The story begins in the 1930s, when physician researchers Dr. Samuel T. Orton and Anna Gillingham concluded that struggling readers flourished when exposed to the structured patterns of explicit, systematic phonics instruction.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined that effective reading instruction is built on the following foundation:
- a thorough understanding of the alphabetic principle,
- plus the ability to read sight words
- and be proficient in reading words by matching speech sounds to parts of the words.
So how did we loose sight of the simplicity and effectiveness of phonics instruction? Why did we, and why do we, turn to the whole-word approach of sight-reading? Especially when we know that this process does not work for many students, including those with even minor learning disabilities. Those are interesting questions that cannot be answered in this blog post and so the debate will continue.
Mastering essential vocabulary and reading concepts is most-often achieved through the principles of the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading. Reading Horizons provides this same methodology of intensive, systematic instruction – meaning sequential understanding of phonics – in its online software. The Reading Horizons v5 and Discover Intensive Phonics for Yourself programs are highly effective for traditional students, ESL students, and adults who have not been able to learn to read through more traditional methods – often in 40-60 hours of instruction.
Teachers and parents who use this method report that they see results quickly in phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, fluency, and comprehension. We’d like to hear your success stories. Share them here.