Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Action Research:Creative Movement and Vocabulary Acquisition


The issue that I chose to address for my Action Research Plan is Vocabulary Acquisition.  As a part of our novel study of Among the Hidden, my 6th graders are expected to learn a set of vocabulary words from the text.  For each four-chapter reading assignment, they are assigned 6-8 challenging-yet-useful words to study.  The ultimate goal is that the students absorb these words into their own vocabularies so that they comprehend them when reading future texts and put them to use when writing narratives, expository/persuasive essays, or poetry.


The problem I encountered was that my students were simply memorizing the set of words the definitions -- they were not understanding how each of these terms is actually used in English.  They were misusing many of them in their original sentences, and were unable to identify the meaning of the word in a multiple choice question if the definition were provided in slightly different words.

Definition studied by class
Student use in an original sentence


(adjective): menacing or threatening

My brother ominoused me that if I didn’t clean his mess he would punish me .

(Incorrectly used as a verb)


(noun): a huge amount of something, or frequency of something (there is a lot of it or it happens often)

I have a preponderance amount of homework so I stay up late .

(Incorrectly used as an adjective)
Definition studied by class
Wording of definition on quiz, many students answered incorrectly


(adv) to do something in a way that shows determination; firmly; with your mind made up

with firm determination


(adverb): done in a light, casual way; done without showing respect

with disrespectful levity or casualness


Having participated in Barry Orek's Arts Integration training and having observed my colleague Pat Ludwig execute a lesson called "Dances from a Hat" with her 8th grade Language Arts class, I had an idea.

I decided to try doing some movement-based vocabulary lessons to see if adding a kinesthetic element would help my students comprehend and acquire the vocab words.


First, the students would need to do a warm-up to get them used to the idea of moving their bodies for a Language Arts class. So we did a warm-up called "Away and Back" in which the students began in a spot, moved away from it for 8 counts, froze for 8 counts, and then returned to their original spot in 8 counts. I gradually made the activity more complicated by having them think about how their Body, Energy, use of Space and use of Time (the B.E.S.T. qualities of dance/movement) communicated different messages.

Then I started to assign a quality to each "Away and Back" movement. Examples:
  • Show victory as you walk away and back
  • Move away and back with excitement
  • Move away and back as if you are water
The final stage was to have them move "Away and Back" with the vocab terms in mind. Examples:
  • Move as if you are a totalitarian leader
  • Move like a guerrilla soldier
  • Make your movement ramshackle
  • Use your body to show indifference
  • Intently move for a count of 8
  • Walk audibly on this turn
We reviewed the meaning of the vocab word before or after the movement, and sometimes repeated a word's movement after I gave them constructive feedback about their "performance."

Here are some video clips of the activity. Please excuse the audio quality.


My conclusion based on the students' subsequent vocab quizzes is that this was a worthwhile activity, but that one movement exercise is not enough. My instincts tell me that the more I do this, and the more familiar the students come with participating in movement lessons in Language Arts, the more effective such activities will be.


We are beginning a new novel study soon on The Adventures of Ulysses. I plan to make movement exercises routine as we study vocabulary from the text, and hope to see students' comprehension and acquisition of new words continue to improve.

Movement and Reading Music Notation

I was noticing That Were students having a hard time distinguishing Between Similar-looking musical symbols. While some symbols are very different from each other, like others have many Characteristics. For example, quarter and half notes look very like - the only difference is one is That filled in and the other is not. Half and whole Rests Rests are exactly the same, but one is upside down from the other. Sharp and nature symbols are similarly shaped Also. However, These symbols all have very different meanings. To address this problem, I incorporated activities focusing on physical movement and interpretation.

For the first activity, the 6th grade band students Were broken into small groups and one of the Commonly Given misinterpreted rhythmic symbols. They Were Given the task of working together as a group to form the symbol With Their bodies. In order to do this Effectively, the students needed to identify identity the distinguishing Characteristics of the symbol and then recreate it in a group.  

After This task was Achieved, then They Were Given the task of coming up with a sound or a movement took place That over the correct number of counts. For example, a quarter note 1 beat Receives Their movement or sound and had to be one beat long (and able to be repeated). A half note looks like but gets two beats so Their movement had to be slightly longer (And Also repeatable). Once the groups Were ready, They presented to the class who had to determine what was being symbol being depicted.

In a different activity, the goal was to assist the students in internalizing the Differences Between sharps, flats, and naturals. Although the flat is fairly distinctive symbol, the symbol are sharp and Natural faq frequently mixed up. To aid the students in the recognition, the students play a Simon Says-type game. Using Their bodies, the students imitate what does the symbol to the note. When shown a sharp, the students need to raise Their arms over Their Heads to Demonstrate the sharp raises the pitch. The Natural Involves the students being ordinary or freezing. For a flat, They need to sit down as Quickly as possible, Because the flat lowers the pitch.  

As a result of These activities, the students have improved Their recognition of the symbols and Their meanings as evidenced by improved playing quizzes and answers to in-class questions. Also It has led to Increased student engagement During These Times as Often students appreciate the movement to break to allow them to engage different parts of their minds.  

The next step would be to continue to expand to cover more activities These musical concepts. Adding movement to activities've Helped Reinforce awareness of Their student bodies. Also There are creative movements as the students begin with a literal depiction of the present concepts, and then move into a creative process. They are utilizing movement to depict various concepts Involving musical pitch and rhythm. Also, in the future, students will begin a composition unit by working on interesting movement exercises in Addition to the musical exercises. They are expanding to include Their creative experiences Their bodies and musical ideas. This reinforcement of concepts Between different areas of the arts will continue to Improve student understanding. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Movement in Poetry "Dances From a Hat" 8th grade Language Arts

We have been studying Poetry and "Dances From a Hat" is great way to generate lots of vivid vocabulary.  Students ultimately used the list of words to build interesting poems.

I learned the technique from Barry Oreck's Arts Integration Workshop held here at ECA in September.  I was also fortunate to have several other teachers help during this process.Carolina F, Kat SR, and Michael A helped with supervision, planning, and the much needed debriefing at the end of the process.

Similar to what Barry did in our workshop, I first did some warm-up activities with students including 'Away and Back' and 'Move Freeze' .   (For more on activities check out this link:  Dance Activities)  I did these warm-ups over the course of several periods. The warm-ups are crucial to the success of the activity.

The phrases I used in my hat were: falling raindrop,gathering fog, burning fire, and melting ice cream.

DANCES FROM A HAT (Adapted from Mary Joyce)
Get into groups of 3 to 5 people. One person from each group draws a card with a word or phrase on it. The group looks at the card but does not show it to the other groups. Explain that the group will become one of these things. People may play different roles but they are all parts of the same thing – not different characters, people, or things in the surrounding environment. The structure for the dance is shape – movement – shape. The group starts in a still opening shape, moves like this thing and ends in a still closing shape. There are no sound effects or props in the first stage of explorations. Suggest that the group first discuss the qualities and characteristics – decide on the size, direction, energy, force, speed, where it starts and ends. Suggest that group members take turns stepping out to watch during the process. Give at least 10 minutes to prepare. When the dance is performed the audience is directed to describe what they see – not guess what the image is. After descriptions have been collected you may ask if any images come to mind.

See below for a video clip from one the dances. 

When we were done viewing each dance, we brainstormed lists of words which could describe what had been seen.  This requires a good bit of encouragement.  When all the dances and brainstorming were complete we wrote poems using the words.  The poems didn't necessarily have to be about the dances themselves, but many were inspired by their own dance.

Some of the students used these poems as part of their own poetry anthology.  Below is one of the poems (the poet added to and edited the poem several times before this final draft):

by Ethel R

The sky turns into a sorrowful grey.
Pillows from the sky cry, and smooth drizzling begins.

Crackling drops of cold rainfall dive heavily like stone.
Sudden lightning electrifies the city.

bursts of thunder shout out to the wind
smooth drizzling starts to swiftly die.

Looks like heaven is heartbroken.

Below is a video of part of one of the dances-"Burning Fire" 


Monday, March 31, 2014

3C: Integrating Art and Spelling

3C: Integrating Art and Spelling  Animoto Video

  • Students chose a word from their list of spelling words.
  • Then, we discussed the different elements they had learned in Art class. 
  • After, we looked and reviewed the rubric Ms. Krijt uses in class so students could have complete understanding of what was expected, since they were mainly going to be assessed  in CREATIVITY and PLANNING AND EXPLANATION.
  • The final task was to have the students  make a poster using at least 3 elements to describe the meaning of the word  they had chosen.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Arts Integration and Writing Critiques

Arts Integrations has been the focus of an in-depth action research study within the high school IB Art and Arts Foundations classes. For the last 4 months, I have been collecting data regarding the research process and how to analyze results in a way that minimizes threats to validity and maximizes the effect of the intervention.  The planning stages are complete and the research will take place in the fall of 2014, which will culminate in a thesis paper that reports the findings.  An excerpt from the thesis planning document (found below) explains the research idea and description of the intervention. 

Research question:
Does art integration within the curriculum positively affect the quality of vocabulary, writing skills, and confidence level of our students?

Samples of the Pre Test:  

Research idea:
The student work and reflective entries will be kept in their Investigative Workbooks.  Some samples are included here which show student work (pre intervention) with art critiques, analysis, investigation into visual qualities, and art specific terminology. At the end of the intervention, the students will do another critique and Likert-scale survey to see if there was an increase in descriptive qualities, use of vocabulary, and confidence level.  

The Art integration strategies will include a variety of fine arts disciplines including visual arts, dance, music, and drama. Within these disciplines, a range of approaches are explored including verbal and non-verbal kinesthetic, auditory, and visual activities.

Detailed description 
of the intervention:

For each of the “Arts Integration Interventions,” a new strategy that focuses on vocabulary and descriptive skills will be explored. Students will be introduced to the idea of Arts Integration and how we will practice it within the classroom setting, sometimes in groups, and sometimes individually. At the start of the research, students will create a sample product that, at the high school level, will consist of an art critique. Students will then continue through the unit as normal but will have added Arts Integration activities to supplement their practice. These activities will reinforce observational skills, descriptive skills, interpretive skills, and specific terminology.

Chosen Design
A Two-group pre/post design will be used with this action research intervention. One group of students will receive the arts integration treatment and one group will not.  Both groups will also receive a Likert scale pre/post test that measures their confidence when viewing and talking about art.

Type of Analysis for this Design
A non-paired t test will be used because there will be one group that receives the treatment and one group that does not. A correlation will also be incorporated because student confidence level will be an important component of this treatment.

In addition to the quantitative analysis, the following qualitative techniques will be a main component when analyzing the results.
  • Observations:  Observations will be a component of the analysis, regarding student attitude, participation, and growth in writing skill.
  • Reflection entries:  Reflective entries will be a significant insight into the viewpoints of students on the success/non-success of the arts integration strategies.


Stay tuned for the results...Coming Soon in Fall 2014!

Hand Movements to Recall Art Vocabulary

Third grade students were working on their clay unit and had a hard time learning and recalling the correct vocabulary words used during the actual working process. Students came up with different hand movements for each word and were able to remember the words and their meaning more easily once a movement was related to it.  The movements we came up with are very much associated with the actual act of doing what the word means.

These videos show how even after the unit is over and we are no longer working with clay, students are able to remember the words and the movement associated with it.