Overview and Description:
Shake, Rattle & Read is an enhancement component of the Russell Life Skills and Reading Foundation’s (RLSARF) after-school tutoring program. As incentive for their consistent attendance in the tutoring program, students enrolled in the Reading Room Centers can participate in contemporary and traditional dance instruction that incorporates physical activity, storytelling and creative movement.
The program’s dual aim is to increase the reading and comprehension skills of RLSARF students while retaining their interest and participation in the overall after-school program. Led by a professional dance instructor, the one-hour session focuses on the historical and modern styles of dance and movement while emphasizing fitness, cardiovascular strength, and muscle use. The dance activity culminates each semester with the participants giving a recital performance for their friends, family, and other RLSARF peers.
The results of this program in its pilot year far exceeded the original proposed objectives in a number of ways. In 2010, the program was introduced at two Reading Room Centers with the following results:
- The enhancement not only retained the students’ interest in attending the program, but also resulted in the students arriving early in excited anticipation. That enthusiasm carried over into the tutoring portion of the program, with students expressing interest in learning more about dance and incorporating research into their reading activities.
- 99% of participating students improved their overall reading skills and performance for the program year.
- Teachers reported a marked decrease in disciplinary challenges during the reading sessions. Feedback from the parents was overwhelmingly positive as well. Consistent program attendance and decreased absence from school were reported at both sites.
- Students demonstrated a visible difference in their behavior, attitude, and self-expression. At the close of the program period, the students conducted themselves in a manner that showed a noted increase in pride, self-confidence, and discipline.
- As an unanticipated benefit, students learned teamwork by developing their own working groups and organizational structures with group leaders and team members. They were able to connect the physical discipline of dance to the discipline of working together in a synchronized manner.
The dance program was created from the vision of Lysandra Russell. As the dance instructor, she was able to reach the students in a very special and meaningful way. To date, the RLSARF organization has greatly benefitted from the implementation of this program. The activities related to the dance program helped facilitate a smooth and effective operation for the first year of the Russell Reading Room at the new Mitchell Moore location. Further, the students at both pilot centers responded to the program with passion and enthusiasm, resulting in a noticeable decrease in disciplinary challenges for the tutoring sessions.The strength and effectiveness of the literacy curriculum has been reinforced by the dance instruction, as measured by the improved academic testing results, as well as the self and teacher-reported increases in student confidence and esteem. The organizational cohesiveness was strengthened by the student dance performances; the opportunity to perform in front of the whole organization gave the dancers a real sense of pride, while it allowed the audience members a sneak peak of extraordinary things to come. Finally, the program has given the organization a new platform that has sparked the interest of several new community-based funding sources.