by Cori Hilsgen
Kennedy Community School fourth-grade students have been busy learning about transformations in math through movement and dance with artist-in-residence David DeBlieck.
DeBlieck is a dance instructor who works with teachers to improve student proficiency and attitude in math and dance while reducing performance anxiety in both. He and teachers collaborated to include kinesthetic activities to reach a wider range of learners.
Fourth-grade teachers Carol Ramler, Mary Radunz and Kelli Ritter, along with music teacher Kristen Bauer and art teacher Peggy Eigen, helped the students learn the dance movements.
Students traveled to the Paramount Theatre in St. Cloud to experience dance in the rehearsal hall.
Ramler said students learned about Kabuki, a Japanese form of drama/dance on the stage. They also created six-pointed stars in one of the art studios.
DeBlieck also worked with the students in each of the fourth-grade classrooms teaching the transformations through dance and movement. Students created a dance that had translations (slides), reflections (flips) and rotations (turns).
“The students enjoyed learning math through dance with David,” Ramler said. “One of the highlights was visiting the Paramount and seeing where the artists rehearse and perform.”
“My students enjoyed the museum we made, using our bodies as the statues,” Ritter said. “Three students created three-dimensional shapes with their bodies and the rest of the class visited the museum. Another treasure of this experience was to see all the students participating and responding to David in such a positive manner. The students mentioned they could tell he enjoyed teaching because he was always smiling.”
“What a great time we have had with David,” Radunz said. “The students chant ‘We do math, we do dance, we do math and dance. This is fun.'”
DeBliek said he especially enjoyed observing the students using their imaginations.
“It has been a treat investigating the authentic intersections between dance and math with Kennedy fourth-graders,” DeBliek said. “I have really enjoyed their imaginative ideas and inquisitive reflections.”
Weather closings made it somewhat difficult for DeBlieck, teachers and students to coordinate the time needed to learn the dance, but students performed their new dance at the Jan. 30 third- and fourth-grade concert.
DeBlieck’s residency was made possible through a grant from the Central Minnesota Arts Board grant and the Kennedy Parent Teacher Association. Resident artists are chosen for their ability to enhance programs and curriculum design and increase interactions between students, residents and professional artists.