National Dance Society
Standards in Action Program
Standards-based Lesson Plans Project
The National Dance Society (NDS) initiated the Standards in Action (SIA) Program project to develop a National Dance Education Standards-based lessons plan collection. The purpose of the project is to provide dance educators with a series of lesson plan models for use or adaption in their classrooms, or to inspire teachers to create standards-based lesson plans. Developed by National Dance Society Master Dance Educators with teaching experience for various age groups, the lesson plan collection has been field tested in dance classrooms. Each lesson plan demonstrates direct connections between the NDS National Dance Education Standards and state’s dance standards for a K-12 grade groupings standards-based lesson plan for teachers to deliver to their students in dance education classrooms.
The NDS Standards in Action Standards-based Lesson Plan Collection contains the following components.
- The National Dance Society Standards in Action Program
- Teaching from a Standards-based Dance Curriculum
- The National Dance Education Standards Framework and Standards-based lesson plan format description and template.
The National Dance Society Lesson Plan Collection presents lessons for selected standards with performance outcomes for all grade groups for each of the six strands of the National Dance Education Standards Framework.
Additional Resources are provided as part of the Lesson Plan Collection. The resources offer important foundational dance education topics to support new dance educators with the following components
*Preparing to Teach the Dance Class
*Teaching the First Dance Class
The final section of this project presents Points of View for each author on Standards-based Lesson Plans and teaching dance education.
The National Dance Society Standards in Action Program
In 2019, the National Dance Society (NDS) unveiled its National Dance Education Standards Framework. At the 2019 NDS conference, a group of Master Dance Educators met to start a conversation about how to share the NDS National Dance Education Standards with teachers across the country. The National Dance Education Standards became the starting place for developing the Standards in Action team’s lesson plan project.
In 2019, the Standards in Action (SIA) team members began developing the series of standards-based dance lesson plans based upon the National Dance Education Standards. This collection of lesson plans covers each strand, selected standards, different grade groupings, and their performance indicators. So, let’s get started!
Teaching from a Standards-Based Dance Curriculum
Welcome to the world of Standards-Based Dance Curriculum. You may be well-versed in how to write and apply standards-based curriculum in your teaching or you may be searching for a way to further understand how to write and apply standards-based curriculum specifically to dance education. Regardless of your level of expertise in writing standards-based dance curriculum, you are all competent as dance instructors and may even be considered masters at teaching dance. Dance is taught within a huge realm of possibilities depending on the cultural, religious, societal, geographic, and environmental circumstances: generation-to-generation to teach one’s cultural heritage and identity; classical training; and in social exchanges. Out of this great diversity, anyone who is teaching dance in some form has a written or mentally planned of what they are teaching and how they will teach it. However, if you are teaching in an educational institution, you most-likely will be required to write standards-based dance curriculum. What is a Standards-Based Curriculum? According to the Glossary of Educational Reform, standards-based curriculum in education:…refers to systems of instruction, assessment, grading, and academic reporting that are based on students demonstrating understanding or mastery of the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn as they progress through their education (https://www.edglossary.org/standards-based/).
There are some school divisions that use the term Standard-Driven Curriculum which refers to “…attending to deep content knowledge (i.e., depth over breadth)” (Goss et al, 2016) and often uses the Sandra Kaplan Depth and Complexity model for students to dig deeper into a content area and develop a plan for rich, rigorous learning. However, both terms strive to address the use of standards to serve as “…guideposts for establishing learning outcomes for students …” (Goss et al, 2016).
Many dance education college degree programs incorporate curriculum to teach one how to write and apply standards-based dance curriculum. Many dancers matriculate through dance college programs that do not focus on dance education, but whose graduates end up teaching in educational institutions. Therefore, not all teachers have the ability, or confidence to inherently know how to write a broad-based curriculum that will touch on the many aspects of a discipline in our case, a dance curriculum. As many dancers are trained in a studio, the dance education arena strives to fulfill the gaps in educating the well-informed dancer that studio teaching does not necessarily, and perhaps, cannot teach. Studio dance often targets a specified corner of the dance world; primarily teaching technique, choreography, and preparing students for competitive competition. Dance technique and competitive dance generally focus on discipline and repetition, leaving little time or room to focus on the student’s exploration of movement that often tends to be the focus in a dance education program.
How Dance Education Differs in Content from “Studio” Dance Training
In general, Dance Education in the public or private school arena tends to have a different emphasis or focus than the private studio. Whereas a dance studio potentially depends on acquiring student tuition payments, collecting competition fees, drilling routines for competitions, selling recital costumes, and paying the monthly studio rent, a dance educator employed by a school district does not have these concerns. Instead, a dance education focus is shifted to more student-based generated works and to increase the student’s overall knowledge in dance literacy.
A dance education thrust in student-generated works may include:
- the creation of a theme or concept-based movement (may require research on a specific topic or historical event)
- creative collaboration with peers (may require a tool such as the 4-D Decision Making Process to collectively come to an agreement on how to proceed with an idea and movement invention)
- movement exploration grounded in the Elements of Dance
- integration of other disciplines and curriculum to embody a concept or theme
- refinement of movement studies to build into concert dance works
Studio dance generally has little time to dedicate to discussing the broad cultural implications within dance or to investigate the far-reaching historical vastness of dance. Dance Education seems to give more consideration to the investigation of cultural dance forms and in making connections of societal changes and historic events that shaped both the world, and how in turn, dance has helped to shape society and history. Dance educators allow for room in their curriculum to discuss the historical trends in dance through contributions by certain individuals. These other realms of dance often become the focal point of a well-rounded dance education taught in an educational institution.
Accountability in the Educational Institution
In an educational setting, an emphasis is placed on preparing unit and lesson plans, and learning experiences. The requirements, format, and design of unit and lesson plans, and learning experiences, vary from school, district, state, and administrator. Some dance units, courses, and curriculum require adherence to state standards, national standards, or both.
Why are standards-based lesson plans necessary in an education setting? There are many reasons that standards-based unit and lesson plans may be required of a dance educator. First, it offers accountability that teachers are thoughtfully planning out each class and plotting out each nine-week quarter or unit to successfully reach their teaching and learning objective goals and that students are meeting those outcomes. Simply put, teaching from a standards-based curriculum allows you to have a predictable lesson structure; have a specific theme and objectives for each class; pace the class so that you are able to meet your objectives and outcomes for each class and unit; and decrease excessive quantity of material and focus on quality of material. A lesson plan is a guideline to follow for a specific class, but because of the exploratory nature of dance, the contents of a lesson plan can change based upon both the needs of the students or/and artistic, inspirational moment while teaching. It is acceptable to deviate from the lesson plan at times if a creative impulse strikes or you can see that students need further instructions or repetition to hone a particular skill. Lesson plans also require the dance educator to devise the best variety of assessments to gauge the students understanding of the material presented and when it will be assessed throughout the unit. Dance is a unique discipline in that student learning and understanding is immediately visible to the instructor, so that dance educators are constantly assessing informally and providing verbal feedback to their students in each class. However, accountability to parents and administrators must be made available in a tangible means, such as a photo or video of a dancer in proper alignment, verses a photographic image of the student demonstrating improper alignment, or an alignment check list, that can be easily understood by non-dancers.
|Alignment Checklist Example|
|1. abdominals engaged and lower spine lengthening downward|
|2. Rib cage knitted together and not splaying open|
|3. Back of the neck lengthened; chin held level|
|4. Upper arm and back engaged to hold port de bra|
|5. Rotating from the femur in the hip socket|
|6. Ankle fully extended (not sickled) in tendu|
|7. Knees aligned over the toes in plié|
It is important to understand that when a district or administrator asks for the curriculum to be standards-based, they are not saying that the standards are the curriculum, but that standards are embedded into the curriculum as a guideline for age and grade appropriate learning and achievement.
The standards validate your curriculum to your administrator (especially for an administrator who does not understand the language of dance and dance processes) and confirms that what you are teaching is accurate and appropriate. You will find that most of what you teach in your dance curriculum is most likely already confirmed by a standard, but by looking through the NDS Six Strands, you might find other areas of curriculum that you might not have yet considered and could implemented. There may be a particular strand or standard that you utilize every day and others that you might merely touch upon based on your circumstances. Remember that the standards are not your curriculum, but guidelines to both streamline and expand your curriculum.
We have created a series of lesson plans that are aligned with the National Dance Education Standards Framework that are designed to be taken and utilized as best suited in each teaching and learning situation. Writing lesson plans may seem initially daunting, but once you familiarize yourself with the lesson plan format or create your own format, the task will become easier with repetition. There are many formats available for lesson plans, and many conflicting philosophies on curriculum design, but your school will advise you on what style it prefers. It is the content within each lesson plan that is important and not the format itself. Take the lesson plans that we have provided that are grounded in the NDS Six Stands and manipulate the material to fit your specific teaching environment. Embellish each lesson plan with your own research, creativity, and imagination so that you are most comfortable with what you will be teaching and in how you will successfully guide your students to meet their learning outcomes.
Glossary of Educational Reform retrieved from: https://www.edglossary.org/standards-based/
Goss M.M., Min H., & Strohl C. (2016) Designing Standards-Driven Curriculum to Support.
In: Babaci-Wilhite Z. (eds) Human Rights in Language and STEM Education. SensePublishers, Rotterdam. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-6300-405-3_3