Network Initiatives

How can middle school students use dance to express themselves and to explore their own identities?
Project or Program Summary
Please provide a summary of the project/program as demonstrated in the case study: 
This program provided 2, 10-session dance residencies in two sixth grade classes at East Palo Alto Charter School (EPACS). Teaching Artist, Jodi Power, created an in-depth opportunity for students to explore movement and self-expression through dance. At the beginning of the residency, students exhibited a lack of comfort in their own bodies. However, students soon began taking more risks with their bodies and made frequent, confident, and safe physical contact with each other as they related to movement and self-expression during the residency. Students ended the residency by choreographing their own short dances and performing them for their peers.
Portfolio Purpose and Rational
Portfolio Purpose and Rationale: Why has this case study been submitted?: 
Planning for, executing, and managing expectations around culminating events presents a challenge for any program. A particular area of success in this program was in coming to an explicit agreement among the teaching artist, principal, and YANC staff about the purpose of the event. It was determined at the planning meeting that the culminating event would be an informal demonstration of learning, as opposed to a polished performance. This allowed the teaching artist to focus on meaningful exploration of dance, rather than spending the time rehearsing. The culminating event went according to plan, and met the expectations of all stakeholders.
Overall Conclusions
What are your overall conclusions regarding the documentation gathered for this case study?: 
Video documentation of students during one of the mid-point residency sessions showed students collaborating effectively to explore ideas about prepositions (over, under, through, and around) through dance, and to develop their own choreography. This footage showed a high level of engagement and group learning through interdisciplinary exploration. Video of the culminating event exhibited a growth in self-confidence and kinesthetic understanding, as students showed courage in performing before peers.
Assessment Conclusions
What conclusions have you drawn from the responses to the assessment tools you have developed?: 
Observing/filming a working class session is much more effective in assessing student learning than observing a culminating event. In order for students to make explicit connections between artistic learning and external themes (in this case, the EPACS CARES metrics), it is important for students to have a very clear understanding of those themes, and for the Teaching Artist to articulate these connections while exploring artistic concepts. Finally, in asking about these connections in a final interview assessment, these connections were demonstrated and cemented in the minds of the students.
Answering the Inquiry Question
Back to the initial inquiry question, can it be answered?: 
Dance can be an effective tool to explore identity, especially for middle-school aged students, who often experience discomfort in their own bodies. By creating a safe space for exploration and physical interaction, dance can build confidence and social awareness. However, in order for students to really explore identity issues through dance, this self-examination must be made explicit through structured activities (in this case, journal writing was the intended mode). This component of the program would have been stronger had the residency been longer, or the had the students come to the residency with some basic dance understanding.
Conclusions: What Was Learned
What was learned?: 
One lesson learned was regarding realistic lesson planning. Utilizing the SCS template encourages Teaching Artists to think big. This can be inspiring, but also requires an ability to be realistic in planning lessons that can be accomplished in the allotted time, when taking the baseline skill levels of students into account. This may necessitate scaling back in some areas. Another lesson learned related to long-term residency structure. There were several miscommunications regarding communication, logistics and content for the culminating event, and scheduling.
Conclusions: What Can Be Done Differently In The Future
What can be done differently in the future?: 
Lesson planning: It may be helpful to provide coaching for Teaching Artists in customizing their templates to fit each program, with specific attention paid to lesson planning and time management. Artists should be encouraged to utilize the Planning Meeting to get a rough estimate of student skill levels, and make necessary adjustments. Long-term residency structure: Having a mid-point check-in meeting with the Teaching Artist, the School Contact, and YANC staff will be helpful in assessing student progress, confirming remaining dates scheduled, and discussing the format and logistics for the culminating event. If an in-person meeting cannot be held, a conference call may take this place.
Conclusions: How Will This Inform The Work Moving Forward
How will this inform the work moving forward?: 
As a result of this project, we will be better equipped at supporting Teaching Artists as they get comfortable utilizing the SCS Template in their program planning, as well as in serving as an administrative support during long term residencies.
Core Content Standards
Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
21st Century Learning Skills
Learning and Innovation / Creativity and Innovation: 
Think Creatively
Work Creatively with Others
Implement Innovations
Learning and Innovation / Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: 
Make Judgments and Decisions
Solve Problems
Learning and Innovation / Communication and Collaboration: 
Collaborate with Others
Life and Career / Flexibility and Adaptability: 
Adapt to Change
Be Flexible
Life and Career / Social and Cross-Cultural : 
Interact Effectively with Others
Work Effectively in Diverse Teams
Life and Career / Leadership and Responsiblity: 
Guide and Lead Others
Produce Results
National Core Arts Standards
National Core Arts Standards: 
Local Standards
Describe Any Local Standards Met By The Program: 
California Visual and Performing Arts Standards for the 6th Grade: 2.8 Demonstrate the ability to cooperate and collaborate with a wide range of partners and groups (e.g., imitating, leading/following, mirroring, calling/responding, echoing, sequence building). 2.7 Revise, memorize, and rehearse dance studies for the purpose of performing for others. 2.6 Demonstrate the awareness of the body as an instrument of expression when rehearsing and performing. EPACS C.A.R.E.S Qualities: Cooperation, Assertiveness, Respect, Empathy, Self-Control

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Project Summary
Professional Development
Institutional Overview
Young Audiences of Northern California
125 Stillman Street
94107 San Francisco , CA
United States
California US
School District(s)
Ravenswood City Elementary School District
2120 Euclid Ave.
94303 East Palo Alto , CA
United States
California US
East Palo Alto Charter School
1286 Runnymede Street
94303 East Palo Alto , CA
United States
California US
Meg Barrager
Subject Taught: 
Teaching Artist(s)
Jodi Power
Artist Field(s): 
Dance/Choreography and Circus Arts