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Who's Dancin' Now?
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Who's Dancin' Now?

primer on arts education
teaching materials
lesson plans
cirriculum guides
outreach & development
outreach & development

Arts learning can have a great impact in the classroom by acting as a point of entry into understanding and motivating students, in addition to making education fun. Teachers often claim that arts instruction and the collaboration of interdisciplinary learning help nurture student creativity by augmenting their perceptive and communicative skills and social understanding. The arts also help improve the learning environment and academic performance, such as improved grades and test scores, increased parental participation, and a stronger school-community partnership. They, therefore, can transform not only a student's competencies, but can also change the school itself. How do we bring the arts into the classroom? While a lesson plan is a great starting point for exposing students to the arts, a curriculum provides a more meaningful and comprehensive opportunity for children to reap the benefits of arts learning.

"Teachers have the greatest appreciation of the ways to best engage their students intellectually, emotionally and physically, and can more effectively construct an arts curriculum to match those very needs."
Although many educators agree that arts education is important, the methods of teaching and learning vary greatly. Some may argue that the arts are important for their own sake and do not need to be justified in terms of other disciplines. Works of art can link information in history, social studies, English, mathematics, science, and geography. Connecting ideas and forming relationships across and among traditional subjects provide a more holistic approach to education-something more indicative of "the real world." As such, the integration of arts learning is warranted across disciplines. Integration does not diminish the value of a separately taught art class and should not serve as a substitute for discrete learning of various art forms. Rather, an integrated and separated arts curriculum can work hand-in-hand to provide an overall complete educational experience, one that aspires to target the multifaceted complexities of individual students.

There are some basic aspects to consider in the construction of an arts curriculum. Although most often the focus of a curriculum is placed on arts making or performance, it is also important to encourage students to address the role of the arts in culture and history, to perceive and respond to the qualities of the arts, and to make sound judgments about the arts. To help guide teachers in terms of what students should know and be able to do in the arts, voluntary national standards have been established by the Department of Education's "Goals 2000: Educate America Act." These standards shape guidelines and encourage innovation; but the responsibility of determining curriculum and specific instructional activities to achieve those standards is delegated to the states, local school districts, school boards, school administrators, and individual teachers. Most often, teachers have the greatest appreciation of the ways to best engage their students intellectually, emotionally and physically, and can more effectively construct an arts curriculum to match those very needs.

Curriculum Guides Produced by the National Dance Institute
Recognizing that dance and music are integral components of history and culture, each year the National Dance Institute (NDI) creates a flexible interdisciplinary curriculum around a guiding theme for classroom teachers whose students are participating in the in-school program. The curricula are targeted for students in grades 4-6. These guides are also available to educators who are not involved in the programs at a cost of $25.00 each. If you are interested in ordering any of the below listed curriculum guides, please contact NDI at (212) 226-0083.

  • The Making of a Mosaic: An Introduction to the Music and Dance of the Americas
    This introductory survey of the landscape of American popular music and culture focuses on those traditions that descend from the early colonial encounters between and among Native peoples, Western Europeans and West and Central Africans, with reference to geographic, historic, economic and cultural issues.

  • Celebration of Literature
    This guide stems from a series of collaborations between NDI and some of America's finest contemporary artists and examines literary works dealing with the idea of freedom, one of the core values of American society.

  • Web of Life: The Earth and Its People
    This curriculum explores the relationship between the earth and people, seeking to replace the "man conquers nature" attitude with a more ecologically sound one that is based on perspectives from modern science, art, literature, and ways of life in other cultures.

  • A Celebration of India
    There has been tremendous cross-fertilization between America and India, lands very different and yet similar in their ability to incorporate peoples from other cultures and beliefs. In keeping with NDI's pedagogy that people learn best through personal experiences, this curriculum introduces children to India by evoking comparisons to their own lives in the United States.

To help you learn more about curriculum design, implementation, and assessment, and to locate other instructional teacher resources, visit the educational references and links provided on this site.

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