To the Editor:
I was pleased that you recently featured my school’s work in combining literacy instruction with social-skills development (“Programs Impart Social Skills Along With Literacy,” Dec. 20, 2006). There are a couple of additional points I would like to make.
When I became the principal of Harding Elementary School in 2000, scores in reading and math were stagnant, and there were 259 discipline referrals reported for the school year. My colleagues and I realized that we had to address both the academic and social-emotional needs of these children to increase their achievement.
This led us to the Voices Reading program by Zaner-Bloser, described in your article. We saw it as a comprehensive reading program, one that not only addressed the five areas of effective reading instruction and used multicultural children’s literature, but also integrated social-skills development into the curriculum.
Robert J. Marzano and his associates conducted an independent research study to measure the impact of Voices Reading on the reading achievement and social-skills development of students at Harding during the 2005-06 school year. The study found that students in grades 1 and 2 who were taught using the program outperformed students who were not.
Schoolwide, discipline referrals also dropped, and teachers reported fewer behavior problems in the classrooms, greater order and respect in the hallways, and increased interest in learning.
Voices Reading goes beyond teaching basic reading skills. The program, co-authored by Catherine E. Snow of Harvard University, effectively and systematically integrates reading, writing, speaking, listening, and social-emotional-skills development. It is the most comprehensive, engaging, and flexible reading program that my teachers have ever used.
Harding Elementary School
A version of this article appeared in the March 07, 2007 edition of Education Week as Program Linking Literacy, Social Skills Draws Praise