Modifying Rhythmic Activities by Developmental Level

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

As PE teachers, it is important for us to keep in mind the various levels and capacities of our students. This lesson discusses what you can do to modify rhythmic activities by students' developmental levels.

What Are Rhythmic Activities?

Gerri has been teaching physical education at Stonington Elementary for three years, and this year, she is especially focused on incorporating more rhythmic activities into her curriculum.

Gerri knows that a rhythmic activity is any activity that asks students to move their hands or bodies in a coordinated way, often in synch with a particular rhythm or beat. Different forms of dance and gymnastics are the most frequent forms of rhythmic activities Gerri uses in the context of PE.

As she starts teaching her students different rhythmic activities, Gerri notices that the same activities that succeed with one class go very much awry with another. She realizes that her students are at different starting points, and she will have to modify, or alter, her rhythmic activities depending on their developmental levels.

Understanding Modifications

Gerri remembers that she learned a lot about modification when she was getting her master's degree. She knows that there are a lot of different ways to approach modification in the classroom, but in general, a modification is a programmatic or instructional change that is specifically oriented toward making an activity or educational outcome accessible to a wider range of students.

Gerri knows that when she makes modifications, she is not sacrificing her overall educational goals, but she is making available a wider variety of pathways toward these goals. She thinks about how she can use the overall understanding of modifications to help make her rhythmic activities more diversely accessible.

Assessing Developmental Level

Gerri knows that any modification procedure will have to start with assessing, or systematically evaluating, her students' developmental levels. In the case of rhythmic activities, there are different assessments Gerri will have to do.

First, she will need to know what her students are capable of on a motor level. How fast can they run, jump, and move their arms? How coordinated is their movement overall, and how prepared are they for motor planning, or movements that require some advance organization in order to be carried out appropriately?

Gerri also has to assess her students' interest in rhythmic activities, which sometimes varies depending on where they are developmentally. Assessing their social awareness can also be an important aspect of determining how ready they are for types of dance that involve interpersonal communication.

Now that Gerri has assessed her students' capacities, she starts thinking about what she can do to modify rhythmic activities to ensure their successful participation.

Modification Strategies

Gerri follows a few different steps and strategies as she goes through the modification process.

Defining Goals

First, Gerri defines the outcomes she wants for all students from a particular activity. For instance, maybe she wants all students to build their upper body strength, or maybe she wants everyone to learn about the music of a different culture.

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