City Lore: Evaluation of Multiple Programs

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Nations in Neighborhoods: Assessing the Use of Folk & Traditional Arts in K-5 Student Literacy Learning

Team: Dennie Palmer Wolf, Steven Holochwost

Nations in Neighborhoods (NiN) is a program of folk and traditional arts instruction offered by City Lore to low-income elementary school students in the New York City schools, many of whom were recent immigrants and English Language Learners. In 2012 and 2013, WolfBrown conducted an evaluation of NiN, which revealed that students participating in the program exhibited significantly higher scores on their standardized English Language Arts (ELA) tests than their peers. Qualitative data also suggests how classroom processes like learning from cultural masters, collaboration, and the creation of culminating events may have contributed to these academic outcomes. Such results speak to the role that a well-rounded education, including the arts, can play in all children’s development. The results of this work were published in The Journal for Learning Through the Arts, and were recently included in a systematic review of the evidence for arts integration conducted by the American Institutes for Research for the Wallace Foundation.

To learn more about the findings, read the online publication.

Homer 2 Hip Hop: Assessing the Impact of Oral Poetry on Young Children’s Imaginations

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Team: Dennie Palmer Wolf, Steven Holochwost

Do folk arts have a place in arts education? Folk arts and folklore are about celebrating the histories, traditions, inventions, and creativity that make up the fabric of everyone’s daily life.

In that spirit, City Lore wanted to know what would happen if folklorists partnered with culturally and linguistically diverse teaching artists to envelop students in oral language traditions over a five-year-period. More specifically, as their evaluation partner, we (the team at WolfBrown) wanted to know whether engaging and sustained oral poetry residencies could have a measurable impact on young people. With the support of the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, we asked these questions:

  • Will this kind of residency program change young people’s attitude toward poetry? Will they come to see it as a powerful way of making their voices heard?
  • Will they grow more open and curious about the poetry of other traditions and cultures?
  • Will they grow as poets?
  • Does time spent with poetry transfer to other domains? For example, If asked to transfer what they learn in City Lore to social studies or science class, do they write in more imaginative and individual ways? How is the writing and thinking of young people with multiple years of City Lore residencies different from that of their peers?

To learn more about the findings, read the project profile, visit the website, “Make the Anvil Theirs” or read the publication.