Shake a leg (Pryor 2010) targets a year 4 primary context with English, Visual Art, Music-Dance and Drama. Shake a leg is a fiction-based text and is a celebration of culture, food, dance and storytelling. The unit targets a year 4 primary classroom of diverse learners with several students from different cultural backgrounds. The school has a dedicated visual arts room, music room and assembly facilities, and the students have had prior arts experiences with a specialist teacher in both visual arts and music. The students enjoy role playing in the classroom and respond effectively to social-based learning activities. The text and activities have been selected to promote inclusion and intercultural understanding in the classroom. The Aboriginal focus provides a different viewpoint and perception to allow students to build empathy and understanding of diverse cultures and cultural practices (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) 2016). The sequences use Vygotsky’s (1978, p. 57) constructivist approach with a focus on social constructivism. According to Vygotsky’s (1978, p. 57), social constructivism learning involves collaboration where knowledge is developed and scaffolded through students’ social interactions. Moreover, social learning is supported by (Dewey 1938), who states that learning is a social activity, it is not abstract but involves interaction with one another. Furthermore, Vygotsky (1978) states that social interactions and guided learning within the zone of proximal development (ZDP) fosters cognitive development as ‘students co-construct knowledge’ and understanding.
The primary responsibility of teachers is to facilitate learning by creating a ‘collaborative problem-solving environment’ that involves students actively participating in their learning (McLeod 2019, p. 1). The teacher understands students limited conceptions by guiding activities to address gaps in learning and building knowledge and understanding (Oliver 2000). Moreover, scaffolding involves continually adjusting the level of instruction in response to learner’s performance and includes modelling skills, questioning, feedback and adapting activities or materials (Copple & Bredekamp 2009). The constructivist approach allows a gradual release of responsibility of learning to students and encourages student autonomy and initiative (Brooks & Brooks 1993, p. 103). The learning sequence allows students to construct and scaffold knowledge as students express themselves through art, employing skills and imagination to embody roles of artists and audience (Dinham 2016, p. 33). The pedagogical and teaching strategies allow open-ended challenges, differentiation of activities and cooperative learning to foster problem solving skills and challenges to enable students to develop knowledge and respond effectively. The arts sequences encapsulate the role of ‘making’ and ‘responding’ as reflected in the Australian Curriculum’s arts area of learning (ACARA 2016). Furthermore, the Aboriginal focus provides a cultural nexus which according to Dinham (2016, p. 34), is critical as it contextualises artist activities as cultural endeavours reminding students art is part of society and is culturally significant.