B.A. in Mathematics, 2010; Teacher Credential 2012
School of Education
April 1, 2010
Doctoral Student Blends Research with Practice to Benefit Area Elementary Students
Shelly VanAmburg is a Ph.D. student specializing in Learning, Cognition, and Development. Prior to beginning the Ph.D. program, Shelly attended UCI as an undergraduate, majoring in Studio Art and Psychology and Social Behavior. Shelly also minored in Education, which helped develop her desire to continue work in the field of Education. As an undergraduate, Shelly participated in the ArtsBridge outreach program as an ArtsBridge scholar (working in K-12 classrooms) and peer mentor for three years, teaching visual art and dance to elementary school children throughout Orange County.
In her second year of the Ph.D. program, Shelly has reconnected with the ArtsBridge program through the UCI Center for Learning through the Arts and Technology (CLA&T), directed by Professor Liane Brouillette. The CLA&T and ArtsBridge America have recently partnered with Reading in Motion (RIM) to bring an innovative curriculum to elementary schools in Southern California. The RIM curriculum was developed by the non-profit RIM organization in 1983 to assist at-risk inner city Chicago, Illinois students in high poverty neighborhood schools. The sequential curricula, which integrates music and drama into language arts lessons, was developed from years of experience working with students and is based on well-documented research about how children learn.
The RIM program has been very successful in the Chicagoland area, gaining national recognition. The recent partnership between RIM and ArtsBridge provides access to the RIM curricula to children served by 24 university-based ArtsBridge sites nation-wide, with the goal of replicating the success in Chicago and improving literacy skills in young children. Through ArtsBridge and RIM, university students teach weekly lessons to kindergarten students at nearby elementary schools. The ArtsBridge RIM lessons use music, movement, and drama to teach phonemic awareness and language arts skills to kindergarten and first grade students.
In Spring 2009, a 7-hour workshop was offered at the ArtsBridge America conference, held at UCI, for university students and faculty mentors interested in learning the kindergarten curriculum of RIM teaching methods. The ArtsBridge/RIM program is currently being implemented at several universities throughout the United States, including UCI, where Shelly is leading a team of three undergraduate research assistants teaching the RIM program at a local elementary school.
Shelly and her team are utilizing the RIM program to help children who speak a language other than English at home or who have been assigned to a special day class learn literacy skills. With the assistance of UCI undergraduate Jessica Haugen, Jackie Wang, and Rebecca Wang, Shelly is helping kindergarteners get a head start in learning literacy skills through music. Preliminary data analysis has indicated that the RIM lessons have assisted young ELLs in learning English by providing exposure to oral English and practice in oral English during the school day. Analysis of literacy performance assessments is currently underway to determine if the RIM lessons have improved the phonemic skills of students in the classroom.
Due to the success of the ArtsBridge/RIM partnership, Shelly is helping organize the next ArtsBridge America conference, which will again be held at UCI in Spring 2010. RIM will be holding two 7-hour workshops at the upcoming ArtsBridge America conference. University students and faculty members will have the opportunity to participate in either the kindergarten or first grade curriculum workshop. Next year, Shelly will expand her undergraduate research team to offer RIM lessons to both kindergarten and first grade ELL students throughout Orange County.