The Catholic University of America

July 8, 2010

Lively Instruction + Engaged Students = Knowledge Retention

CUA Professor Teaches How Drama Enlivens All Subjects

  Rosalind Flynn demonstrates Curriculum-Based Readers Theatre with students at a school in Selma, Ala.

What’s more fun, learning about fractions or discussing how to share a candy bar?

CUA Adjunct Professor of Drama Rosalind Flynn can help teachers turn talking into learning. “When learning is more engaging, students retain more knowledge,” she says.

Flynn and her colleague from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Marcia Daft, will present a weeklong workshop for teachers beginning Aug. 2 at Catholic University. The Summer Institute is titled “Drama and Music: Powerful Tools for Teaching Reading and Writing.”

In it, the duo will teach educators how to use drama and music across the curriculum to make learning more active and fun.

Flynn, a teaching artist at the Kennedy Center, shows teachers how to create Curriculum-Based Readers Theatre scripts. Based on curriculum content, these scripts are read aloud, not memorized. A sample script on fractions has students discussing how to divide a candy bar so they all get a piece.

“It is easier to get students to read a script five, 10 or 15 times than to have them read a chapter in a textbook that many times,” she says. By rehearsing the script numerous times students can gain more understanding of a topic and retain more information. The process also helps foster creativity in students and increases their class participation.

This method of instruction is targeted toward students in grades 2 through 6. Teachers have adapted it to older and younger students.

(To view sample scripts, visit

Educators will also learn ways to strengthen students’ oral expression and reading fluency. Daft, a musician, will teach Word Painting.

With this method, educators learn how to use rhythm, rhyme, meter and tempo to create chants and poetry that help students learn and retain information and improve their reading. A lesson on shapes might be taught by writing a poem listing shapes rhythmically or by rhyming them.

Students from the William E. Doar Charter School for Performing Arts in the Brookland neighborhood of Northeast D.C. will participate in workshop demonstrations.

Flynn believes that these methods — called arts integration — benefit teachers because they incorporate the arts into other subjects. “We’re showing them proven ways to teach through, in and with the arts,” she says. “We’re not asking them to teach the arts in addition to what they already teach.”

Flynn has been offering her summer institute across the country since 2006. She says attendees have said the methods are creative, active and fun — even when a script is about a non-dramatic subject, like science or math.

Teachers and administrators are encouraged to attend as teams. Attendees can earn three graduate credits in one week. On-campus housing is available.

For more information on the workshop or to sign up, visit

MEDIA: For more information, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.

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