Category Archives: Tangential and Ubiquitous Learning

A Teacher for Every Student

My virtual 3-Minute Thesis presentation, re-recorded after the competition. Sorry for the poor audio, I do not have my yeti mic or Adobe CS at the moment!

Learning Through Music and Dance

Musician Norman Foote will be performing this week at the community hall in the town where I live.  This performance has been advertised on sandwich boards posted around town, and once or twice, in passing, I’d wondered to myself  “Who is Norman Foote?”.  Then, I received a letter from my child’s teacher last week saying my six-year-old daughter is one of the handful of children selected to sing on stage with Norman Foote at this performance.  “Who IS this Norman Foote?”, I wondered.   So, I Googled…. Norman Foote is a Juno-award-winning, internationally acclaimed children’s musician who has created songs for Disney and for some all-stars in the children’s entertainment industry.

Now I’m excited!  This will be a great experience for my daughter, who already spends most of her free time singing (constantly, from the backseat of my car), and who routinely ropes me into duets with her… (which is pretty much payback, as I was always singing and trying to get her to sing with me when she was a baby).  I’ve always loved to sing (no stages for me!), and my hope has been that singing and music could bring the same joy to my daughter’s life. Mission accomplished, I think!  She dances, too: Irish dancing, since just before her third birthday.  For anyone familiar with Irish dancing, you won’t be surprised that my daughter learned to count to 32 by 8’s significantly earlier than other kids in her age cohort!  Being an (extreme) introvert myself and never having been comfortable performing or speaking in front of others, I’m continually astounded by my little daughter’s confidence and composure during her performances. I remember worrying so much before she went on stage for her first feis performance when she was three. I thought she would be so nervous and scared (I would have been!). But…. She went up there, did her reel, stood fast up on the stage when the music stopped and shouted “AGAIN!”.  My jaw dropped… and I  thought how very different her life will be than mine has been.

I’ve read a lot about music, in particular, enhancing neuroplasticity and memory, as well as supporting math and language skills development, and I think I’ve observed my daughter experiencing these and other benefits.  Music and dance can provide engaging participatory opportunities for collaboration through which children can learn processional skills, negotiation and consensus-building skills, leadership skills, alternate modes for storytelling, and how parts contribute to a collective whole — (the same skills development that connected learning and game-based learning support).  My daughter’s Irish dance group includes girls ranging in age from 6-23,  and she seems happiest when she gets to practice or perform with the senior girls. There’s a lot of observational learning and scaffolding that goes on.  And I’m pleased that music classes have started for her now in grade 1, and that she has this opportunity to participate with Norman Foote and an even larger group of kids to create in this way.

Ok, so, perhaps this blog post MAY be more a vehicle for bragging rights than for sharing my insights on education… But, hey, I’m a mom, above all else!

My daughter’s Irish dance group recently performed at a wedding reception. Here’s a video (poor vantage point, sorry) of the junior girls’ jig. My daughter is the smallest one (youngest by about four years), and she leads with a solo. Only two girls performed solos that night: my daughter and one of the instructors.

Click here to read the article in the Morinville News that talks about the Norman Foote performance.

Here’s a video someone posted on YouTube of Norman Foote performing at Stanley Park in Vancouver not too long ago:

AND, let’s not forget about art!  For my daughter’s recent 6th birthday party, we took 20 kids to the local 4Cats Arts Studio to explore splatter painting Jackson Pollock-style. (Came away with a very special canvas piece to hang in our library at home!)

BYGg0IMCQAEqmum (Maria, you’re awesome!)