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Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum Offers Opportunity To Reduce Bullying

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Feb. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Reducing bullying in schools could be as simple as choosing the right curriculum and learning materials. That's according to researchers and top district leaders who emphasized at a recent national Educational Summit, Beyond Bullying: Safe Schools, Successful Students, the importance of a curriculum that incorporates social-emotional learning (SEL). The Summit presenters showed how SEL (teaching skills that include managing emotions, developing empathy, and establishing positive relationships) can reduce bullying by promoting positive school climates that foster student success. Programs such as Voices Literature & Writing enable students to internalize SEL-related lessons - while improving academically.

Summit presenter, Allison Dymnicki, Ph.D., from the American Institutes for Research, discussed a large meta-analysis involving a group of over two hundred school-based, universal SEL programs. Results indicated that - compared to control groups - participants in the SEL programs demonstrated not only significant improvement in SEL skills, but also in academic performance (as reflected in achievement test scores that had risen by 11 percentile points). 

With research-based programs such as Voices Literature & Writing, released this past year by Zaner-Bloser, teachers can help boost academic achievement and promote pro-social behavior both in and out of the classroom. Voices Literature & Writing centers around six relatable themes: Identity Awareness; Perspective Taking; Conflict Resolution; Family, Friends, and Community; Social Awareness; and Democracy. The program's core component of culturally rich Teacher Read-Alouds from award-winning authors and illustrators also offers Minilessons and Response Writing Activities that encourage student participation and self-reflection.

Rachael Cooper, a third grade teacher and literacy liaison at Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School in New York City, used Voices Literature & Writing to teach literacy and address bullying in her classroom. Cooper's students were able to identify with the characters and situations in books from the program, such as "My Secret Bully" by Trudy Ludwig. Follow-up writing activities provided students with opportunities to compare texts, reflect on the connections they made to the stories, and process how they related with the characters.

"They were excited to do something about bullying," says Cooper. "They learned how to define bullying and identify victims of bullying…they became empowered to solve their problems without violence."

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