I teach in the literacy program at a correctional institution in Kentucky. My students are adult males who frequently express embarrassment at their inability to read. For years, these men have not responded to traditional teaching methods; therefore, they believe that the written word is beyond their reach and have, for the most part, resigned themselves to lives crippled by the lack of this most important skill.
In addition to their fear of failing once again, my students initially view with apprehension ‘taking reading lessons on a computer.’ I am happy to report that the Reading Horizons program is so user friendly, my students quickly overcome their fears; indeed, they often can be heard bragging to students from other classes about using technology for instruction. Also, finding phonics materials that are not elementary in design is often a challenge. The format of Reading Horizons eliminates this problem, as it is perfectly suited to the adult learner. My students have never been embarrassed or insulted by the lessons shown on their screens.
As a teacher, I am particularly happy with the teach-practice-test format of Reading Horizons. I also appreciate the fact that students cannot continue to another lesson until mastery of the current lesson is achieved, and I love the printed progress reports the program provides. Reading Horizons allows the student to work independently, but it is also designed so that instructors can interact with students as necessary.
Of course, the true test of any program is how effectively student progress is achieved. For the five years Reading Horizons has been a part of my literacy classroom, every student has shown a gain in his reading skills. The average gain has been from a 0.0 reading level to a 4.0 reading level.
My students and I appreciate the Reading Horizons program. My students appreciate being able to participate in a reading world, appreciate being able to tell their children that they can read, and they appreciate the chance of securing better jobs when they are no longer incarcerated.