Here’s more about this week’s featured classroom:
Name: Mrs. Danielle Oster
School: West Michigan Academy of Arts and Academics
Grade: Dance, conditioning, and health (K-8)
What makes your classroom special? Here at WMAAA, it is amazing that we have a dance studio as a classroom! We do more than just create movement for dance pieces; we work together with classroom teachers to integrate the academics kinesthetically. For example the second-graders are currently learning how to retell a story in their language arts classes. In dance class, we are also learning how to retell a story, but through creative movement, the dance elements, and nonverbal communication. The students are learning there is more than one way of communication.
In addition to the curriculum, what are some things you teach your students? There is so much more to this class than just dance and creative movement. Students learn an abundance of social skills, spacial awareness, and gross motor skills. You might not realize everything that students are implicitly gaining in this class, but some of the big lessons are being taught when working in groups, following directions, listening attentively, and maintaining self-control.
What special project is your classroom working on now? Right now my middle school dancers are working on their Dance for Change production. They have been taking dance classes throughout the year such as contemporary, ballet, tap, and jazz where they learned a number of routines that will be showcased Thursday, April 18, at 6:30 p.m. in our theater. The arts staff just began working on the kindergarten production of "Squirm" that will be performed on May 30.
How is your classroom involved with the community? For the last several years, our dancers participate in the Dance for Change production that is available to the entire community. The concert is free, but we raise money for different charities around Michigan. This year, we are raising money for the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital research center. Last year, our dancers raised over $1,000 for the Make-A-Wish foundation!
How do you hope what your students are learning now will affect their future? I want my students to understand that learning in a traditional classroom is not the only way to have a successful education. Kinesthetic learning is becoming more accepted as a way for students to engage in a curriculum and this becomes apparent at the end of the school year when you see how much the students achieved both academically and socially. My classes teach students to break out of their shell and that it is okay to have different ways of solving problems. Having these social skills are very important as an adult. As educators, we are responsible for giving kids the tools to grow into a successful adult. This school and our program is one way of doing that.