Our focus is on reading—fluency and comprehension.
The oral activities of readers’ theatre support the growth of our students into fluent readers. In addition, the comprehension connections with readers’ theater plays reinforce the comprehension strategies and skills taught in HOB classrooms daily, and which are a part of the national Common Core State Standards in reading (and are skills tested on the DCAS). With the addition of a more focused play-writing curriculum this year, further emphasis was made on vocabulary, word choice, development, organization and other skills necessary for engaging students in improving writing ability, linking to the Common Core State Standards in writing.
The computer-assisted learning class, using Odyssey Language Arts from Compass Learning, has worked well. Students took a pretest in the beginning of each semester, and then worked on individualized literacy programs that were created as a result of their testing. The final assessment will be given the last two weeks of March.
In the music class, students read, memorized, and performed at least four different songs each semester. Comprehension (the story behind the song) was emphasized and once students began rehearsing the songs in dance class with choreography, the drama, music, and dance teachers emphasized “character,” which actually is a key comprehension piece. The students thought they were focusing on just acting, but in actuality, in order to act you need to understand/comprehend.
In the acting class, students worked on improvisations early in the session, which helped develop their social skills and their self-confidence, another important goal of the grant. Students often worked in pairs or their work depended on the others in the group, so building “community” was an important part of the process. A great deal of the instruction and activities focused on the use of imagination and the creation of “surroundings, settings, given circumstances, and truth in action.” Once memorization work began with their songs and lines, the acting teachers coached on diction, inflection, and expression (both physical and oral). This not only reinforced fluency and comprehension, it also strengthened camaraderie, interdependence of the group, and peer respect.