This unit, Metamorphosis, was planned and implemented at the Early Learning Centre in Melbourne and comprises details of how a dance teacher, Janice Deans, and a group of 20 four- and five-year-old children established a community of learners to explore thinking and learning through dance. Children were guided to explore their interests, expand their current knowledge, develop new knowledge and refine their movement skills in support of both concept learning and physical, body-based learning.
The school and teachers
The dance program exemplified here was designed, implemented and evaluated by a specialist dance teacher. Classes were offered one morning per week for approximately one to one-and-a-half hours. The classes were held in a welcoming and aesthetically pleasing, carpeted multi-purpose space at an early learning centre in inner-city Melbourne. The dance program was part of the state government-funded preschool program.
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) content descriptions
The package presented was designed to target years F–2 for ACARA's Australian Curriculum: The Arts. The general capability of Critical and creative thinking was fundamental to the dance material presented, in particular imaginative problem solving, analysis and critical thinking through dance play. The second general capability addressed was within the personal and social domain, with children having an opportunity to discover their individual strengths and capacities through dance, and to form sensitive and empathetic relationships with others.
The dance classes were conceptualised within a multi-arts framework that acknowledges the power of This refers to the idea that text can be viewed from multiple perspectives. For example, writing can be considered a linguistic and a visual sign; dance can be considered a visual and physical sign. Semiotics reminds teachers that there are many sign systems operating within one genre (e.g. when you are reading a book you are looking at print, you are seeing colour, pictures, you are hearing an internal voice, feeling the paper, turning the pages…). tools to create and communicate meaning. The primary art form for This can be described as children’s capacity to symbolise a range of concepts and feelings, to make sense of these and communicate this understanding to others. Dance, music, art and drama provide a broad range of opportunities for meaning-making activity. was dance, which was supported by percussion, sound-making and recorded music, with drawing playing an integral role in supporting the documentation of children’s thoughts, ideas and feelings as expressed through their art-making. Drawing was scheduled at the completion of each session.
The exemplar shows how dance can be effective in stimulating and supporting This helps teachers understand that literacy is a multi-modal concept and that children today need to develop skills across multiple literacies to be able to analyse and solve problems, consider differing perspectives and generally think critically about their learning and their lives. (e.g. print, drama, art, language, music, photography), which in turn support the current educational focus on the development of literacy and mathematical knowledge and skills. For example, visual stimuli are used by the teacher to teach concepts associated with the life cycle of the butterfly, enriched vocabulary is presented to stimulate concept development, and the elements of dance are introduced to support understanding of shape and spatial skill development. Additionally, music is carefully selected to help children enhance their feeling states, and drawing is used as an effective tool to capture the lived experience of the dance class.
The unit addresses the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) Professional Standards for Teachers (1–5) by ensuring that teachers know:
• their students and how they learn
• the content and how to teach it
• how to plan and implement effective teaching
• how to encourage learning in a supportive and safe environment
• how to assess student progress.
Teachers may also collaborate with colleagues and/or the community (Standard 7).