Movement Reflection – Day 5

Hey Everyone!

Thinking about how we started our class with breath and the body to a partner change circle dance to exploring movement and relationships with and without props – what are your takeaways from today’s class? Have a wonderful week! Musically Yours, Matthew


  1. nathale_ho

    For me starting a class with a little meditation is really hard. I like to move and having to understand what my body part is doing is a little challenging for me. However, doing the movement and creating dance using props are really great! I could explore more with the relationship with props and without.

  2. Kathleen

    I appreciate a focusing activity like that. Some days, I feel like this would be so good for my students who are behaving as though they are just going from place to place without reason or focus.

    The different method of teaching the folk dances without counting but thinking first in vocal sounds and then by phrase was SO interesting. I think this and the suggestions for teaching the folk dances (some of which i have taught) will be so helpful in reframing movement for my population. Thank you. I look forward to seeing how the students respond.

    Props/no props, and the sentences have given me new ways to approach mvmt with my students. The anthropomorphism of the props and even just the separation of person and prop is an interesting idea. I think my students will think they are helping the prop dance. 🙂

  3. stalsberg87

    Today’s lesson was extremely relaxing and enjoyable. I loved the use of props to help us become more comfortable exploring different ways to move. I am glad we took time to discuss the reading at the beginning of the lesson because I think it hit on some key thinking points before we started into our class.

  4. tracycarol49

    I really hated the idea of lying on the floor, but – I actually was able to concentrate on the tension and was able to concentrate on relaxing with success! 🙂 Using the props in conjunction with creating choreography with the Locomotor and Non-Locomotor words was really interesting and fun. I’m reflecting on how to start very small to add some of these components into my own classes and using the power of “What If?…..”.

    Tracy Cripe

  5. jcompto2

    Starting with meditation this morning was a wonderful way for me to check in with my body and see how it was feeling after the first week of movement. I would like to provide opportunities to allow my students to check in with their bodies and allow time to focus on the breath. I enjoyed Matthew’s non-verbal cues and sounds which were easy to pick up and very effective. We as teachers spend too much time talking and I look forward to trying some of these ideas out with my students.

    I enjoyed experimenting with props and I look forward to borrowing some fun items from my PE teacher. It made me think of possible connections that the children could make with their PE and music experiences.

    The folk dancing in the afternoon was especially rewarding because we were all together. There were times during the week where I felt disconnected from the other group of “gold” students. The folk dance was a brilliant way to bring us all back together at the end of the week.

    James Compton

      • Kathleen

        If a PE teacher doesn’t have the props to spare, could you send out an email to parents and give them a list of objects you might be looking for? Or go to the dollar or thrift store. Often, you can get these items, including the pool noodles.

  6. benglish

    I’m in the camp of not liking the mediation but only because the floor was so cold. I found it hard to relax. But I understand the importance of giving students the experience of relaxing and being mindful of their bodies. I was totally the student when I had to be almost last to pick a prop, I was thinking darn, all the good ones are gone, but I ended up with one that I would not have chosen and loved it. It made me feel free. Focusing on the prop allowed me to move effortlessly. I have started thinking about what props I might have back at school that I could use.

  7. patrickh

    What a paradox to be a teacher acting as student while also thinking about how, as a teacher, these activities would work with my students. I have used a similar calming moment with my life skills classes; playing music (usually “Venus” by Holst) while students lie on the floor. Occasionally this would include instructions to breathe and rotate legs/arms/head.
    The moment to relax and connect to the body is incredibly important, but I have yet to try this with regular ed classes. For we older folks, the back may prefer raised knees.
    For our learning, the props were an excellent exploration into our movement terms. It occurs to me some relationships cannot be present apart from their opposites; e.g.: above/below. It would be interesting to see if students can catch those technicalities.
    In terms of mindfulness, these were amazing activities to help students consider and care for their bodies.

  8. hgmiller55

    As a person who suffers from insomnia, the warm-up reminded me of something I do to get myself to sleep. I was a little glad I was not able to lay on the floor, I might have fallen asleep. I thought using the props was very fun. I am now wondering where I can find about 30 props. My classroom is also going to be a challenge since I do not really have any flat floor space. Half my room is permanent concrete riser steps, and the other half that was my flat floor space has MIE pianos. The only open space I have is the stairs, but I think I could do movement as long as I figure out the safety issues. In my younger days, I did a lot of square dancing. I was sad I had to miss out on the dancing we did in the afternoon, but it was fun to watch.


  9. mattcarlson

    Our school does a lot of mindfulness exercises including yoga, and this would fit right in. It would be interesting with 25 people to try to calm their bodies and minds, but I believe worth a shot. The props activity was fun to see what everyone else was doing/using. I enjoyed the ways we had to traveling from low/middle/high levels.

  10. Lisagosing

    I can see the value in starting the class with a meditation exercise. I can also see how much practice this is going to take, especially with younger students. I found my mind wandering and I was uncomfortable on the hard floor. The results may be worth the effort; I would have to try it and see.
    The activity with the props was truly eye-opening! I will have to use that activity with children. There may be issues with certain props if they are favorable or unfavorable. I would like to avoid disagreements among children. Again, this will take some thought and experimentation.

  11. Kedra Davis

    Starting a class with meditation is a good suggestion for a way to calm down the students. I could definitely see myself using this with my students to center and focus them. Props are also a good way to get things out of shy kids that you would not normally get. This applies to singing as well as dance. I should definitely use more props in my classroom. The folk dancing session was fun and helpful to me as well. Some of the dances would be a challenge for my students, but once they got the dance I am sure they would love it.

  12. Paul Swardstrom

    Personally, the meditation felt very nice. I guess the word meditation was not something that I was aware of at the time. I considered it to be a relaxing exercise, and since I’d been very low on sleep the previous nights, I got somewhat lost in the experience. All that said, I don’t believe the exercise would work with most of my classes. There is a lot of mischief in quite a few of my classes. It feels like something that wouldn’t be taken seriously. Perhaps its something that’s dependent on me as the one leading?

    The props and movement words activity was very nice. I can definitely see the application in the classroom in exploratory terms.

    The folk dancing at the end of the day was energizing and refreshing. Thank you for the new perspectives.

    I’m appreciating the non-verbal cues. I’d really like to take that into my own classroom

  13. Andrea

    I’m definitely an overthinker so the beginning of class was challenging but nice! At first, I was thinking I could not relax because I had to focus on each part he was talking about, but eventually, I was able to relax and enjoy it. It was a good opportunity to mentally wrap up what I was processing before class started and get ready for our upcoming movement class.

  14. Adrienne Brashear-Burgess

    Having to lay calmly and think about my body parts for so…. long was a challenge for me. I was too worried about being ready to move on. Problem with thinking about teaching in thirty minute blocks. My plan this week will be to allow for a longer pause or cool down after exercing. I usually skip that part. Maybe that will help me to be mindful about moving my students too quickly into the next activity. I loved the use of so meny different props! I’m definitely going to try that out in my classroom this fall.

  15. BrianEJanssen

    The “Preparing Our Bodies” opening was ineffective for me simply because it was so uncomfortable for me to lay on the floor, so I felt distracted by that the whole time. It could be that this is no issue for elementary students.

    Heel and Toe was fun, as was the whole special topics session! Honestly, I could do folk dancing all day long–I love it!

    I thought the moving from props to no-props was very effective. It helped me to focus on the prop at first and transfer over. I wonder how different the latter would have been without the former? I also liked the three levels at the three different colors. I think I tend to forget using the levels, maybe because it’s more comfortable for me to stay on my feet? But it was neat to see the room “slanting” with the high/middle/low levels each time we stopped.

    We sorted all those word cards between locomotor and non-locomotor and then we put them away. As a person who is new to dance it would definitely help to have those posted for me somewhere when we are doing activities where we’re supposed to come up with something new on the fly!

    • Brianna Valencia

      I agree with you, Brian-I would love for those locomotor and non-locomotor words to be posted somewhere.

  16. Amberlynn

    Last year one of my wildest Kinder classes suddenly changed character. When I asked their classroom teacher about this she said they just began mindfulness practice that occurred right before music class. Meditative body awareness can have profound impact! I love adding to the mindfulness/body-awareness repertoire, thanks Matthew!

    I was thoroughly impressed by the seamless transitions. One movement activity led right to another with an easy to transition to new shape. From scattered to circle to snakes to partners to squares. Obviously we won’t be able to do all of that movement with such seamless transitions in our own classes, but Matthew continue to model fantastic teaching in every aspect – from sound cues to transitions to pacing.

    In short, I find insight in every aspect of what Matthew is doing. So glad to be learning from you!

    • krismosch

      Thanks for sharing that, Amberlynn! Last year the kinder classes had their music lesson right before lunch, and it was a real struggle for the music teacher to get them to focus. As a kinder classroom teacher, I am happy to work together and try some relaxation/mindfulness exercises with the students to get them to transition easier into music class. I also think the children would appreciate that. We have a tight schedule and taking “time out” is always welcome by them. (Kristina)

  17. krismosch

    I love to see Mathew imitating rhythm with sounds. It’s what I do with my students all the time and it is a form of validation for me. The age group I teach does not allow much for counting out the rhythm in the first place. Whenever I add sounds, the students are able to imitate the rhythms right way, even more difficult ones.

    I also like the idea of using props. When working with the youngest students, however, I always give them a little time to explore new materials on their own. It is often the first time they come in contact with those objects and they need time to play with them using their senses. They will do so anyway, before they are ready to follow instructions or listen to my suggestions 🙂

  18. krismosch

    I love to see Mathew imitating rhythm with sounds. It’s what I do with my students all the time and it is a form of validation for me. The age group I teach does not allow much for counting out the rhythm in the first place. Whenever I add sounds, the students are able to imitate the rhythms right way, even more difficult ones.

    I also like the idea of using props. When working with the youngest students, however, I always give them a little time to explore new materials on their own. It is often the first time they come in contact with those objects and they need time to play with them using their senses. They will do so anyway, before they are ready to follow instructions or listen to my suggestions 🙂

  19. apeterkort

    Beginning our class with meditation was truly wonderful! I have also had trouble sleeping and I immediately thought that it would be a great way to drift off to slumber as well. I didn’t mind the floor so much and I could concentrate on relaxing the body parts. I can’t imagine doing this with children as a substitute teacher. I don’t think the kids would be comfortable with me leading the lesson and as a result, I don’t think most students would take it seriously.

    The props were great too. I had to constantly be thinking about different ways to move my prop. A very creative lesson indeed!
    The lesson with non-locomotor and locomotor words would work fine if I adapted it without the props since I don’t have my own classroom.

    Folk dancing was such a fun way to end our class on Friday. I really enjoyed it! I have watched videos of folk dance performances in elementary schools and not only are the children completely engaged and focused on their movements, but they are also beaming from ear to ear!

  20. Kathleen

    Beginning class with a mindfulness exercise could definitely be useful. I have before with different results for different ages. Typically, I use it at the end of my PE/Creative Dance classes for a cool-down. It will be interesting to see how it works at the beginning.

    I L.O.V.E. the folk dance perspective you are providing us. I do a LOT of different folk dancing as a unit and then throughout the year (even in ball skills unit). In some ways, the way you demonstrate deconstructing and reconstructing the dance brings a quick focus to the dance as a whole. I’m looking forward to applying many of these techniques (especially the mouth sounds) to teaching choreography and cutting out the talking.

  21. Diana

    Absolutely loved the folk dancing session at the end of the day. I am new to folk dancing and it was great to see that formations can be something other than a circle.

    I appreciated the body scan at the beginning of class. Last year I was a co teacher of a mindful studies class (high school) and we did a lot of meditation and yoga based movement with the students. They were really receptive to it and I know people who have had a lot of success with similar activities at the elementary level. For those that are interested, there are curriculums that have a variety of activities for elementary specifically (Mind Up and Yoga Calm) and it does not need to take up a lot of time.

  22. ggoodson

    I liked the mindfulness of the meditation to begin class and I think I’d like to incorporate that with my students! Even if only for one minute to begin class.
    I think my older students would love the props and it would be a great way to get them to do movement stuff in the beginning. I have a lot of student refusal with my 4th&5th to dance and this might be a way to get them started in a “safe” way like we discussed–where the pressure and focus is more in the object and less on themselves. I agree it can become less about the body and more about the prop, but it’s a great way to get the movement conversation started!

  23. Brianna Valencia

    It’s so interesting that a lot of people saw Friday’s first activity as a meditation/mindfulness activity–that thought hadn’t even crossed my mind! I saw it more as a body awareness activity, but I suppose this is related to what is done in mindfulness and meditative practices.

    I liked the warm-up because it reminded me of some things that we used to do in my Alexander Technique class. I thought the prompts of noticing various body parts were really helpful in terms of giving me something to focus on so my mind wouldn’t go down the rabbit hole of no return. I liked the use of props in the activity. I think it would add good variety to movement in the classroom.

    I absolutely LOVE the way Matthew teaches folk dances. How much more engaging to teach dance movements in a playful and exploratory way rather than by saying the movements to counts! I feel that I move differently when I’m saying syllables to the music rather than counting.

    • kigari

      I thought of Alexander Technique, too! I didn’t stick with my teacher long enough to incorporate much movement, but it did remind me of how she showed me to notice body contact on the floor, tense places, etc.

  24. Eric Griebenow

    I am really going to try to incorporate a couple “mouth sounds” into my teaching of movement. Seeing Mathew model these almost “non-verbal” (kind of???) strategies is really great for me because I can still be the excitable teacher I like to be, while also not relying on words and telling my students what to do. How great is it to have students having to concentrate and focus to learn the dance instead of trying to keep them quiet while they listen to their teacher prattle on about the formation or directions. And the use of more dance concepts is helping, though I still need more practice. I need to look through the Anne Green Gilbert book to see if there is a list of vocabulary with which I could draw from as I get used to them.

  25. kigari

    I appreciated the mediatation warm-up, especially as a way to center myself in the moment of Movement class. With so much going on in each day, it was a welcome opportunity for focus.

    I am learning from watching Matthew about how to give effective non-verbal cues, and about how to sequentially model and teach various aspects of folk dances, which might otherwise be complicated for children.

    While I don’t personally resonate with a lot of creativity with props, I know it’s important for a lot of my learners, and it was helpful to connect it to the elements of dance. I was challenged by considering various levels and / or body parts for locomotor and non-locomotor words.

    Folk dance was welcome at the end of Week 1, as James said, to connect with the other students and faculty.

  26. Kris Curtis

    On Friday, I felt like there was a lot of growth on my part about what I can do in my classroom with movement techniques I have learned. Firstly, there was the aspect of lying on the floor and mediating about the awareness of my body and what it’s doing. It calmed me down and I started to think of each part of my body being an “instrument” that I could use myself to express music through movement. It’s actually quite a similar mindset of what I do with warming-up on clarinet when I play in community orchestra. I think though I’m becoming more consciously aware of what preparation I need to do with my whole body in order to be ready in any artistic capacity. Secondly, I liked the aspect of using props and exploring locomotor versus non-locomotor with the various levels of movement. It’s true, there is a delicate balance of using props and not using props with the kids. They love the props, but sometimes can lean too heavily on them, which can hinder their creativity potentially. Lastly, I like how the scaffolding of folk dances is done with minimal talking. I really need to incorporate more of this. I feel that I have gotten better as I gain more experience as a teacher, but I could grow that much more in using gesture and my body to direct movement (or possible drum cues as well). Each day is about growth, and I’m absolutely loving my time in movement and exploring the various elements of elemental dance.

  27. rehmkecj

    Starting movement class on Friday with meditation was something that I thought I would be successful at but it turned out to be something that I really struggled with. I had a hard time letting go of all my thoughts and worries. It is something that I can improve because I want to use this technique with my students. I think it would be a great way to calm down or take a break before starting a new activity.

    Props is something I really want to use more of. I really like the way we incoporated levels with props. That is something I personally struggle with. I have a hard time picking new levels. I think that is something I have improved this last week.

  28. svanhoecke

    This is a delayed reflection as I didn’t realize we needed to do both the daily reflection and the short paper. Whoops!

    I really enjoyed this lesson from start to finish. Meditation and mind body connection is something I value in my own life but have a hard time figuring out how to successfully incorporate into my lessons. I’m glad that Matthew talked about how important it is to start in the younger grades with these activities so that it becomes the norm for them as they get older.

    I thought the props activity was a really clever way to help students get outside of worrying about what their body is doing and focusing on the movement of the prop. Then when we added a connection point between props that made transitioning to finding a connection point between people less awkward or stressful.

    Stacy Figuracion

  29. Brandon Michael Day

    Hi Y’all! Like others in this group this is obviously a delayed reflection of Friday (Day 5). This only being the second day with Matthew I am still impressed by the amount of instruction that is done non-verbally and I hope to emulate more of this in my TK-4th grade classes as well as during many of my 5th & 6th grade band classes.

    Somethings that I took away was more of a solid understanding of locomotor and nonlocomotor forms of movement. I liked how we listed many of these on the board as this allowed me the time to process these visually. Another thing that I really liked about the class was taking time at the beginning to do a body scan. I only wish I could start all of my classes in this fashion. Trying to get my 6th grade boys to do anything can be a challenge at time but to have them calmly and orderly to lie on the ground and perform a mindfulness exercise would be a miracle! 🙂 One can dream…..

    In all seriousness, another great day of learning. I liked the different renditions of “This Old Man” that we danced to (using heel-toe, moving in concentric circles,etc). The son “Tu-ta Rum” (Farci ball game) was another great idea that I’m planning to use in my classrooms this coming year as well.

    -Brandon Day

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