My name is Leah Wood and I teach learning disabled and dyslexic students at Eastwood High School for the Ysleta Independent School District in El Paso, Texas. I use the Reading Horizons program. My students and I experience tremendous success with it. I find it works miracles for some students who have been told that they would never learn how to read above a certain grade level or read at all.
The Reading Horizons program teaches the forty-two sounds of the alphabet and a method of decoding. This program uses a marking system to teach learning disabled and dyslexic students how to read or improve their existing reading ability. It imparts the student with a useful tool to read. The marking system works by teaching the student to mark all the phonetic sounds that they learn with certain symbols. The students are at the board, so grading is done as the student performs each task. The feedback and results are immediate for the students. Corrections are done as the mistakes are made to enhance and increase learning. The program allows for modifications to fit any readers’ needs or levels. I believe the Reading Horizons program is truly an amazing instrument, primarily in its versatility. It can be used effectively with not only the learning disabled or adult beginning readers but with any level of reader.
The Ysleta ISD used the phonics as a pilot program with my resource reading class. Previously there existed no “reading program” for the learning disabled students in the reading class. When I was asked to try the program, I agreed. Previous techniques were ineffective. I pre-tested my students and most scored between a pre-primer and a third-grade reading level. Within two months, each student increased at least one full reading level. At age fifteen, Joe* tested at a pre-primer level. After working with the program for two and a half years he now scores at a 3.5 reading level. John, a severely dyslexic student, is currently taking Chemistry and doing well. Richard had no registered reading level when he began the course in October of 1993. After extensive work and quite a few battles in which I tried to convince him why he should learn to read, Richard now reads at a 2.5 reading level. Richard is a 16-year-old gang member from Dallas, Texas. He remarked he did not need to know how to read because his “homeboys” would take care of him. When he came to the realization that this may not occur, he began to learn quickly with the Reading Horizons program. Those who have worked with him before are rather impressed with what he has accomplished.
Bob has been in the Reading Horizons program for two and a half years. His dyslexia is so severe that a reading level higher than second grade was doubtful. After a long struggle and hard work, Bob is an honor roll student doing great with a 6.0 reading level! Pat first tested at a 2.5 reading level. He is now the best reader in the class with a 6.5 reading level. Juan is a bilingual student who has struggled in his high school classes due to the language barrier and the learning disabilities both in English and Spanish. Reading Horizons has helped to improve his English and raise his reading grade two level. Sue is a borderline MR student (mentally retarded) who has a good reading level for her ability. She has improved it and gained greater reading comprehension when she reads silently and aloud as well.
The program not only teaches learning disabled students how to read, but it also increases their overall self-esteem. It allows them to improve in their class work and outside life. Joe went from a C and D student who was getting involved with the wrong crowd to an A and B honor roll student involved in community activities. This may sound extreme, but this student’s self-esteem was so low that he expressed he felt worthless because he could not read. Once the reading began, his situation drastically improved. My student’s spelling and writing abilities have improved additionally. The method of coding that the program teaches aides learning disabled students in thinking about the words as they spell and write them. The program concentrates on comprehension and word meaning throughout each level and lesson.
The Reading Horizons program has been a blessing to my students. It has opened up a whole new world. I have seen such great improvements in their overall lives in terms of school works and self-esteem. I believe that is has saved many of my students from going down the wrong track in life. They have taken leaps and bounds in their reading abilities.
Grade Level: Secondary