• 3 Habits that Lead Schools to THRIVE with the Reading Horizons Program

    3 Habits that Lead Schools to THRIVE with the Reading Horizons Program

    This content is based on an interview with Reading Horizons Director of Training and Dyslexia Specialist, Shantell Berrett. 

    It’s amazing how two people with seemingly similar resources can utilize and produce completely different results. In families, two siblings who grow up in the exact same house with the exact same parents and the exact same rules and expectations can end up leading two completely different lives with separate ideals. The same pattern shows up in schools. Two teachers with the same principal, same resources, and same environment can have completely different results in their classrooms. On an even larger plane, two schools with similar resources and student populations can have completely different levels of performance. It makes you wonder: what’s the difference between the schools that seem to thrive while other schools with the same opportunities seem to simply survive? 

    In regards to the schools that thrive with the Reading Horizons component of their curriculum, Shantell Berrett, Reading Horizons Director of Training, provided these three habits based on her observations from traveling from school to school across the country training teachers on effective implementation strategies:  ...

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    Jul 21 2014
  • 10 Summer Learning Activities [INFOGRAPHIC]

    10 Summer Learning Activities [INFOGRAPHIC]

    Researchers have found that summer is the number one cause of achievement deficits between students. Whether you’re a teacher with kids, a parent, a grandparent, an aunt—you can help the kids in your life keep learning even when they’re out of school for the summer. Here's a few ideas to add to your list: ...

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    Jun 27 2014
  • How to Keep Poor Performance from Demoralizing Struggling Readers

    How to Keep Poor Performance from Demoralizing Struggling Readers

    This year we started the first official Reading Horizons Softball Team. We're terrible. Like really terrible. We have fun… but we LOSE like crazy. It’s painful. Our score last week was 0-20. They didn’t even let us finish the game. Once the other team gets to 20… game over (even if there are still technically 12 minutes left in the game). It’s embarrassing. My new goal for us isn’t even to win… it’s for us to get half of the score of the other team. That would be success at this point. 

    (FYI: After writing this we met my goal that night and it felt like we won. Below is the photographic proof… that’s 16-9 [us being the 9]… we exceeded our goal!)


    Strangely… I still love it. I’m more determined than I’ve ever been in my life to improve my softball skills. I go to the batting cages every week (I still can’t hit…). I play catch for 30 minutes before every game. I ask everyone who knows anything about softball for strategy advice. I hope we need subs some weeks just so we can see if switching out one player helps (even though switching me out would probably make the biggest difference). I’d take any form of success at this point! As anyone who has experienced failure as bad as the Reading Horizons Softball Team learns: failure can be extremely motivating. 

    Failure as a Motivator

    One group of students that are exposed to struggle (and feelings of failure) early in life are those with dyslexia—for whom, learning to read is extremely difficult. For our In Your Own Backyard video series, we interviewed several individuals with dyslexia to learn how dyslexia affected them throughout their lives. A common trend prevailed across all of their stories: their reading difficulties motivated them either to improve their reading or to improve in another area of their life. 

    Author and Researcher, Margaret B. Rawson, dedicated 55 years of her life to studying the lives of 56 dyslexic boys. Her findings are published in her book, Dyslexia Over the Lifespan, and reveal patterns of learning and achievement for students with dyslexia consistent with those featured in the In Your Own Backyard video series. Rawson discovered that these students tend to be “late-bloomers” in regards to their education and that they usually perform very well in high school and college, eventually finding themselves in successful careers. In fact, the most difficult period for these students is in their elementary and middle school years. 

    By dealing with a challenge from such a young age, dyslexic students learn valuable lessons that help them develop a strong character. To get through their difficulties they must become determined and patient—qualities that set them up for a lifetime of success.

    Failure as a Discourager

    However, this isn’t always the case. We talk to teachers every day who are desperate to get struggling readers motivated to improve. After years of failing to learn to read these students want to stop trying. Perhaps if our softball failure stays as intense as it has been until the end of the season: I may never want to play softball ever again.

    The saddest thing to me about working for Reading Horizons and to anyone I tell about my job, is the number of inmates that struggle with reading. It’s easy to see how struggling with reading made them feel demoralized in the classroom, so much so, that they sought alternative and destructive paths trying to find a place to belong and succeed—only to end up in correctional facilities. 

    How to Help Students Learn from “Productive Failure”

    How do you find the balance? Is there a way to preserve the motivating power of failure while minimizing discouragement? ...

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    Jun 20 2014
  • Get the Most Out of Your Summer Break [For Teachers]

    Get the Most Out of Your Summer Break [For Teachers]

    There’s mixed emotions that come with completing a school year. It’s always sad to say goodbye to the students and people that you’ve come to love as you’ve helped them overcome challenges and spent such a significant amount of time with. But there’s also a huge feeling of relief and satisfaction that comes with the knowledge that you have a clean slate. Knowing that you are free of any of the burdens that were placed on you during the school year. Knowing that you don’t have to come home and grade papers. Knowing that you don’t have to hear from that difficult parent anymore. Your current concerns are wiped away and your brain can focus on something new.

    During the summer you get to enjoy relaxing, reading, spending time with your family or friends; but you might feel a lack of purpose or a sense of boredom with your sudden increase of extra time. 

    To everything good and worthwhile in life, there also comes challenges. You wanted to be a teacher and you enjoy being a teacher, but there is no doubt that teaching is full of challenges. You probably looked forward to your well-earned summer break, but you may want more purpose to your day now. 

    The challenge of life isn’t not having what you want… it’s learning how to find the good in every situation. To every situation in life, there is good. Sometimes we have to work harder to find the good. Sometimes the good is simply the lessons we learn from the challenge. But to all situations, if you choose to make the right choice… good things will come.

    So, with your extra time this summer: get as much as possible out of it. ...

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    Jun 02 2014
  • Components of an Effective ESL Curriculum—Insights from Former TESOL President

    Components of an Effective ESL Curriculum—Insights from Former TESOL President

    Have you ever been conflicted by two opposing opinions? Both opinions had merit and seemed logical—but—they also seemed to contradict each other. One of the most pervasive debates amongst educators, especially those involved in reading instruction for emerging readers, struggling readers, and English language learners, is: what approach is best when teaching reading: a phonics-based approach or a whole-language based approach? 

    Here are the insights of Dr. Neil J. Anderson, former TESOL President, on which of these is the most effective when providing reading instruction for ESL students. All italicized text is transcribed (with slight modifications for readability) from Dr. Anderson’s webinar presentation for Reading Horizons, Holding in the Bottom while Sustaining the Top: A Balanced Approach for L2 Reading Instruction.  

    To begin, here are Dr. Anderson’s definitions of the two different approaches used for teaching reading to ESL students: ...

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    May 23 2014
  • The Three Keys to Effective ESL Lesson Plans

    The Three Keys to Effective ESL Lesson Plans

    Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) is exciting! You are in a position to prepare students to interact and connect with the world in an entirely new way. You are giving them access to a language that will unlock new cultures, new relationships, and new information. Because you are in a position to have such a large impact on the lives of so many students—it's important to do it right. Focus on these three keys when planning your ESL lessons and you'll help put your students on the right track.  ...

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    May 12 2014
  • 5 Characteristics that Made Charlotte Lockhart a Visionary Leader

    5 Characteristics that Made Charlotte Lockhart a Visionary Leader

    Amazed at the foresight of the original author of Reading Horizons methodology, Charlotte Lockhart, the Reading Horizons curriculum team often describe her work as being “inspired” and “visionary.” And truly, her work is time-tested with contemporary research just catching up with and proving what she knew decades ago. 

    “Several years ago I was introduced to this method, and I was amazed at what I was learning. There were so many 'aha' moments. As I reflect on the fact that Charlotte wrote this method back in the sixties/early-seventies, it just floors me to think about the insight that she had. We're grateful for Charlotte's ability to meet so many needs, and every day were finding more and more needs that we're able to fill [with Charlotte’s method].” 

    – Heidi Hyte, Reading Horizons Curriculum Director

    How did Lockhart create something so durable and on-point decades before researchers even approached the idea? It would be impossible to capture all of her greatness, but these five characteristics attempt to highlight how she was able to have the impact she has on helping so many students and adults learn to read: ...

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    May 06 2014
  • 3 Ways to Help Students Get More from Vocabulary Instruction

    3 Ways to Help Students Get More from Vocabulary Instruction

    I have an interesting, emotional auto-response when I see or hear the term vocabulary instruction—feelings of dread and mind-numbing boredom are usually the first responses to arrive on the scene. These reactions are triggered by flashbacks of a never-ending list of words on a stark white sheet of paper with instructions to “look them up” in a dictionary and write the corresponding definitions. Sometimes, I was also instructed to write sentences using the vocabulary words. At first, this second activity appeared to hold a little more promise for being interesting and engaging, but it usually ended up being a mechanical act involving me making slight adjustments to the sample sentences found in the dictionary (just enough to avoid plagiarism) because I didn’t really understand what the words meant and consequently had no idea of how to use them in sentences. Most words on these lists held little interest for me—mainly because they were more often than not content-specific academic vocabulary words that I would rarely see again. Furthermore, the activity of writing (i.e., copying) the definitions seemed to be grossly inadequate in helping me store these words in my brain for future use. 

    It may seem that I have a negative bias towards vocabulary instruction, but truly, I do not. I know the vital importance of vocabulary knowledge for learning and comprehending text. I even knew it then. But for some reason, the processes of instruction and practice ended up feeling like mind-numbing busy work despite all my best efforts to engage.

    So what do my feelings and experiences mean? ...

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    Mar 24 2014
  • How to Promote Metacognition & "Growth Mindset" in the Classroom

    How to Promote Metacognition & "Growth Mindset" in the Classroom

    By John Mendes, Ed.D

    A crucial component to learning is being aware of our own thought process and consciously understanding how we process new information. This information allows us to have a better cognitive understanding of how our mind works, and this self-awareness will increase our overall learning efficiency. This insight allows learners to scaffold, using background knowledge and better utilizing learning strategies with focus and intent. Metacognitive skills are imperative in today’s classrooms, as we are preparing students to be tomorrow’s leaders and problem solvers.  

    Tips for Increasing Metacognition in the Classroom ...

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    Mar 19 2014

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