Monday, June 11, 2012


My school library is used for many more purposes than merely a quiet place to read or research. I consider it a Learning Commons in progress. Because of the size and the supervision (big for the former, available long after hours for the latter), it's a popular place for students to practice their routines for our school's annual So You Think You Can Dance celebration.

SYTYCD is a bit deal at AMPS. The junior-intermediate classes all require their students to create and perform a group dance as part of their curriculum. The best two dance teams from each class are invited to share in front of the whole school at a half-day assembly. Three staff members take on roles as famous celebrities from various talent / TV shows and provide commentary after each act. Last year, we had Jennifer Lopez, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Sue Sylvester as guest "judges". It's improvisation at its best and most challenging, because all comments must be rated G and be positive. (For the record, I was Sue Sylvester for two years and Simon Cowell for the previous two years. This year, because I am the junior/intermediate chairperson, I will be taking the much more sombre role of MC.) Students coordinate their outfits, use elaborate props like confetti cannons ... it's a huge extravaganza. Everyone really enjoys the show.

I was watching the students rehearse in the library out of the corner of my eye while I marked work and I noticed something very interesting. A dedicated group of Grade Eight girls and boys were practicing their dance. They played their song on their iPhones and danced. Then they had a small group perform a specific section of the dance that they were concerned about and they videotaped the portion on their iPhones so they could all watch it and see if they were synchronized properly. To make their performance unique, they decide to add a modified voice file to a part of the act, so they recorded their lines on their iPhones and then they changed their voices to sound like chipmunks on their iPhones to add in later at home. Then they called home on their iPhones to tell their parents they were on their way. See the trend? Now, I'm not sure that these were all iPhones, but they were all portable electronic devices with multiple purposes - kind of like a school library / Learning Commons, n'est-ce pas? Despite the much ballyhooed news that TDSB was allowing cell phones in schools, (the famous / infamous Bring Your Own Device move) there are still a lot of restrictions surrounding their use. In the school library, they are allowed to turn them on and use the school wi-fi *IF* they are working on school-related tasks first (because let's be serious, we know adults that use school computers to check their Facebook and Twitter, so as long as the students have done their work, why deny a quick email check?) I was really impressed with how they were fluidly using their tools for school. It would be really neat to move beyond dance class to see how this would work in a math class, or language class. It'll be another great show this Wednesday.

1 comment:

  1. A little post-script: my "sombre" MC actually transformed into Effie Trinket from the Hunger Games. I'll post a picture on the blog at a later date - it took 30 minutes and my own prep time to get the look just right!