Movement Composition 2023
Artists use the creative process to make purposeful choices to express themselves
This was such a special unit since it was a collaborative unit with the grade 5 PYP exhibition. These PYP Exhibition's vary with each school, however the basic premise is that it is an opportunity for students in their final year of the PYP to showcase the skills they developed throughout their PYP years by investigating an authentic issue or topic. The specialists in our school (Music, Visual Art, and PE) collaborate with the homeroom through a How We Express Ourselves unit by giving students an opportunity to creatively express themselves with their chosen research topic.
For PE, students were given the opportunity to create a dance linked to the emotions derived from their research topic. Here is a breakdown of the project but we will go into more detail in the lesson breakdowns.
Read on to find out how we ran this incredibly moving unit.
This unit took place in the MPR (Multi-Purpose Room) where we hold our gymnastics, dance, movement units.
I started this unit by getting the kids to sit down on our "meeting mat", the green zone replacement where we do our discussions in front of the whiteboard. Since we are in the MPR and it is a different environment to the gym I took the kids through the essential agreements and routines of the new room.
We went through safety rules such as having one person on the balance beam at a time, looking around you when performing handstands, etc. All basic rules but do need to be made explicit.
After clarifying these rules the students had 15 minutes to investigate the room and equipment. We have a large floor area where students can work on their floor skills, such as forward/backward rolls, cartwheels, balances, etc. We have one high balance beam, one low beam, a single bar, and a handstand area.
After their 15 minutes I introduced the unit and Central Idea.
We did a brief unpacking of the central idea and then we watched last year's performance winners. More on the reason they were winners later on.
This provocation video was aimed at inspiring the kids and to get them ready for their project. After watching the video I asked the kids, "How did these performers express themselves?"
We then spent the rest of the lesson working on basic movements through a relay style course. We split into 4 groups and then did a simple course requiring balance, rolls, jumps, and travel skills. Any student that needed some extra assistance worked with me off to the side.
We started this lesson with Moving Time. The students had access to all of our equipment for 5 minutes. I find that these 5 minutes are important as it allows the kids to move around freely and to let off some steam after being in the classroom.
We gathered on our meeting mat and reviewed the previous lesson. We discussed the Central Idea, the new rules and routines of the MPR, what the provocation video was and how it connected with their current project.
After this I showed them this slide which included the Central Idea and the Driving Question of the unit.
The Driving Question helps guide the students throughout their project. We attempt to answer this question throughout the unit during our discussion time usually at the beginning of the lesson just prior to when the students start or continue their projects. As the unit unfolds I gradually include the AtLs and the Learner Profile to help students answer the question. Their project is guided by this Driving Question since we continually attempt to answer this in more and more detail as the unit progresses.
Afterwards, I exposed the kids to different types of movements that they may use in their performances. I split the kids into 3 groups and we worked on the Balance Beam, the Single Bar, and the Floor. The Balance Beam was supervised by my Teaching Assistant, I was on the Single Bar, and the students worked independently on the Floor. I emphasized the rules and routines of the MPR and also left a couple of iPads out with our Movement Composition PowerPoint on it for reference. We spent about 8 minutes at each station.
After the 2nd rotation we gathered on the Meeting Mat for another provocation video.
I then showed the kids this slide and asked them the questions.
We discussed this for a little while and then completed our final rotation.
As the kids came into the MPR they have a good idea of the routines for our new space. Come into the MPR, shoes off to the side neatly, water bottles down, laptops on the table (we will use later), and then get into their Moving Time for 5 minutes.
At the conclusion of the 5 minutes they come to the Meeting Mat where we review the previous lesson, go through the lesson plan, and then ask them the Driving Question. This lesson's Driving Question is shown below:
As you can see the Driving Question now includes an additional element - the Learner Profile.
To help the students answer this question I have a sentence stem on the board, "In order to create an engaging performance, we need to..." The students then attempt to answer this question using the Central Idea and the Courageous Learner Profile.
We then broke into 3 groups again and worked on more advanced movements on the Balance Beam (jumps and turns), Handstands, and then more advanced floor movements.
After two rotations we gathered on the Meeting Mat I showed the students this slide.
We will go through this outline in a bit more detail now.
Group Size and Emotions
In the previous year students created a dance according to their exhibition topic. However, after discussing this with the grade 5 homerooms, since this was a collaborative unit, we found that this boxed in the kids and their creativity. Also, the exhibition for our school is an individual project but for PE we are creating a performance independently, or as partners or in a group of 3. The kids needed to decide what topic they would perform and this created some group issues. Therefore, we decided that groups could link their performances according to the emotions found in their exhibition topic.
Ultimately, the song is decided by the kids but I also provided a list of potential songs if they were stuck. Frankly, I learned about some amazing songs from the kids, they appear to be more in touch with recent songs than me.
Later on we will discuss what a Lyrical Analysis is.
Since we have 2 lessons of PE a week, the first lesson of the week was purely spent on designing their performance. The second lesson of the week was for filming. Each week we filmed their progress and they used that video to reflect on their performance, make adjustments as needed, and further develop their performance. The video is recorded and then uploaded onto Teams for the kids to access when they need it.
The entire project took 5 weeks with the 5th week being their final performance in PE. Most groups performed to the entire song with a handful doing a minute or so.
The Exhibition Committee consists of students who help create the Exhibition for the school. Assisted by teachers, these children design the layout of the presentations, prepare the necessary areas, make decisions on how the Exhibition will be run. This is the school's way of making the Exhibition student-led. Also, it is up to this committee to decide which groups perform at the Exhibition Opening Ceremony. More of how they decided this later on.
Once I briefly explained the project outline we did our final rotation.
At the end of the lesson I sent a survey link to the kids through Teams where they told me their intentions for the project - who their group/partner is or individual performance and the emotions that link their topics that they will use to create their performance.
After Moving Time we reviewed our previous lessons, went through the lesson plan for the day and then answered the Driving Question.
Afterwards I pulled up this slide where I collated the groups I received from their surveys. We double-checked it quickly and then went to our first activity.
This next activity is critical to helping them get started with their performance. I also linked it with the first AtL of this unit.
We spent the rest of the lesson on this activity. By being explicit with the WHY of the activity and how it will help them create their performance the kids have a sense of purpose when attempting the activity. The aim was for them to start honing in their creativity, to start thinking how words can be linked to movements, on how the lyrics can create a foundation for your performance. I do enjoy this lesson since it is quite different to what we do in our other units.
With 5 minutes left of the lesson I briefly introduced the kids to the Passion Project Portfolio.
We used a similar reflection tool for our Health and Fitness unit that we just completed prior to this unit. You can find the Health and Fitness unit breakdown here.
An important part of this unit was reflection and this portfolio provided a solid means of this. Also, this was the assessable part of the unit.
The Passion Project Portfolio
The primary aim of this portfolio is for the kids to continually reflect on their performance as well as to demonstrate their process of learning. Furthermore, this portfolio helps the kids become independent since all the information they need to complete their project is kept in this PowerPoint. To keep things explicit for the kids the portfolio contains:
The Creative Cycle:
This is a model created by our Visual Arts teacher and our Design/Makerspace teacher to guide students through their creative projects. We continually referred to this throughout their project.
The project outline:
Does what it says
The judging criteria:
An important page so the kids know how their performance will be judged by the exhibition committee
Their essential agreements:
This is critical since inevitably there will be some sort of disagreement in the group. These agreements that the relevant group decides upon can keep a group working together.
A brainstorm page:
Any random idea can be written down here.
Their official plan:
The agreed upon movements can be written down here.
Weeks 1-5 reflection:
These pages require the kids to take a screenshot of their favorite part of their weekly performance. Their performance was recorded and then uploaded onto Teams. After loading their screenshot onto these pages they answer simple questions designed to let them reflect on their process of learning.
You can access the Passion Project Portfolio by clicking on the image below. It is best to download and open in PowerPoint.
After Moving Time we reviewed the previous lesson and then answered the Driving Question but with the addition of the new AtL - Generating Novel Ideas.
Our mind map by this stage was getting quite large and it was great to see the kids discovering what they feel they need to create an engaging performance.
I then introduced our final AtL of the unit - Organization.
Since this unit requires a lot of independence, individually but also as a group, the kids need to enhance their organization skills. Also, to help students get organized and to give them the best chance of succeeding in this unit I would be in the MPR, our dance studio, during lunch recess on certain days.
The next step for their project is to create their Essential Agreements.
This took some time for a few groups but we persevered since this is somewhat like an insurance policy for the group. It will help keep them together. Here is an example:
Once their essential agreements were completed they then started their project, or with some keen groups, continue their project.
We started with some Moving Time but some keen groups started practicing straight away. With 5 minutes finished we gathered on the Meeting Mat and went through the plan for the lesson. This lesson was their first filming, no matter how little they did they would be filmed since it provides a valuable reflection moment.
We answered our Driving Question with the new AtL - Organization.
Afterwards, I showed them this slide that indicated the filming order for this week and next week.
To keep things fair we alternated the filming order so the same group don't always go first. For this week, group 1 would have 5 minutes to prepare before filming. However, whilst all of the filming was going on, the other groups could continue their own practice and preparations. If the groups wanted to watch the performances, that was fine also. It is their time and up to their independence and organization to decide whether to watch or to do their own practice.
Once we finished filming the kids could continue working on their performances until the end of the lesson. Their videos would be on Teams and accessible to them soon after the lesson so they could reflect and complete week 1 of the Passion Project Portfolio.
From this lesson onwards all the elements of the unit were unpacked and introduced to the kids. The rest of the unit is fairly independent where my teaching assistant and I were the facilitators of learning, walking around and individually helping those groups when needed.
We finished our Moving Time, reviewed the unit, the project, and then answered the Driving Question. By now the kids were really starting to click what is needed of them to make their performance engaging.
However, I noticed that some groups were still struggling to get a firm grasp on how to start their project. After filming for week 1 it hit some groups that it wasn't as good as they hoped. I showed them this slide:
They were surprised when I wrote down YouTube. "Isn't that cheating?" they asked. I told them that it wasn't cheating but rather you are looking for inspiration. Obviously if you completely copied their entire routine then that would be cheating, but impressive nonetheless. However, going the inspirational route, noticing certain elements of other performer's routine will give ideas that you can adapt to your own performance.
We spent the rest of the lesson practicing whilst my TA and I helped out where needed.
We followed the usual procedure of starting the lesson and then I put up this slide.
It was time for Week 2 filming and we would be going backwards in the filming group order.
After filming we had the videos up on Teams ready for them to be used as a reflection tool for their portfolio.
We did the usual lesson starting routine and then I chased up a few groups who had incomplete portfolios.
The rest of the lesson was spent on Week 3 planning and practicing. It is usually at this stage where the groups have a solid foundation to work with and the excitement of creating something really shows. I also saw an uptick in kids coming in during their lunch recesses to practice.
Week 3 filming day. A lot of the groups were getting me to hurry up with the usual lesson opening routine since they really wanted to practice.
I popped up this slide and all groups practiced for 5 minutes and then the filming started with the rest of the groups either continuing their practice or watching.
Week 4 planning and practicing after Moving Time, lesson review, and Driving Question. The lunch time practices were getting quite crowded with a lot of groups taking advantage of it as the deadline loomed.
I spent some time on the Judging Criteria this lesson since we were getting close to final filming. This gave the kids a bit more direction with their projects since the criteria was explicit.
Afterwards, the kids had the rest of the lesson to work on the project. I went from group to group to do a brief self-assessment with them whilst using the above criteria.
This was Week 4 filming after the usual lesson starting routine. This was a crucial filming session since it was the last one before final filming, Week 5.
There's been a lot of support for each group with more groups watching each other and cheering for each other after each performance. The video below is from Week 4, not their completed performance but the cheers at the end and group hugs was amazing to see. I just love how we have created huge interest and love for dance.
Enjoy this impromptu video.
We reviewed the unit a final time and did an in-depth response to the Driving Question making sure the kids kept referring and reflecting upon their Week 4 video during the discussion.
We spent the rest of the lesson planning and practicing.
Final filming day. I organized an audience for each class as well just to really make the experience authentic for the kids. We had about 40-50 at each show with kids from the Early Childhood Centre coming to view as part of their How We Express Ourselves unit and grade 3s who were using our performances as part of their Who We Are unit. This worked for them since it was a solid provocation for their units and it worked for us since it provided authenticity.
We also had our principal, deputy principal, PYP coordinator, and various teachers come by to watch the performances. It was a great day!
We recorded all the performances and uploaded them on Teams for groups to finish their Passion Project Portfolios.
However, it is not quite over.
All videos were sent to the Exhibition Committee where the performances were assessed according to the criteria provided. After much deliberation 1 performance from each class was chosen totaling 4 performances being selected to perform at the Exhibition Opening Ceremony.
Exhibition Groups Practice
We had 2 weeks to refine these performances. Since our Movement Composition unit was completed and needed to move on to our next unit, these 4 groups needed to meet during their recess times. Of which they didn't seem to mind since they usually came to the MPR before I got there.
The performances were really well received by the audience. Along with the Opening Ceremony being primarily student-led and designed, having an additional student-made element involved really added value and entertainment to the event.
The video below was one of the groups that performed and got selected to perform in the Opening Ceremony. Please enjoy!
I absolutely loved this unit since it really empowered the kids, it connected with their exhibition, there was independence, motivation, and we hit all of the AtLs and other elements in the unit. The Passion Project Portfolio provided direction for the kids and aided them well as a reflection tool.
An area I need to fix for next year is that there needed to be set times for peer reflections. I was the one mainly giving them feedback as well as my teaching assistant. However, some groups did seek out others for feedback on their own. But, I need to make this more explicit next year.
Overall, I feel as if this unit went really well and it linked up really well with the exhibition as a creative element to their research project.
How do you think this went? Is this something you could do for your units? Let me know in the comments!