Your participation in our projects to combine LIteracy and the Arts is making progress and showing instant results in each classroom we can connect with. Thank you so much for your continued support of these events and workshops. Here is an excerpt of our latest experiences, to read the FULL story go here Story Tapestries Blog:
"I look at this text and I feel like I just have to get through it" sighs a frustrated third grade teacher.
"My kids love goofing around and are very creative, I just need help fuzing their experience of an activity to comprehension of the subject" says an enthusiastic fourth grade teacher.
"This is very uncomfortable for me, but I know my students respond to these types of things, so I'm trying to make it work" says a hesitant media specialist, who works with various grade levels.
These are just a few of the comments made in my initial planning conferences with teachers at Sebastian Elementary in Sebastian, Florida. These teachers and I were about to embark on a week long embedded residency process to help them better be able to incorporate theatre arts strategies into their non fiction units. I don't think any of us anticipated what a rewarding week it would be!
...In all three classes, we had grade level appropriate space and Earth sciences related texts. We looked at each text and each grade levels' specific literacy goals and together we extracted activities to support those goals. I spent time both modeling and supporting them leading these activities in their classrooms. I also gave the teachers tips and techniques to be able to implement the activities without me.
...We saw student successes in each classroom, each day. We saw small victories in engaging students who they tell me don't typically demonstrate such enthusiasm, and large victories in watching students who don't generally engage at all getting up and sharing something they just learned. The teachers asked their students if they wanted to more activities like they had been doing this week and they were met with a resounding "YES!" In fact, each one of them told me that they had already tried out at least one activity in another class, and one of the teachers had already set up a planning meeting with the other teachers in her grade team to collaborate around how they can implement some of the strategies in the next unit.
Showing Excitement in Learning
By the end of the week, I saw the teachers go from hesitant, but curious, to enthusiastic and excited. They saw first hand the powerful impact the arts can have on engaging and empowering their students with standards based learning, and without taking time away from mandated schedule chunks.
"It's been eye opening. I can't wait to try this out with the next book" says the newly energized third grade teacher.
"Before I was clueless and excited, now I'm focused and excited. I'm excited about things that weren't really exciting to me before" gushes the thrilled fourth grade teacher.
"I just need practice. It helped to see how they responded. If you are in drama, you are using the same skills as reading" says the optimistic media specialist, making a commitment to push through her hesitation.
We as teaching artists can't be in every classroom, but if we can keep turning the light on, one teacher at time, then we can reach more and more classrooms, slowly shifting the climate. These teachers then become the best advocates for more arts integration in their schools, and the more we can empower them, the more that light gets sparked in their colleagues. And ultimately, the more students we can all reach and more fully engage in their own learning.
This is how we change our education system...one classroom at a time, with thoughtful, passionate and caring teachers who never stop learning themselves.
Thank you again for continuing to bring the Arts into the lives of our communities.
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