Tag Archives: arts education

Lesson Plan Central – a Goldmine of FREE Lessons!

Name of the website: Lesson Plan Central

Cost: Free, no sign-up needed!

About the website: Okay… I just found me a goldmine! This website has a mountain of basic lesson plans, which can be adapted to match the needs of your students. Some lesson plans are just a thought, but others are quite extensive and include video elements and assessments.

Possible classroom applications: This website prepares you to be a champion educator. Some lesson plan links include assessments, video, and other materials that one could use during learning segments. It’s a goldmine for novice teachers that have to build their curriculum in a short amount of time, but also offers inspiration for seasoned dance teachers.

Pros: Nothing but pros… There are so many ways to pick up new lesson ideas. And all for FREE! The lessons have everything you need, including being aligned to learning standards. What else could one need. Did I mention it’s FREE!

Cons: Truly… I couldn’t find any!

Rating: 5 out of 5

“One Flat Thing, Reproduced” website

Name of the website: Synchronous Objects

Cost: Free!

About the website: the website is multi-faceted, and highlights the choreographic work “One Flat Thing, Reproduced” by William Forsythe. The web pages are incredibly interactive and will mesmerize any teen dance student.

Possible classroom applications: Certain aspects of the website discuss the interaction between the dancers, which directly ties into “Relationship” within the BSTER concept. Students can add and remove the soundscore, voice-over of the choreographer, but also change perspective of the work. Students can explore the concept of kinesphere learn more about the choreographic process. It includes a range of other art forms, so is also a wonderful way to connect to other art disciplines

I have used this as a base for dialogic classroom conversation, but also homework assignments. The list of classroom applications is endless.

Pros: Children are obsessed with technology, and if anything will pull them into learning more about the culture, history, and future of dance, it’s this website. It’s interactive, and offers multiple ways into the work. Because of the multiple entry points and the fact that the site is visual and aural, there are myriad of ways to learn about the arts (and its connection to technology.

Cons: The website needs a lot of VRAM to operate, so it might take a while to load or have glitches when visiting it from an older computer. It might also be too overwhelming for ELLs or students with more severe cases of ADD/ ADHD. A way around it would be to look at the content with guidance of an adult.

Rating: 6 out of 5 (yes, it’s that good!)

Browsec – a site that unblocks YouTube at schools

Name of the website: Browsec

Cost: Free!

About the website: the website enables you to surf the web freely bypassing blocked websites like YouTube by hiding your IP address. It allows you to visit sites blocked by your ISP or corporate firewall.

Possible classroom applications: The site offers a platform that enables teachers to access certain internet websites that are blocked on conventional servers. Teachers can offer videos and articles that are normally not available in educational institutions. Surf to the

Pros: Ever been in a bind, and discovered that you have missing instructional materials? Browsec is your friend during these times. It works on practically any computer and any browser.

Cons: Many high school students have learned to avoid blocked web content, but it would be best to not share this resource with students that are not “in the know.” There is a solid reason why certain websites are blocked, and it would be in the students’ best interest to keep it this way.  I have encountered the site to be down on two occasions, so it’s not a back-up system that one can count on 100%.

Rating: 4 out of 5

“Dances for an iPhone” – a gem of an app…

Name of the app: Dances for an iPhone 3 (a.k.a. iDances 3)

Cost: Free!

About the app: the app is a collection of choreographic works created especially for iPhones and iPads. This is the third episode of the app, and previous renditions are currently unavailable. Recently iDances 4 came out, which is dedicated to Stephen Sondheim. More info can be found at dancesforaniphone.com.

Possible classroom applications: The app offers a salient alternative for performance reviews. Students can select one of the dances and write about the work in their journal or answer a prompt for an essay. Since many of the dances are performed by NYC dance icons, it’s also a valuable addition to biographies of them. Some of these icons are Carmen de Lavallade, Risa Steinberg, Deborah Jowitt, and Janis Brenner.

Pros: These days youth is obsessed with mobile devices and technology. This is a terrific way to build on their interests! iDances 3 is a worthy alternative to live performances, and can be used as the basis of dialogic conversation, written essays, and comp study classes.

Cons: Dance-for-film is a terrific medium that can integrate everyday-life and the performing arts. It baffles me that the videos all have been filmed in dance studios. What’s stopping the makers of this app (Riachard Daniels a.o.) to venture out to the streets and perform the dances on interesting NYC locations? Last but not least, these dances expire after a while. iDances 1 is currently unavailable, and iDances 2 will disappear soon as well!

Rating: 3 out of 5

SaveFrom, a website creating downloadable Youtube videos

Name of the website: SaveFrom

Cost: Free!

About the website: the sole purpose of the website is to reformat web videos from Youtube into a downloadable format. After copying the link into a text box, the video can be uploaded to your portable or hard drive in WebM, MP4, FLV, 3GP (2 sizes), and audio MP4 format.

Possible classroom applications: many educational institutions have blocked video websites like YouTube. By using this web page educators can upload video texts off-site and use them during their lessons.

Pros: Providing students with video texts has become an essential aspect of contemporary American education. Using video enables ELLs and visual learners to deepen their understanding of the lesson material. This websites makes this a possibility.

Cons: The site (understandably) doesn’t work on subscription websites like Netflix and Amazon Prime which are often blocked in schools. SaveFrom also doesn’t work on Youtube alternatives like Vimeo.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Memory King!

Name of the application: Memory King

Cost: Free, with additional in-app purchases of $0.99 each

About the app: The app is an app version of the classic card game Memory. The platform is free, and there are many adaptions possible to tailor to diverse age groups and their corresponding needs. In settings you can fluctuate the number of card sets from 2 to 32 pairs, and the reveal time can also be adjusted from one second to five. The version offers memory cards of animals and toys, but decks can also be self-created by the user. There are additional decks available as an in-app purchase for $0.99 each. These decks are all highly educational, and consist out of numbers, letters, shapes, colors, fruits, and musical instruments.

The app functions on both the iPad and iPhone, and can be used for one or four players. Memory King has two “wild cards.” The first is Total Recall, which once more reveals the cards that have been turned in the game. Crystal Ball, the second “wild card,” shows all cards in the game. These two enticing cards can be omitted out of the game in the settings.

Possible classroom applications: The customization option of this game offers a great opportunity for educators to give their students a playful entry point to learn content-specific words. It could be applied in ELA classes, math units, and of course the arts! Yesterday, I created a card set of ballet terms that my dance students have learned over the last few weeks, and just had a first trial run with them. I linked the iPad to the smart-board, so the pictures looked bigger than on the iPad. The students loved the interactive aspect of the smart-board, and it was a playful way to reiterate key ballet definitions. Like in the real game, students take turns, and the child who wins the most (virtual) cards wins! I used laminated gold stars as a tangible substitute for each matching pair made.

Having a distinct knowledge of the ballet idiom is essential for every dance student, but since learning ballet jargon can be perceived as a tedious task for dance students, the game offered a covert way to get the proverbial job done! The game offers audio and visual hints offering support for ELLs and other children that need strong aural and visual supports. Again, the reveal time can also easily be adjusted. This, and the opportunity to adjust the number of cards make the game suitable for all age groups.

Lastly, it’s important to note that the game doesn’t only (covertly) build and reiterates the ballet (or other) vocabulary of the participants, but also aids in the overall retention skills.

Pros: The app can be adapted in many ways, which makes it a great tool for all ages. The number of decks, the reveal time, and presence of the “wild cards” can all be altered. Additionally, the audio and visual hints tailor to students varied intelligences (i.e., music, spatial, linguistic, kinesthetic).

Cons: Unfortunately, the created decks can’t be shared between different devices or between users.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Dot Dot Dot, an app by 2wice…

Name of the application: Dot Dot Dot

About the app:
Dot Dot Dot is an app that offers a maze of video dances filmed from various perspectives (i.e., bird’s-eye view, eye level). The user can switch perspectives by swiping the screen. This digital tablet platform features one male dancer that performs in a white world covered in red and black dots and pillars. Choreography is by NYC-based Tom Gold, who’s work is classical ballet based.

Dot Dot Dot is $0.99 and is worth every penny! It combines dance, music and interaction. When seeing the dance from above the app is interactive, and great fun for younger students. It was launched in 2013 by 2wice Arts Foundation.

Possible classroom applications:
The red and black dots seen on certain screens are reminiscent to spot markers often used for younger children. This offers a great opportunity for kids to connect to the dance on-screen. I plan on using this as a culminating event to an elementary school unit that plays with these dots, kinesphere, and general space. Students can compare and contrast their dances to the one offered in the video in a classroom discussion.

Pros:
The app offers countless screens that guarantees hours of classroom fun. It’s effective for younger students, and offers soothing and playful choreography and music. The app can be the basis of movement explorations, but also can offer a culminating event to a unit.

Cons:
I have so far not found any glitches or problems with this app, but will report if I do in the future.

Rating:
5 out of 5!! (Gold star, A++!!)

Passe-Partout, a NYCB app

Name of the application: Passe-Partout

About the app:
Passe-Partout is a pretty straight-forward app designed specifically for iPads. Five complementing dance solo’s and duets are layered with one another by the user, building on the notion of choreographing a dance. The choreography is by Justin Peck, who many people know as a soloist and Resident Choreographer of New York City Ballet. The app is $0.99, and is designed by 2wice Arts Foundation.

Possible classroom applications:
The Passe-Partout app is great to use as part of units that focus on contemporary ballet, male ballet dancers, New York City Ballet, or elementary choreographic devices like unison, canon, or mirroring movement. The app can also be used in a unit based on the work of Justin Peck. This is a hot-topic since he just had his theatrical release of his dance documentary film Ballet 422.

Pros:
The app is a wonderful tool that highlights men-in-dance. In modern-day society this is rather important, especially in low-income areas like Hunts Point where I currently teach. Passe-Partout is perfect to use to illustrate choreographic devices on the smart-board, but make sure to only tap one of the colored tabs to make sure only one layer of the dance is showing.

Cons:
I initially had high hopes for this application, but was rather disappointed with the product. Besides the beautiful dancing, and choreography by Justin Peck, there’s not much to it. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the many layers the app offers, and can make students feel overwhelmed. It’s also not usable on smaller devices. The buttons are too close to one another, even for small children’s fingers.  Additionally, while creating the 2-dimensional dance, the user can’t pause the composition. Worst of all, the top bar that generally indicates time and battery power is invisible while in the app. When on older iPad models, the app also crashes and freezes. Not good when you’re in the middle of a 40-minute lesson!

Rating:
1 out of 5 (A two thumbs down… A rotten tomato… A Vaudeville hook yanking Peck off the stage!)

2wice – Great Supporting App for Cunningham Units

Name of the application: 2wice

About the app:
2wice is the perfect app for units based on the work of Merce Cunningham, and features a series of photos and videos of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company taken between 2001 and 2011. The app is completely free, and also provides the user with several interview that provide insight into Cunningham’s unique creative process. 2wice is developed by Rubenstein Technology Group, and developed by 2wice Arts Foundation.

Possible classroom applications:
2wice can be used in lessons interactively through iPads, iPods, or iPhones. The platform is created specifically for iPad, but, since the only actions needed for the app are swipe or tap, it’s easy to use on smaller devices. An alternative is projecting the app on the smart-board. Students can copy the body shapes featured in the app, and combine them during introductory unit assignments. From there the class could progress to devising dance phrases through the “I Ching” (find an online version for lessons here!) or other chance methods like dice. The videos of the app also offer rare footage that give voice to Cunningham dancers. This gives students the opportunity to identify with the intricacies of being a professional dancer.

Pros:
Firstly, the app is free, which makes it accessible for all students. The app is user-friendly, so can easily be used for elementary students. Only actions needed are tap or swipe. 2wice also has a succinct biography of Merce Cunningham included. It’s also possible to “like” specific images within the app, which allow for student-dancers and educators to retrieve the photos quickly. In short, I discovered a myriad of pros to use this app.

Cons:
The three videos in the app stream directly. Fast-forwarding, rewinding, or pausing the video is not possible. This is particularly challenging if you’d like to have a brief class share while sharing the footage.

Rating:
4 out of 5

Ballet Index- one of many language tools for dance.

Name of Application: Ballet Index

Cost: 99 Cents

Pros: Gives both the literal translation of ballet vocabulary and also what it refers to in terms of ballet class and terminology. Gives phonetic pronunciations.

Cons: Not many photos of what things look like, though entries like ballerina have cheesy photos of a “ballerina.”

I use this app for my own knowledge of how to exactly translate and spell terms in ballet and in other styles of dance as we use ballet vocabulary throughout many dance forms. I use these terms with my pre-K students and my Middle School students. Using terms based in the French language is helpful at my job because many of my students are bi-lingual in French and English or are English Language Learners. This allows us to discuss cross-cultural use of language and other uses for their mother tongue.

I recommend this App, it is a clear interface and very well laid out and very clear. However, I think that the free ballet dictionary that is available through the American Ballet Theater, (http://www.abt.org/education/dictionary/), is a bit more comprehensive and clear. This website would be more useable by students on their own for defining and spelling ballet vocabulary because of its accessibility on the computer as well as the fact that it is free. Ballet Index is only 99 cents, but not all students have their own iPad or iPhone access or want to/can afford to buy an app for dance class (students would also need parental permission to buy their own version of applications).

Number of Stars * * * (3/5 stars)