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Applied Literacy: The World is Your Canvas

January 12, 2019


Moonshot Academy is a dynamic after school learning lab for teachers and students. In this workshop, educators unpacked and experienced the Enriched Literacy strategies that make this program a beautiful place for teaching and learning, moving students toward reading proficiency and beyond. Kurt Wootton, author and co-founder of The ArtsLiteracy Project at Brown University, presented on The Performance Cycle. 




Essential Question: How do you turn breakdowns into breakthroughs?

Kurt Wootton is the Co-Founder of the Arts Literacy Project at Brown University and Director of Habla: Center for Language and Culture in Merida, Mexico. He is the co-author of A Reason to Read: Linking Literacy and the Arts (Harvard Education Press, 2012). He writes a blog at
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Anchor Text: Ish by Peter H. Reynolds
Video Coming Soon!
Debbi Arseneaux, Moonshot Institute Program Manager, explains the goals and intentions for the day. Objectives for the day include highlighting the purpose and qualities of Moonshot Academy, learning the Performance Cycle, and digging into the unit plans for the upcoming Moonshot Academy session.

"I feel the whole school community is benefitting from Moonshot Institute. We are sharing and using the info at both Moonshot and in our classrooms." - Participant Feedback

It Takes Optimism and Great Teaching
Ray Oglethorpe, Chairman of the Board for The Learning Alliance and father of the Moonshot Moment, addressed the crowd of nearly 100 educators. He delivered a message of optimism. "You can't be a great teacher without being a great optimist." He explained that in Indian River County we are making progress as evidence in our Moonshot Academy student data. Great teaching and extra time for students works. He thanked our teachers for their hard work, for their relentless optimism, and for being truly inspirational.
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Moonshot Mindful Routine & Building Community 
Participants engaged in a Moonshot Mindful Routine, which included activities to Unite, Disengage Stress, Connect, and Commit. These activities were intentionally connected to the text to support deeper learning. For example, with Fortunately/Unfortunately, they collaboratively told stories in a circle to prepare to later write their own stories and address the importance of flexible thinking. The Activity to Disengage Stress was to breathe as if you are moving a paintbrush through the air, just like the main character in ish. And with the Activity to Connect, they shared stories of turning breakdowns into breakthroughs, making a personal connection to a main idea of the story while connecting to a partner.   
The Performance Cycle: Arts & Literacy
Kurt Wootton, presented on The Performance Cycle, which is the foundation of Applied Literacy in Moonshot Academy. The Performance Cycle is an opportunity to deeply engage students in reading. This framework has the following components: Building Community, Entering Text, Comprehending Text, Creating Text, Rehearsing/Revising Text, and Performing Text. (

Entering Text

Using vocabulary words from the book ish, participants created their own poetry. Using a cinquain poetry template, they quickly and easily wrote poetry and performed it for each other.
Right: Kurt models how to do Call and Response, leading the group as he previewed the text ish
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Comprehending Text
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Alive Reading: Attendees participated in an Alive Reading of the book ish. This strategy is an engaging way to read the text which requires participation by all students.

Storyboarding: Following the Alive Reading, participants created storyboards to identify the beginning, middle, and end of the story they just heard.



Yes, and... Storytelling:  This strategy required participants to collaborate and recall the details of the story by adding on to what their partner said. 
Color, Symbol, Image: Color Symbol Image, also known as CSI, is a thinking routine that helps students grasp big ideas and make connections. 
Creating Text: Stories of Transformation
Narrative Writing
In his introduction to narrative writing, Kurt asked participants to develop a non-human character to write about. They listed the character's name, dreams, and fears. After sharing in pairs, they revisited their storyboard template. They then created a story of transformation about their new character with a beginning, middle, and end.
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Bare Bones Sentences
Liz Remington showed participants how to build sentences in a fun, simple and engaging way, starting with the bare bones - the subject and the predicate. Engaging all the senses, workshop attendees built robust sentences using this clear and effective technique.
Afternoon Break out Sessions
The afternoon gave participants the opportunity to dig into their unit plans. There was a unit plan given to every school for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades. Each Moonshot Academy Facilitator left with a complete unit plan and the texts that accompany them. Fran McDonough, Leslie Connelly and Debbi Arseneaux broke out in three separate groups and each group had the opportunity to plan for their respective Moonshot Academies.

"So grateful for this! Took me from zero knowledge to 'can't wait to implement.'" - Participant Feedback

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