Success Story: Dance Play

Guerilla Education that Teaching Artists and Dancers bring has always been Design Thinking in Play.

On monday I entered a new classroom. My approach is always to sit and absorb the energy. This particular class was discussing energy. Pushing and pulling. They viewed skaterboarders on ramps. They were shown a batch of supplies: Box tops, Toy Cars, Rulers, and a design worksheet.

Teachers are the heroes right now. They bring positive energy and composure at all times and their students immulate them. It was wonderful to see the students’ design and discuss their plans. After they began cutting and crafting the voices rose and students started to feel frustrated with each other while forging new communication skills in small groups as they tried following plans and agreeing. Perfect spot for a Movement Moment.

Because it was the first time the students worked with me, I chose to simply prioritize safety. We used our seats, we stood and sat, and we synchonized our vocabulary for talking about our bodies. By allowing the class time to move in unison, breath together, experience the pull and push of energy with their skeleton and muscles they increased circulation. They were ready to get back at it.

Time and again Movement Moments increase curiosity and discovery so students can think, design, and problem solve. It’s a supportive element that fits best between ideation, prototype, and testing.

Design Thinking in Play (and dance)

A Teaching Artist and young students in class walking as if they are carrying heavy armor on their bodies.
  • We learn empathy by solving problems with and for other people.
  • We learn to try new things when something doesn’t work.
  • We make things we can really use & not all our projects look the same.
  • We figure out what problem we’re having.
  • We get to do what we want and still accomplish what the teacher wants.
  • We stick with it even when it gets hard.
  • We learn to solve problems and we solve them.

Gallagher, A., & Thordarson, K. (2020). Design Thinking in Play: An Action Guide for Educators. ASCD.

One of the best moments of the class (and this is almost always the case) was when a student with visible disabilities not only joined in… but they asked for a moment in the spotlight. Their peers applauded and a meaningful connection was had.

We all have a head, neck, shoulders, elbows, arms, chest, waist, hips, legs, knees, ankles, feet, and toes. Why not push and pull them alittle today as you direct your energy ONWARD!

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