For his community-engaged learning project last fall, Ryder Sammons ’19 taught kindergarteners “The Brain Dance” to reinforce connectivity patterns in their brains and wake up the rest of the body for dance lessons.
Sammons will share his experience with members of the campus community during the third annual Celebration of High-Impact Practices on Thursday, April 5, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Kenyon Athletic Center. More than 200 Kenyon students will showcase their research projects, artistic performances, internships, community-based activities, off-campus study experiences and collaborative assignments.
Sammons worked on his project for a class, “Directed Teaching,” in which Professor of Dance Julie Brodie asks students to lead creative movement classes for kindergarteners and an after-school dance club at Columbia Elementary in Mount Vernon. The exercises are designed to help Kenyon students practice and refine their teaching philosophies.
Sammons’ classmates Luca Agunos ’18, Margaret Ellis ’20, Severine Kaufman ’18, Maya Luckett ’18 and Hannah Russ ’18 also will present their experiences at CHIPs. Agunos continues to conduct the after-school dance club each week this semester as part of his senior exercise.
At Columbia Elementary, Kenyon students collaborated with teachers to establish curricular goals, focusing on teaching self-control, basic movement skills and self-expression. The work culminated in a schoolwide performance exploring dances of different countries. Sammons and Russ, for example, taught their kindergarten group a dance about the Chinese New Year holiday that drew from Russ’ experience studying in Asia.
“The kids were amazingly uninhibited in their creativity despite the pressure of performing,” said Brodie, who guided her students in two additional community-engaged projects.
Sammons drew from his biology and dance studies to teach fifth graders at Wiggin Street Elementary in Gambier the biological concepts of predation and mutualism. His experience now has him thinking about becoming a teacher after graduation.
“I had helped at Wiggin Street Elementary before, but this was really the first instance when I got a chance to work with one other person and lead an entire lesson,” Sammons said.
One of the goals of Kenyon’s 2020 strategic plan is for each student to graduate with at least two high-impact practices because research shows that experiential learning increases post-graduate success.
This year’s CHIPs will organize presentations by the type of educational experience rather than by academic department. Visitors to CHIPs will receive a water bottle and a program that has a page to get stamped during visits to each of the nine areas, including “Common Intellectual Experiences” and “Learning Communities.” Completed pages can be turned in at the end of the event to be drawn for prizes from local businesses.