Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

almost done.

Ok friends, I'm very almost finished my degree I just have to get this last assignment done. I'm running on V limited amounts of sleep, locked away from the world and working like a demon. Something really neat that I've discovered I thought I might share with you. It's an educational thang called 'Power Teach':

Here we see it in action with a grade 6 group who have obviously had lots of practice at it. The class is loud, fast, active and fun. And they're just learning about order of operations. Its the way that they've been taught which is really interesting. Basically this type of teaching has been developed by Chris Biffle in the states and here are his main points:

Whilst I would find this quite confronting at first I'm sure I can see a lot of value in what he is trying to do with his classes. The things I love the most are:
  • - actions and gestures for kinaesthetic learners (and memory reinforcement for everyone else)
  • - peer discussions mean social learning is taking place, peer to peer AND teacher to student
  • - total involvement/participation at all times, not just the one student answering the questions
  • - short sharp points of attention ensure students are not being over drained or glazing over
  • - teacher has instantaneous feedback about what students are understanding by eaves dropping in peer to peer discussions. Also in classroom management, she knows who is listening/participating at all times
  • - work ethic and success standards are built into the approach and not a separate thing to address. Students can celebrate their achievements instantaneously, Hooray!
  • - use of voice and gestures includes tone and rhythm: created like a game/drama and communication.

So without more information or training I doubt I'd be giving this a shot any time soon but there are aspects of it that I would certainly take away. Like the use of peer to peer talk built in to break the lesson into shorter chunks. Although this makes me think of the only other class that I have observed where that was used on a regular basis with preps and they were all CRAZY talkative - sometimes to the point of utter frustration of the teacher. Could be worse though, imagine if they didn't develop those skills properly at all!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

digital immigrant.

ok ok, so my uni have been going on and on about teaching in the digital age for years now and i'm only JUST engaged. i guess i was skeptical about their approaches and actual depth of knowledge. i mean how many times can someone celebrate the fact that digital cameras were invented? or that you can create a blog? ...zzzz... oh! i'm sorry i must've nodded off there while the rest of my class learnt how to log onto the uni website. BORING! i've been listening to my lecturers and peers complain about how difficult and frustrating technology is to use. For the past 4 years they've been going on about really basic stuff. I mean yes it is fantastic that you can see the pictures right there on the camera and like magic they can be put onto the computer as well. pfft. And it's not like they were describing anything particularly ground breaking in terms of educational applications either. Sure kids can describe the visual elements used in a magazine/newspaper/website/game. They probably come to school like that and can do WAY more stuff than that in their sleep! They'd be about as bored as I have been I reckon.
i mean i understand that the education field is usually always a little behind the rest of the world cause that is just the way it all works: educators adapt to the demands of society etc etc. So realistically speaking I won't expect to see any great developments in technology education for quite some time. Nor will I have the opportunity or experience to explore this area to it's full capacity untill I am actually teaching. I will wait until that day and then find a gap in the system to exploit and possibly become a millionaire (hold your breathe).
So today I was finally given something to think about and engage with when we were shown this:

This stuff is kinda actually exciting. I mean it's obviously really it's just that it's been put into words/a presentation that I havent been exposed to before. Most of use technology every single day for a variety of means. In the past week I have:
- checked my email on 4 different accounts
- social networked on at least 2 different sites
- viewed clips on Youtube
- downloaded readings/resources for uni
- written assignments
- uploaded assignments
- engaged in forum discussions
- searched the internet for technical help with my lappy
- downloaded software/codecs (plus researched their use/effectiveness/cost/system requirements)
- shopped for furniture that I can't fit into my room
- used an online floor planner program to rearrange my room
- read 6 friend's websites/blogs
- kept up to date with comics/humour sites
- looked up directions on googlemaps
- looked up public transport time tables
- pirated and bought music online
- done my banking
- researched travelling overseas/jobs/currency/living expenses/flights/visas/teaching agencies
- practiced dance routines from clips found online
- applied for jobs (well this is in my yet to be fulfilled list - seems the dancing took longer than I thought)
- booked flights online
- viewed an online tutorial about slowing the tempo of songs
- synced my ipod to my calendar and address book.

Yes and that is just to name a few. There are very few days when I don't do at least one of these things. Not to blow my own trumpet* but I'm not exactly struggling to think of uses for the internet. I'm what those theorists call a 'digital immigrant' (I'm not sure how much this actually applies cause I feel like I've grown up with it but I'm technically too old) and those students that I'll soon be teaching are 'digital natives'. So it will my job to help students navigate, decipher, contribute, convey, determine and author a future internet. Web 3.0?**
It's daunting to imagine that all these day to day things that we do seem to be somehow contributing to a massive database of information. A machine. The whole is greater than the sum of it's parts. The ever evolving structure of our information will be the biggest change that is expected in the next 5 years.
Yes I know this might be old news to many of you but I thought I'd get my reflections down in print whilst the going is hot. Besides all I've got to compare myself with is the ignorance at uni and my sixty-something parents (whom I might point out are getting much better - googlemaps and tour de france website open whilst viewing the race to get maximum enjoyment out of it, I was so proud that night!)

*bwahaha I love saying that on a blog. Irony much?
** I DID start reading about it here but my 'digital attention span' didn't get that far.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

dancing thoughts

well i haven't really blogged about dance for AGES. there was a period there when i didn't really want to but lately i've had all these ideas and struggled to put them into words. so i thought i'd just start and see what comes out of it.

this semester i'm doing primary dance education as an elective at uni. so far it's been really fun and interesting. i often walk out of class feeling totally uplifted and buzzing with all sorts of abstract ideas. but one thing it's been really good for is learning about dance theory and the basic dynamics of dance. these are things that i've never really entirely been aware of or understood. so armed with this new knowledge i'm approaching swing dancing from a different perspective. at the moment the biggest thing that has struck me is the concept of locomotive vs non-locomotive movement. swing dancing is definitely a locomotive dance where our focus is often on travelling and moving across the floor rather than the shapes that can be made on the spot. well that's the initial level. ideally i'd love to explore the other aspects a little bit more. the most enjoyable and dynamic social dances that i have had usually include a variety of levels, shapes, moods, speeds, etc. i'm going to spend a bit more time on this one and get back to you. i think this stuff is especially important in performance/routine dancing - because the audience is not involved in the complex connection and communication that goes on between the lead and follow which seems to take up the majority of our attention during a dance.

so how does swing dancing actually work? .. ..goddamn that stuff is hard to put into words. and every time i think i'm getting closer to the answer i make a new discovery and change my mind a little bit more. ultimately i think that what is at the crux of it all is good movement. i'm still deciding how broadly it can be applied but it's definitely important and desired by ALL dance instructors. do we really actually need to learn specific ways of moving, beyond what comes naturally to us, in order to communicate what we want our partner to do? or would the fact that one person does the movement that the other person is open enough to receive those messages correctly that they can follow(in as loose a term as possible)?

so what do i mean by good movement? i mean good posture. i mean good alignment. i mean using the large muscles for large jobs and small muscles for smaller jobs. i mean using your core centre. i mean connecting your arms to your core. i mean connecting your legs to your core. i mean making weight changes that don't absorb the natural bounce that is present in the action of comfortably switching from one leg to another. the knee/ankle/hip bends then straightens and collects again on the other side.
>ok so when i start think weight changes this is when i get off track. there are so many ways that we can do them. some people would naturally have a much smaller bounce than others. some people would take larger steps etc. also we are able to communicate the types of styling we want to produce through just doing the desired steps, so would it really matter whether the weight changes are what i would consider 'good movement' or not? as long it is a movement that is within the capacity of both partners then why wouldn't it be communicated smoothly?
so this leads me onto my next point: is it all just about creating a vocabulary of movement that is common between dancers? that we move similarly therefore we can communicate more easily? surely that would mean that people from a variety of dance experience would not be able to dance with each other effectively (which we know is not true)? or that people of different heights would have massive problems communicating as the movements are stiffled and restricted by adjustments they make to reach down/up to their partner. to make such assumptions would be ridiculous and discount the variety and range of dynamics(for lack of a better word) that swing dancing has to offer. 
bah i don't have any answers at all!

i've also been thinking about how one would go about choreographing a routine. this has been an unattained aspiration of mine for quite some time. the obvious place to start would be with your music. but finding that dynamic kick ass tune that gets every bone in your body pumping isn't really that easy (isn't meant to find you?) plus it needs to be short, high energy and of good quality to be heard on even the crappiest of sound systems.

once you've got your track, i would break it down into sections that are easily identifiable with solid contrasts and progressions. this would form part of your mapping which would define the sorts of genre of movements you want to include or the feel you want to express in each section. for example a bouncier part of the music may include more upbeat charleston-ey type moves etc.

this is probably also a good time to select a genre or theme for the routine. as in who would dance it? in partners or solo? is there a story line or theme? a particular era of dance? any particular styles of dance? are there any hero moves that must be included? any particular original art that you want to reference?

ok so you get that far right? after that i start getting a bit hazy. actually VERY hazy. i can't figure out how to link the moves that i want or fill in the massive gaps. sometimes even navigating the song can be difficult. and i spend hours experimenting with possible solutions to my problems but they seem to fall out of my head as quickly as they come to me.

i'm also not so good at the phrasal stage either. i'm far too detailed in the little nooks and crannies of a song to think in groups of movements. excuses maybe: i suspect this may have to do with years of thinking like a follow and only having that 4 beat increment in which to insert my creative insights. it's really hard for me to get out of that mentality.

well i guess it has been a while since i attempted choreographing anything and i should give it another shot sometime soon. perhaps find someone to collaborate with. ..and.. well.. find a new buzzing song that i'm not sick of!

recently i've learnt many solo routines that have made me so damn excited about routines again. hence this post. but the thing that makes me consider getting back into it is that i can see the ways in which i would alter or adjust the routines to make EVEN better: just a little more arms, a lower energy movement to match the slower build in the music etc.

anyway well i'm just about to start working on something new at uni for an assignment with a group of girls from a variety of different dancing backgrounds which could be really exciting and FUN! 

Sunday, May 11, 2008


this made me laugh till i couldn't breath.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

all sweetness and light.

well i thought january was going to be more relaxed for me but it turns out i haven't even had timr to blog. what's been happening?

well for a start i'm back at uni again doing my final year which carries all the usual conotations in regards to workload and professional expectations. i'm starting to realise exactly how much i've learnt over the period of my degree and sort out the areas i need improvement in. i've especially been feeling excited this week about the prospect of beginning teaching as i'm out on teaching rounds at the moment. i've had an extremely exhausting but rewarding week. i'm really looking forward to getting more experience under my belt and one day getting my own class of little brains to play with. granted there are still days that i feel less than confident and concerned over how much i have to learn but that, i suspect, will always be part of the process.

i have also had a greater focus on dancing this year than i have had in quite some time. at the end of january i attended a camp in adelaide which was OK but essentially got me reinspired to get back into stuff on a regular basis. i ended up auditioning for a local troupe and becoming a member there. i have only done a limited amount of stuff with them so far but am having a great time with it ..including confronting some light fears of aerials which is proving really exciting!

so between uni, dancing and work i'm finding it hard to squeeze all the normal everyday type stuff in but it's good practice for getting myself organised for next year.

..next year? ? lots of big questions in regards to next year. will i go straight into teaching? what kind of teaching would i like to do? will i stay here in melbourne or head off overseas? not sure exactly what i will end up doing but i suspect it will be the start of a new chapter for me.

febuary/march was also a sad time for me as i said goodbye to a dear friend of mine who has moved up to QLD. whilst we still keep in touch it is not the same as having her giggles, chats and crude comments here with me. (love you sweetness!)

next week i go to perth for another dancing weekend which i will also be using for wind down and party time! woot!

write now i'm preparing my lessons for next week and hoping that i'm organised enough. better get back to it!

Monday, January 07, 2008

goodbye to 2007

well it's the beginning of a new year once again. time really does fly. i would honestly consider 2007 to be a good year for me. despite a couple of ups and downs there have been some really great things happening for me. i went back to uni and had a delightful old time with that. i also went over seas for the first time in my adult life -got to see some dear friends of mine whilst also exploring stunning cities like Barcelona. i've established some really solid friendships with some beautiful souls. but probably more importantly above all those things is that i'm becoming more myself. i've set up shop in Crinkletown and made myself the president/secretary/treasurer - enjoying all things me!*
meg suggested that it may have something to do with chinese horoscopes = this is the year of the Golden Pig. which could mean that my good year may not be over till feb (coinciding with the return of uni semester).

i spent my entire december working my little butt off. it was mildly painful but i think i'm over it now. that's retail during the xmas period for you. january is certainly going to be alot more relaxed for me - well has been so far. i will be heading off to adelaide in about two weeks to participate in another nerdy dance camp.
i also begin a solo jazz course this week. getting right back into the fun dancing stuff before it's assignment time again.

not sure what 2008 will entail for me but my plans include: completing my degree, visiting some Australian dancing destinations, possibly moving residence and continuing my general 'journey'. ..i might even finally do my tax this year.

*i've even got my own currency thanks to dp