Carvalho-Puzon, Dance Teacher
What were your goals for this initial collaboration
I wanted to throw myself into a new experience
because I think you always learn so much more from doing things
differently instead of in the same old way. My goal was to
explore a national, state, and district dance standard, where
students explore the connections between dance and other disciplines.
What were your goals for the students? What
did you hope they would come away with, in terms of understandings
My goal for my students was for them to be able
to leap away from our normal routine. I planned on including
a completely new way of integrating a scientific concept into
our curriculum, and hoped that it would lead to students generating
new and exciting movement and choreography. Another great
breakthrough was introducing the habit of journaling in dance
class. I have always wanted to establish this with my dancers.
How do you adjust your instruction
when the students aren't getting the concepts you are teaching
You adjust and transform things as best as you
can. You try one, two, three, four different ways, but if
you are failing in your teaching to an entire class, you need
to change your expectations completely, and still make the
experience as successful as possible for everybody involved.
Charlesworth-Seiler, 6th-Grade Teacher
Roughly how long does the circles project
We are developing a store of material to examine
long before and long after the time when we actually create
the circles - we read stories we'll later review for
circular ideas, look at historic events and scientific ideas
we can re-examine, etc. It is difficult to say exactly how
long we spend building students' understanding as the
process is ongoing and throughout most disciplines. The time
we spend on the actual math formulas, the dance, and the physical
objects that the students create may span 3 to 4 weeks.
describe how you approach the circles project in the various
subjects you teach.
We use the idea of circles to help examine our commonly held
science beliefs. We examine things like crop circles, the
water cycle, and the food chain. We also examine the ways
we, and our ancestors, have learned to accept the circle as
our frame of reference. From Columbus and other explorers
who tested assumptions of the earth’s surface, to the
shape of the universe, we see the world through an acceptance
of things circular.
Our examination of circles from a mathematical perspective
concentrates on formulas, measurement, units, the creation
of circles, historic mathematical understandings of circles,
and the parts of a circle.
Topics include the social aspects of circles and circular
ideas (dance, architecture, defense, the spread of populations
and influence). Many human social systems have “circular”
processes. For example, government and power changes often
go through predictable changes that seem to bring things,
at least to some extent, back to a similar place. We talk
about how there seem to be cycles in an individual’s
life or in the lives of a family. Students look at how they
are cared for by responsible adults, and how they, in turn,
will be in positions of responsibility as well.
Both individual pieces of literature and the art of literature
itself have circular ideas. The art returns to similar themes
over the course of years, changing and returning to important
human concerns. We also examine the frequent references to
circles in poetry, lyrics, and stories.
How long has the circles project been
in existence? Has it changed from year to year?
I have been doing the circle project for five
years. I began the project as something that I did with my
class alone. The dramatic visual product and the pride the
students felt in their accomplishment caused first one other
sixth-grade teacher and then the others to begin doing the
project as well. In the first couple of years of the study
there was no connection made to movement. Then, after conversations
with our dance teacher, the connections were informal, with
students looking separately at circles in both dance and in
the regular classroom. That connection has grown more formal
and purposeful until this past year when the two were tied
together very closely, with the students using the circles
they created in dance class.
When the students made the circles, did
they measure them out or were they given the bases pre-cut?
How did they scale up or down the objects they represented?
At various times students have cut their own
circles or used pre-cut cardboard. Regardless of the form
of their cardboard, students are expected to be able to make
the translation down in size (for an object like the moon)
or up in size (for an object like a coin). Some students need
to create formulas so they can change the type of unit of
the original object to the units used on the cardboard circle.
This can be within a measurement system (miles to inches)
or from one system to another (metric to standard). We examine
how different measures of a circle (diameter, radius, area,
circumference, etc.) are affected by the translation.
Who helped the students with their circle
Students work on most of their art for
their circle projects at home. However, some use school space
and materials in after-school programs to complete that work.
All students use the concepts from their visual art classes
(perspective, shading, contrast, etc.) in the creation of
their work. Visual art teachers were included in the assessment
of individual pieces of art and in the building of our art
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