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Dance and literacy!

Updated: Feb 27, 2020

Language Arts are being strengthened by use of creative dance

Creative dance is making a significant difference for my students. Particularly it is strengthening my students’ language arts skills. Where I see the greatest gains are in the Big Five areas of vocabulary, comprehension, and phonemic awareness.


Each dance session is based on a text. Students learn the vocabulary in the text and demonstrate it through dance. They are asked to show shades of different meaning between similar words. This has been very helpful for my large class of English language learners. By seeing the vocabulary performed, and performing it themselves, they can more easily understand and retain its meaning.


As vocabulary is developed, the words are linked together within the text in order for comprehension to develop. Students are able to access texts and understand texts at a much deeper level than they would without the involvement of creative dance.

Phonemic Awareness

In addition, students are strengthening their phonemic awareness. Each small segment of their dance has a key word that the students have to listen for. The instructor often says words that are close to the key word or rhyme with the key word. Students have to learn to hear the difference between the key word they should be listening for, and a false word that may be said. Every few minutes, the key word changes. This has helped to be able to train my students’ ears to listen to the sounds in words.

Two Other Notable Benefits to all instruction

1) Dance strengthens students’ abilities to listen and follow complex directions

In all areas of instruction, it’s crucial for students to be able to follow multi-step directions. This ability saves instruction time and builds working memory. In dance, students are able to easily self evaluate their ability to follow the complex instructions that are given. Feedback is always immediate.

2) High expectations for students to think deeply

Students are given very high expectations, and a “lazy brain” or just copying something that’s been seen before is not acceptable. My students have taken that concept into all aspects of their learning. “No lazy brains!” they have reminded each other. Even young students are not afraid of higher level thinking questions because this learning disposition has been an expectation.

Submitted by the Arts Instructional Coach from Provo City School District, written by an elementary school teacher whose students dance with the Arts Instructional Coach.

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