Saturday, March 6, 2010

Chemistry and Dance - What a Combination!

When I think back to my high school chemistry days (I know, not that long ago) I remember long lectures, lots of notes, formulas, and a whole variety of experiments in a lab that seemed twenty years behind.

Some of those essential elements still remain, but they have also changed quite a bit too. Our Chemistry teacher, Mr. V., still lectures to his students. However, now those lectures are a bit more interactive, including YouTube videos and funny jokes, not to mention that students are typing their notes on laptops provided for them by the school. These notes are also electronic and can be shared by one another, easily searched, and are a very effective for reference in the future. The formulas and experiments continue in much the same way as before, with slight modifications to using the computers at times instead of pencil and paper in the lab. Lab reports and manipulation of the data have become far easier to accomplish and in a shorter amount of time too. The bottom line though: students are still learning Chemistry.

However, the other day I noticed one unique thing happening. One of our dance teachers was up in the Chemistry room with Mr. V. That is right - Chemistry and Dance working together. At that immediate moment I let it go and rushed off to teach my own class, but later I asked Mr. V about this unique interdisciplinary effort.

He explained to me that the students were learning all about bonds between chemical elements - something I remember learning about using pencil, paper, and maybe a ball and stick model. However, Mr. V said they had done all those exercises, he also thought it would be helpful if they physically acted out the creation of molecules in the dance studio. It sounded like a great idea to me and I asked him how it went. He said that most of the students really got into it and now they really understood the elements necessary in the creation of a chemical. They got it because not only had they done the book work, the ball and stick work, but they physically worked together to create a collective knowledge. What a great idea!

Interactive bonds, Chemistry class, and Mr. V have inspired me. How am I working in a more interdisciplinary way to create more knowledge of the content area in my classroom? Am I engaging all the learning styles? I really believe in my classroom all too often I do a poor job of incorporating the physical aspect into my students’ learning. What Mr. V did with dance was a great reminder to continue working in new and creative ways so that my students can continue to succeed.