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July 29, 2016

Hi Friends,

Summertime offers lots of fun ways for kids to be active, but their brains need to stay active while school is out, too! Studies show that when young people don't participate in summer learning opportunities they experience a "summer slide" — the loss of reading skills over the summer. "A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months, or roughly 22%, of the school year," according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Summer Learning. Our guest for this week Jenny Toutant, Education Director of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater along with numerous of our community partners are helping combat this loss of our children’s reading skills. Milwaukee Succeeds believes reading is extremely valuable especially in our Goal 2: School Readiness (specifically 3rd grade reading) efforts. Through reading, our children are exposed to new things, new information, new ways to solve a problem, and new ways of achieving things. Exploration begins from reading and understanding!

Take it away Jenny!

See you soon, 

Danae

In response to Milwaukee’s low literacy rates, Milwaukee Repertory Theater developed the Reading Residency program for middle school classrooms in the 2010/11 Season. Research from the National Endowment of the Arts finds that “arts education is associated with many positive, long-term academic, social, and workforce benefits” and the American Alliance for Theater & Education found that “students who participate in drama often experience improved reading comprehension.” The Reading Residency program uses theater to teach literacy skills by engaging students in classroom activities developed around a specific production from our season. By approaching a text the way a theater artist might, students learn key concepts through class discussions, dramaturgical research, acting out scenes, and written assignments - connecting to visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners. Residency curriculum is discussed with classroom teachers before and during the Residency and meets Wisconsin Common Core State Standards for reading. Reading Residencies include a Rep Immersion Day – a full-day program that includes demonstrations and discussions, lunch, a student matinee performance, and a TalkBack. The week following the productions, an artist from the show visits the classroom for a post-show workshop. 
 
The three primary goals for the program are to increase reading comprehension (specifically focusing on text evidence), social emotional learning (emphasizing social awareness and relationship skills), and theater appreciation. The program has consistently yielded positive results. In 2015/16, the program was built around Of Mice and Men and achieved these result. 

Goal 1: Increase Reading Comprehension

75.14% of the students with matching pre- and post-data had a higher score on the Text Evidence scale after participating in the program. Looking at the classroom mean across all students (not just those whose surveys matched), there was an improvement of 22.23%.


“Because of our work with The Rep, many students' interests in
reading became more diverse. They are more willing to read plays and poetry and try different genres they wouldn't usually read.”


Goal 2: Increase Social Emotional Learning

Of the students who had matching pre- and post-test surveys, 39.75% had higher post-test scores on the Social Awareness survey and 44.94% had higher post-test scores on the Relationship Skills survey.

Goal 3: Increase Theater Comprehension

53.42% of the students with matching surveys showed an increase in theater appreciation from their pre-test to the post-test, stating they better understood various production elements and were more likely to attend theater in the future.


“I gained how to understand more, and put myself in someone else’s shoes more often to understand how they feel.”


We are in the process of expanding the program in the 2016/17 Season, adding eight additional classrooms, including 7th and 8th grade classrooms from the four MPS Turnaround Arts schools. We are working collaboratively with the school system to create a plan to bring the Reading Residency across an entire grade level in the next five years, giving access to this impactful program to all students at Milwaukee Public Schools.

Cheers,

Jenny Toutant

Education Director
Milwaukee Repertory Theater

 
Copyright © 2016 Milwaukee Succeeds, All rights reserved.


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