Young Audiences makes learning, teaching fun
Most adults remember sitting through dry phonics classes, as teachers tried to drill the principles and rules into their heads. Teachers are now realizing this may not be the best way for all students to learn the fundamentals for reading and writing.
First grade teachers at Eastwood Elementary School are receiving the tools to help their students learn how to read in different ways now due to a grant that enabled the school to bring in teachers from Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio.
“For teaching, it’s all about developing many different strategies to use with children to help them learn,” said Robert Rybak, principal at Eastwood Elementary. “No one strategy works all the time, with the same kids.”
For two weeks, first graders at the school have had an opportunity to spend time with Susan Weber and Colleen Clarke being “word detectives.” The activity allows the students to listen to a story and pick out words with different sounds when they hear them. Students are also encouraged to act out different parts of the story, which enables to them to get up and move around.
“I think the kids are a little more engaged, because of the story. They’re really listening to the words we’re trying to have them find,” said first grade teacher Kristi Walter.
According to Rybak, the money for the program came from a grant obtained by Young Audiences as well a grant obtained by the school from the Nord Family Foundation. A small amount also came from Eastwood’s building fund.
“The idea of the program is to teach literacy and reading through the arts,” said Weber, who works as a teaching artist and lives in Cleveland Heights. “My art form is theater arts, while Colleen is a dancer.”
In addition to learning vowel sounds, the students are also preparing for a performance on Friday to which their families are invited.
Rybak said the school plans on continuing the program with Young Audiences as long as the school can afford it.
“I see that happening. It’s really beneficial to the children,” he said.
Walter has seen a difference in the way her students react to the new teaching method and it has made her adapt her own teaching methods.
“I did it last year, and I’m getting them up and moving a little more. It really engaged them, and they like it,” she said. “Getting them moving a little more is wonderful, because they’re first graders, and they need to be moving a lot more than I typically would have them move.”