Higher Order Thinking (HOT) Schools is a program of the Connecticut State Department of Economic & Community Development, Office of the Arts. ©2015 HOT Schools™
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Education in, about, and through the arts helps students develop critical thinking abilities, independent judgment and creative problem solving skills. The arts, as rigorous academic subjects, each with their own sequential comprehensive curricula, convey knowledge not learned through studying other academic disciplines and provide stimulating vehicles for children to communicate their ideas.
Strong Arts provide the foundation upon which the other core components, Arts Integration and Democratic Practice, are built. Arts classroom teachers are the “artists in residence” in a HOT school, and Teaching Artists become collaborative partners with them and non-arts classroom teachers to assure that a well-rounded education in, about and through the arts, in alignment with the National Core Arts Standards is accessible to all students.
The Effects of CT Shadow History Plays on Fluency Rates provides a perfect example of a strong arts collaboration with measurable outcomes of the impact on fluency:
Derron Wood has been a HOT Schools Teaching Artist since 1995 and has been Executive Director of Flock Theatre since 1989. His residencies and Teaching Artist Collaborations are designed using HOT Schools methodology, planning guidelines and reporting procedures. Based upon a prior Teaching Artist Collaboration at Samuel Staples Elementary School in Easton, CT. Derron created a template for an experiment in collecting evidence of the impact of his residency in dramatic performances on fluency rates.
At Jack Jackter HOT school, plays performed were from "Connecticut Tales" written by Jack Jackter teachers Sharon Falcone and Sue Sherman, and former administrator Chris Ozmun. Jack Jackter Intermediate School, formerly Colchester Intermediate School, is one of the early cohorts of HOT schools. The HOT APPROACH to teaching and learning is part of the fabric and culture of the school.
Arts are often devalued in an educational setting and their benefits are often overlooked. We set out to prove that dramatic performances can support and enhance curriculum.
By having Grade 4 students narrate a live performance shadow play, their fluency rates will increase higher than those students who did not narrate. (Narration is defined here as the reading of any scripted text during a shadow presentation.)
We conducted a 16-day residency, overseen by Master Teaching Artist Derron Wood, where we mounted pre-created shows based off CT legends with the students. By using the principles of performance such as volume, clarity (diction and speed), textual-analysis (keywords, punctuation, word-choice, coloring of words, textual specificity) we rehearsed the scripts with the chosen narrators. The other students who did not narrate aided in manipulating shadow puppets, acting, and providing sound-effects to accompany the text visually and aurally.
The data supported the hypothesis in that those students who narrated had an average increase of fluency rate points of 23.6 whereas those who did not narrate had an average increase of only 11 points. Therefore students who were narrators increased their fluency rate points two times more on average than those who did not narrate.