“Acclaim has made a huge difference. Students have come to realize that sometimes they need to review their videos 2 or 3 times before they have that AHA! moment” — Robyn Kotte
Robyn Kotte is the director of dance at Williams Field High School in Gilbert, Arizona. She received her B.F.A. in Dance Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University. At William Fields she teaches beginning through advanced technique classes, as well as a Company level performance group. She also leads several after school programs.
Since this fall, Robyn has uploaded over 385 videos to Acclaim. Robyn uses Acclaim to provide students with feedback, and to encourage student self-assessment. She also has students watch videos from YouTube, and gives them a series of prompts on discussing performance techniques and aesthetics. Robyn has been successful at encouraging students not merely to notice mistakes, but also to notate and and think through how to improve. In the following post, Robyn has shared some of her strategies for helping students respond thoughtfully to performances — both to their own, and to those they watch online.
[Download Robyn’s assignment,”Describing a Dance“]
Acclaim: How are you integrating video assignments in Acclaim within your curriculum?
RK: Every week, I assign dance performance videos from YouTube that students must watch and discuss on Acclaim. Some of my favorite dance videos for student assignments come from Kate Jablonski, for example, “In This Shirt,” and “Nicest Thing.” I ask students to discuss performance related aspects of the video, such as the main actions, how the space is being used, and the relationships between the movements. I also ask about the dynamics (or the different kinds of actions that are being performed simultaneously) and how the video made them feel (or their overall opinion!). These questions encourage them to think critically, and also to justify their opinions.
[IMAGE: Video of “In This Shirt” with Student Comments on Acclaim]
Acclaim: How often do you record student practices and performances?
RK: In class each week, my students learn a new combination as a group (or “combo”) that enables them to integrate specific techniques that I have demonstrated. I record a portion of this “combo” in class. I also record student projects throughout the year, which take the form of solo and group compositions.
Acclaim: How do you use Acclaim’s commenting feature for critical assessment?
RK: After I have a chance to review performances, I give students a prompt to respond to by posting a comment at the beginning of the video. Some of the questions I have asked students around small group performances include:
- You use individual moments at the beginning of the dance to create unique “flavor” for each dancer. Do you intend to continue this concept throughout the dance?
- What is the stimuli that is driving the design of your dance?
- How does your placement in the space help or hinder your dance?
- How do lyrics affect your choreographic choices?
Students’ respond to these comments with their own reflections, considering how they might improve.
[IMAGE: Practice Video with Comments From Robyn and Response from Student]
Acclaim: What aspects of using video are helpful to your teaching? How does it expand your capabilities?
RK: I am so excited to have recorded data of my students’ growth from week-to-week, and from unit-to-unit. The administration at my school thought Acclaim was a fantastic way to provide concrete assessment, and to demonstrate progress. Students like it because they can see the development of their techniques; where they have excelled, and where they need improvement.
I’ve also allowed parents to “peek” into our classes on Acclaim. They really appreciate that I can record and post any special performances (assemblies, etc.). Many parents have told me that they love having the ability to see what their child is doing in class each week.
Acclaim: How does commenting help students to reflect on and improve their techniques?
RK: Commenting is critical to student improvement. When I first introduced Acclaim, students watched themselves mainly for “the fun of it” without any real critical thinking. They commented when they saw mistakes, but could not yet see how small modifications enhance form. Now students comment much more thoughtfully than when they first started. They have become far more contemplative about their techniques, thinking more about how to adjust gestures and steps.
Having Acclaim has made a huge difference. They’ve come to realize that sometimes they need to review the videos 2 or 3 times before they have that AHA! moment. I love seeing them get excited! They are starting to grasp the complexities of observing and thinking about dance.
Many dance instructors use Acclaim to record student performances and provide feedback. To find out more, check out:
Video Feedback Enhances Student Choreography Practice at MTSU
Acclaim Case Study: Modern Dance with Jillian Harris at Temple University