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        Math + Arts | Dance Space

        In this lesson, students students explore locomotor and non-locomotor movement and calculate the area needed to perform the African-American dance Zudio.

        Lesson Summary

        There are three options for this lesson, depending on class needs and time available.

        1. Frame, Focus, and Reflection (view and discuss): students view and discuss a traditional African-American dance game

        2. Short hands-on activity: students explore locomotor and non-locomotor movement and the space it requires.

        3. Project: students calculate the area needed for the entire class to perform the dance and then perform it.

        Time Allotment

        1. Frame, Focus, and Reflection (view and discuss): half a class period

        2. Short hands-on activity: half a class period

        3. Project: 1-3 class periods

        Learning Objectives


        I can find the area of a rectangle by tiling it.

        I can find the area of a rectangle using multiplication and addition.

        Arts and Humanities

        I can discuss the purposes of dance.

        I can discuss the various ways that space is a part of dance, including formations, directions, and pathways.

        I can identify and perform locomotor and non-locomotor movements.

        I can perform a traditional folk dance with my peers.

        Prep for Teachers

        Watch DanceSense: Understanding Dance (8:50 to the end)

        Watch DanceSense: Elements of Dance (1:08 to 6:05)


        3-4 yardsticks

        Paper, pencils, and rulers for each student

        Grid paper with 1" squares

        Chalk or gaffer’s tape for marking squares on the floor. Gaffer’s tape is like duct tape, but it comes up more easily and does not leave a stain or sticky residue.

        A boombox to record the audio of Zudio if you are going to be dancing in a space without access to the Internet.

        Media Resources

        DanceSense: Understanding Dance (0:56 to 3:32)

        DanceSense: Elements of Dance (1:08 to 4:56)

        Zudio: African/African-American

        Learning Activities

        Frame, Focus, and Reflection

        Ask students why people dance. You will get a variety of answers. Show DanceSense: Understanding Dance from 8:50 to the end.

        Ask students what new ideas about dance they learned from the video. Tell them that they are going to learn a recreational dance called Zudio (pronounced zoo-dee-oh). Tell them that there are two different basic types of movement in dance: locomotor and non-locomotor. In locomotor movement, the dancer’s feet move to a different spot. Eight locomotor movements are run, walk, leap, jump, hop, gallop, slide, and skip.

        In non-locomotor movement, dancers’ feet stay in one spot but the body moves. Six locomotor movements are turn, twist, sway, swing, bend, and stretch.

        After the video, write these terms on the board:

        • Couple
        • Head couple
        • Top of the set

        Explain that in this type of dance, two partners dancing together are called a couple. This does not mean couple in the romantic sense. In folk dances, couples can be boy-girl, boy-boy, or girl-girl.

        The head couple is the couple that is first in the line. This position is referred to as top of the set.

        Have students work in small groups to list the movements, describe them as locomotor and nonlocomotor, and put the movements in the right sequence. Watch one verse and chorus of the dance to allow groups to refine their lists before comparing and compiling the lists into a class list.

        Explain that one element of dance is space. That includes the shape of the dance (line, circle, etc.), the shapes that dancers make with their bodies, the pathways they follow, the directions they move, and the overall space it takes to perform the dance.

        Ask what formation the dancers are in when the dance begins (two parallel lines). Watch the video again, pausing to add details about space, such as “The dancers join hands with their partners across from them in the line with their arms crossed.”

        When the “Step back, Sally” part comes, watch and discuss what happens. Some students walk three steps back, and others cannot because they would run into a bench. The total dance space is not quite large enough. If they could all move freely, how many steps should they take? As is the case with all folk dances, there are many variations on Zudio. In some variations dancers take three steps back and in others, they jump backwards three times.

        Discuss the “to the front, to the back, to the side, side, side” part. Do the dancers go left, right, and center or right, left, and center? Or do they do different variations?

        Short Activity

        It’s time to participate with movement! Tell students they are going to first try out the movements individually and then figure out how to do them as a group dance. Have them stand up by their desks or tables and try taking three steps backward. Do they have enough room? Have them return to their original positions and try jumping backward three times. Did that require more room? Did they have enough room? If not, have them move until they find a spot with enough room for this movement.

        Next, have students jump to the left, to the right, and back to center. Did they have enough room for that? If not, have them move until they find a spot with enough room for both movements.

        Now, show the video and have them follow along with the movements.


        Say, “Yesterday we practiced doing the movements of the dance as individuals. Now we want to be able to do the dance as a group dance. We need to figure out how much space we need for the dance.”

        Ask for two volunteers to come to the front of the class. Draw a line on the floor and ask them to face each other across the line with their arms crossed to hold hands, right to right and left to left. Make a line where each of them is standing. Have a volunteer use the yardstick to measure the distance between the two standing lines and round up to the nearest inch. Write the measurement on the board.

        Ask the class to decide (by voting) whether the “Step back, Sally” movement is going to be three steps or three jumps backward.

        Have the volunteers stand on their respective standing lines and—depending on the results of your vote—step or jump back three times. Allowing a little extra room, make a line where each volunteer landed. Have additional volunteers measure the distance between the standing lines and the landing lines and round up to the nearest inch. Write these measurements on the board and compare them. Which is the longest? Select this as your unit measure “a” and record the length of “a” in inches.

        Ask for volunteers to help you mark off three squares in a row on the floor, each “a x a.” Have two new volunteers try out the space. They should begin with one square between them standing on the lines on the opposite sides of that square. Can they can do both the “Step back, Sally” and the “to the front, to the back, to the side, side, side” movements within their respective squares?

        Distribute the grid paper and explain that on the grid paper the square unit “a x a” will be represented by one square on the paper. Ask students to make x’s in three squares in a row. That represents the amount of space that will be needed by each couple in the dance. Demonstrate that they can find the area of the rectangle either by counting the square units or by multiplying the length (1 unit) by the width (3 units).

        Tell them to mark in the area that would be needed for two couples and calculate the area by multiplication and check by counting. If they all come up with six square units, assign them to work with a partner to mark the square units needed for three couples, four couples, five couples, and six couples. Tell them to calculate the area of each rectangle by multiplying, check the result by counting square units, and record their answers.

        Share results and allow time for corrections if needed. Explain that in this dance, there are usually not more than six couples to a set in order to allow enough time for each couple to be head couple. How many students are in the class? If it is an odd number, add the teacher as a dancer. If you divide your class into two sets, how many couples would be in each set? (It may not be possible to have the sets equal.)

        Project a sheet of grid paper and mark off the squares needed for one set along one side. You now have two choices. Should the second set be next to or below the first set? You can select one option or show both options.

        Can the two sets be right against each other or does there need to be space between? How many square units should you allow between the two sets? How would you mark this on the paper? Where should you mark off space for the second set of dancers? You may need to tack on extra sheets of grid paper to show the two options.

        How can you figure out the area of the dance space you will need without counting the squares? If you chose to include both options (side by side and end to end), will the area be the same for both? Record the suggestions made by students. Guide them to include various combinations of addition and multiplication by decomposing the total area into nonoverlapping rectangles.

        Divide the class into groups and have each group use a particular strategy to solve the problem. Assign one group to count the unit squares you have marked off. They can brainstorm strategies for decomposing the total area into small units to make the counting easier.

        Have students compare and share their results. Which strategies worked? Why did some work and some not? Did they make mistakes in their math?

        Now that they have calculated the number of square units (“a x a”), it is time to consider how large the dance space needs to be in the real world. Explain what you are doing and why as you demonstrate on the board how to scale up the size of the dance space.

        Once you have decided how large a space is needed, discuss where you could create this space. If you moved the desks and tables, could you dance in the classroom? Or would it be better to dance in the gym or on the playground?

        Time to dance! You can actually measure out the space or explain/demonstrate how to estimate space. You can mark the center line or mark out the individual squares or just line up in sets. Have students watch the video one more time to recall the movements and then dance along until each couple has had a turn to be head couple.

        After dancing, use the following questions to discuss the experience (or others if desired):

        + What was fun about this dance?

        + What was challenging about the experience?

        + How was doing the dance different from seeing it on video?

        + What do you think the word Zudio means? (As far as anyone knows, it’s nonsense. But thinking about a meaning is always fun!)

        + Have you tried this dance before? Was it a different version or exactly the same? (This dance is popular in lots of camp settings and is also widely used in African-American culture units in the arts.)

        + What is the purpose of this dance? (Students may need to be reminded that the three main purposes of dance are ceremonial, artistic, and recreational. This dance is recreational.)

        + Have you done other singing games? (Think of ” London Bridge,” “Ring Around the Rosie,” and “Hokey-Pokey.”)

        + How old do you think these games might be? (“Ring around the Rosie” is thought to be 350 years old.)

        Formative Assessment

        What are the indicators of student progress toward or achievement of each learning target?

        Math Assessment Problems

        Teacher review of student mathematical thinking. Teacher-made quiz on square units and area.

        1. Find the Area Worksheet: find the area of each figure. Label your answer in square units.
        2. Estimate the Area Worksheet: estimate the area of the figure in square units.
        3. Estimate the Area Worksheet: estimate the area of the figure in square units.
        4. Estimate the Area of Each Figure Worksheet: estimate the area of the figure in square units.
        5. Find the Area of the Figure Worksheet: find the area of the figures.
        6. Find the Unit Area Worksheet: find the area of a figure by counting the number of square units that cover the figure.

        Arts and Humanities

        Teacher review of lists made by partners of movements in the dance they observe.
        Teacher observation of student participation in the two locomotor sequences.
        Teacher observation of student participation in dance.

        Program Review

        Where does this fit in? How should you document it?

        This activity contributes to your school’s overall efforts in art programming in several areas, depending on whether you implement just the “frame, focus, and reflection” portion or you implement the entire project.

        Document with the lesson plan and samples of list of movements made by students.

        Curriculum and Instruction: Aligned and Rigorous Curriculum

        a) To what extent does the school ensure that the arts curriculum encompasses creating, performing, and responding and is fully aligned with the Kentucky Core Academic Standards?

        b) To what extent does the school ensure that the arts curriculum provides for the development of arts literacy in all four arts discipline and also utilizes the Common Core Standards for English/Language Arts?

        c) To what extent does the school ensure that the school’s curriculum provides opportunities for integration as natural cross-curricular connections are made between the arts and other content areas?

        d) To what extent does the school ensure that the arts curriculum includes the study of representative and exemplary works of dance, music, theater, and visual arts from a variety of artists, cultural traditions, and historical periods?

        Curriculum and Instruction: Instructional Strategies

        a) To what extent do teachers systematically incorporate all three components of arts study: creating, performing, and responding into the arts?

        b) To what extent do teachers provide models of exemplary artistic performances and products to enhance students’ understanding of an arts discipline and to develop their performance/production skills?

        c) To what extent do arts teachers provide for the development of artistic theory, skills, and techniques through the development of student performances or products that are relevant and developmentally appropriate for students?

        Curriculum and Instruction: Student Performance

        a) To what extent are students actively engaged in creating, performing, and responding to the arts?

        b) To what extent do students identify a purpose and generate original and varied art works or performances that are highly expressive with teacher guidance?

        c) To what extent do students, with teacher guidance, routinely use creative, evaluative, analytical, and problem solving skills in developing and/or reflecting in their artistic performances and products?

        d) To what extent do students use written and verbal communication to objectively reflect on exemplary exhibits and live or technologically provided performances as classroom assignments?

        Formative and Summative Assessment: Expectations for Student Learning

        To what extent do teachers utilize exemplar/models to encourage students to demonstrate characteristics of rigorous work in the appropriate art form in most instructional lessons/units?


        Lesson Creators: Jennifer Rose, Yolantha Pace, Christy Gay, and Judy Sizemore


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