Keep Moving During Lockdown
Teach Dance Online?
A number of teachers have asked how they can use Dance Notes as a tool for remote learning. As things remain precarious, it seems this may be the only way for many to deliver dance in the short term. And the longer term is similarly uncertain.
So, here are some suggestions for how you may want to work with pupils unable to attend school in person. As with all our guidelines, these may be adapted to suit. Should you need more detailed advice, please get in touch and we will be pleased to help.
What Do I Need?
If you already present classes via video-link, then delivering Dance Notes this way should be relatively straight forward. The main things to know are how to work with the music and facilitate collaboration between pupils on screen. Whether you have a licence and stream your lessons or are working from an individual download, the methods are essentially the same.
Dance Notes cannot advise on specific video platforms. So, we’ll skip the basics and assume you have a system up and running, with all the necessary safeguards and permissions in place. Should you need specific information on this, please seek specialist advice.
Each scheme contains links to the music tracks, both within the text and listed on the summary page at the start. These are clearly marked with a speaker icon, coloured in blue and underlined. If you are online to host a video session, when clicked, these links will stream music directly from the Dance Notes server.
You may alternatively play downloaded mp3s from your device. However, the benefit of streaming is you can trigger tracks directly from the text as you need them. (It may be an idea to have a second copy of the scheme open, as your browser’s mp3 player may replace the lesson on screen).
Dance Notes cannot recommend or comment on specific platforms. However, we are aware that Teams is a popular and trusted video-hosting solution for many schools. It also has the benefit of integration within Office 365.
If you are using Teams, the main thing you need to know is how to share your audio with pupils online. You’ll want to do this without sharing your desktop, video, etc. That way, you can maintain the video as normal and not distract pupils with unnecessary information.
- Select Share content,
- Toggle the Include computer sound and
- Select the Share audio only option … as shown below:
Your pupils will see the usual video interface but – in addition – will hear the audio from your computer. So, when you need to play music for them to work to, this will be streamed directly to their devices.
Another important facility that has recently been added to Teams is breakout rooms. With these, the host can assign participants to smaller groups, within which they can interact with one another. You can then visit each group to give advice and feedback. So, this is much like the process you normally use in your dance space, when assigning children to groups later in a dance scheme.
There is a useful guide to breakout rooms at the Microsoft ‘Tech Community’ pages here:
Specific teaching tips are provided later in this page .
Zoom has become something of a household name during the pandemic. Since it has become so popular, it may be that some will be more comfortable and familiar with it. Again, Dance Notes cannot provide any recommendations and you will need to ensure that safeguarding and security standards are met.
As with Microsoft Teams, there is the facility for a host to share their audio, without disrupting the group’s video interface.
- Click the Share Screen button in the toolbar
- Click Advanced and choose Music or Computer Sound Only, then click Share.
You will now maintain the video connection with your pupils and they will hear the audio you trigger from your device. So, you can switch to the lesson plan on your screen in order to follow the instructions and play tracks as required. Your pupils will only see your video link and not other information from your desktop.
Have the Dance Notes scheme you want to use open and ready on your device, either as a local copy or (for licence holders) in your web browser. In either case, you will see that all music tracks are highlighted in blue and underlined as web links. As you will already be online to host the session, these will stream directly from the Dance Notes server.
Intro & Warm-Up
Depending on the size of your group, you will most likely want to mute the audio from the pupils’ devices. Each lesson usually begins with a short discussion of the topic and what we know about it from our class work. Simply ask children to raise their hand when they want to contribute, unmuting to allow them to be heard by all, then muting once again afterwards. Pupils can give you a virtual wave (in both Teams and Zoom) when they want to speak.
The warm up is normally an individual exercise, so should be quite simple to lead. This section is essentially just to get your pupils moving and engaged, so feel free to adapt it as necessary. Similarly, the first part of the lesson will normally focus on individual exploration on the given theme, so should be simple to deliver online.
As pupils move into partner work, you can simply assign pairs to work together. Bear in mind that the boxes may appear ordered differently on different participants screens. Similarly, if your group is large, you will need to check that each pupil can see their partner. They will need to be on Gallery View and may need to page-through if their partner doesn’t show on the visible screen.
In their pairs, children can have fun with mirroring, following or extending one another’s poses and actions. Most plans will suggest giving time for exploration (often to music). Then, you may want to choose pairs to show their moves to the rest of the class.
Group work is naturally more demanding online. This is where Teams’ and Zoom’s breakout-room facilities come into their own. As the host, you can assign pupils to specific groups. They can then spend time within that group to develop their ideas, according to the lesson plan’s guidance.
You can then visit each group to see what they are up to and provide encouragement and suggestions. Once these group sequences become more evolved, you can then provide each group with the music as you visit them (see ‘Online Platforms’ for audio-sharing instructions). Once complete, groups may be able to perform for the whole class – or a section of the class – depending on numbers.
Some plans may call for children to create tableaux or moving structures together in a group. Normally, of course, this would involve physical contact. You can use such tasks to challenge your pupils to come up with creative ways of representing this whilst separated from one another.
The Warm Down
The warm down is essentially the same as the warm up, in that pupils move independently, often to gentle music (see ‘Online Platforms’ for audio-sharing instructions). Generally, this will involve slower movement, stretching and/or guided meditation. It provides an opportunity to release any accumulated tension and also marks a useful ‘switching off’ point to end the dance activity.
Working Off and Online Together
Including Pupils at a Distance
Many schools will, of course, have key-workers’ and vulnerable children at school during lockdown periods. For these pupils, dance is an excellent way for them to engage with classroom themes and topics, whilst keeping physically active. But what about those that are confined to home?
It can be possible to run a class that accommodates both. You will need to have your video platform up and running, to engage the remote pupils. At the same time, you will want to direct the children within your dance space.
A Little Organisation
Refer to the Teaching Suggestions above for ideas on how to work with the online pupils. Those physically present should be easily able to respond to the same instructions. When you move into partner and group work, you may need to spend some time separately organising those within the physical space and those on video. However, this is not very different from how you would work with a large class in normal circumstances.
Wired for Sound
One difficulty may be in how you provide sound both within the space and to those online. If you use the audio-sharing methods detailed in the Online Platforms section above, you may not be able to use your computer’s audio output. Plugging into that may well stop the sound online and prevent you using your microphone.
If this is the case, you may have to rely on your computer’s microphone to pick up live sound from your dance space, as well as your spoken instructions. Whilst this method will not give as good quality as direct audio-sharing, it has been successfully used.
Another, slightly more complicated, option would be to have a second device in your dance space that is part of the video call. This would receive the shared audio and could then be used to relay that to speakers in your hall.
(If you have found another solution, please let us know, so we can share with other users).
Expectations & Outcomes
Engaged & Active
Obviously, the online experience won’t be the same as a live dance lesson. The main thing, though, is that pupils are engaged and active. For most, this will be a fun and enjoyable release. It will also provide blessed relief from sitting still in front of a screen.
Good Mental Health
Mental health is now recognised as something for which we must all take responsibility. Whether teachers, parents, relatives or carers, all can play a positive role in supporting children’s wellbeing. Exercise and expression are both vital elements in meeting this aim, so whatever you can achieve will be of benefit.
Guidelines & Tips
For general guidance on working with Dance Notes, please take a look at our video tutorial series. These can be found here
Questions & Feedback
How Can We Help?
Hopefully, some of your queries and concerns will have been answered here. But we appreciate things are shifting and uncertain. You may have other questions or need further clarification. If you do, please get in touch and we will be happy to help.
Perhaps you have found your own solutions and methods for remote learning that you would like to share with other teachers. If so, we’d very much like to hear from you. We are all having to adapt to unusual and challenging circumstances. So, the more we can help one another, the better.