It’s springtime! Let’s read!

Reading is one of my all-time favorite pastimes. When I am in the midst of a good book, time stops, and all I want to do is read, read, read. Many years ago, when I was traveling in Europe, in Sevilla, Spain to be exact, I was so absorbed in my book, that all I did while I was there was sit outside the pension I was staying in, read my book, and drink the best sangria ever! I barely explored the city, I just read and was in heaven!

For me, one of the joys of life is to take a deep dive into a well-written book. It allows me to escape from all of the intensity of everyday life. I feel fortunate to come from a long lineage of readers—my grandparents, parents, and siblings are all voracious readers. My daughters, thankfully, also love to read and devour books that they enjoy with gusto!

Being able to read is a fundamental skill in today’s world. If a second grader can’t read the instructions of a math problem, that second grader won’t be able to do the functions required, not because the student doesn’t understand the math assignment, but because the student can’t properly read the question. If reading is an issue as the student gets older, the student will fall further and further behind. For this reason, Horizons places a lot of emphasis on helping our students become better readers, and we expose them to all types of genres and literature.

Our reading specialists

We are very fortunate to have two outstanding reading specialists as part of our Horizons at Colorado Academy team, Celina Gomez and Eleanora Archie. Both are veteran teachers and have specialized in teaching students how to read. It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted students’ learning, especially younger students just learning how to read. For this reason, both Eleanora and Celina have been working one-on-one during the school year with some of our most critical needs students to help them better grasp reading fundamentals.

The technique that Celina and Eleanora use is called Orton-Gillingham, which was developed in the 1920s and is still a wonderful tool for students to learn the basics of reading. It is defined as “a direct, explicit, multisensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy when reading, writing, and spelling does not come easily to individuals, such as those with dyslexia.”

Furthermore, since many of our students are English-language learners, the Orton-Gillingham method breaks down the concepts of reading and scaffolds learning, so that it is easier for students to understand.

As a team, we have decided to integrate the Orton-Gillingham methodology as much as possible into our elementary classrooms this summer, so that we can enhance the work that Celina and Eleanora are doing with the students when they work with them in small groups. During our March professional development training for our staff, we dived into the Orton-Gillingham method and talked about various ways it can be used in the classroom setting.

It will be very interesting to see how this technique, when combined with classroom instruction and reading specialist instruction, supports our reading program this summer. We are hopeful that we will see some promising results!

In the meantime, let’s keep on reading!