Monday, January 23, 2012

Flash Mob (Flashmob) Dancing In Education

There is a phenomenon around the world called the “flash mob”. The first one I saw was a few years ago done in a Belgian train station to a remix of Julie Andrew’s Do-Re-Mi.
The next big one to catch my attention was the Black Eyed Peas version of Got a Feelin’ for Oprah’s anniversary in Chicago. 20,000 people turned out for that one.
In May, 2010 Eurovision had a song contest for the world’s largest flash mob dance held simultaneously in 10 cities across Europe. Madcon won with the song GLOW and the choreography was put up on YouTube to learn. I decided to make this my final unit for the year and each class chose a song to choreograph and I taught the entire elementary school of 650 students the Eurovision version of GLOW.
Sections 3 and 4 were a bit too challenging for little ones so I simplified it using a couple of moves from Oprah and 2 line dance steps. If you do it, add your own flavour or get some talented students to work with sections 3 and 4.

Here is my abbreviated list on how to choreograph a successful school Flash Mob Dance:
  • Choose a song with an appropriate message.
  • Enlist the help of talented students or older siblings/teachers with dance experience.
  • Do all actions to a count of 8.
  • If you do something on one side, do it again on the other side.
  • Keep the actions BIG, and high in the air.
  • Start with a few students and have more and more join in.
  • It’s easy to remember repeated sections than always adding new ones.
  • Say aloud what action you are doing.
  • Have a strong ending.
  • Keep it simple and HAVE FUN!

If you would like to organize a Flash Mob dance in your school, you might be interested in purchasing my recent 12-page guide titled "Flash Mob Dancing in Education" from  My guide will provide you with direct links to popular Flash Mob songs as well as step-by-step choreography moves.

If you are located in Greater Vancouver, BC, I am also available for a negotiable fee to organize or assist with your school event.  .

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Sky's the Limit: Brain-Compatible Notetaking

A Mind Map is a very powerful graphic method which allows you to take notes while accessing the "whole" brain ... it uses the full range of cortical skills: language, pictures, connections, relationships -- awareness in a single unique manner.

The "Mind Map" originated and was trademarked in 1970 by Tony Buzan from England. This highly effective notetaking technique has since spread worldwide and is used by millions of people in all occupations.

This technique is one of many accelerated learning methods, to illustrate "whole brain learning" and releases the tremendous potential of the "brain".

Advantages of Mind Mapping

  • Mind Maps work the way the brain works, by associating randomly … not in nice neat lines. Radiant NOT linear!
  • Any idea has thousands of links in your brain … Mind Maps allow these associations to be recorded and reinforced.
  • The brain remembers key words and phrases, not sentences … just try remembering a number of sentences “exactly” from memory!
  • Because one uses key words and phrases, a lot more information will fit on the page.
  • Mind Maps are visual … the brain remembers pictures better than words.
  • Starting in the centre gives each detail equal importance rather than traditional numbering, not necessarily in order of importance.
  • The organization of a Mind Map is similar to the way your brain organizes ideas.
  • Because of its visual structure, Mind Maps are easy to review … like taking a mental picture.

My 15-page PDF book The Sky's the Limit will teach you the basics of mind mapping. Included in this package is also a companion 17-page PDF book Believe You Can Draw by Dave Feuring. These can be purchased and downloaded online as one package from TeachersPayTeachers. A free preview download is also available.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

CURRENT (V1 N1): Today's Music In The Classroom

What is CURRENT?

My plan for CURRENT is a series of teaching units designed to teach teachers how to teach music in the classroom using “current” songs of today. It is aimed at Grades 5-9 or Middle School grades. Each volume follows curricular learning outcomes for Canadian provinces and USA National Standards.

CURRENT focuses on student creativity through expression of feelings and ideas. Students are encouraged to evaluate their own achievement and refine their performances and presentations with the goal of improving their ability. Group support is encouraged.

CURRENT chooses songs that invite emotional and intellectual responses. Students are encouraged to analyse the song in terms of lyrics and musical concepts through the student analysis and evaluation forms in each volume. There are no right or wrong answers so students are more comfortable taking risks. A safe environment is encouraged with support of classmates and teachers.

CURRENT chooses songs from English popular music around the world. I have taught students from over 40 countries. The songs come from the experience of middle school students. The focus is not so much factual as it is creative and an extension of valuing the arts from all cultures. Students are encouraged not to make quick judgements but develop personal choice based on knowledge, experience and practice. Teachers should learn the vocabulary specific to the arts (music, art, drama, and dance) and incorporate this vocabulary into lessons. There is a vocabulary sheet with each volume.

The Creative Process

CURRENT encourages the creative process through the following activities:
  • The songs are inspiring and have a positive message. Lyrics are screened for language. 
  • The lyrics encourage discussion and imagination. 
  • There are opportunities for group and individual performances. Each activity has a specific focus on a musical concept through listening or singing. Guidance is provided in the teacher notes at the end of the unit. 
  • Students are encouraged to explore and experiment using basic skills which are taught in class. Guidance is provided in the unit plans. 
  • Students are encouraged to produce work in stages of difficulty. 
  • Students are encouraged to constantly revise and refine through individual and group efforts. 
  • With each song, students are presenting, performing and sharing through the use of contemporary music. 
  • There are opportunities to reflect and share ideas through student worksheets which provide the framework.

Volume 1, Number 1, uses FIREFLIES by Owl City and Adam Young as the focus for this unit.

Click below or click the link for a full online preview [requires Flash], or purchase online in PDF format at TeachersPayTeachers.