Saturday, August 27, 2005

Review: "Right Track Reading Lessons"

A Review of Right Track Reading Lessons – Miscese R. Gagen
Reviewed by Mary C. Gildersleeve

Can you believe there is another reading program that promises proficiency? Well, Right Track Reading Lessons, by Miscese R. Gagen looks pretty good as an option. At $25.00 a book, it’s not necessarily a cheap option, but I like the way Ms. Gagen keeps it simple. It’s all text with no colored pictures or glitzy-ness – what you see is what you get. She recommends home-made or inexpensive manipulatives to teach the sounds – the 44 smallest unit sounds that must be mastered for reading proficiency. Her game suggestions can be created the night before the lesson with minimal effort or expense.
Ms. Gagen’s method is a systematic-direct phonics instruction where you teach your child explicitly and directly in a very organized and complete manner. Her book is comprised of 102 scripted lessons to reinforce what has been learned while also teaching new sounds or combinations. She takes the common or simple sounds first, than the uncommon or complex. She then moves to multiple sounds for vowels (short, long, combined), the r-controlled combinations and then on to the more uncommon phonograms.
Ms. Gagen has included word-lists which illustrate each lesson as well as suggestions for manipulatives and games to reinforce the learning. An advocate of short lessons, (never longer than 20-30 minutes), she does recommend a schedule of daily practice with the phonics – and a caution NOT to move on until you and the child are comfortable with the current lesson.
I like much of what she says, and will implement some of her ideas and games, but I won’t use her program exclusively to teach my own family. I just don’t think it’s enough, as a stand-alone program, to get a child interested in wanting to learn to read.
Another negative is a personal pet peeve – the author constantly uses “kid” or “kids” instead of “child” or “student”. The lack of formality bothered me a bit. Also, the book needs an editor to catch misspellings or words that spell-check can’t find (i.e., “your” instead of “you’re”).
If you’d like further information or to purchase this phonics program, check out Ms. Gagen’s website at She has sample chapters and further explanations of her system to get your child on the “right track to reading proficiency”.


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