Dance by numbers

Gifted fifth graders in Virginia are learning about patterns by dancing, reports PBS.

Carrie Lewis and Kelly Steele’s fifth grade students slide and spin across the classroom floor, doing the hustle, the robot and the running man. . . .

“Dances are patterns,” Lewis said. “We had identified that our students had trouble with patterns and this was a way to get them involved in it.”

On the Pillsbury Dough Boy website, students analyze the cartoon mascot’s six dance moves, assign each step a number and chart the patterns in his dance.

They also watch America’s Best Dance Crew to chart the repetition of dance moves.

Students then choreographed their own dance routines, repeating at least five moves.

Using stopwatches to clock the average time of their routine, students were asked to then calculate how many times their pattern would repeat throughout the course of the song, and then turn the resulting data into a graph.

“If your song is 100 seconds, how many repetitions will you do of your dance?,” Steele said. “If you use the extended version of your dance, 200 seconds, how many repetitions do you need to do? They are using their graph to figure that information out.”

When each group performs their routine for classmates, they freeze midway through the dance. Students must predict the next move in the pattern.

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  1. I’ll admit to curmudgeon status, but couldn’t these concepts be taught more efficiently? Puzzles, competition-style prep, or computerized patterns and analysis.

    This reminds me of what they were doing in the local ES gifted centers, to which my kids never applied because they really didn’t like this kind of approach.

  2. I thought learning about patterns was part of the kindergarten curriculum. Indeed, this sounds like a great activity for kindergarteners, who too often around here seem to spend an awful lot of time at their desks with worksheets.