Students learn best when they are engaged. LATW’s Setting the Stage for Learning combines the power of professional theatre with the best features of interactive technology to create arts-based digital drama apps that captivate students’ attention while they learn.
Designed to meet the needs of students at all levels—from struggling readers to advanced learners—Setting the Stage for Learning deepens students’ understanding of complex literature and subject content, strengthening the critical thinking and problem-solving skills needed for academic and career success.
We invite you to learn more about LATW’s history serving schools and our Setting the Stage for Learning vision and plan:
LATW History with Schools:
LATW began our Alive & Aloud program in 1993 with a grant from the NEA. Our network of teachers has grown to over 3,000 middle and high school teachers in all 50 states.
Each year, LATW distributes two educationally related audio recordings; standards-aligned educational materials are downloadable from our website free-of-charge. Recordings range from core dramatic literature to docudramas and plays that address important historical events and themes in history, literature, science and more. To learn more, please visit our Alive & Aloud page.
What are LATW Educational Drama Apps?
The first of their kind, LATW’s educational drama apps are digital versions of the play text synced to a recording of our audio theatre performance, which enable students to read and listen to a professionally produced play at the same time on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Our first generation drama apps are a series of core dramatic literature titles including Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.
LATW is the first and only organization, commercial or nonprofit, to develop theatre-based text and audio-synced educational apps. Made for iOS, Android & Windows 8 smartphones and tablets, our apps are designed to meet the needs of students at all levels-- from struggling readers to advanced learners. They can be used anytime, anywhere, in and outside of the classroom, giving students more opportunity to interact with digital content and technology while learning at their own pace.
click here to watch a short app overview
Based on evaluation feedback, research on new standards (the learning goals for what a
student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade), and blended learning* methodologies, LATW is now developing our 2nd generation drama app, designed to address more than one set of subjects and academic standards. We are developing the first of this new template using The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial, LATW’s original docudrama based on transcripts of the 1925 Scopes Trial, which challenged the teaching of evolution in Tennessee public schools. Our Monkey Trial app integrates both English Language Arts (ELA) and Science standards, while also addressing skill and content standards for the Arts, providing a multidisciplinary standards-aligned, cross curricular learning tool that supports college and career success
Our 2nd generation Monkey Trial app also features advanced interactive tools and activities that engage students and enrich learning, including:
• Background materials such as timelines, photos, bios and links to external web resources
• Interactive lessons, activities and games
• Special features including an embedded thesaurus, pop-up definitions
• Assistive text-to-speech interface items and interactive graphic organizer
*Blended learning is an educational program or approach where students learn in part through delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media with some element of student control over time, place, path or pace.
Setting the Stage for Learning Goals:
Cost-effective and highly scalable, LATW’s Setting the Stage for Learning amplifies teachers and students’ access to high quality educational tools, unimpeded by geographic and economic barriers.
School districts increasingly use mobile devices, such as tablets, in the classroom. Currently, 35% of all U.S. high schools have tablet programs in place and the numbers are growing, including among schools serving disadvantaged youth. LATW’s long-term goal is to make our drama apps widely available to public high schools nationwide, and to provide them at little or no charge to underserved schools with tablet programs.
LATW aims to expand our drama app content and tools into online learning platforms, enabling accessibility on desktop and laptop computers to ensure widespread access across schools spanning the technological spectrum—from schools with tablet programs to schools reliant on in-class and mobile computer stations.
Additionally, LATW is working with school partners (see School Pilots and Partnerships below) to conduct pilots of the apps’ use in classrooms, and assist LATW in developing best practices for teachers and replicable models for blended learning and student-driven development projects.
Evaluation and Impact:
Before we begin broader distribution of our apps, we want to show clear evidence of their impact on student learning. Therefore, we are conducting formal evaluations and school pilots to investigate our drama apps’ impact and effectiveness with teachers and schools.
LATW recently completed a formal program evaluation with four San Diego public schools using our app. Overall, study participants were very positive about the app and the experience of using it. A strong majority of survey respondents greatly enjoyed the app, found using it to be an effective and affecting experience, and wanted to use it again. The evaluation noted specific outcomes, including:
• Engaging students in material: students expressed delight in play coming to life.
• Teachers and district arts administrators identify apps as effective instructional tools.
• Students perceive app as useful academic tool (e.g. help complete assignments, write better about the play, and understand characters and vocabulary, and give more confidence to tackle complex literature)
• Teachers say advantages of using text/audio synced app: easier for students to learn vocabulary, made challenging text less intimidating, provided dramatic interpretation of the text, made characters and the plot understandable, thus bridging students to more complex concepts. Teachers were impressed by quality of the performances and ease of navigating script.
School Pilots and Partnerships:
Canyon Crest Academy, San Dieguito Union High School District: LATW collaborated with Canyon Crest Academy (CCA), a public school in the San Diego area, in a yearlong partnership project focused on our digital drama apps. Five 11th graders in the CCA’s after-school humanities and arts Conservatory took our Romeo and Juliet app and created a companion iBook, featuring standards-aligned materials, lesson plans and new interactive features. Participating students then piloted our app and their companion iBook with two 9th grade classes. The project was so successful that we are continuing our partnership with CCA over the next two years with student-led projects using LATW’s The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial and additional multidisciplinary app titles. This new project will include an additional component where LATW and the Conservatory will develop a model for student-driven projects that can be shared and duplicated. We also are investigating having the Conservatory’s student team and faculty join us to present at upcoming technology-focused educational conferences.
See Canyon Crest students and teachers talk about the Canyon Crest Romeo & Juliet app project.
NYC Department of Education: Building on the positive results of our San Diego evaluation study, LATW is partnering with the New York City Department of Education to develop and implement a wide-scale pilot project and independent evaluation to assess the functionality, usability and effectiveness of our apps in teaching single-subject courses as well as interdisciplinary instruction. Slated to take place during the spring 2015 semester, the study will provide metrics on key elements, such as student engagement and deeper learning of core content.