TELL! (Theater for English Language Learners) is a National Endowment for the Arts funded project in Arts in Education.
The program provides 120 fourth grade students at Maryland Elementary in Vista, CA with theater experiences aimed at increasing language acquisition and reading comprehension.
Here are the demographics for the students of Maryland Elementary: 62 percent are homeless, 72 percent are English language learners, and 96 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch.
I was at the school just this week and am simply awestruck by the enormous potential the kids all have and show via this program. As you can read by the demographics—kids at this school come into learning with a fair amount of challenges. Many at 10-years-old have responsibility for watching over younger siblings. Many of the kids come into the program having not been afforded previous arts experiences.
TELL! begins with a chapter book: Clementine, written by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Marla Frazee. I chose this book and series because it is extremely engaging and funny, and most kids can identify with the main character, Clementine, who is always getting into trouble, and believes since she was named after a fruit, her brother should be named after a vegetable and therefore only ever refers to him as celery, radish, spinach, broccoli, etc.
Despite being in the principal’s office nearly every day, and constantly getting into trouble for things like cutting her friend’s hair (but it looks wonderful!) Clementine‘s world is full and filled with supportive adults. Read the rest of this entry »