Courtney Knowlton, an English Language Learners (ELL) teacher at ASPIRA John B. Stetson Charter School, has developed a Readers Theater to help promote literacy among native Spanish speaking students in her school. To cap off the year, seven brave students from her class, all of whom have been in the country for two years or less, performed "Green Eggs and Ham" at ASAP’s drama showcase on May 17th at the Lantern Theater. In a recent interview, Ms. Knowlton explained the power of drama in her ELL class:
“The technical components of the benefits of Readers Theater make sense to me as a teacher. I was also in musicals in high school and really enjoyed the sense of community it created. I thought doing drama would really help my students feel more at home and connected to the school."
"I noticed that the kids were more motivated when we were doing Readers Theater. It allowed them to have a conversation with someone rather than doing drills. It also allowed them to be in a role that they aren't usually in and so they got to have more expression. Expressing the emotions of the roles made it easier for them to understand and find meaning in the words. It also was more fun and engaging for the other students to watch. I think it was helpful because they had to think past the words and think of the character traits.
For example, we practiced using the Green Eggs and Ham story. This story has two characters – one is very weary of trying new things and the other is excited. The kids had a lot of fun expressing the anger and excitement. This story also brought up ideas like persistence, because the excited character is very persistent in getting the other one to try the food. Drama really allowed them to have a better understanding of themes like persistence as well as trying new things because you don’t know if you like them or not.
Sometimes the students are very self-conscious when they come into the English Language Learners class. But since they practice this material over and over they start to feel more confident. I would say it really empowers them.”
The ASPIRA Stetson club is one of 15 drama clubs supported by ASAP throughout the city.
Henry, chess playing second grader of Stanton Elementary
Following the District's decision to close 24 schools, ASAP launched a campaign to connect transitioning students from closing schools with like-minded peers by expanding after school activities in their new schools - known as "receiving schools". Over the past six months ASAP has coordinated 68 after school clubs - chess, drama, debate, and Scrabble - in receiving schools, convening more than 900 transitioning and returning youth in skill-building activities that promote positive peer relationships and academic achievement.
The impact of ASAP's receiving school initiative was immediate and profound. The following testimonial was submitted by a parent of a child in an ASAP chess club at E.M. Stanton – a school that received nearly 100 additional students in September 2014 after the closing of nearby Smith Elementary School:
"It’s no secret that times are tough for Philadelphia’s public schools. Essential services are being scraped left and right, and extracurricular, enriching activities, the ones that often keep students engaged in school, are struggling to exist. As the parent of a public school student, I felt like I was taking a leap of faith when I sent my kid to school this past September. He goes to E.M. Stanton Elementary School, a small school in Southwest Center City. While the school is strong and nurturing academically, I wondered how the severe budget cuts coupled with an influx of new students due to the closure of a nearby school would impact the well-being of my son, Henry. To put it bluntly, I was worried and anticipating a difficult year for my second grader.
Shortly before the school year began, I found out that the new middle school math teacher, Ms. Carrie Angstadt, was going to run a chess program through the After School Activities Partnership. This was exciting news to me as Henry had started showing an interest in chess and was learning the basics from his grandfather. I was so grateful that Ms. Angstadt was bringing chess to Stanton. The first time I mentioned joining the chess club/team to Henry, he lit up. He was game.
I am not exaggerating when I say that much of my anxiety about the upcoming school year subsided when I heard this opportunity was available for students. It was a sign of hope.
Henry attends practices every week and comes home enthusiastically describing chess moves and strategies. Due to donations of chess sets from members or our community, he was able to bring one home with him. When not playing at school, he plays with his father and friends, and helps me learn how to play (or at least he tried to). He asked for books on chess strategies for Christmas and requested I track down a game called Stealth Chess on Ebay. We watched and later purchased “Brooklyn Castle” and were enthralled by it. He learns a great deal about sportsmanship, maturity and grace at the chess tournaments he attends every few weeks with his team. Win or lose, he always reports that he has a great time. He was so proud of his team when they made it to the semi-finals and his father and I were so proud of him when we learned that he was the highest scorer on his team, though we are thrilled simply by the fact that he has found an activity he enjoys so much and has committed himself to.
Chess has been a source of optimism for my family during what are very troubling times for those of us who care deeply about the state of public education in this city and providing our youngest residents with every opportunity they deserve. I cannot thank Ms. Angstadt and the After School Activities Partnership enough for their commitment and dedication to our kids."
The 2014 Chess League finals concluded on Tuesday afternoon, at the Citizen's Bank Park Diamond Club, determining the 2013-2014 Philadelphia Scholastic Chess League Champions!
The Philadelphia Scholastic Chess League -- organized by ASAP/After School Activities Partnerships – began with fifty-seven chess teams in October. After 10 weeks of regular season play and two single-elimination playoff rounds, only four teams remained at the elementary, middle, and high school level. The results are:
First Place: Blankenburg Elementary
Second Place: Russell Byers
Third Place: Mitchell Elementary
Fourth Place: Powell Elementary
First Place: Blankenburg
Second Place: KIPP Charter School
Third Place: Tilden Middle School
Fourth Place: Penn Alexander
First Place: Academy at Palumbo
Second Place: High School of Engineering and Science
Third Place: Central High School
Fourth Place: George Washington High School
The Philadelphia Scholastic Chess League will begin a new season in the fall of 2014.
ASAP’s Philadelphia Youth Chess Challenge will continue on through the school year. In the past school year, the Chess Challenge included 250 clubs with more than 3,500 students in grades K-12 playing weekly in schools, community and recreation centers, and libraries citywide.
Research has shown that chess help students’ develop long-term goal planning skills and teaches perseverance. In keeping with the School District of Philadelphia’s new Action Plan 2.0, these skills are “more reliable than traditional academic indicators in predicting whether students will graduate, their final Grade Point Average, and their income levels, savings behavior, and mental and physical health as adults.” As such, with students playing chess much more is at stake than just checkmate!
PECO – ASAP Checkmate Violence Chess Marathon
Please join After School Activities Partnerships in supporting the Philadelphia Youth Chess Challenge in a two day chess marathon.
Taking over Mayor Nutter’s six year tradition, District Attorney Seth Williams will attempt to checkmate students from the Philadelphia Youth Chess Challenge on Saturday, January 25th at 12 pm in a special exhibition match against one of ASAP’s young players from the Philadelphia Youth Chess Challenge to promote safe and engaging after school programming on Saturday, January 25th at 12:00 – 2:00 pm at Temple University’s Gittis Student Center, Room 200 (1755 N. 13th Street).
Following the D.A.’s chess battle, ASAP will host a discussion concerning the state of extracurricular activities in Philadelphia and how you can be involved with delivering positive outcomes for youth in the midst of severe School District budget cuts. We hope you will join us as well as invite others interested in joining the ASAP community.
The chess battle and the ASAP discussion will be part of the larger Seventh Annual Checkmate Violence Chess Marathon, where students will pit their queens, knights, and wits against each other running from 10 am to 7 pm on Saturday, and 9:30 am to 4 pm on Sunday.
Through the duration of the weekend more than 300 kids, parents, teachers and coaches will showcase chess as a game that helps young chess players understand the consequences of their actions, has been shown by research to improve academic performance, and keeps them safe and off the streets. ASAP coordinates the Philadelphia Youth Chess Challenge, a chess playing community of clubs playing weekly in schools, libraries, and recreation and community centers throughout the city. This tournament will test the skill and endurance of Philadelphia’s chess players and prepare them for state and national competitions.
Last year's chess battle with the Mayor Michael Nutter:
We're excited about The Philadelphia International Children's Film Festival! The weekend-long children's film fest (FRIDAY, NOV 15 – SUNDAY, NOV 17, 2013) features 11 adorable films. Presented by PNC Arts Alive, the festival was brought together by a partnership of The Philadelphia Film Society and New York International Children's Film Festival. It will offer a variety of “animated, live-action and experimental short and feature films from all around the world”. Perfect for the whole family!
THE MOST EXCITING NEWS: When you purchase a ticket online, ASAP will receive a $1 donation for every ticket sold, in support of youth programming throughout the city! Be sure to buy all tickets online! The Philadelphia Film Society has been a great supporter of ASAP.
Buy Tickets Here: http://filmadelphia.org/picff/
Film Fest Location:
PFS Theater at the Roxy
2021 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
The schedule of films, representing 15 countries, is as follows:
Friday, November 15
6:00pm Zarafa (Opening Night!)
Saturday, November 16
11:00am Kid Flix Mix
1:00pm Party Mix
3:00pm Wolf Children
4:00pm Meet the Small Potatoes
5:30pm Welcome to the Space Show
6:30pm Starry Starry Night
Sunday, November 17
11:00am Kid Flix Mix
1:00pm Party Mix
1:30pm Meet the Small Potatoes
3:00pm Day of the Crows
5:30pm Welcome to the Space Show
6:00pm The Zig Zag Kid (Closing Night!)
ABOUT THE PHILADELPHIA FILM SOCIETY
Philadelphia Film Society is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit arts organization with a mission to utilize film's unique capacity to engage a broad cross-section of the community, while further providing access to powerful films from around the world in order to increase education and understanding. It does so by annually producing a top-tier film festival, as well as by offering unique and varied screenings and events throughout the year.
For more information about the Philadelphia Film Society, please contact the Philadelphia Film Society at 267-239-2941 or visit us at www.filmadelphia.org.