“Now you are getting big enough to swim like a tadpole. Let’s swim through the water – up and down and all around. Use your arms. Your back legs are beginning to grow and I see tails forming. How will that look, as you are moving around? Now your front legs are beginning to grow and you are eating bigger things and looking for insects. Your tail is starting to shrink and you are going onto land – you are a full-sized frog. Show me what that looks like,” said Kennedy Center Teaching Artist Randy Barron to Ring Elementary School third graders as they performed movement to music in Elizabeth Johnson’s class.
Mr. Barron, a dancer and choreographer from New Mexico, presented “Scientific Thought In Motion” to Chautauqua Lake and Jamestown Elementary third, fourth, and fifth grade students and teachers. In the Jamestown Schools, third graders will be learning about the life cycle of a frog this year. Mr. Barron demonstrated how movement and dance could help enhance teacher’s science curriculum.
“The teachers have been very open and excited about the opportunity to use movement to engage all students in curriculum. We are seeing lots of light bulbs go off,” said Mr. Barron. “Research shows that movement can help develop students’ brains and allows children to connect concepts to action. Students find it satisfying to take the knowledge they are learning to a real-world situation like dance.”
The students loved the class with Mr. Barron too.
“It was really cool. I like that we were able to try different types of movement but also learned about science,” said Ring Elementary School third grader, Gabby Seekins. “When I was doing the dance, I was thinking about the life cycle of a frog and by doing the movements, it helped me to remember what order the life cycle happened. It’s easier to remember when you are moving than just talking about it.”
Through the professional workshops with Mr. Barron, teachers learned to translate many basic concepts in science into meaningful, self-assessing movement activities that put abstract ideas into tangible, visible form. In this course, participants were introduced to basic elements of dance and how those elements relate to scientific content. Teachers took part in a set of immediately useful movement activities for classroom study of the water cycle, tectonic plates and volcanoes, and systems of the human body.
The professional workshops are part of the partnership team consisting of Chautauqua Institution, Jamestown Public Schools and the Chautauqua Lake Central School District who were named among 10 new inductees in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Partners in Education Program last spring. There will be additional professional workshops provided by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Partners in Education program including one in February at Jamestown & Chautauqua Lake Schools.
RANDY BARRON has been a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist since 1995. For over thirty years, he has designed and led arts-integrated residencies for students, and he has led over two hundred professional development workshops for teachers, across thirty-six states. Randy danced and choreographed professionally with ballet and modern dance companies across the United States and was the Executive Artistic Director of City in Motion Dance Theater in Kansas City, Missouri. Randy has a wide range of experience in education. He has been a charter high school director, a charter school founder, a curriculum writer, and even a school bus driver. He also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Rockhurst University, and is a former volunteer firefighter/EMT. Randy lives on the Santa Fe Trail in northeastern New Mexico, with his wife and five dogs, near their identical twin granddaughters.