The Arts As a Natural Partner to Literacy

“The more you empower kids, the more they can do,” said one Providence actor after working with Rhode Island public school students in the Arts/ Literacy Project, based at Brown University’s education department. The following factors are fundamental to the approach, which links local artists with classroom teachers and students to create performances and boost literacy:

Literacy and Performance Objectives. All the work of the performance unit–writing, reading, theater activities, rehearsals, and performance–aim toward specific and clearly stated literacy and performance objectives (such as those of New Standards and the National Standards for Arts Education).

Culminating Performance. All Arts/Literacy units culminate in a student performance in front of an audience including at least students and teachers.

Return to Text. At various points during the unit, Arts/Literacy classrooms return to the original text to deepen student comprehension or writing development and to evaluate literacy learning.

Teachers and Artists as Collaborators. The teaching team of teacher and artist co-plan and co-teach the unit, actively facilitating daily classroom activities.

Students as Artists. Performances draw on students’ skills, knowledge, and culture in a student-centered environment where the students become actors, writers, and directors.

Experience Live Theater. Visiting professional theater performances inspires the students to set a high standard for their own performances. It also creates a common theater language and experience for the teacher, artist, and student, providing a glimpse into the vocation and culture of the professional artist.

Reflective Practice. Teachers, artists, and students reflect on their own teaching and learning on both a daily and a unit level and discuss ways to improve their work.

For more information, contact the Arts/Literacy Project at    (401) 863-7785   (401) 863-7785 or on the Web at