Students spent two afternoons—two hours each Tuesday and Thursday—for approximately 9 weeks each semester—in the afterschool program. One of those days was in music, dance, and acting classes and the other day was in literacy workshops (readers’ theater, literacy-based computer lab, and playwriting). For both semesters, performing arts classes culminated in a performance of a condensed version of a musical--with all students participating in the show--in the afternoon for the students at HOB and in the evening for parents and families. This semester, the performance of “The Wizard of Oz” will be April 3.
The first semester playwriting classes began writing plays using the iPad application “Puppet Pals,” where students worked in pairs composing short plays by speaking aloud, then creating animated characters in the program. From here they discussed the structure of plays, the importance of specific story elements (character, setting, conflict, resolution, etc). The second semester playwriting classes, then, were able to begin the semester brainstorming important issues about which they could, as a group, write a play. For three weeks during their Reader’s Theatre classes, the students worked with the visual arts teacher to create individual sock puppets for their parts in the plays. The culminating activity will be puppet shows performed by the program’s students and presented to the kindergarten and first graders during the school day and to fellow after school groups during the after school program. The puppet shows (featuring plays each group wrote and puppets each student made) will be performed March 15 and March 20.
In the Readers’ Theater classes, students read, discussed, and rehearsed plays of the group’s choosing, spending about 2 to 3 sessions on each play. As a result, each group read at least 8-10 plays in the course of the year’s program. The evaluation in this portion of the program was informal, but fluency increased as the students’ rehearsed the plays. The DIBELS scores that were used to track progress were gathered by the school’s reading specialist, and were tracked through the RtI stipulations. Currently, the 4th graders are the only group not to show progress, however, all students will be tested in mid-spring.
For the computer-based literacy work, the teachers in the program helped design the computer-based assessments, based on key GLEs referenced by the software program. Then students were given a pre-test, were tested again mid-year, and finally were given a posttest at the end of the program.