WritingOn Your Feet Katie McKnight, Ph.D Katherine.McKnight@nl.edu
Second City and Arts Outreach• Made possible with a grant fromKraft Foods.• This research study, which isexploratory in nature, wasconducted at the request of TheSecond City Training Center.• Why did a place that producesartists like Steven Colbert andTina Fey connect with schools?
An Overview Qualitative Design:Over one hundred clock hours of observation inthe classrooms of the study’s participants.Participant-Observers in teacher professionaldevelopment workshops.Conducted open-ended, semi-structured interviews(Spradley, 1979) with several teachers from each ofthe schools in order to better understand theproject from the teachers’ point of view.Student Artifacts.
Table 1: Racial/Ethnic Background and Other Information—Lakeside Elementary School SCHOOL DISTRICT White 19.8 8.8 Black 41.2 49.2 Hispanic 22.7 38.4 Asian/Pacific Islander 15.5 3.3 Native American 0.8 0.2 Multi-Racial 0.0 0.0 Low Income 74.2 85.4 LEP 14.4 14.0 Truancy Rate 1.0 3.9 Mobility Rate 5.4 24.0 Attendance Rate 95.6 92.0 Enrollment 1557
Table 2: Racial/Ethnic Background and Other Information—South Primary School SCHOOL DISTRICT White 0.0 8.8 Black 100.0 49.2 Hispanic 0.0 38.4 Asian/Pacific Islander 0.0 3.3 Native American 0.0 0.2 Multi-Racial 0.0 0.0 Low Income 99.6 85.4 LEP 0.0 14.0 Truancy Rate 5.0 3.9 Mobility Rate 25.8 24.0 Attendance Rate 94.6 92.0 Enrollment 485
Table 3: Racial/Ethnic Background and Other Information—Midtown Elementary School SCHOOL DISTRICT White 0.0 8.8 Black 95.0 49.2 Hispanic 5.0 38.4 Asian/Pacific Islander 0.0 3.3 Native American 0.0 0.2 Multi-Racial 0.0 0.0 Low Income 95.0 85.4 LEP 1.5 14.0 Truancy Rate 17.5 3.9 Mobility Rate 63.5 24.0 Attendance Rate 88.6 92.0 Enrollment 201
It Begins with PlayMontessori She argued that play was the work of children and central to child developmentThe Essential Dimensions of Play Are: Being voluntary, enjoyable, purposeful, and spontaneous. Expanding creativity by using problem-solving skills, social skills, language skills, and physical skills. Helping to expand on ideas. Supporting the child in adapting socially. Serving to thwart emotional problems.
Spolin’s Connection betweenPlay and Learning Montessori’s ideas are echoed in the work of Viola Spolin.Spolin is the foundational theorist for a highlystructured form of theater/drama called improvisation.•Spolin’s beginnings in the Chicago settlement houses.•It was her son, Paul Sills who founded The Second City.
• Develops and demands focus that prompts our physical and mental state to merge.• Creates a game having a specific problem to be solved. Players engage intuitive energy through improvisation and develop problem-solving skills.• Prompts the merging of action and thought to solve a problem.
Improvisation Exercises Reading Instruction In Balanced Literacy Program Grouping is spontaneous and changes with almost every exercise. Student grouping is dynamic and Skill development is embedded flexible. The composition of the within the literacy activity. groups regularly changes. Participants learn by doing (Spolin, 1986). Skills development and practice is embedded within the literacy activity. Focus is on the participant and contribution to the ensemble. Focus is on the student, not the exercise. Teacher actively participates and is a member of the ensemble. Teacher actively participates and interacts with the students. Teacher and students actively participate and interact in the Teacher and students actively improvisation exercise. interact with the text.
Improvisation Exercises Reading Instruction In Balanced Literacy Program Side coaching is designed to aid the participants in problem solving as the students participate in the improvisation activity. Questions are created to develop higher order thinking skills and to The participants are focused on presenting actively problem solve. dramatic representations that communicate clearly to the audience. In other words, the meaning that the participants create, most be The students are focusing in understood by the audience. understanding meaning from the text. Students create and respond in the exercise with personal, authentic, and meaningful Students respond to the story through representations and interpretations. personal and authentic exercises Students create independently as Students read independently. members of a creative ensemble. Assessment is ongoing and continuous Assessment is ongoing and through peer and teacher feedback. continuous through peer and teacher feedback.
SKILLS READING WRITING SPEAKING LISTENING Vocabulary Development Sequencing Table 4: Language Arts Skill Sets Developed Through The Second Prediction City’s Improvisation for Creative Pedagogy Program Representation of non-linguistic text Adding details to textual representations Focus Concentration Interpretation Synthesis of informationDeveloping an understanding and appreciation of literary genres Idea and topic generation Active exploration of student author’s voiceAppropriate use of oral language Analysis of context in both linguistic and non-linguistic text
There were positive impacts in several areas, and although thework is exploratory in nature, it corroborates other studies thatshow the benefits of drama and theater arts in the classroom,and that it points to the potential for such work to make evengreater contributions to literacy pedagogy and student learning.
Four Major ThemesFirst, the playfulness inherent in theart of improvisation engaged thestudents wholly in the activities,increasing the involvement even ofyoungsters who had been reluctant toparticipate in other classroom work.
Secondly, this engagementstrengthened classroom community,making possible the opportunity forstudents who had previously beenmarginalized and/or who had speciallearning needs to take on morepositive roles in their classrooms.
Third, particular children’s increasedengagement led to confidence with expression,which helped them to extend their authoringabilities in both spoken and written forms andto take on the identity of “author.”
The qualitative data make clear that theseactivities helped all the students - many ofwhom were reluctant readers and writers -to enter texts, to respond, and to create,and to evoke and exert control over theideas, sensations, characters, andmeanings that they were experiencing intheir required schoolwork.
Finally, for most of theteachers, participating intraining workshops andcollaborating with visitingartists in their classroomshelped to expand theirrepertoire of pedagogicalstrategies and began tobroaden their definition ofliteracy beyond what Shannon (1995) callsa psychological view and Street (1995) calls an autonomousmodel of literacy that emphasizes mere “correctness” oflanguage use and that is based on the belief that readingand writing are best learned one sub-skill at a time.
Potential Impact onStudents With Special NeedsEngaging mixed ability groups, which includestudents with special needs, creates a settingwhere students are able to transcend barriers.In the schools where the research team observed,we were able to observe collaboration,participation and engagement of students withspecial needs as they participated in improvisationactivities with their regular education peers.
Next StepsConnecting researchbetween the adolescentbrain and improvisation.Greater exploration ofimprovisation and studentswith special needs.Additional study examiningthe connections betweenliteracy and improvisation.
In Loving Memory My co-author and sister Mary Siewert Scruggs(April 16, 1964-January 12, 2011)
How to Reach Me:Email: Katie@KatherineMcKnight.comWebsite: www.KatherineMcKnight.comTwitter: @literacyworldFacebook: Katie McKnight LiteracyFor more materials and updated powerpoint,see my blog at www.KatherineMcKnight.com