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Global Collaboration – So You Think You Can Dance?

Collaboration between schools has recently been said to be the key to raising standards, with experts sharing good practice whilst learning from one another. Throw in an international element with two schools collaborating across the globe and you’ve got some pretty excited students……and staff! How often do students in the UK get to meet, chat and dance for students on the other side of the world and then have the technology available to immediately judge and feedback on these performances? Well that’s exactly what happened today at both Woodham Academy in County Durham, UK and Merton Intermediate School in Wisconsin, America.

The opportunity came about after I developed an initial idea into a website and twitter feed (@pegeeks) dedicated to bringing PE teachers across the world (from the already established #pegeek online community) together to do exactly this – share good practice & resources, ask for advice & collaborate on creative & innovative projects. The slogan #TogetherWeAreStronger perfectly illustrates the community values and spirit amongst the 1,600 and rapidly growing followers throughout the world.

After connecting with Matt Pomeroy from Merton School in Wisonsin and having an initial chat about wanting to collaborate on a dance project, we came up with the idea of a live ‘dance off’ over Skype where our students would dance for each other and then judge each school’s performance. Lead dance teacher at Woodham, Angela Minervini got working immediately with our girls and there was a real buzz about the project and how great it could be!

But the collaboration was not just limited to the dancing. Matt and Ange worked together on a shared judging rubric that would be understood and accessible to students in both schools, coming up with an online shared Google document that each student could use to vote on the performance of each dance.

So today was the big day and the day that the students from both schools had been waiting for. At Woodham Academy, we had just finished our normal school day and met in the dance studio at 3.30pm. For the kids in America, this was right at the start of their school day and they performed as part of their PE lesson at 9.30am. The time difference was not an issue at all and will certainly work well in the future.

Each group of students came forward to the camera to introduce themselves and say a big hello that stretched a few thousand miles!

Then the students got to work and danced their routines that they had been rehearsing. It was quite amazing to think that the work that these girls had been doing at Woodham was being beamed across the globe to another school hall in America with lots of excited students sat watching on their big screen!

The dancers from both schools were fantastic and a joy to watch. The respect the students had for each other was superb. They all sat silently whilst each school danced and then clapped and cheered once their performance was over. Although they had never met before, there was a clear mutual respect between them all – they were kids, they loved dancing & they were super excited about breaking down the barriers and working globally with each other.

         

As the dancers from Woodham performed their dances, the students from Merton were using their smart phones and tablets to access the online voting system that we had created and then the same happened when it was Merton’s turn to perform for Woodham.

             

All in all, this was one of those moments in school where you just know that the students are going to remember it for a long, long time! The excitement, enthusiasm, commitment and dedication showed by all of the dancers and staff in both schools was incredible. To be able to connect and collaborate so easily with students on the other side of the world really shows how technology is changing the way we work and the way we live our lives. This is certainly a project that both schools are already talking about continuing and developing further……and who know’s where this might lead!

To watch a selection of the performances from the ‘dance off’ go to the #pegeeks Youtube channel

Update: How was the ‘Dance Off’ received on the other side of the pond?

As Merton Intermediate School is a K-12 school, they had some 5 year old pupils watching the performances to inspire them to get invloved as they get older. Here is a letter that some of the pupils produced afterwards!

Written by Jon Tait, @teamtait

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