"Being Words"

Submitted by Susan Hartley, Wake County Public Schools

Grade Level
Can be used at any grade level

Lesson Focus
Language Arts/ "Being" Words/Dance as Communication

Lesson Objective
Students will explore the movement possibilities of "BEING" words.

Focus and Review
Dance is movement. The instrument for dance is the body. The material for dance is anything - your imagination, your words.

Statement of Objectives
Students will "BE" words. There may be several definitions of specific words - whatever the word means to each student - their definition is correct.

Teacher Input
Teacher will announce the words.

Guided Practice
The teacher will demonstrate words - UP - tiptoe, or jump, or point, or smile; DOWN - rolling on the floor, falling, slouching, sad, etc.

Independent Practice

Dance is imagery, imagination, and creativity. Dance is a challenge. Dance is


The Diary of Anne Frank

Submitted by Susan Hartley, Wake County Public Schools

Grade Level
8th grade

Lesson Focus
English Language Arts/ The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank

Lesson Objectives
Students will have an interdisciplinary experience exploring a variety of aspects presented in The Diary of Anne Frank.

Structure and Strategies for Teaching
Introduction/ Presentation World War II and Adolf Hitler, the Holocaust and the torture and murder of so many of the Jewish faith, the emotions, the life of a teenager and her family all provide a setting for The Diary of Anne Frank. Explain to the class that you will experiment with them, this can also be related Concentration Camps and the "medical" experiments that were conducted on Jews, adults and children and multiples- twins and triplets. Have the students brainstorm and provide a word list (the teacher can write this out on the board or overhead) describing the situations, the events, and the emotions of the diary. These words can be specifically nouns and adjectives, for example, family, friends, fear, love maturity, hope, responsibility, greed, courage, danger, crowded, goodness, evil, silence, safety, lack of freedom. Reflect back to this list throughout class to "connect" what the students are experiencing.

Exploration Have the students find good personal space and lie down on their backs, knees bent, feet on the floor, eyes closed (constructive rest). Quietly direct them to imagine themselves in Anne Frank's place, surrounded by family and strangers, pulled abruptly from your friends and your life, loosing everything. Have the students imagine being confined with their family for 25 months, over two years without being able to get away from them, never leaving the annex. Have the students listen for the silence, the safe sounds, the unsafe sounds. Talk them through what life would have been like- the urgency for silence. What if someone sneezed or coughed? Every sound could mean your discovery, the end of your life, the end of the lives of your family. The need for silence was - (during this time, find a heavy book and position it over a surface that when the book is slammed a very loud sound will be produced). Drop the book! Ask the students what happened. Was it the Gestapo, the green police, the bookcase being destroyed, and the hiding place being discovered?

Discuss again the idea of closeness, the inability to get away from each other. Have the students form a standing group, a blob. Have the class, as this group, move as one, from one corner of the room to another, staying close, always touching in total silence. Experience the closeness. Share the experiences with one another. Anyone claustrophobic?

Dependent upon the numbers, use the entire class or divide the class into groups. Have one person sit in the middle of the group. Have the rest of the group hover over the "sitter" never touching, but obstructing light and space by positioning their bodies and their hands around the "sitter". Have the "sitter" remember the feelings. Change "sitters" to allow the entire class the opportunity to experience this feeling. Share the experiences, the feelings- was it comfortable? Smothering?

Reflect back to the word list. What has the class experienced today?

At the end of Act 1, the families celebrate Hanukkah and Anne expresses her ideal of hope. Introduce the idea of celebration in the Jewish community and teach an Authentic Hora folk dance (Weikart, Hora Medura). Explain that the families could possibly have danced this very quietly at night but then again it may have been too dangerous. Have the students execute the Hora. Experience the joy of the dance, the hope for a future.

Culmination/ Final Forming
Return to the word list. Identify what words the class had experienced. Ask the students to explain why this was a class on The Diary of Anne Frank, or why this was not. What did the students learn from these experiences?

Ideas for Extending the Lesson
Additional Jewish dances could be introduced, providing cultural background. Students could write about their personal experiences pertaining to this lesson, in narrative or "diary" form. Students could create visual art pertaining to this lesson.

Teaching Movement and Dance, Phyllis Weikart



    Family, friends, fear, strangers, maturity, greed, responsibility, love, closeness, danger, hope, crowdedness, hunger, goodness, silence, evil, empathy


  • 25 months

  • CONSTRUCTIVE REST - strangers, family, noise, "safe" sounds, lack of space, lack of freedom, every sound - cough, sneeze, BOOK

  • Discuss feelings - Gestapo, gunshot

  • CLOSENESS - silence, entire class- move as one - close always, touching

  • Discuss feelings

  • "HOVERING" - smothering/threatening, no contact - one person in center

  • Discuss feelings

  • End of Act I - "hope" = Hora Medura- #3,13 PW

    • 8 intro

    • R Side, close, s, c, s, c, s, c (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)

    • In 2,3,4 Out 2, 3, 4 (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)

    • Repeat side close and in/out

    • Grapevine (1+2+3+4+5+6+7,8) Rt X, side, X, side, X, side, X, side, X, side, X, side, heel, heel.

    • Repeat

Discuss: was this or was this not a language arts class, why or why not.


Parts of Speech and Dance

Submitted by Susan Hartley, Wake County Public Schools

Grade Level
All levels

Lesson Focus
English Language Arts/ Parts of Speech

Lesson Objective
Students will explore the relationship between Language Arts and Dance.

Focus and Review
The students will discuss the use of the elements of dance and of composition (beginning, middle and end).

Statement of Objectives
Students will share ideas on how language arts can be used in dance - poetry, imagery, sentence structure, compound sentences, run on sentences, and parts of speech. Define noun, verb, adverb and preposition.
Students will use parts of speech (verbs, adverbs, and preposition) as a basis for developing a composition.

Teacher Input
Teacher will explain a noun as a person, place or thing (today the thing will be your body or a part of your body). A verb is an action (discuss examples, especially that dance is an action, therefore an action verb). An adverb is a word that describes the verb, and a preposition as a connecting/location word. In dance terms, a noun says what or who moves, a verb says what you are doing, an adverb says how you are doing it and a preposition says where you are doing it.

Warm-up: Teacher will lead a warm- up using isolation of the body parts (nouns), "be" words (identify parts of speech), a verb warm-up (twist, stretch, shake, freeze, melt, etc.), a verb/adverb warm-up (twist slowly, stretch widely, shake softly, freeze abruptly), and/or a verb/adverb/preposition warm-up (twist slowly around your spine, stretch strongly towards a neighbor, etc.). Note each part of speech to the students.

Guided Practice
Teacher will distribute verb card, adverb card and preposition card to each student. Each dancer will have three cards. Students form groups, I usually start with trios. Students must perform only their three cards.

Independent Practice
The group chooses how to organize their composition- setting a beginning, the middle whether it is simultaneously performed or individually performed, and an ending. The students decide how their actions relate to each other and the group as a whole.

Students practice. Students perform for the class. Constructively critique each performance- were the parts of speech identifiable and clearly performed, what were some of the choices that the group made?

Realize that each dancer in each dance probably executes hundreds of verbs, adverbs and prepositions. Language Arts is not just something that is done in the classroom at a desk, with paper and pencil - it can be danced.


Reading, Writing and Dance?

Submitted by Jan Adams, Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools

Movement and dance are forms of communication which come naturally to children. As such, they are powerful tools which teachers can use to teach and reinforce reading and writing.

I. Using Movement to Build Background Information
Quite often, the point at which children falter the most in their reading is when they begin to read in the content areas of science, social studies and math. They no longer can rely on predictable words or story structure to help them figure out what they are reading. They are faced with new vocabulary and concepts with which they are unfamiliar. Movement can help in a variety of ways:

*Introducing New Vocabulary
Before reading a science passage of new words, see if you can come up with ideas on ways children can build the word or concept with their bodies (i.e. igneous rock is a very hard statue that can not be moved when I try to move it, metamorphic roch changes and compresses very slowly and sedimentary rock is layered). Have children say the word, create the shape or movement with their bodies, and write the word on the board. Then have children read the passage. The new words are now already familiar (and will be remembered longer).


Dance: understanding dance as a way of exploring other content areas.
ELA: applying preparation strategies to comprehend or convey experiences and information.


*Enriching Vocabulary
Children can be caught up in any teacher's enthusiasm over words. Have students define with their own bodies or in groups enriching words, for example:

Vibrate Simmer Puncture Shrivel Seethe Shatter

Swirl Bubble Congeal Ooze Flicker Melt

Evaporate Decay Shrink Density Disintegrate Momentum

From their definitions, you could have a group create dance compositions of opposites, such as aggregate-dissipate, accelerate-decelerate, expand=contract.

*Building Models of Understanding
Create and have the students help create physical models to demonstrate difficult concepts such as volume, mass, parallel and series electrical circuits, photosynthesis, etc.


Dance: developing the ability to use dance as a language.
ELA: applying, extending, and expanding on information and concepts.


II. Motivation
Dance and movement can be an energizing and galvanizing force in the classroom as a motivation to another activity.

*Motivating Research
Movement games such as "Habitat Hideaways" can be used to motivate research on defense mechanisms. Or explore through movement a covered wagon; the building of the intercontinental railroad; or tap out rhythms of a telegraph before beginning a research project on westward expansion.


Dance: understanding that making a dance requires planning.
ELA: identifying, collecting or selecting information and ideas.


*Motivating Writing
Prewriting experiences such as "Bird's Eye View" will help children to expand their powers of visualization. By dividing roles within the class or group, the group can collectively generate a rich list of experiences from which to draw for descriptive writing.


Dance: understanding that the choreographic process includes improvisation and brainstorming.
ELA: responding critically and creatively to selections or personal experiences; using concrete images and vivid descriptions in writing poetry and prose.


III. Reinforcing the Writing Process with Choreography
Each step of the writing process correlates to a step choreographers use when making up dances:


Brainstorming Ideas
Trying out words or phrases
Sequencing into first draft
Final Draft/Publication
Brainstorming Ideas
Trying out movements
Sequencing into beginning, middle, end
Revising, rehearsing
Clean-up rehearsal


Dance: understanding the choreographic process.
ELA: analyzing, synthesizing and organizing information and discovering related ideas, concepts, or generalizations.


IV. Response to Literary or Poetic Work
Movement and dance is a powerful way to extend understanding of literary work.


Dance: understanding that dance can express ideas.
ELA: responding creatively to selections.


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