Printed from Afterschool Curriculum Choice - Literacy
Location: http://www.sedl.org/afterschool/guide/literacy/


Curriculum Details for
LitART LEARN


Program
Description
Practitioner Expert
Review
Content Expert
Review
LitART LEARN
Publication Date: 2008
Grade Level: 1–6
Content Focus: Literacy/Language Arts
Costs: $200 per theme
The costs shown were accurate at the time of the review. Please check the publisher's web site for current prices.
Developer Contact Information
Global Learning, Inc
1001 SE Water Avenue, Suite 310
Portland, OR, 97214
888-548-2787
www.litart.com

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Program Description

Design Summary

LitART LEARN is an integrated thematic literacy curriculum designed specifically for after school.  The goals of the program are to build oral language, fluency, thinking skills, reading comprehension, creativity, phonics knowledge, vocabulary, grammar, knowledge of literacy elements, goal setting skills, and support students’ social and emotional development. LitART is a hands-on, activity-based curriculum that engages and motivates students in reading, writing, mathematics, and recreation.  The daily schedule includes many short, energizing activities, including interactive games, word games, and riddles.  Once a student has read a book, they engage in a creative response activity, one of the many activities related to each picture book or novel.  This activity can be drama, pantomime, improvisation, art, games, or writing, and is designed to support and extend their experience with the book.

Each year of LitART LEARN is divided into eight cross-curricular themes (one per month), such as “Myths, Legend, and Folktales,” “Friends and Self Concept,” “Magic and Mystery,” and “Math, Music, and Science.” Curriculum materials are available as series correlating with grade level. Each series consists of 8 thematic literacy notebooks, step-by-step activity plans for over 200 activities, 16 picture books, and three novels.

Costs and Staff Training

LitART LEARN costs $200.00 per theme. Each theme includes two integrated thematic 230-page notebooks.  (The first notebook features activities for 16 picture books. The second notebook includes activities for three novels.)  If programs do not have funds available, would like to serve more students, or add an enrichment component, the developers provide links to potential grant funded programs to help in the purchasing of LitART LEARN, as well as assisting with the grant writing.  Proposals are constructed based on programs needs, number of students, staff, number of sites, and available resources.

Training is available, although not required. The training starts with an engaging, hands on LitART Literacy Training Institute, introducing staff to the LitART learning strategies, components, and classroom management strategies. Training costs are based on the number of participants, number of training days, and number of onsite support days, and typically range from $750 to $1,000 per event.  Follow-up trainings, focusing on specific themes, are also available. Onsite support visits featuring demonstrations and observations and are also available to LitART users.

Staff Qualifications

LitART LEARN was designed to be used by paraprofessionals and has been successfully delivered by college students and professional educators.  Formal teaching experience is not required to implement LitART LEARN.   Content expert reviews suggest that instructors need to be organized, able to plan well, and have solid time management skills. Practitioner expert reviews support this, and has seen college students and paraprofessionals implement it successfully.

Standards Alignment

  • National: International Reading Association, National Council of Teachers of English, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
  • State: All states (state standards alignment matrix for each state available by request).

Research Base

Kispal, A. (2008). Au, K.H. (1993). Sainsbury, M. (2003). Gardner, H. (2003). Calkins, L.M., & Harwayne, S. (1991). Cullinan, B.E. (1992). Morrow, L.M. (1992). Tierney, R.J., & Shanahan, T. (1991). Adams, M.J. (1990). Alvermann, D.E., & Moore, D.W. (1991). Graves, M.F. (1987).

Evaluation Details

LitART has been formally evaluated.  Results showed significant gains over the course of a school year in reading comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, oral language, and enjoyment of reading for students using LitART as contrast to those who did not use LitART. More details can be found on their website: http://www.litart.com/company/results.

Overall Strengths/Overall Challenges

Strengths
  • Many different components appeal to a variety of ages and learning styles.
  • Activities are created to increase reading and writing skills, as well as love of and engagement with reading.
  • Presented in a game-like environment, so students do not usually realize that they are learning so many key skills.
  • Curriculum is easy to follow and clearly laid out.
  • Training component is helpful; staff are able to build skills and improve at delivering LitART.
  • Activities and format, while structured, are still creative and allow for a lot of student imagination and voice.
  • Complete and well-suited to the specific needs of afterschool programs.
Challenges
  • Many components to juggle, instructor would need to determine actual length of activities and make sure not to overload students.
  • Eleven discrete activities in one afternoon might be too much for some students.

Practitioner Expert Review

Practitioner Expert Background

This practitioner has been the supervisor of a city-wide afterschool program for the past 8 years, and has used LitART in this program for the past five years.  She uses it about four days a week for about an hour per afternoon.  Students are 1st-5th graders, broken down within the program by age group.  They are mostly from Latino backgrounds, 50 – 90% are on free and reduced lunch, and many are English language learners.

Logistics

Training
  • Training was tailored to each program’s particular needs.
  • Initial training, LitART Institute, is 2-3 days long, covers both content and delivery, and is geared toward people who have little to no experience in LitART.
  • Also has follow-up trainings based on themes and the needs of staff.
  • Has had an excellent relationship with Global Learning (the company that produces the curriculum). Global Learning is interested in hearing practitioners’ feedback and incorporates it into product re-vamps.
Set-up/preparation
  • Take an hour to two hours before each theme starts to plan for the next month.
  • After this, prep time takes at most 10-15 minutes a day.
  • Uses LitART with a 1:20 instructor to student ratio. Only challenge with this can be classroom management.
  • Time management can be a struggle for new staff.

Student Engagement

  • It is not a typical “sit here and read to you” program; staff are trained in many different reading strategies.
  • Activities are game-based, students are learning but are always engaged and having fun.
  • Curriculum gives students motivation to listen to what is being read: for example, they’ll be asked to draw the story or act it out.
  • Students tend to like acting out the stories the most, as well as the games they play after stories are read.

Content

Adaptability to instructor needs
  • Is not overly structured, more experienced staff can add their own activities and creativity to the program.
  • Suggestions for behavior and classroom management help instructors address individual student needs.
General skills taught
  • Beyond reading comprehension and fluency skills, students have a chance to work on artistic and creative abilities.
  • Develops class presentation and public speaking skills.
  • Students often start extremely hesitant to read out loud, after several months with LitART their confidence is such that they are enthusiastic to read out loud.
  • Safe learning environment, students feel comfortable taking risks and making mistakes.
Addressing diverse student needs
  • Instructors are given many different strategies for teaching reading. Covers all the learning styles in some way.
  • Many hands-on activities. For example, will read a story and often act it out. 
  • Content is age-appropriate and geared toward the grade level.
  • Includes content from many different cultures, for example, Holiday theme includes Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, etc.
  • For their students, who are primarily Latino, content is representative of who they are and their families.  It also exposes them to other cultures.

Strengths and Challenges

Strengths
  • Curriculum is easy to follow and clearly laid out.
  • Training component is helpful; staff are able to build skills and become increasingly better at delivering LitART.
  • Literacy content standards are built in.
  • Presented in a game-like environment, so students do not usually realize that they are learning so many key skills.
Challenges
  • This practitioner did not find any challenges with LitART.

Content Expert Review

Content Expert Reviewer

Sara DeMedeiros
Sara Pollock DeMedeiros works as the Assistant Program Director at Tenacity, a youth development program that supports Boston youth in the summer and after school by fostering their literacy, tennis, and life skills. She supports staff in structuring high quality after-school programs for middle school students, and leads the development of Tenacity's literacy curriculum and instruction. Before coming to Tenacity four years ago, Sara taught 7th grade English as a Second Language in Washington, DC, and received her Masters in Education from Harvard University's Risk and Prevention Program.

Content

  • Curriculum covers various aspects of literacy, including reading comprehension, reading fluency, oral language skills, and attitudes toward reading and learning.
  • This review is based on the elementary curriculum, and one aspect of the middle school curriculum called Choices.
  • Each elementary theme includes lessons and activities based on a number of picture books and novels.
  • The Choices curriculum is more content based, including sections about fine arts, math, performing arts, science, sports, and writing.
  • The content throughout the curriculum appears to be accurate and compelling to the age group it serves.

Skills

Academic Skills
  • Phonemic awareness
  • Phonics
  • Fluency
  • Comprehension
  • Vocabulary and writing
  • Some components also have a “Litematics” section which teaches math skills that link to the day’s reading.
Study Skills
  • Suggestions on how to structure a homework center
  • Non-Academic Skills
  • Social-emotional learning
  • Nutrition and health

Alignment to Standards

  • The curriculum is aligned with English Language Arts standards in reading comprehension, writing, and oral communication and covers these expectations well.
  • The training guide includes a description of each standard for grades K-6 and lessons that are aligned with that standard.

Assessment

  • LitART LEARN comes with a number of pre- and post- assessments.
  • These include: SIMPLE (Student Information Monitoring for Purposeful Learning Evaluation) which tests reading skills, a student interest and attitude survey, a journal task rubric, and a book talk/oral presentation rubric.
  • Also included are worksheets that can be reproduced and used as periodic assessment to gauge student understanding.

Structure

  • The curriculum is extremely structured, including specific reading and activities that the instructor is expected to use.
  • Teachers can create their own extension activities, but are encouraged to follow program guidelines.
  • There is some flexibility in terms of how much time a program devotes to LitART.  These levels of involvement are: standard, plus, deluxe, extreme, and they range from 60 to 180 minutes.
  • The training guide includes many literacy and behavior management techniques and lessons that would be valuable to any program, regardless of whether they are using LitART.
  • Lessons are largely teacher-directed.  Student input and opinions about readings are valued, but students do not determine what they read or what activities they will complete.

Addressing Diverse Student Needs

Adaptability
  • Curriculum is relatively adaptable to individual needs.  
  • There is a wide range of activities, allowing instructors to focus on those that are best suited to their students. 
  • Training Guide includes information about behavior management and handling transitions throughout program time that can help instructors think about and appeal to their students’ needs. 
Developmental level
  • Each component is well-tailored to a particular age group, and is broken down by grade (1-2, 3-4, 5-6).  For example, one element of the curriculum, “Daily Wisdom,” teaches idioms to grades 1-2, riddles to grades 3-4, and proverbs to grades 5-6. 
  • The middle school Choices curriculum involves shorter, high interest reading and a good deal of personal response and creativity, appropriately geared toward young adults.
Learning Styles Addressed
  • Students use multiple ways of thinking in a one-hour session.
  • Movement/spatial learning: students do active games, including Opening Magic, word games, pantomime and other movement games.
  • Interpersonal learning: There are a number of get-to-know you, meeting games, and group identity activities.  Students are also expected to work in partners or small groups, and often share their thoughts with peers.
  • Artistic learning: theater games, making puppets, creating collages.
Multiculturalism
  • Curriculum was created for “hard to reach” students, such as English Language Learners and special needs students.
  • The readings reflect a variety of social, racial, and linguistic backgrounds.

Strengths and Challenges

Strongest Features
  • Includes many different components that appeal to a variety of ages and learning styles.
  • Activities are created to increase reading and writing skills, as well as a love of and engagement with reading.
  • Once familiar with the curriculum, instructors would not need much planning time for implementation.
  • Activities and format, while structured, are still creative and allow for a lot of student imagination and voice.
  • It is complete and well-suited to the specific needs of afterschool programs.
Challenges and Drawbacks
  • Many components to juggle; instructor would need to determine actual length of activities and make sure not to overload their students.
  • Eleven discrete activities in one afternoon might be too much for some students.

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