Minneapolis, Minn. – After the tumult of the last 2+ years, the words ‘pivot’ and ‘pandemic’ are now inextricably linked. When the pandemic began, teachers, administrators, and parents did what was necessary to keep students learning.
‘Fun’ was a back-burner word as ‘functional’ took precedence. Very few leaders considered ways to engage students in movement-based, experiential learning, much less bring theater into the classroom. Ward Eames, however, was immersed in creating and executing a master plan to do just that.
Eames founded The National Theatre for Children (NTC) in 1978 and knows firsthand the positive effects of theater-based learning for children. It was with this foundation that NTC launched the Livestream Learning Studio (the Studio), a theater-based, real-time learning program.
“We saw an immediate, urgent need to engage students with a fun, performing arts curriculum,” Eames shares. “We know academics suffered during the pandemic, but social-emotional learning was also a casualty of the virtual learning environment. We’re seeing these issues manifest in behavioral and learning problems. And we know the Studio can help.”
The Studio’s programming teaches students these critical social skills while adhering to national and state academic standards. The weekly performances incorporate relevant topics and come with worksheets, activities, and other supplemental curriculum to seamlessly integrate into lesson planning and free up precious time for teachers.
The Studio released a second white paper [need link] to complement its first, solidifying the importance of including social-emotional learning and the arts in schools to best serve a student population in dire need of these skills.
“As students transition back to classrooms, there is no ‘normal’ after young learners existed in a virtual learning space for so long,” Eames says. “The Studio provides programming that got exceptional results during our national pilot program last school year. Teachers who piloted our live, weekly programming particularly appreciated the attention paid to social-emotional learning.”
Why is SEL so important?
Social-emotional learning is an umbrella term that encompasses many focused skills like grit, growth mindset, social skills, positive character traits, understanding emotions, problem-solving, and empathy. Such skills are essential for successful learning as well as excelling in adulthood, and honing these skills requires peer interactions that are not possible in a remote environment.
As more learners head back to the traditional classroom, there is a huge opportunity to meet students where they are. A focus on SEL is one important way to do this, as many children continue to feel the negative effects of trauma and stress related to the pandemic.
With the formation and launch of the Studio, Eames notes, “We recognized the need for teachers to provide academic and emotional growth for students using an engaging, age-appropriate platform.”
The Studio’s creators also acknowledged the expectation for teachers to do more with fewer resources, including time and money. Eames emphasizes the Studio’s curriculum is not just another bullet on the to-do list.
“The Studio’s weekly performances are a 30-minute time commitment that combine arts, academics, and naturally produced the SEL today’s classrooms desperately need.” The annual subscription is a per-building cost of $2,650 and includes supplemental resources like worksheets, lesson plans, and additional activities to ensure the concepts are incorporated into the broader learning landscape.
The curriculum offerings for the 22-23 schoolyear are already set, and the focus will be focused on grades 3 – 5. The Studio’s offerings will eventually expand to encompass K-12.
For more information or to schedule a demo, visit www.livestreamlearningstudio.com.
Livestream Learning Studio is based in Minneapolis, MN and provides livestream, theater-based learning for K – 12 students nationwide in a variety of school settings. The Studio’s programming includes weekly, 30-minute interactive live real-time theater performances that cover relevant, timely, important topics for students throughout the schoolyear. Join live to use our interactive features or watch later on-demand.
The National Theatre for Children is the largest touring educational theatre company in the world and is based in Minneapolis, MN. Since 1978, NTC has successfully tackled topics like financial literacy, energy issues, conservation, health care, smoking prevention, recycling, STEM, nutrition, bullying prevention, and more. NTC has proven theatre can educate and entertain. Our educational outreach programs are entirely underwritten by corporate, non-profit, and governmental sponsors who want to help deliver healthy-living messages to students and their families. NTC performs approximately 7,000 times a year throughout the country, actively engaging millions of students and parents through its programming.
Livestream Learning Studio
7003 West Lake Street, Suite 250
St. Louis Park
Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Sounder Mirror journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.