Curriculum Details for
Wilson Reading System
Content Expert Reviewer
Shari Dickstein, doctoral candidate in Educational Policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is also an independent instructional consultant. A former New York City high school teacher and adjunct professor at New York University, she now works with urban school districts (New York, Boston and Prince George's County) in a variety of ways to improve teaching quality and instruction at the systemic level. She has co-created instructional manuals on literacy and "writing across the curriculum" for students at Baruch College (an affiliate of the City University of New York) and on best practices for developing teachers for urban youth (for Boston's Teacher Residency program). Currently, she is working with Harvard's Teacher Education program to develop curriculum and on an evaluation of alternative teacher education programs in Prince George's County (Maryland).
- Program is designed to show students how to decode and spell.
- Constant stress on sounds, consonants and vowels, letter and word formation throughout the curriculum is critical.
- Curriculum includes a host of activities for students that engage them in sounding out vowels and in relation to consonants. This is key, as vowels can be more difficult than consonants for children to accurately identify and spell.
- The materials included are colorful and compelling tools for teaching.
- Spelling and decoding
- Manipulating sounds within words
- Phonics and phonological processing
- Constant stress on sounds, consonants, and vowels, as well as letter and word formation.
- Independent learning and studying.
- Can build self-confidence and other non-academic skills, depending on teacher’s interaction with students.
Alignment to Standards
Not explicitly aligned with any standards, but without the academic skills of spelling and reading that form the basis for this curriculum, students would be hard-pressed to master any learning standard.
- Student completion of “student notebooks”
- Additional work products completed by the students
- Dictation exercises and read-aloud exercises
- Curriculum is highly structured, such that teachers are provided with all of the materials necessary to deliver the content effectively.
- There is little flexibility in regard to content. Teachers can elect whether or not to teach the specific content as suggested; however, given that the skills emphasized are meant to build upon one another, a huge diversion may interrupt the natural learning process for students.
- Many of the activities in the workbooks are directly linked to the stories provided by Wilson Reading Systems.
- While most of the instruction is teacher-directed, the emphasis on skill-building for students lends itself to a variety of student-centered, hands-on learning tasks.
Addressing Diverse Student Needs
- Teachers can tailor instruction in ways to make it most meaningful for students.
- Variety of activities allows adaptation for students of different learning styles.
Learning Styles Addressed
- Content and activities geared toward younger students are developmentally appropriate.
- While materials designed for older students teach appropriate skills, the content of the stories is more appropriate for younger students.
- The curriculum is visual and can reach and adapt to a variety of learning styles.
- Interpersonal learning: Emphasis on read-aloud and using “word cards” and “syllable cards” with each other. Curriculum is very interactive and gets students and teachers to interact with each other in creative ways.
- Artistic learning: The props, books, worksheets, and stories all lend themselves to opportunities for the teacher to incorporate artistic activities to enhance learning.
- Curriculum does not explicitly address students’ diverse backgrounds.
- Stories lack cultural relevance to a variety of backgrounds.
Strengths and Challenges
Challenges and Drawbacks
- Comprehensive curriculum; leaves no vocabulary, spelling or reading skill unturned or unexplored.
- Thorough instruction teaches skills in-depth.
- Materials are varied and are simultaneously accessible for many learners and a variety of learning styles.
- Volume of material – manuals, books, journals, cards, DVDs, etc. – may require the teacher to take a good deal of time becoming familiar with and mastering the curriculum.
- Materials are well-suited toward reading specialists or classrooms with more than one teacher.