Teaching Tips

Ask the Experts: Is There an App for Keeping Control of My Classroom?

Photo courtesy of Rodriguez Diaz

Q: Do you have any app recommendations for keeping control of your classroom?

A: Sometimes it feels like teaching is less about dance and more about classroom management. Here are some app ideas to help you keep things from getting out of control.

My classes can get loud when my students work together in groups. One way to keep them aware of the noise level without yelling is to project an app at the front of the class called Too Noisy. This app uses the microphone on your phone to measure sound levels in the room. A dial on the app will indicate the level of noise with a needle that moves from green (quiet) to red (too loud). There are also background graphics on the app that change to reflect noise. For example, when it's not too noisy, there's an image of the sun in the sky with a happy face. As the class gets louder, the needle moves toward red, and the happy sun's expression changes from sad to horrified with its fingers in its ears. The settings allow you to change your levels if your tolerance for noise is higher.

Some of my other class troubles come from dancers who struggle with time management. A couple of my favorite apps that allow students to see time differently are Sand Timer and Time Timer. Both give students a graphic representation of the time they have left to finish their task. Sand Timer is just what it says—a digital hourglass. The Time Timer app (based on the classic timer that's long been a favorite of teachers) uses a red disk that covers a circular clock. As time passes, the disk disappears. This is particularly helpful when teaching younger students using "time-outs," since it gives the children a more concrete sense of the time they must stay in the area.

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Much of this setup is the result of my attempts to recreate the most important aspects of an in-person dance studio: I have a barre, a floor and as much space as I can reasonably give myself within a small apartment. I do not, however, have a mirror, and neither do most of my students.

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