Episode 20 – Dance, Dance, Dance

Episode 20

In this episode of The PE Geek Podcast, I explore ways in which you can integrate technology into your dance unit. This includes a series of instructional resources and gamified approaches bound to increase engagement such as Just Dance PE , Zumba Dance , C-Fit Dance & more. We also explore how you can magically add an extra EXPERT teacher to your classroom, and I certainly don’t mean by employing someone.

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00:29 Jarrod Robinson: Hello everyone, and welcome to Episode 20 of the PE Geek Podcast. The big two zero, as you might say. And, I’m really excited, because this is getting really close to the quarter of a century, and a quarter of a century of podcasts seems pretty cool, considering I started this, and I wasn’t sure where it was headed. But I’ve certainly… I’m now treating it with just as much enthusiasm as my blog has had, in the six or seven years that I’ve been blogging about it, and really looking forward to getting out a heap of new episodes. And I actually have gone and scheduled in the next five episodes. I know what I’m doing, they’re all being recorded, and I really look forward to bringing those out to you. I’ve got entire episodes dedicated to specific topics and questions that I get asked a lot, and I’ve actually gone and broken up a popular keynote presentation that I did recently, and I’ve arranged that into it’s own series of episodes, and this is the first episode from that particular keynote.

01:38 JR: Now, the keynote I did in December this year, or, sorry, November this year, was all around motivating physical activity through technology. And in it, I went and explored a series of particular activities that we do a lot, and teach regularly, and looked at how you can improve motivation in those particular activities. And, the very first, and the most popular one from that series of activities, was dance. So I thought I’d dedicate a whole episode to: What sort of opportunities exist to use tech, to help teach you dance? And, for me, I’ve got no knowledge whatsoever when it comes to dance. Sure, I did a few dance units at university, I enjoy it, it’s a bit of fun. But, what opportunities do I have to increase engagement, to increase motivation in this whole world of technology, and how well can it be used to increase your instruction, and that sort of thing? So, that’s where this episode is headed.

02:41 JR: Before I get there though, I do wanna point out that my funding website, fundmype.com is pretty much almost live. Now, I mentioned this in the last episode, Episode 19, that you could go there and register your interest to be alerted when the website goes live. Now, the website will be going live in January, and I certainly recommend heading along there and putting your interest down. “Fund My PE” is unlike anything I’ve ever done before. It’s going to be an entire website dedicated to raising funds for PE programs around the planet. And the best part about it is that you will be able to use it as a platform to raise funds in your own community, even wider than that, with people who have interests and similar interests. I will be also funding a program a month in it’s entirety, things that pique my interest and not necessarily just related to technology. This platform is going to be designed so you can fund anything to do with your PE program. If you’re a PE teacher, you need some money to do something, put it up onto fundmype.com and, you never know, it may get funded by either myself, or just the generosity of the PE community who shares in your vision about quality physical education.

04:02 JR: As I mentioned, I will be funding one myself every month, and that will just be based on what I see on the site, and the things that I think are innovative and great ideas, and I’ll be getting behind those. And, I’ll also be partnering with sponsors, people that I approach and say that, “There’s a great audience here that need funding,” using sort of the brand that I’ve created, and the presence I have in that space to drive even more funds to PE programs that I think deserve it. So, look out for “Fund my PE” to go live in January, just after all the New Year celebrations and Christmas, and so on. And yeah, I’m really excited to see how it can work towards improving your own PE programs. So, until then, jump onto the site and register your interest, to that you know when the site goes live, and you can be part of that first round of funding that happens in January.

04:56 JR: Alright, let’s dive into today’s content…


04:59 JR: Now, as we all know, there are those units that you teach where not all students share the same level of enthusiasm as they might have in other areas. And, I’m talking about things like fitness testing, and running, and various exercise, and other things that you need to do and, not always do they share that same level of excitement that you may have had in, say, a basketball unit, or a soccer unit, or things along those lines. And one of the ones for me, that I recurrently have seen and noticed, is dance. And, dance is part of lots of units, it’s fantastic in so many different ways for motor skill, development, having people develop routines and work as teams, and all that sort of stuff. I really value it in the program. However, we know it doesn’t always appeal to everyone. So, with the role that technology has, what ways are there to flavour this in a different way, so that you can get the most buy-in from all students?

05:58 JR: And obviously, technology is a tool, and it doesn’t apply to every single student and not everyone will be as engaged by the fact that you are using tech. But presenting things in different ways, and using it as that hook at the start of a lesson, can lead up to flow-on effects that basically flavour the entire unit with the level of engagement that you would like. So I’m gonna be diving into some of the things that you could do, as that sort of gateway to engagement with your dance unit.

06:29 JR: And I absolutely cannot go past the first one, and it is something that I share at my PE Geek workshops, and the resource is justdancepe.com. And when you visit that URL it’s going to re-direct you to YouTube. And when you get to YouTube, you’re gonna find that there’s this YouTube channel and basically there’s about 300 or 400 Just Dance videos. Now if you’ve never heard of Just Dance, it’s actually a video game. And the whole idea of it is that you actually have to dance, and you get scored on your dancing. And I mean, but you use the controller and it scores you based on how well you matched the beat and all those sorts of things.

07:11 JR: But in the YouTube channel, this particular user has simply recorded his screen of him playing the video game. You don’t see him. All you do is see the screen that has the moves and the actions and the music and so on. And basically you follow along with those actions that are up on the screen. They come up in a really clear way so that you can follow along and know what’s coming up. And the best part is they’re matched to really popular music of today. So I guarantee you head along to justdancepe.com and you’ll find, as I said, 300-400 videos that you can hit “Play” on. They all go for about three, four, five minutes. Great warm-up activity, so they’re introductory stuff that you can have students do for warm-ups, even if it’s not a dance unit. Or use them as warm-ups in a dance unit. And particularly, they’re high-energy so really, really good to get people sort of warmed-up and in that right mindset for a dance unit.

08:13 JR: Now I mean, these particular dances range in difficulty. I mean you don’t necessarily have to be an expert to do them, but some of the moves can be quite hard. So if you’ve got younger students, you know elementary or even younger than that, then you might do a Google search for Just Dance Junior or Just Dance Disney. And the same thing, you’ll find an abundance of videos of even Disney characters taking you through some of these popular dances. And the fact that it uses the animations that they produce to actually put these together, and the music from popular songs and so on, makes them a really really attractive things to use in a dance unit, or just as a warm-up in PE. I mean to be honest, most of the time I’ve ever used them, is as a warm-up, because they are that perfect sort of length.

09:06 JR: I should point out that there have been a number of PE teachers on Twitter who have got connected through a Just Dance unit like this. And what they’ve actually done is they’ve used Skype to arrange a time, and they can be in absolute different countries, and they ring each other up on Skype and they do a video chat and compete against one another in this Just Dance style. Now the way it worked basically, would be that one group dances, the other group watches them via video, the other group dances for a turn and then they’re sort of scored on it. Best part is, it’s a really great way to sort of do collaborative activity in PE, really easy to set up if you know someone in a different country, and your time and so on matches, but lots of fun.

09:52 JR: I mean at our school, we haven’t gone down the Skype line, but we have had classes compete against one another on a dance that they have chosen in our PE classroom. And the way we sort of engaged all the older students is, whatever song they picked, it obviously had a type of style and some one associated with it. So if it was a ’80s themed song like Eye of the Tiger, then they actually had to come dressed in appropriate clothing and so on for that particular activity. We recorded them. We each scored one another, and we did a bit of a peer-assessment using those dances as the motivation to get them engaged and excited, about something that they normally wouldn’t be excited about. So we made it more than just an event that was happening in our classes. We actually involved dress-up, and that sort of helped get everyone on-board with what we were trying to achieve.

10:52 JR: So justdancepe is brilliant. I mean it’s just a YouTube channel and you can go there and it’s regularly updated with new videos as the Just Dance games come out, and he records his progress on it, and puts them up online. And it benefits us, ’cause all we have to do is just press “Play” in our classroom, and find somewhere to project that on a large screen or if not, just from a laptop or whatever it may be, and turn the music up and rest assured knowing that you’re going to have a lot of fun. I think part of its appeal, for me, is that, I mean, I could never teach dance. I mean I’m not gonna pretend that I can. I have taught it before at uni. That’s not gonna be a specialty of mine, that’s for sure. But what I love about it is, I can actually work to engage the people in my class, because there is this instruction happening up on the screen, and I actually put myself into the same situation as the students, and I join in. And that for me is the single biggest way to motivate those students who are actually maybe not engaged in that process. By seeing me their teacher involve looking probably as uncoordinated as them, that points is a great way to actually showcase that we’re all human beings, and we’re all learning, and I absolutely get engagement out of that fact that I’m joining in.

12:17 JR: Now on a similar vein, there is an app that I have used before with younger students and it’s called C-Fit Dance, and it’s an app that has a series of video tutorials included in it, to take people, young students I should say, through dance routines. And the best part about this particular app is it’s actually been crafted by a teacher for teachers, and in it there’s basically four 10-minute dance videos designed for students in a classroom working to improve their fitness and so on. And it breaks it up into the key components in a really good way that you would go about teaching these particular activities. And the four types of dances that you learn through the app are a West African dance, which is really cool, and I have done that with my students. So there’s some hip-hop dancing, some Latin dancing, and then there’s some sort of hip-hop technique class as well.

13:13 JR: So once you’ve done that, I mean there’s no reason why they couldn’t combine elements to come up with their own dance style and some sort of remix of those. But what I love about it is you’ve got someone who clearly knows how to teach dance, taking it for your students, and it means that you can float around and be that second teacher in the classroom, which is great because I mean ideally, imagine having two teachers in your class. Obviously your school probably in some cases, that would be impossible, but you flip the classroom over and have an expert through a video teaching your class and then you’re there to give one-on-one, then effectively you have done that. I mean you’ve got two teachers in your class. It’s the easiest way to do two teachers without having to go out and hire a new teacher.

14:02 JR: But yeah, I mean I absolutely loved the C-Fit Dance approach. I loved how it taught students, and in fact one of the students in our class has suggested that we could get the iPads out, and they could use and choose their own dances. And it was great to be able to see that the students were working independently through one of those four dance styles on their own. And then the opportunity struck that they could then teach each other. So what you had done is, turned this dance unit into a peer-teaching type of unit, just through the app, and through the fact that they were able to differentiate really well without you needing four teachers to teach four different dances at once. I mean they used the video and the instructional content in the app to be able to do that really effectively. So that’s C-Fit Dance. It’s available on the App Store, and it’s certainly recommended.

14:56 JR: Now the next app that I think is fantastic is called Zumba Dance. Now I’ve blogged about this in the Top-App series, and you can actually in that actual blog, post see a video of me completing a dance. Pretty embarrassing, because I’m not really that good, but the cool thing about it is in this particular app, it uses the front facing camera to track your activities. So imagine resting your iPad on a chair or something and having it facing you, opening the app up, and then standing in the right position so that it can capture the whole part of you and then copying the dance activities. And basically what you see is, the app then begins to score you based on how well you’ve performed. Now I don’t usually get very good when I do it, but I have done this with a class before, and I only used one iPad. And basically I set it up like I described, had it sitting on a table actually, and I rotated the students through that role, so every sort of 20 seconds I just blew a whistle, I think I did, and the students moved. We had a new person being scored and the rest of them were just following along on the big screen following the moves.

16:15 JR: Now Zumba dance is pretty high-energy. I mean if you’ve ever seen Zumba, it is dance, but it’s also sort of high-level sort of aerobic-style movements, and it certainly works for that sort of warm-up, or that sort of high-intensity activity, to get them refocused and then move on to what you might be doing in the lesson. So I’ve always treated them as a warm-up and found that they’ve been that perfect sort of addition. Now if you’ve ever been to one of my workshops, I actually do this in one of the sessions, and people find it pretty entertaining, that’s for sure, because [chuckle] I’m not very good at it as I’ve described. But that doesn’t mean it’s not fun, and that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, to teach you something or showcase the sort of work ethic that you can get out of the app, just by pressing play and following along with the moves.

17:09 JR: Now the next one on the list is an app that I recently discovered when I was searching for hip-hop dancing and trying to find some instructional videos that I could use to teach some hip-hop dance earlier on in the year. And the app that I found was Learn Hip Hop Dance, and as the name suggests it takes you through a series of really high-quality videos step-by-step and broken down in a really logical way, to teach you how to do hip-hop dancing. Now the first lot of lessons are completely free, and then after that you need to unlock them with a purchase. And I mean I did that, and it actually over the course of a number of weeks with our Year 10 students, we got to a stage where we were able to actually create a hip-hop dance routine based on the moves that they had taught.

17:59 JR: And the best part was, the moves are broken up into tiny bite-sized chunks that were really learnable, and then you could then go and apply those with the other moves that you’d learned to create this full soft of piece. So that’s Learn Hip Hop Dance, and head over to the show notes at thepegeek.com/20 to see all the links that I’ve mentioned in today’s episode.

18:23 JR: Now finally, the last app I wanna share with you is from the creators of the app Motion Tennis. Now if you’ve never seen Motion Tennis, it turns your iPhone or iPod into a tennis racquet, and then you actually swing it like a tennis racquet and play tennis. And it’s amazing because it actually responds to your swing and the type of swing that you do and translates that into real gameplay in the actual game, which you’re connecting to with an Apple TV. Now that sort of technology, they’ve bundled it up into a dance app, and the way it works is, you hold your iPhone or your iPod, it doesn’t work on an iPad, you connect it to an Apple TV wirelessly, and then you can start to play. And in the same way as Just Dance, it tracks your actual dance style using the accelerometer and/or the measuring tools in the iPhone or the iPod, and turns that into your score. High energy, heaps of fun, and really accurate as well because if you’re following along with the moves in the same time, in the same pace, and in the same intensity and so on, then your score’s gonna be quite powerful, and so I mean it’s quite good. And in the same token, if you’re not doing those things, then your score won’t be very good.

19:41 JR: Best part about it is, I mean, sure, you can have multiple people with their own iPhones connected up to the Apple TV to do it, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t just have one person doing it, and everyone else just following along with the actual activity, and then as a class sort of passing the iPhone or iPod around to get an overall class score. So that’s called Dance Party TV, and it comes highly recommended as a free app that you can download and just have a lot of fun with. And it’s got all current songs in it, and you can invite and dance against friends if they’ve got their own device as well. So there’s some of the more popular dance styles, and a bit of hip-hop and things that I would do. However, I have recently discovered an app that you could use to teach sort of country style line dances and so on, all the popular dances that you may have done in your childhood and even still be doing, and that is an iPad app called iDanceCountry. And in it, there’s video tutorials around lots of different songs from that genre of music that you can certainly press “Play” on. And in the same way, just put them out there to your students and have them follow along and then you become that secondary teacher in the classroom.

20:58 JR: So there we have it. There’s a few resources that you can use to motivate dance in your class, and teach it in a different way. And basically, I think the best part about all of them is that they basically run along that flipped classroom pedagogy, where you’re almost giving the instruction over to someone else, and having that part easily replicable, so that you can do the part which isn’t, and that is provide this one-on-one feedback in your class to help improve students and move them to that next level and help engage them in a way that you couldn’t do that if you were the one at the front of the room doing the teaching. So hopefully this episode’s been helpful. As always, head over to the blog at thepegeek.com/20 to find any show notes. And until next time, I look forward to hearing any questions that you might have, and you can address those at thepegeek.com/voicemail. And you never know, maybe one of those episodes or one of those questions will find its way into an episode. Alright, see you later.



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