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ImprovandLiteracy

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					 Improvisation and
  Literacy Learning

Katherine S. McKnight, Ph.D
  Onsite National Consultant
     National Council
  of Teachers of English
It Begins With Play
 Montessori
  – She argued
    that play was
    the work of
    children and
    central to
    child
    development
Montessori’s Connection
Between Play and Learning
  The 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.
Play is a
conduit for
 learning.
Spolin’s Connection
Between Play and Learning

  Montessori’s ideas are echoed in
   the work of Viola Spolin.
  Spolin is the foundational
   theorist for a highly structured
   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.
In Spolin’s View Play:

  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.
Literacy and Improvisation
Connections
Literacy and Improvisation
Connections

  It dawned on me when I
   was a high school
   teacher, that active and
   engaging activities were
   critical to my students’
   achievement in literacy.
  Connections between
   literacy and improvisation
   skill sets.
Improvisation Exercises   Reading Instruction In
                            Balanced Literacy
                            Program
Grouping is spontaneous Student grouping is
  and changes with         dynamic and flexible.
  almost every exercise.   The composition of
                           the groups regularly
                           changes.

Skill development is      Skills development and
  embedded within the       practice is embedded
  literacy activity.        within the literacy
  Participants learn by     activity.
  doing (Spolin, 1986).

Focus is on the           Focus is on the student,
  participant and           not the exercise.
  contribution to the
  ensemble.
Teacher actively          Teacher actively
  participates and is a     participates and
  member of the             interacts with the
  ensemble.                 students.
Teacher and students      Teacher and students
  actively participate      actively interact with
  and interact in the       the text.
  improvisation
  exercise.
Improvisation Exercises       Reading Instruction In
                              Balanced Literacy Program

Side coaching is designed     Questions are created to
to aid the participants in    develop higher order
problem solving as the        thinking skills and to
students participate in the   actively problem solve.
improvisation activity.
The participants are          The students are focusing
focused on presenting         in understanding meaning
dramatic representations      from the text.
that communicate clearly
to the audience. In other
words, the meaning that
the participants create,
most be understood by the
audience.
Students create and           Students respond to the
respond in the exercise       story through personal and
with personal, authentic,     authentic exercises.
and meaningful
representations and
interpretations.
Students create               Students read
independently as members      independently.
of a creative ensemble.
Assessment is ongoing and     Assessment is ongoing and
continuous through peer       continuous through peer
and teacher feedback.         and teacher feedback.
Literacy Skill Sets
Developed Through Improvisation



SKILLS                Reading   Writing   Speaking   Listening



      Vocabulary
                        X           X        X          X
     Development




       Sequencing       X           X        X




         Prediction     X           X        X          X




 Representation of
    non-linguistic                           X
              text




  Adding details to
           textual                  X        X
   representations




            Focus       X           X        X          X


    Concentration       X           X        X          X
Literacy Skill Sets
Developed Through Improvisation


SKILLS                 Reading   Writing   Speaking   Listening


     Interpretation      X           X        X          X

       Synthesis of
                         X           X        X          X
        information


    Developing an
    understanding
               and
                         X       X
      appreciation
        of literary
           genres


     Idea and topic
                                     X        X
        generation


 Active exploration
         of student                  X        X
     author’s voice


Appropriate use of
                                              X
    oral language



Analysis of context
            in both
     linguistic and      X       X            X          X
     non-linguistic
                text
Time To Play
A Few More Thoughts
Potential Impact on
Students With Special Needs

  Engaging mixed ability groups,
   which include students with
   special needs, creates a setting
   where 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 with
   special needs as they
   participated in improvisation
   activities with their regular
   education peers.

				
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posted:1/9/2012
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