Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Young Audiences Launches Arts for Learning Lessons in DeKalb County

Organization Delivers Arts-Based, Literacy-Building Program in Seven DeKalb Elementary Schools

Young Audiences, Woodruff Arts Center (YAWAC) is announcing today the launch of its Arts for Learning Lessons in partnership with the DeKalb County School System. The Arts for Learning Lessons is a ground-breaking supplemental literacy initiative that blends the creativity and discipline of the arts with learning science to raise student achievement in reading and writing and to develop skills for learning and life.

Developed by Young Audiences, Inc. – in collaboration with a University of Washington design team led by Dr. John Bransford – Arts for Learning Lessons is an arts-integrated curriculum that educates the whole child by developing students’ ability to learn and process information, fostering the skills and dispositions associated with active, engaged learning, and by advancing their skills in problem-solving, planning, communication and collaboration.

"In the DeKalb County School System, we recognize the important role the arts play in developing a child's creativity, communication and critical-thinking skills and improving their overall academic performance," said Gloria Talley, Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning at the DeKalb County School System. "That's why we are thrilled to be partnering with Young Audiences to pilot the Arts for Learning Lessons in seven of our elementary schools this year. Our teachers, students and administrators are all excited to experience firsthand the transforming power of authentic arts experiences."

The Arts for Learning Lessons will be delivered in extended day programs for 175 students in third, fourth and fifth grades at the following Title I elementary schools in DeKalb County: Rowland, Toney, Snapfinger, Oakcliff Theme, Jolly, Glenhaven and Rainbow.

Each unit of the Arts for Learning Lessons is designed to help students build literacy and arts skills aligned with state and local standards by working back and forth between literacy and arts tasks to leverage their learning through both visual and performing arts in order to enliven, enrich and increase their literacy achievement.

Teams of DeKalb County classroom teachers will co-teach Unit 3 of the Arts for Learning Lessons—“Everyday Heroes”—which provides 16 hours of sequential instruction focused on determining importance and synthesizing using Jonah Winter’s biography, Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates, as the anchor text. Students will use collage as a tool for understanding the literacy concepts and will have an opportunity to explore the art form more fully in the companion five-session residency in collage led by Young Audiences’ teaching artists and DeKalb visual arts specialists.

“We are thrilled to partner with the DeKalb County School System in bringing this highly effective program to their students. Our research shows that students participating in the Arts for Learning Lessons not only demonstrate a consistent pattern of improvement in literacy skills and knowledge, they also find the Lessons more interesting and engaging than their regular reading program,” said Myrna Lubin, Associate Director of Young Audiences, Woodruff Arts Center. “It’s our hope that, after a successful pilot year in DeKalb County, we will expand the program to more DeKalb students, both during and after the regular school day.”

“While our students have access to school-based opportunities in the arts, this additional extended school day residency through the Arts for Learning Lessons will expand students' interest in reading and their ability to make connections between the power of visual arts to express a character's mood, relationships and events in the text,” said Kelli Wright, Director of Elementary Teaching and Learning for the DeKalb County School System. “We are pleased to be partnering with Young Audiences and are excited to see the positive impact Arts for Learning Lessons will have on our students.”

About Young Audiences, Woodruff Arts Center
Young Audiences, Woodruff Arts Center (YAWAC) is Georgia’s leading provider of arts-in-education programming. Part of the prestigious 31 chapter national Young Audiences organization, YAWAC brings the power of live arts experiences to Georgia students from pre-school to high school. From a small organization of nine artists in 1983, YAWAC is celebrating more than 25 years of service and has grown into a force in arts education, now comprised of more than 65 professional artists and ensembles that reach nearly 640,000 students each year in over 50 counties statewide. We fulfill our mission – to improve and enrich the lives and learning of children through high quality arts experiences – by providing a dazzling and culturally diverse array of curriculum-based assemblies, workshops and residencies in music, dance, theatre, literary and visual arts. For more information, please visit

About Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is the largest arts center in the Southeast as well as one of the four largest in the nation. The Woodruff is unique in that it combines five visual and performing arts divisions on one campus as one not-for-profit organization. Opening in 1968, the Woodruff Arts Center is home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art, Young Audiences and the 14th Street Playhouse.

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