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Digital dance-off pits Merton against U.K. school

Students from the seventh and eighth grade classes at Merton Intermediate School had the opportunity to prove that, indeed, they could dance, in an international competition with a United Kingdom school last week.

The competition was set up using Skype’s video phone service, allowing students from Merton and Woodham Academy in England to watch each other’s performances from almost 4,000 miles away.
Matt Pomeroy, the physical education teacher at Merton, said he organized the event online.

“After we started our competition, we put out on Twitter, ‘Hey, anyone want to compete with our school,’” he said.

Jon Tait, assistant head teacher at Woodham, took Pomeroy up on his offer.

The P.E. Geeks online community, the brainchild of Tait, is where Pomeroy turned when he was looking for competitors. Tait said via email he founded the community to, “promote global collaboration, shared resources & expertise.”

P.E. teachers communicate through Twitter and share work sheets, lesson plans and other resources through cloud storage website Dropbox.

Tait said via email that he founded the community on Jan. 7 and it has already attracted 2,000 followers.

“We have moderators in 3 different time zones driving the conversations forward — UK & Europe, USA, and Asia,” he said. “All of this has happened in less than one calendar month!”

Pomeroy had his hands full organizing the competition at Merton, which involved 50 different dance teams. They decided to have family and friends of the students vote online for the best classes, eventually narrowing it down to five classes which would dance for Woodham.

The girls from the two schools judged each other’s performances based on various elements of performance, Tait said, but there were no winners or losers.

If you haven’t guessed, technology in the classroom is a big priority for both Tait and Pomeroy.

Both Woodham and Merton P.E. instructors have begun implementing Apple iPads in their curriculum.

Pomeroy said they are working on creating an “Amazing Race” style event for April or May, where students will have to scramble to read Quick Response Codes (QRC) using their tablets.

Tait said Woodham has begun filming students while performing and then instantly review and analyze how they did.

Both teachers said the competition was a wonderful opportunity for the girls (and few boys) who participated and they are trying to get another school involved for a competition in early March.

“I would hope to get a school on a different continent, at least a different country,” Pomeroy said.

Tait said he has not even sent out inquiries yet, but has already heard from interested teachers in Canada and others in the U.K.
Students will no doubt be excited to see their English friends from across the pond again.

One student, identifying herself as “Ellie” on Tait’s blog, wrote: “It was a blast to watch you guys dance and I couldn’t get over your accents! They were so cute!! Thanks for a great day!” 

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