In classrooms around the country, the strategy of grouping students has become acceptable as a rich and productive approach in academic learning. Because of the support, collaboration, and cooperation spawned through grouping, practitioners and researchers agree that this technique positively addresses the needs of diverse learners across content areas and developmental levels.
Since my teaching focus rests in the area of arts integration, I constantly challenge myself to come up with creative ways to incorporate the arts into the regular classroom setting. Although I utilize all of the major art forms, I have found that creative movement is the arts modality I tend to use most. Creative movement can be defined as using the body to solve problems, interpret situations, or analyze tasks.
After looking back at some of my past lessons, I discovered that I had created a multitude of strategies to group students using creative movement. Here are three strategies you may want to try. Each activity is most appropriate for elementary and middle school students and is based on having 20 students in the room.
1. Body Part Treasure Hunt: Prepare 20 cards that instruct students to perform an action with a specific body part; however, a group 5 cards should reflect a different body part (i.e. a group of 5 cards for actions with arms, a group of 5 cards for actions with legs, etc.) Place the cards in a hat or bag and have students to pick a card. Then, ask students to move according to the instructions on the card they selected (i.e. swing your right arm, stomp your left leg, etc.). Finally, direct students to find others who are moving the same body part and to stand close by them. Four groups of 5 students will form as soon as each student finds someone moving the same body part!
2. Number Placement Grouping: Give students a card with a 4 place number on it (i.e. 1,269). Out of 20 cards, there should be 5 cards having identically circled numbers. Tell students that the circled numbers represent the place of the number. For example, if a student has a card with the 6 circled, that student would be in the 10’s place. Set parameters of where students should stand once they know their places. Tell students that when you put on the music, they are to do a free style dance to the place where they should stand. Instruct them to stand still once you turn the music off. If you have 20 students, you will have 4 groups of 5 students!
3. Sixties Dance Grouping: Teach students 4 dances from the 1960’s (e.I. The Twist, The Monkey, The Mashed Potatoes, The Jerk). Out of 20 dance cards, 5 cards should have identical dances written on them. Place all the cards in a hat and allow students to choose a card. Instruct students that when you play the music for the dance on their cards, they should get up and do that dance. Once you stop playing the music, students who were doing the designated dance will form a cooperative learning group of 5 students!
The above strategies take very little time, offer students constructive ways to move, and offer alternatives to traditional grouping techniques. Moreover, students have lots of fun while getting into their groups.