The Total Learning Institute has several initiatives, each with goals easily measured, along with those that are equally important (maybe more important) but more elusive. We have collected anecdotal, formative and summative data that paint a holistic picture of responsive adjustment and successful findings.

Our overarching hypothesis is that children want to learn, teachers want to teach well, and that developmentally appropriate practice puts active and creative learning in and through the arts at the heart of learning experiences. Every initiative is different based on the local needs and passions of our funders, however our philosophy has been valued because it is logical, evidence-based, and we rely on data collection to inform our work. While data is important, the smiles on faces of children and teachers every day, the deep and thoughtful approach to learning that is documented in useful products and consulting, and the on-going challenge that we feel to move forward with purpose every day are our sustaining evidence.

Total Literacy and Total Learning:

The CT Commission on the Arts’ HOT Schools provided early opportunities to develop an approach called HOT (Higher Order Thinking) Readers. The findings from Lyman School in Middlefield, CT showed that 2/3 of struggling 1st graders moved from non-readers to readers over an 8 week intervention.

The Kaleidscope Initivative in Michigan City, Indiana was funded by an ISTEP Up grant to low achieving school districts. Over the 5 year Total Literacy implementation, Michigan City moved from the State of Indiana’s failing districts to acceptable levels.

  • Kaleidoscope:  Building an Arts Infused Elementary Curriculum by Dr. N. Carlotta Parr, Indiana State Arts Consultant,  Dr. Jan Radford, Michigan City Area Schools Administrative Assistant for Curriculum & Instruction, and Dr. Susan Snyder, Scholar-in-Residence, Connecticut State Department of Education

During a several-year initiative at McDonough School in Hartford, CT, Total Literacy was the intervention for K-6th graders who were at least 1 year below reading benchmark in Success for All. During the reading block, these students received 20 minutes each of movement, music and visual art, all targeting their literacy skills. Again, 2/3 of children made significant gains in reading, moving multiple steps up.

There have been several TL initiatives where there was no funding to provide data collection. Anecdotal data suggests that there were changes in teacher attitudes, student liking of school, increased attendance on Total Literacy or Total Learning days, and changes in school and classroom climate.

The latest findings for Total Learning and Digital are in the seven year report from the Michael Cohen Group. The findings in this report are the most rigorous evaluation of our work to date, and suggest that we are ready to conduct larger implementations and research.

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