comfortable leading the class.  In comparison to early on in the semester I noticed major improvement in my teaching style and confidence and the student's weren't just standing there listening to me talk...they were participating and enjoying the activity this time.

 Feels good to have rocked hard in this class!  Woohoo!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Belle Sherman 5k and Kids Fun Run

What a day!

"Whew!!!!!  Hot!!!!! but fun!!!" is what you would have heard from runners and spectators today down at the Belle Sherman 5k and Kids Fun Run in Ithaca, NY.  I got down to the school about 45 minutes before start time to help out with the organization, meet people, and help the young runners get ready for the race.  Race director Cindy informed me of the course and let me know how she envisioned the race happening.

As we got closer to race time I was able to work with some runners (ages ranging from 1st grade to middle school) in getting their muscles warmed up as well as their heart rates, although that was easy to do with the temperatures rising into the 80's!  I also gave them some advice about getting mentally prepared, a very important part of racing, and of course to have fun! 

Here are some of the race faces ready to out! 



 Once the race started the pack thinned out a bit and I hung toward the back encouraging youngsters to keep pumping their arms and trying to motivate them as well.

Everyone finished and some opted to go out for another loop.  Regardless of how many quarter mile loops were run everyone got a homemade finisher's medal.

After the "Fun Run" it was time to get ready for the 5k start.  I was so amazed at how many youngsters were running this race.  Three miles is a long way and the scorching heat just added to the challenge.  I have never been at a 5k race where the starting line was taken over by 4 and a 1/2 footers.  I made my way to the start to give some words of advice of not starting out too fast and pacing smartly and to make sure everyone was stretched out and mentally ready.  Then I had to get them pumped up by smacking high fives all the way down the row and told them to have fun and run strong!

In the end everyone found out a little bit more about themselves.  Some adults and kids alike found that maybe they got a little out of shape over the winter and maybe this was some motivation to get back into it.  

Of course there were some bloody knees from a fall, kids feeling sick from over running and the heat, and people not satisfied with their times but overall a great vibe from this event.  Seeing people smile from this sense of accomplishment from physical activity is one of the reasons I got into this field and look forward to helping more students in the many races to come!  

Happy Running!