Review of Reading Horizons
Reading Improvement: A Journal Devoted to the Teaching of Reading
Volume 27, Number 3, Fall 1990
Doris E. Kennedy
Georgia Southern College
The Reading Horizons program was implemented within a six week summer program for 39 students with learning and/or behavior problems. Using the Brigance Inventory as a pre and posttest measure, significant gains were noted in reading and reading related skills for 22 of the students with a mean score gain for the remaining 17.
The discussion of what method of reading instruction is best and how children learn and retain the most knowledge is a very current and continuing. Beginning with the 1970's the importance of phonics teaching seemed to have become generally accepted and the research question turned to what kind of phonics program would be most effective. Among the characteristics differentiating the phonics programs are whether letter-sound relations are taught directly or inferred with words, whether instruction is given in blending the separate letter sounds (directed-synthetic phonics), or whether phonics elements are analyzed from larger units (indirect-analysis).
Classroom research shows that on the average, children who are taught phonics get off to a better start in learning to read than children who are not taught phonics (Chall, 1989). The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of the Reading Horizons Program (Lockhart, 1989) within a six week summer tutorial program entitled Reading Enrichment Summer Tutorial (REST) and the summer Opportunity School (SOS). These summer programs for elementary age students used Reading Horizons as the focal point of the morning schedule.
Reading Horizons is a series of lesson based primarily on the alphabet, the 5 phonetic rule and a 2-step decoding system. This program appears useful with students having difficulty in reading and spelling, a student who is a "beginner," or for adults who wish to improve their reading skills. A teaching manual with audio tape for the teacher is provided along with several teaching charts. A video tape is also available.
Projects REST and SOS involved six classrooms for elementary age students grades two through six. All 39 students had some type of reading/learning problem, most falling into the guidelines of learning disabilities, and/or behavior disorders with the exception of three who were in the program for enrichment.
These students were instructed in small group tutorial situations for the most part. There were three thirty minute segments of intensive phonics on various levels. These involved letter recognition, word-attak skills, spelling, decoding, vocabulary expansion, comprehension skills, writing and utilization of combined skills.
Sections of the Brigance Inventory (Brigance, 1977) were adapted for pretest and posttest purposes. The children's auditory and visual discrimination skills were evaluated before and after six weeks of using Reading Horizons.
A comparison of the pre and posttest score of the Brigance Inventory (Brigance, 1977) using the Student's T test resulted in a T value of 3.7090, significant beyond the .0001 level for the REST students (n=22). Students in the SOS program (n=17) did not demonstrate a significant gain based on a student's T test, but did show a gain in the pre and posttest mean scores. This lack of a significant gain may be due to the fact that SOS students scored higher on the pre-test measure.
Although only six weeks of phonics instruction were given, significant gains were noted for one group. The authors found word attack skills improved for students completing other academic tasks requiring reading such as math word problems, language experience and leisure time reading.
Brigance, A. H. (1977). Brigance diagnostic inventory of basic skills. Curriculum Associates, Inc.
Chall, Jeanne S. (1989). Learning to read: The great debate 20 years later. Phi Delta Kappan, March, p. 521-536.
Lockhart, C. F. (1989). Discover intensive phonics for yourself (rev. ed.) Decatur, IL: Char-L.
Catherine E. Loughlin and Mavis D. Martin (1987). Supporting Literacy. Developing Effective learning Environments. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.
The Authors are concerned with helping elementary and early childhood teachers arrange classroom time environments that encourage children's growth in literacy. They draw on two bodies of current research, the first concerning the learning environment, and the second involving the reading process and the acquisition of literacy. Environmental principles are reviewed and specific examples are provided from classrooms arranged by teachers who have understood and applied these principles effectively. In addition, Supporting Literacy builds on a framework for language and literacy acquisition that is rooted in the home and community and that emphasizes the utility of language stimuli, along with instructions on how to use the survey as an evaluation instrument.
Jamie Potter and Janet Powers (1985). The Happy Garden. Greene, New York: Gopher Graphics.
The booklet is intended as a means to introduce children to the pleasure of gardening. The booklet serves as an introduction to the vegetables and flowers one grows in a garden. It is highly picturesque in format.