In need of inspiration

Originally I had planned for this post to be a video of some free styling improv to the music I have to kind of get an idea of what I want to do in the choreography. Unfortunately I have been at an inspirational standstill the past few days and all the videos I have tried to make are – for lack of better words – incredibly awful.

That is why I am asking you, the readers of this post, how do you become inspired? When you are experiencing a sort of writer’s-block, in any field really, how do you overcome that? What are a few ways you get your imagination and inspiration flowing again? I would even appreciate some inspirational quotes or anything you find helpful.

For this reason, there is no video at this point in time. In fact, as I have already started a bit of the choreography I will try to push forward with that as much as I can, and I will post a video of some free style (or my attempts at least) when my inspiration and passion are able to be evident in what I am doing – I will not guarantee it is to the music I am choreographing.

My apologies again for the lack of a video.

Summary of what?

This is the video I made for my summary of learning in ECMP 355. I am pitifully imaginative and could not think of anything exciting to do, and I am sure my nervousness recording videos does not help. The original video I made was horribly long so I just scratched it and did a whole new one, which is still long though a bit more reasonable in length. It can be found here, if you are unable to see the video below. Enjoy, and I apologize for the sniffles throughout the video – it is that time of year.

Why do they like singing on the ‘and’ of 1 or 4? Why?!

I am impeccable at procrastinating typing up my blog posts – though it is not necessarily something I should brag about.

Nevertheless, on my original to-do list from my first learning project post is as follows:

 

  • Pick a genre and style. CHECK
  • Pick a song. CHECK x3
  • Listen to the music. A lot. DOUBLE CHECK
  • Start dancing – see if something works with the music and what I want to work into the flow of the music. YET TO POST
  • Research other dancers, choreographers, and dance moves/steps I want to incorporate. CHECK
  • Break up the music into sections. 
  • Creative moves to go with each section – write them down. YET TO POST/FINISH
  • Put the sections together and PRACTICE! YET TO POST/FINISH
  • Teach it? WILL DO AT A LATER DATE
  • Remember to contrast – angular vs curved, gentle vs strong, slow vs fast, levels of movements…etc.

As you can see, the green is what I have done, the red is what I have either yet to post or am still finishing up, and the blue is what this blog will include.

Breaking the music into sections

For those who might be from a musical background, like myself, it might be easy to think that breaking the music into beats and sections would be simple; for some parts it was. The first song (Madcon – Beggin you) was actually simple enough. Though a few lines started on beat 3, they were fairly precise and reasonably placed beats. No such luck with the other two (Shawn Desman – Dum da dum, and Austin Mahone – Mmm yeah). The full compilations of the songs can be found on my last update, here. For some reason the last two songs decided to hate musicians and their lyrics (in some parts) barely seemed to match up with the beats. There were even parts where they would sing only on the off beats. This almost made it easier, but it was still fairly annoying. I am sure you will see where I mean, as I marked on the page where exactly I thought it was dumb. Here are the pictures of my breaking it up.

Sections 12-17

Sections 12-17

Sections 1-6

Sections 1-6

Sections 7-11

Sections 7-11

Yes, they are fairly messy but I understand them so that’s all that matters right? The green highlighter is where the beats are (or approximately) and the purple is dividing it up into the smaller sections of measures that will make it easier to teach and work through, rather than just having one big, long, go at a 3-minute song all at once.

So there you have it: countless times listening to the songs over and over and over, and numerous attempts to find the actual beat (as seen by my scribbles), this is what I am working with. Oh joy.

In my next post (which I will hopefully get up in the next 12 hours) there will actually be a video of me dancing. Well, I will at least be trying. It is the improv stage of free-styling, working through the music, and seeing what feels good.

I also want to throw in here a few really amazing blog posts I was able to find and read, thanks to Feedly, that have really been helping me along this process.

How Yoga Can Help You Become a Better Dancer

This post is fairly straight forward in showing how beneficial yoga can be. Personally, I am awful at yoga. These are some tips that are actually helping me build motivation to start doing it.

18 Things I’ve Learned About Being A Professional Dancer

Although a few of these tips do not necessarily apply to me, considering I am not a professional dance, I still find them as useful reminders. Actually, some of them are fairly applicable to life in general in my opinion.

How To Improvise Movement When You’ve Never Done It Before

Finally, this is probably one of the most helpful, wonderful, awesome blogs posts that I am basically leaning on with most of my body weight. Not only is this post great, but it also leads to another post that is also helpful.

 

Pictures and stories, two of my favourite things!

 

 

Here is my attempt at a few 6 word stories, as suggested in my ECMP355 class. See if you can caption either of these pictures yourself or try your own 6 word story. Please feel free to leave a compliment and let me know what you think!
Mom with a field mouseA bit of a back story behind this picture – it might explain why my mom is holding, much less pretending to eat, a field mouse. In February 2014, my mom and I, along with some family and friends, took a 2 week trip to Africa. There, we met a young man named Godfrey who we got to know. He shared with us that his favourite snack is boiled field mice and, upon finding this dead mouse outside a church event one evening, she insisted I take this picture and send it to him.

I love my juiceThis photo was taken when I found that juice was on sale for $1 at Wal-Mart. I may or may not have taken it to send to a friend, bragging that I got juice for $1.

Scratch scratch scratch…it’s like chicken pox all over again!

I have been thinking of something clever to say as the introduction to this post but quite frankly, there is a week left of Fall semester and I am mentally pooped – no witty remarks tonight.

More to the point, so for my ECMP 355 course  we were asked to explore Scratch and try our hand at the type of coding they have to offer. The reason I compared it to chicken pox is because coding is something that seems like such a bother while you are doing it and starting out, but once it is done it is such a relief that you have gotten it out of the way, and it is not so scary anymore. I will also state I was going to throw in a screenshot of their homepage, however the screenshot button on my keyboard keeps freezing my computer so you will just have to go check it out for yourself. Here is the link to the beautiful code I created, so go ahead and check it out. As well, I have made a lovely screen-cast, for those who just don’t want to be adventurous. Actually, even if you click the link maybe watch my screen-cast too because it explains a lot more about how I did it.

So that is a pretty good overview of what Scratch is and how it can be used. It is a pretty interesting tool and I really get how it can be used in an education setting. In today’s world, knowing how to code, even really basic things, is such an asset and important thing to understand. How can you fully use technology without trying to understand how it really is working or what it is doing? Even just using it as a fun ‘extra’ in the classroom could be very beneficial to the students, getting to work step-by-step through the events of what is happening.

Overall I am definitely a fan of coding and its usefulness in the ‘real world’. Honestly, if I was not already taking three degrees with my next one planned, I might look into computer science or engineering or something. It is really interesting stuff, but it does take some time to get into and it is one of those things where you really should start from the beginning and not just jump in randomly.

Also, as stated in my screen-cast, if you have any suggestions or ideas for how to fix that bug of not being able to say no, or anything other than a positive response, please leave a comment or tweet me @SaraBeth1008.

I commend anyone who can actually edit audio clips

I am still plugging away at my choreography – I promise! From my last post I had a short to do list of what I would get done for this post. While for the research/inspiration/planning I have actually continued passed just this list, however I was stuck for quite a while on the audio editing and felt it was important to unveil the full compilation of the songs.

Has anyone ever actually successfully used an audio editing application? I found that there were innumerable different websites with different programs that were seemingly all the same. Scanning through the list I would randomly select one and try it out to see if it was easy enough for what I needed. Eventually I became sick of this method and realized that I am simply really bad at using audio editors, so I did what any sane person would do at this point – I called up my good friend and asked (told him in a very polite way) if he could help me cut a couple of songs together. He is one of those guys that, when searching for something it is somehow always the first thing he looks at and makes you seem silly for not trying it. Yeah. In the end we used Audacity, which looked like it was made for Windows 98, but it worked really well nevertheless. Originally I was thinking I would screen cast editing the clips together, until I realized it was taking way longer than my naïve mind had anticipated. Finally, out came the end result with not too bad of transitions, not perfect but they are definitely better than if I had tried to do it on my own. My mashed up version of the songs can be found HERE if you are not able to see the YouTube link below. Also, as said on the video, I feel the need to remind everyone that none of these sounds are actually mine. I am not that talented.

So after cringing at that first transition, the second one was not too bad, right? Maybe? Okay so that is that. Also, aside from watching all of the Step Up movies, here are a few videos that also led to a bit of my inspiration. Remember, please feel free to send me any videos or choreographers you think are good. I will take all of the resources I can get my hands on. Please post the link into the comments or tag me on twitter @SaraBeth1008.

This clip includes various scenes from the movie, in which I first heard this song. Street Dance is basically a European Step Up.

YouTube does wonderful things. This is simply a video I found when searching for the song. Some of it I like and some of it I don’t, but it definitely shows some possibility for this rhythm.

Now, I am in love with this choreography by Dustin Pym. I am seriously hoping to incorporate some aspects of these steps into my dance. This is all assuming I am ever able to successfully do them.

As far as the Austin Mahone song goes, I could not find any particularly good choreography that I really liked, however here are a few more videos of other inspiration I have found (not to mention watching So You Think You Can Dance).

While you’re at it go ahead and check out all the Continual Surrender stuff, it is all amazing.

I really struggled which video to actually share here, however I would highly recommend checking out this choreographer’s whole channel HERE because he is incredibly talented and is always releasing new routines.

These guys are crazy.

I suppose I should end with the highly anticipated (by me) announcement of my extra song. Hopefully, if not by the end of this semester, over Christmas break I will find the time to put something together for this song because it is so fun. As you will be able to tell by listening to it, however, it does not exactly fit into the other songs I had chosen – I will likely make it a lot rougher in the movements and dancing style. This song was featured in the first Step Up movie, I believe, and it is just one of those songs I can not get out of my head. So here it is:

Quickly running out of time, and steam

20 days, 21 hours, and 33 minutes until my first final exam. Where has this semester gone? Now, I do not know about any other students out there but I am really starting to feel the heat. Two weeks of actual classes left and I am left wondering how to cram these last few group projects, portfolios, assignments, chapter notes, field logs, blog posts and miscellaneous work into the next 14 days. On the note of blog posts, I am not sure if this qualifies as ‘relevant to the class’ but I feel this is something I really need some assistance with.

How does anyone find the time to be actively involved online? In all seriousness, I am finding it incredibly difficult to put the amount of time into my online presence and I feel I should be. Upon taking the ECMP 355 “Introduction to computers in the classroom” course this semester, I do feel it is important to be an active participant with other educators, if I choose to go towards a career as a teacher. Unfortunately I am finding it really difficult to keep up to date with all of the educational blogs, Twitter chats, and other things that I should be following and reading to be successful. Perhaps it is my procrastination and perfectionism (that I try) when writing a good, well thought, blog post. It could also be that I try not to just skim articles before sharing them with the class. Throughout this semester I have also been exposed to a number of teachers, educators, and other students throughout the province, country and internationally, that are seemingly always on Twitter or posting really interesting blogs.

20 days, 21 hours, and 17 minutes.

This is not so much an informative post, as so much as that I am just searching for solutions, gasping for air, trying to find a better way to remain active online, without spending all day online. If you have a method or schedule of how you manage your days to incorporate technology please leave a comment and let me know how you do it. Even if you have not got it down pat, please feel free to throw some options out there for how I might be able to improve my professional learning network and digital citizenship. I am even wanting to read any stories of failure and what did not work for you.

20 days, 21 hours, and 11 minutes to go.

Help!

Go big or go home – Best classroom ever

I am really learning to appreciate how all of my classes are starting to tie together, well sort of. What I mean is this: I participated again in the #saskedchat last week (November 13th) as I have stated previously on my post about Twitter chats. The topic of discussion being “We’re discussing Designing Learning Spaces tonight. 1. Why is it important to rethink the design of current learning spaces. 2. What are some of the ways schools can better utilize/adapt present spaces? 3. How can a teacher make changes to a standard l learning space?” So the evening came and went, I gained an immeasurable wealth of knowledge, and I went to bed. The very next day I have my Education Core Studies seminar in the afternoon. Lo-and-behold what was the main topic of focus that day? None other than education spaces and how to make advances to incorporate new tools (like incorporating technology for ECMP) in the classroom. We divided into small groups based on our degrees and where we wanted to teach and, while my education career is still incredibly tentative, I said I would be in the Fine Arts group because I am a Dance major and Music minor. As luck would have it I was the only one in the group and got to design the classroom with whatever my heart desires. Here we go.

Here is the picture I drew for my layout of the classroom to present to the seminar group next week. I want to apologize in advance; there is a reason I am not an Art major or minor.

This is a sketch of an aerial view of my desired Fine Arts classroom.

This is a sketch of an aerial view of my desired Fine Arts classroom.

Loft

This is an Art loft included in the room, unfortunately I drew it on the back of the page so it is kind of hard to understand.

Perhaps the best way to go about this is by room.

Main classroom: Upon walking in the door there would be a row of computers along the wall to the right (bottom wall). The wall straight ahead (left wall) would have some storage units (ie. bookshelves and filing cabinets) and in the middle of the wall have Smartboard with a speaker system hooked up (do they already come with speakers? I am unsure). I got the wonderful idea of having half tables in the class from @TheWeirdTeacher and a couple of people mentioned kidney tables so I threw one of those in just for the sake of nostalgia, also to have at least one full-sized table in my class. Along the far wall (top left), where the music room cuts off, I would put a sort of bistro-coffee-beverage station with whatever the kids could bring or ideas they suggested. It would also have a higher table with stools along one wall for smaller group work, as well as a couple comfortable chairs and a coffee table. In the other far corner (top right) where the music room and dance studio form a corner, I would put some beanbag chairs, cushions, pillows, and the like, for more group work or for students to take to the half tables and use. This room would likely be linoleum or hardwood flooring that I might throw a shag area rug over just for fun. Leading into the other rooms, the door into the music room is on the far wall (top) and the dance studio door is against the wall to the right. Beside the dance studio door I would like a spiral staircase leading up to a loft, used for art projects.

Music room: This room would have a fairly simple set up. There would definitely need to be a window in the door and two along the front wall (looking into the classroom) for safety reasons. It would contain a number of chairs that are able to stack easily against the back wall, in case the space is needed for something else as well. There will be a computer in a back corner that can be used to access extra sheet music, listen to songs, or for whatever else may be needed. Also, along the furthest wall from the door (far right) There would be a large bookshelf-cabinet thing to store the spare instruments (guitars, saxophones, trumpets, flutes, etc.), accessories (picks, capos, reeds, oil, cork grease, etc.), and a large collection of CDs, tapes, and records, along with the necessary players for them. At the front of the classroom, along the wall with the door, there would be a podium, Just to the right of the podium there would be a grand piano and against the back wall there would be a full electronic drum set. This room would also be equipped with its own stereo system. The last, and likely most important aspect to the room is making sure it is sound proof so that it would not be too disruptive to others.

Dance studio: Similar to the music room, the dance studio would have 3 windows facing into the classroom. I would like the entire floor of this room to be hardwood. Also, there would need to be an entire lengthwise wall that is mirrors with a mounted ballet bar along the mirrors and along the far wall (top). There would also be a computer in this room to play music, search for dance inspiration, and other related things that may be needed. I would also install a video camera into the front of the room to be able to record any routines the students may want, as well as to be able to see areas that may need improvement. The room would also contain some mats in case they may be wanted for practicing certain movements. There would also be a small closet-thing to hold props, costumes, and other extra stuff for performances or theatre productions. Finally, along with its own stereo system as well, it would also need to be relatively sound proof.

Art loft: Briefly going into the art loft, it would include a number of large tables for students to sit and work at if they would like, and a number of art easels as well for students who might be painting. It would also have a few (5 or 6) computers for use and two printers, one for general printing or printing colour pictures and the other for printing photographs. Beside the printers there would also be a large cabinet to store various miscellaneous artsy stuff (ie. different paints, pencils, sketch pads, canvas’….etc.). Ideally I would also like to have one or two alternative options as well, such as screen-print and letterpress machines, however they would make the space very crowded. They could potentially go in the extra storage room off the side of the loft, that is over the music room, though I am still undecided on this point. Further back in the room, past the storage cabinet, I would like a waterfall-fountain and garden to add a more natural aura to the space, as well as the entire far wall to be a window to let in more natural light. This would be added to with a skylight over the loft, and a few natural light lamps around the room to encourage a natural environment for creativity to flow. I would make a balcony from the loft over the classroom, again for some safety precautions, so that the instructor can be aware of where students are and can see what is going on. Lastly, as with the other rooms, it would have its own stereo system.

A couple side notes:

  1. There would be a ‘master system’ with which the instructor could override the speakers in each room, to make announcements to the class more easily.
  2. As mentioned in the art loft, there would be an extra storage room in the loft. This could be used for excess props or costumes from previous years, extra equipment…etc.

I apologize again if my sketches are difficult to understand, but hopefully this description will aid in figuring it out. If you have any comments or questions about my classroom feel free to comment. Also, if you feel I should add or remove anything do not hesitate to let me know – I have until Friday to continue to make changes before I present it to my class.

I do not have the attention span for this

Despite my impeccable ability to procrastinate, I have finally built up the motivation to post a couple more ‘substantial’ blog posts – aside from my fact-of-the-day posts. I have also realized how easily I can get distracted and my inability to multitask very well in these last couple of weeks. A lot of learning has occurred.

Just over a week ago now I decided to participate in the weekly (Thursday nights) Saskatchewan educators chat on Twitter (check out their ongoing conversation HERE). Going into this event I had very little idea about what to expect. It is also important to note that, while I am realizing the potential of Twitter used in a professional way, I would not consider myself an avid Twitter user and I am still learning the ropes. Now in my ECMP 355 course one of the instructors, maybe both I am not sure, mentioned using Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to be able to watch the conversation more easily. I got started with Tweetdeck because, as I believe, it is actually created by Twitter and I figured that would make it safer, or rather I just felt more comfortable with the idea. Finally, I got my Tweetdeck all set up with the hashtags I wanted to follow and was prepared for this thing to start, with about 5 mins to spare.

Screenshot of my Tweetdeck set up. Really high-tech, I know.

Screenshot of my Tweetdeck set up. Really high-tech, I know.

Originally, I had seen that the genius hour conversation was also fairly active and was thinking I would go ahead and participate in both, however once people began trickling into the Saskedchat I quickly realized I am highly unsuccessful at multitasking. The topic for Saskedchat was student lead conferences. A lot of the conversation was a bit lost to me, however I did learn some interesting techniques to shift into this, rather than taking up the majority of the time talking in a more teacher lead conference. This was a rather interesting conversation as well because as I was in school I do not really remember anything other than me, as a student, leading the parent-teacher conferences. The others in the chat were incredible helpful and answered all of my (seemingly) stupid questions and even gave some advice, which was greatly appreciated. All-in-all I learned a lot about a lot of different things, and had a good first experience with Twitter chats. I also got a few more followers and was able to follow other educators/knowledgeable people as well – I am basically popular. Just kidding.

I will also go on to say that I enjoyed it so much that I went on to participate in it again this week, and was able to discuss student learning spaces and how to make your classroom work well for the students and be interactive. There were definitely a lot of good ideas I will have to write down and keep for later, in case I ever get a classroom of my own. I  have to say, the idea of a loft in a classroom is really sticking with me.

It is definitely a cool experience to participate in a Twitter chat, even if it is not Saskedchat. There are a ton of other chats going on, both educational and not I would imagine, that can really get you thinking.

If anyone has any other chats they have participated in or that they recommend please leave a comment and I will try to check them out, as well as some other ones based on my interests as and we will see how those go.

A quick snip-it of the conversation last week!

A quick snip-it of the conversation last week!

Over 100 million songs, I picked 4

OKAY! So, to keep going with this learning project of mine – learning how to choreograph – I left you last that I had yet to decide pretty much all of the details, except how I was going to go about doing it. Here is the big surprise (to those who know me, it is not likely to be that surprising at all), I am going to choreograph (or attempt) a hip hop routine! I have chosen this genre for a number of reasons:

  1. It is significantly easier than trying to do a solo ballroom dance routine
  2. I have 0 idea how to do contemporary or ballet, much less am I flexible enough for that
  3. There is a huge amount of resources
  4. I know a good number of people who are able and willing to help me, whom are extremely talented
  5. It is more fun

That is that.

Second, I will explain the songs I have chosen. It was an internal debate as to how exactly I would go about this, whether I should just pick one song and choreograph the whole thing or mix 3-4 different songs together to make one. I decided to do a mix-up because I have a sneaking suspicion that adding the changes to the music will make it easier for me to also keep the changes in my choreography going and to not get repetitive in the movements. Here’s hoping. I picked 3 songs because I figured 2 would be too few and 4 would be getting on the excessive end of it. The tentative order of songs are as follows:

Beggin’ you – I chose this song because, ever since hearing it in the movie Street Dance back in 2010, I have wanted to choreograph this song myself. Unfortunately I never had the time or ability to put something amazing together for it. I also am starting with this song because the intro is so fascinating and leaves so much room for starting however I would like.

Dum da dum – Now, I am not exactly sure when thought to include this song. It may have been when I heard it on the radio, though I also found an amazing set (piece of choreography) on YouTube as I was browsing for some inspiration. Which of these came first, I am not entirely sure, but either way I decided this song has a nice strong bouncy beat that would be easier to listen to (meaning the beats of each movement would be easier to hear) when feeling out the movements in the choreographing stage.

Mmm yeah – Originally I had another song (Here comes the hotstepper) picked, but as I was listening to music randomly one day I stumbled upon this song and decided it would fit better with the other two. It is also more modern.

Next on my to-do/to-blog-about list includes:

  • Download the songs.
  • Find and use a good, but simple, audio editing tool to mash the songs together (if anyone knows of any please let me know).
  • Browse the Interweb for ideas of choreography, moves, and inspiration. Also, probably have a Step Up marathon.
  • Start breaking down the songs into sections, measures, and beats.

BONUS INFO:

As you may have noticed the title of this blog says that I have chosen 4 songs when in fact, so far, I have only mentioned 3. This is because this last song I found while getting-my-inspiration-on and listening to some ‘heavier’ music, which does not mix well with the songs I had already chose. I DO, however, still want to choreograph something for it, but it will be in a different style of hip hop than the other songs. I will release the song and style of this last song in my next blog. The suspense is unbearable!