LeAp and Citigroup directors congratulated students from various Queens, Brooklyn, and Bronx schools for their creative art projects with honorary certificates and a reception.
The exhibition featured artwork by students in the nationally recognized Active Learning Leads to Literacy (ALLL) program, which is a hands-on, art-based literacy program. ALLL targets students in kindergarten through second grade and aims to increase standardized test scores. The program is endorsed by the federal and state Department of Education.
“LeAp, as an organization, is really unique in that we start with academics and we teach the academics through art,” said Ila Lane Gross, executive director of LeAp. “Every piece that you look at here has been involved with research, literacy, math, science, and social studies in one form or another.”
The art exhibition included literary sock puppets, historical graphic novels and Eric Carle-inspired masks, the author and illustrator of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
The program teaches teachers how to use educational strategies that help students become “avid readers and writers.” These innovative methods are shown through the artwork, where engaging art programs, such as Picasso-inspired guitars, help teach the academic curriculum.
According to LeAP, research has shown that ALLL‘s strategies have improved students’ writing and reading skills, reading comprehension, and vocabulary. ALLL’s students show 18 percent greater improvement and have outperformed their peers when tested on 23 literacy skills.
Amy Petrone is a first grade teacher at P.S.315 in the Bronx, and she utilizes LeAp methods to engage her students. “It incorporates art, music, dance, everything into the literacy curriculum,” said Petrone.
“Their reading has increased," she added. "Their letter recognition, sound correspondence, and writing has really become superb.”
Christopher Polanco, a former student of Petrone, helped paint “The Magical Rainforest” mural, a piece that was displayed high up for everyone at the event to see.
“I made a macaw with my group,” said Polanco, “and everybody else was making an eagle, a hawk, and animals like that. We were having fun. We got encouraged with birds a lot.”
Polanco is also appreciative of the program because it helped him learn more. “It helped me get better at spelling and writing and reading," he said. "It helped me by reading a lot of words.”