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LEAP program improves literacy

February 24, 2009 4:06:02 PM PST
At time when budgets are being slashed, there's an educational program that's getting increased funding and showing signs of success.It's called LEAP, and it stands for "learning through an expanded arts program."

At PS 135 in East Flatbush, they do more than simply talk about parts of speech.

"We do a lot of fun activities to help us learn," student Tahj Cochrane said.

The teacher tells students to imagine.

The class does pantomime, acting out their lessons.

The teaching technique comes from "LEAP." The program is based on the idea that reading and writing skills can be improved by opening children's imaginations and tapping into their creativity.

"It helps me improve my writing, because it makes me learn bigger words so I could write more sentences," student Janiah Smith said.

The students also keep word lists and play vocabulary games.

Principal Penny Grinage sees results.

"I was just checking one of my grades' writing and their writing is more prolific," she said. "They have more to say."

The creative approach is also used in math and social studies. Ila Lane-Gross, who founded LEAP, says students have scored well on six years of testing by researchers.

"They outscore children not in the program, in the same peer group, on 85 per cent of the skills tested," she said.

There are some 300 LEAP programs across the metropolitan area. They have become extra tools for educators to improve student progress.

WEB PRODUCED BY: Lila Corn


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