“As complex as the reading process is,” states Tracy Hill, “my guiding principle is to instill hope and self-belief.”
A little bit of hope and self-belief, it seems, can go a long way.
“If/when these intrinsic traits are valued within,” she says, “I truly believe (that) with collaborative support strategies, all individuals can learn to understand the facets of reading; hence, ‘one-step-at-a-time’ progress can begin.”
Hill, a teacher at Naturita Elementary School in Naturita, Colorado, has 40 students between the first and sixth grades who are currently benefiting from this kind of philosophy and from the material presented in the Reading Horizons method. With only 30 minutes of direct-instruction in twice-weekly sessions, her students are learning how to read and to read well.
“After integrating the Reading Horizons method into the Naturita Elementary Title I program for the past two years,” she explains, “all Title I students have increased reading confidence, grade levels, and test scores. Furthermore, after review sessions at the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year, most intermediate students will progress to the advanced literacy program.”
The Reading Horizons approach has been successful, she says, because it “allows teachers to individualize learning; every student can be leveled to learn at his/her own pace. The immediate feedback in all areas is essential for accountability involving parents, classroom teachers, and administrators.”
Many of Hill’s students, she notes, come from backgrounds in which education isn’t emphasized and truancy is high or homes in which social services or the local law enforcement are involved. School, however, is the “comfort zone” and “stronghold” for these children.
“Our school system is the key domain to a literate community,” she sums up. “Literacy is crucial for all individuals.”