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ODU AND YOUNG AUDIENCES COLLABORATE FOR LEARNING LITERACY

Old Dominion University and Young Audiences of Virginia will host the Arts for Learning Conference on the ODU campus of Feb. 20-23. The conference brings arts educators and chapter representatives of the national Young Audiences network together in support of a national education initiative called Arts for Learning.

Young Audiences of Virginia is partnering with ODU's Darden College of Education to offer Arts for Learning Literacy Lessons as a continuing education course, making the university one of the first schools in the state to address new arts integration standards for teacher education.

"The Darden College of Education is pleased to collaborate with Young Audiences of Virginia in hosting the national conference to help educators integrate the arts into the traditional curriculum and to learn new ways of increasing student achievement in the core curriculum through the arts," said Dean Bill Graves. "I am pleased that faculty from the Darden College of Education and the College of Arts and Letters are participating in this interdisciplinary-based approach to teaching children and youth."

The Arts for Learning Literacy Lessons represent an exciting new direction in literacy education. Leveraging proven arts integration techniques in support of specific and measurable literacy goals, this five-unit series is designed to enhance literacy instruction for students in grades three through six. Created through a national initiative by Young Audiences for use by classroom teachers with no special training in the arts, each unit focuses on building students' understanding of specific literacy objectives.

Units cover plot, character, author's choice, character perspective and more. Through the use of theater techniques, graphic novel illustration, collage, music and dance, children create finished works to share with younger students. Weaving the arts into language arts instruction helps ignite the creative process for students.

A study of students from Brunswick, N.J., Cleveland and Houston, conducted by the independent education research firm WestEd, showed that students who received the Literacy Lessons made substantial gains on tests of literacy skills and understanding. After 18 hours of instruction the A4L students had:

• two times as many story comprehension gains;

• four times as many gains on questions related to understanding "author's choice" and vocabulary;

• six times as many visualization gains; and

• more than five times the gains in understanding story elements such as the central problem.

This article was posted on: February 21, 2008

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