Saturday, October 16, 2010

Building Attention and Focus through Movement

Glacier Valley Kindergartners and 1st Graders "Flock" to Help Build Focus Skills through Movement
Glacier Valley Elementary School values collaboration among its staff and parents.  I am very fortunate to work with teachers who enjoy team teaching and integrating the arts across the curriculum.  In particular, the P.E. teacher, librarian and counselor often combine their classes on Fridays with the music classes to create a class called Humanities.  We began this class several years ago with the intermediate grades, which helped build community among all of the classes, as well as allow all four specialists to team and learn from each other. Topics covered during Humanities class include dancing, cooperative games, visual arts, conflict resolution and guest speakers from our community. 

This year we expanded our Humanities class to the Kindergarten and K/1 multi-age classes.  I think everyone thought we were crazy to try this with over 80 young students in the gym, but as you will see in the video clip below, it can be done!  The incredible teachers who make it happen are:
  • Rod Crist - Counselor
  • Susan Denton - Physical Education teacher
  • Susan Sielbach - Librarian and Arts Integration Specialist
This video documents an activity called "Flocking" which we learned from a dear friend and teaching artist, Ryan Conarro.  Ryan has worked with many of our teachers to integrate drama into the core curriculum, as well as directed the production of Tides and Tempest - a play that our 4th & 5th graders performed at the Kennedy Center when we won their National Creative Ticket award (given to only five schools in the nation each year).

Flocking is an incredible way to help build focus, attention, teamwork and eye-hand coordination through movement and supports the work we are doing with our kindergartners in their JAMM violin program.   Flocking is a technique in which a group moves in no set pattern or formation, but all perform the same movements simultaneously.   We describe the concept to the students as a flock of birds following the movements of its leader.  As we progress, students take on that lead role and can then pass the movement off to another student who is at the back or on either side of the "flock."  We haven't gotten that far in Humanities with our little ones, but Susie, Rod, Susan and I have begun passing off the lead position to each other and added scarves.  It's beautiful to watch.  Enjoy!

Thank you, Rod, Susan and Susie.  I look forward to our Humanities classes each Friday and learn so much from working with you!

video

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