An early childhood classroom is a magical place – the scene is set, the players are ready, and the stories are limitless. Yet, time and energy for “extras” is a challenge even Pre-K teachers face. Enter our star: drama. At Orlando REP, we have a long history of both early childhood programs and professional development for K-12 teachers. Our theory that drama should not be labeled as an “extra,” but instead, a valuable learning tools is tested through practice and program evaluations. Using drama as an arts integrated teaching method directly connects learning to the power of story. Activating story through drama, invites students to partner with the teacher to bring text to life, build deeper understanding, embody vocabulary, and practice comprehension through action. 

With a focused intention on literacy skills, Orlando REP was thrilled to receive a grant from the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation to support professional development and our Engaged Learning Through the Arts programming in the 2020 calendar year. Our goal was to partner with Orange County Public Schools, specifically VPK and ESE VPK teachers, to provide 48 hours of continuing education credits in arts integration. All was planned to be live and in-person and then our world changed. 

Orlando REP spent April and May researching and developing our own unique and best practices around virtual learning. Not only did this serve our immediate needs to provide our patrons with high quality programming and training, but we know that a virtual professional development model will support teacher learning on a much larger scale. Our very first Engaged Learning Through the Arts Summer Intensive kicked off via zoom on June 8th, serving a total of 25 incredible OCPS teachers. 

Orlando REP spent April and May researching and developing our own unique and best practices around virtual learning. Not only did this serve our immediate needs to provide our patrons with high quality programming and training, but we know that a virtual professional development model will support teacher learning on a much larger scale. Our very first Engaged Learning Through the Arts Summer Intensive kicked off via zoom on June 8th, serving a total of 25 incredible OCPS teachers. 

Our week together looked different from what we imagined and yet our impact surprised even us. Our virtual sessions built introduced a strategy-based approach to our participating teachers. Each day unlocked a new tool for students learning, exploring pedagogical approaches that engage students as artists and multi-dimensional learners. From using sound to create unique and rich environments, puppetry to re-imagine their morning routines, to stepping into role with some our most beloved characters, teachers walked away with model lessons, video tutorials, and a learning community that will follow them into the fall. 

Strategy videos were used to introduce tools such as “soundscape” to teachers.

We were thrilled with the overwhelmingly positive response. One teacher shared, I have not been this excited about teaching in a very long time!! I feel rejuvenated and ready to get back in the classroom. I can’t wait to share these incredible strategies with my students!”

Another teacher said, “I feel like this could be a “magical” transformation for my class.”

And finally, one of our ESE VPK teachers said, “After this experience I’m ready to embark in a magical journey with my students and provide them with tools that will help them academically, but also emotionally and that will transform my classroom into a safe place to explore all arts. Students with special needs like my autism pre-k will benefit from the nontraditional ways to communicate emotions, concepts and ideas, can’t wait to start.”

Although we are still sitting in a space of unknown for the fall in regards to what our classrooms will look like, we are thrilled to provide early childhood educators with online community and tools for their teaching. We are excited to grow our offerings and continue to expand on professional development models.

 

Thank you to Orlando Magic Youth Foundation for their continued support of the ELTA program!

 

Are you interested in bringing an arts integration professional development program at your school?

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