Book serves as guide to effective dance instruction

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By Tamara Buchanan
Caldwell County Elementary School
tamara.buchanan@caldwell.kyschools.us

As a physical education (PE) teacher who uses dance instruction in my classes at Caldwell County Elementary School, Terrie White’s The Elements of Dance is a book other PE instructors should be reading and applying to their instruction. The book introduces dance elements in a simple, concise way that is suitable for 3rd- through 5th-grade students. The book also covers all aspects of current Kentucky core content standards and instruction in dance through illustrations in an age-appropriate, student-friendly manner.

As I worked my way through the elements in the The Elements of Dance, I discovered each fundamental standard was introduced in a clear way that is accessible to students of all learning levels. In addition, there was demonstrated mastery of dance elements from the students after instruction from the book. As elementary school students and teachers use the techniques taught in the book, they discover it is an essential tool for teaching dance at the elementary level.

The book was especially useful for student teachers in my classroom who were unsure exactly how to teach dance. The Elements of Dance takes away some of the intimidations of teaching dance with its simple instruction and thorough coverage of content. Arts and humanities teachers in upper grade levels also will find value for students in their classes. This book is unique in that it’s actually two separate books in one. Flip the book over, and it becomes a new book titled From Cha Cha to Rumba with content more appropriate for middle school students. Both books combined contain a variety of information for educators at both the elementary and middle school levels.

From Cha Cha to Rumba teaches students elements of social dance, such as ballroom dancing, swing dancing, waltz and fox trot. Illustrations capture the holds and positions of each dance. White also helps the students’ understanding of each dance with simple explanations of timing, steps and the history of dances.

Each year in Caldwell County, there is a dance night where students invite their parents to dance to showcase what they’ve been learning in class. My students look forward to this activity each year. They can act out the illustrations with and for their parents and fellow students and be led by the direct instruction from the content they learned from the book. The instruction from The Elements of Dance encourages educators to hold events such as this to get creative with their students’ movement.  I have found that these suggestions helped make our showcases a success.

The Elements of Dance/From Cha Cha to Rumba also has been a great tool to assist my regular education kids to interact with their special education classmates. My special education students enjoy seeing the illustrations and love for their regular education partner to read it to them. It is helpful for the special student to get a picture of what they should look like doing the dance.  In addition, the book’s content adds an element of unique arts and PE instruction to any classroom and school.

The Elements of Dance/From Cha Cha to Rumba is written for teachers who are looking for a straightforward tool for dance instruction. Being a physical education teacher, I encourage other physical educators and school librarians to add this book to their teaching resources. As I continue to use The Elements of Dance with my students each year, my enthusiasm for dance is rediscovered each time I open the book, which is something I can pass on to my students.

Those interested in ordering the book can contact the author, Terrie White, (270) 625-0235 or (270) 388-2420. Single copies are available for $11.95 plus shipping. Quantity discounts for multiple copies also are available.

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