Reading with Relevance

Elementary SELect Program

Program Design

Reading with Relevance, ais an educational program that infuses social and emotional learning into an academic curriculum centered around common core aligned ELA strategies. The elementary edition provides teachers’ guides matched with high-interest works of literature. Each guide includes a comprehensive set of lesson plans exploring social/emotional and cultural themes including class, friendship, transitions, and loss among many others. Reading with Relevance unites cultural responsiveness, academic instruction, and SEL. The collection itself is based around culturally relevant and diverse texts, creating “windows and mirrors” where students have ample opportunities to learn about and reflect on their own lives and the lives of others. This promotes deep awareness of and respect for diversity along with opportunities to build self-awareness.

Each lesson follows a consistent plan which includes classroom discussion, prompts for reflective writing, teacher check-points for monitoring progress, and creative extension activities.

Implementation Support

Reading with Relevance’s recommend professional learning model is a half day or full day, depending on the needs of the school or district. The learning starts with a reflection on using books as windows and mirrors. Then, there is discussion around the diverse book movement and how diverse stories can help teach concrete SEL competencies. Participants learn about the five competencies and are introduced to sample lessons focused on each competency. To make the work more tangible, videos are shown representing diverse classroom applications of each competency. Participants learn about and discuss best practices for each element in the lesson plan structure, including how to introduce themes, guide student discussion, and create a culture of support for brave conversations. In the Train-the-Trainer sessions, the content remains the same with more opportunities to pause and discuss facilitation strategies and tools.

Reading with Relevance also offers multiple forms of technical assistance and implementation support including coaching, professional learning communities, and tools for monitoring implementation. Administrator support and coaching are very individualized around the needs of the leader or teacher. Reading with Relevance also provides tools to support adult SEL, such as their PLC self-study toolkit, which helps teachers build a reflective practice.

Evidence of Effectiveness

Results from a quasi-experimental evaluation conducted in 2018 supported the effectiveness of Reading with Relevance for elementary school students. In sum, this evaluation included 216 students who were in 3rd-5th grades. The control group consisted of 57% Black & 34% Hispanic and the treatment group consisted of 57% Black & 24% Hispanic, while 66% of treatment group were eligible for free or reduced lunch. This evaluation found that elementary school students who participated in the program had significantly higher reading ability scores compared to students in the control group (outcomes reported approximately 16 weeks after baseline) while controlling for pre-test outcomes.

Moving Forward Institute. (2018). Embedding social and emotional skill development in common core-aligned English language arts instruction: A study of program efficacy.Unpublished report.