A student gets up to participate. He waits to be introduced during our theatre improvisation game modeled after American Idol/America’s Got Talent where the contestants perform a song/dance based on audience suggestions. “Does anyone have a suggestion for a theme for a song?” I ask. “Cookies!” a student responds. “Ok, this is Arnold* and he will be singing his big hit called ‘Cookies.'” Arnold starts to sing and do his famous cookie dance, all improvised, but a big hit amongst his peers as they sing and dance along with him. All of this inspired by reading the book Little Melba and Her Big Trombone.
A highlight of my year was getting close to a student named Nicole. When reading My Name is Yoon, our conversations revolved around adjusting moving to a new country and trying to understand why Yoon is so resistant to writing in English. Nicole shared how hard it was for her when she moved from Honduras about 2 years ago. She really connected to the book and how difficult it can be to adjust to being away from friends and learning a new language. When Nicole discovered that we both had ties to Honduras (my dad is Honduran) and spoke Spanish, she looked for opportunities to speak with me in Spanish. When I received thank you letters from the students at the end of the year, it warmed my heart to see that she wrote hers to me in Spanish. It was our special connection, a language we shared.
We provided a space for students to use their imagination and play inspired by a new book every week. It was student centered, driven by how the students were feeling each Friday, but always fun, silly, and creative.
I always looked forward to our Friday afternoon sessions in the ARC program. A chance to relax and play games together inspired by the books we were reading. Sometimes we acted out sections of the book. Other times we created our own egg shakers to create our own recycled orchestra. And sometimes, when it was nice outside, we ran and played theatre games outdoors. “Ms. Sindy!” I’d hear as I walked into the classroom as the students were still eating their snacks.
The classroom teacher partners I worked with at my school were super supportive of the students. They knew how and when to step in to help the students in managing their emotions. They celebrated them as they volunteered to perform or made their own luchador masks. They stepped into play games and act out moments with students.
I can’t say enough great things about my experience with ARC. We provided a space for students to use their imagination and play inspired by a new book every week. It was student centered, driven by how the students were feeling each Friday, but always fun, silly, and creative. Looking forward to next year!
*The names of participants have been changed.
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