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Celebrating 20 Years of Evidence-Based Education and SpellRead

The journey of a Reading Rockstar.

By Halifax Learning on Thu, Oct 20, 2022 @ 02:33 PM

 

Welcome to Halifax Learning.

We are so excited to begin this journey with you and your child. At Halifax Learning, we are leaders in evidence-driven, science of reading program delivery and teacher training.  

Our goal is your child’s literacy success. At the end of their time with us, students are confident, efficient readers! Collectively, we have worked with thousands of children, youth, and adults to achieve this outcome. Ensuring equity in literacy skill acquisition is very important to us and it's our privilege to be working with your child. 

We pride ourselves on delivering a program that is responsive and inclusive, and an in-person or online classroom experience that is collaborative, kind, and confidence-building. 

So how do we start?

Let’s start with an assessment

Our free, in-depth literacy skills assessment helps us understand your child’s needs and allows us to place them in a class with other students their age and skill level. We also use this assessment as a benchmark, as your child will be re-assessed at the halfway point and at the end of the program. 

The battery of tests we use is well-known and highly regarded in the academic world. We encourage you to share these with your child’s teacher at school, and we’re available to meet with additional school professionals to share more information.  

 

If you are keen to skip ahead and have an assessment and consult - please click here! 

 

What to expect when you start a class?

Whether you are working with one of our teachers in person or online, our goal is to make sure your child is coming into a welcoming and encouraging space.                                                                

  • All of our teachers have post-secondary education, but most importantly, they are excellent coaches, mentors, and cheerleaders! They all participate in SpellRead’s teacher training program and there is a support team behind them all the way to make sure your child is progressing. 

  • You will have brief communication with your child’s instructor at the end of each class, either in person or by way of email. The goal of this communication is to make sure you understand the homework assigned and also to give you any highlights of this class - new sounds learned or how active reading and writing connections went. 

  • Because our teachers are heavily supported by Halifax Learning support specialists, if we feel as though we’re encountering a hiccup, a member of our support team will reach out and set up a time to connect. 

  • You will hear from our Admissions Director a few times within their first month of classes to make sure things are going smoothly, but feel free to reach out to her if you have questions.

Want to see inside a classroom? Take a peek with us now:)

 

What does the class flow look like?

  • Our classes are typically 60-90 minutes long. During that time, students spend about 55% of the class on linguistic foundations and 45% of the class on active reading and writing connections.   We work in small groups and group students based on age/grade and skill level.  The goal is that one child is never held back or pushed forward before they are ready. 

  • There are three phases to the SpellRead program: A, B, C. All students start in Phase A; depending on the initial assessment and age of a student, sometimes Phase A can take just a few months to complete, or sometimes it takes the better part of a year. 

  • When we meet to discuss your child’s progress assessment, we will be able to talk more about whether or not they will complete all three phases during their full-year program with us and if not, whether or not they need to.

    Age and grade have a lot to do with it - but don’t worry. Our most important goal is to make sure your child is closing their gap and working towards ensuring literacy skills are at or above grade level. 

 

What are our touchpoints? You can put these on your calendar! 

  • Two-week mark - homework/calendar of events information is sent 
  • Two-month mark - you will receive a note from us with more detail on what you should be expecting to see from your child two months in, how time with us is impacting their self-confidence and school work
  • Five-month mark - your child will have their interim assessment followed by a meeting time with our support team to review the results and programming in general 
  • Eight-month mark - you will receive a note from us with more detail on what you should be expecting to see from your child eight months in, how time with us is impacting their self-confidence and school work
  • Completing the program - most students complete the program in about a year.  At this point you will be contacted about their exit -assessment, a time to review their progress and a time to go over the maintenance package we will be sending home 

 

Communication:

  • Parents have direct contact with our support team at any time.  
  • Consistent communication with the instructor. 
  • Upon request - we can facilitate a meeting with a child’s school and meet with a school team to talk about all programming and ways to provide some wrap-around.

 

Would you like to schedule a 15-minute conversation and just chat? Click here. We would love to talk. 

 

 

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Let's talk about the value of efficient literacy skills!

By Halifax Learning on Thu, Oct 20, 2022 @ 02:26 PM

Let’s talk about affordability and value! 

At Halifax Learning, we understand that our program is an investment however we know that the value of secure and efficient literacy skills is priceless!  Our goal is to ensure reading efficiently, maximizing the imaginative potential of each brain and the economic impact of every individual!

At our centre, we celebrate the importance of “human capital.” The most important resource in our world is people and our children. Literacy and poor literacy levels are at the root of many issues. We know we can help change this however it’s challenging for many families to access when we consider the cost of raising children in an inflationary environment.

We’ve created this document to help you better understand what the investment in SpellRead looks like short-term and long-term and some other ways to possibly help offset this cost. 

What do our payment plans look like? 

We offer payment plans designed to work within a family's budget.  This could mean paying over an extended period of time if necessary.

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Our hourly rate is $63 per hour. In general, the majority of students are with us for between 120-140 hours. 

What is the value of this investment? This is a question we are often asked! 

The goal of SpellRead is to ensure that all students’ literacy skills move to a point where they are at or even above grade level, and most importantly, to ensure these skills are sustainable. 

  •  Poor literacy skills should never be a barrier to an individual reaching their potential. 

  • Your child will be working in an inclusive environment with other children of a similar age and skill set (based on our in-depth literacy assessment) with a highly qualified SpellRead instructor.  

  • All of our instructors have a post-secondary education and all come to us with excellent coaching, mentoring, and cheerleading skills! We train them in our methodology with continuous internal program support specialists who are supporting our instructors and your children - RESULTS MATTER! 

  • We are also available to meet with your child’s school and explain our program and explore any opportunities to provide more of a wraparound approach and incorporate homework support during their school day. 

Would you like to hear what other parents are saying or review our results? We publish our student results quarterly and welcome all parent and student feedback. Click here to learn more

 

What are our touchpoints as your child journeys through our program? 

  • Two-week mark - homework/calendar of events information is sent 
  • Two-month mark - you will receive a note from us with more detail on what you should be expecting to see from your child two months in, how time with us is impacting their self-confidence and school work
  • Five-month mark - your child will have their interim assessment followed by a meeting time with our support team to review the results and programming in general 
  • Eight-month mark - you will receive a note from us with more detail on what you should be expecting to see from your child eight months in, how time with us is impacting their self-confidence and school work
  • Completing the program - most students complete the program in about a year.  At this point, you will be contacted about their exit -assessment, a time to review their progress, and a time to go over the maintenance package we will be sending home 

 

Communication is very important! 

  • Parents have direct contact with our support team at any time.  
  • Consistent communication with your child's instructor.
  • Upon request - we can facilitate a meeting with a child’s school and meet with a school team to discuss our programming and ways to provide some wrap-around instruction.


Is cost a barrier? It can be and we want to be able to help with this! 

After the assessment, we’ll sit down and discuss our payment plan options with you and answer any questions. Our goal is to work with you so that your child can access the value of our program without it becoming a stressful monthly payment. 

~The payment doesn't last forever but the results do! ~

 

Here are some helpful tips to explore as you consider affordability: 

Extended Health Benefits

Do you have an EAP (employee assistance plan) through health coverage or through an employer? Be sure to ask:

  • Is a doctor’s referral needed?
  • How much coverage do I have and when is the renewal (most plans are based on a calendar year but this is not always true)?
  • Are there any restrictions?

Tax Credits & Benefits

Your child and/or family may be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit and/or Child Disability Benefit. The CRA website or your accountant/financial advisor can help you determine your eligibility.

If you would like to know more about the disability tax credit, you can watch this webinar by Dyslexia Canada.

Another possible option is to claim your SpellRead tuition as a medical expense when you do your taxes. You can learn more here. To claim a medical expense, you will need a doctor’s referral to the program.  

If you would like to discuss our program results or see if SpellRead is a good fit for your child, please reach out today! 

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What You Need to Know About Ontario's Right to Read Inquiry

By Halifax Learning on Fri, Feb 25, 2022 @ 09:53 AM

Reading is an essential skill that will serve students well in school and later on in life. For students with reading-related learning disabilities, reading poses additional challenges that impact the rest of their school performance.

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In October of 2019, the Ontario Human Rights Human Rights Commission (OHRC) began an inquiry to determine whether or not learning-challenged students were facing human rights violations in the course of their education in public schools since learning to read is a fundamental right for all students.

Are Ontario schools adequately meeting the needs of at-risk readers?

In essence, the Commission is working to determine if Ontario public schools are meeting the reading instructional needs of learning-disabled students.

The findings, due to be released February 2022, could also benefit low-income, First Nations, English language learners, new arrivals, and other marginalized student groups, as well as students at risk of developing learning disabilities.

The commission’s inquiry is focused on accounts from educators, students, and parents across Ontario. Additionally, the commission is reviewing teacher training, school reading curricula, and consulting with experts. They are also reviewing school board policies and procedures as they relate to students with reading-related learning disabilities.

The OHRC is interested in hearing about the concerns and challenges faced by students in Ontario’s public school system.

The OHRC is focusing on the following benchmarks in their inquiry:

  • Universal design for learning
  • Reading intervention programs
  • Mandatory early screenings
  • Effective accommodations
  • Psycho-educational assessments (if needed)

COVID19's impact on student learning outcomes

The commission also learned of the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on learning-challenged students. School closures and distance learning posed extra challenges, and created a negative impact on student learning, compounding the students’ ongoing difficulties.

Both the OHRC and disability rights groups raised concerns in the following areas:

  • Technology
  • Professional services
  • Personal contact
  • Specialized programming
  • Screening
  • Instruction
  • Summer learning programs
  • Shared legal responsibility
  • Identification, Placement, and Review Committees (IPRCs) and Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and the duty to accommodate

As of October 2021, the commission began the process of finalizing the Right to Read Inquiry report. The report will contain detailed recommendations and findings for school boards, government, education faculties, curriculum/instruction, reading interventions, learning accommodations, professional assessments, early screenings, and systemic issues faced by learning-challenged students.

The final report is expected to be released in February 2022.

Reading is a fundamental skill that needs to be accessible to all students, regardless of their learning status or achievement level. The Right to Read Inquiry will determine if the needs of Ontario’s learning-challenged students are being met, and whether or not these and other at-risk students are experiencing human rights violations in the course of their education.

We are grateful to the many professionals who generously gave their time and guidance throughout the public inquiry, including Dr. Siegle from UBC and Dr. Jamie Metsala from MSVU, a well-known name in our local community and a Literacy Researcher & Advocate for Effective Early Reading Instruction & Reading Interventions.

The results of the inquiry could help to shape educational public policy in the years to come, and to remedy inequalities present in Ontario public schools. We also anticipate that the policy may have an impact on other areas of Canada and we hope to see its influence here in Nova Scotia.  

Learn more and follow report details here

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Black History Month 2021

By Shakisha Downey on Sun, Feb 14, 2021 @ 01:41 PM

February is Black History month in Nova Scotia.

We are so appreciative that our own Shakisha was willing to share her story and some excellent resources on why we need to focus on Black History this month and every month.  

Thank you Shakisha for all you do for Halifax Learning and for sharing.

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Below are 11 articles and videos that I believe everyone in Nova Scotia should read, reflect on and consider as we start 2021. It is a lot of information BUT if we are to really examine the history of Black Nova Scotians and have meaningful and informed conversations about Black History and the experiences of Black Nova Scotians, this is a good starting point. 

I would encourage you to download and read one of these pieces each week, giving time to reflect on the social context in between. 

I chose these pieces to share because they are very close to home to me. It was not until I began my Social Work program at Dalhousie University that I realized how truly removed and unengaged I was about my own cultural history, even as a Black Nova Scotian from the largest Black community in Canada, North Preston. 

My ancestors were refugees from America and Jamaica who upon arrival to Nova Scotia were provided land in what is known today as the Preston communities. These communities were nearly impossible to build up and support efficient standards of living. Despite an incredibly rich legacy of dedication to the land they built into the communities they are today, residents of Preston still struggle for clear titles from the government to land that has now been in our families for many generations. In this way, structures in society enable the segregation of Black peoples within areas associated with and subject to poverty, crime, waste and pollution. In addition, the media predominantly portrays North Preston, in particular, as dangerous, violent, and puts emphasis on the issues of drugs, guns, and sexualized violence that the community has struggled with. These representations play a huge role in perpetuating the oppression of Black Nova Scotians as well as Indigenous populations in this province- they are strategically demonized into the position of “the others'', as depicted in these pieces.

With increasing awareness and remembering this history through literature and community engagement, I am able to recognize and critically analyze how our Black and Indigenous communities have survived on the basis of resilience, resistance and reclamation for so many years, and take action towards advancing social justice. I aim for this in both my professional and academic career, recognizing a clear connection between the opportunities for success, stability and autonomy available to marginalized communities and literacy skills. The importance of literacy to this cause is that it is essential for social and human development and expression.

Literacy provides us with skills that empower us to comprehend dynamic social justice issues that persist today and in turn transform lives, including our own.

Gbenga Akintokun. (2020, June 2). Once Upon a Black Halifax [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCFsRcOZT7A&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop

How do we ensure that the historical teachings today and in the future are presented in whats that properly represent Black people in the development of this province and the Country? We must look back and remember, and never allow ourselves to forget.  
 
Once Upon a Black Halifax discusses the history of the Black community in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the struggles Black communities faced trying to achieve recognition and acceptance in our society. This history of Halifax taught in schools is very much rooted in colonial ideals of community with pockets of information regarding highly publicized Black communities such as Africville and North Preston. Though a look at Black history in Halifax reveals the richness of the Black community in Halifax and the varying achievements of its people despite continued racism and segregation. We need to continue to highlight the accomplishments and contributions of the Black community for generations to come, and not just during Black History Month. 
 
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"If you are White, you belong here, if you are Black, you are just, here." - Shindgai Nyajeka
 
Back in 1992, a number of Black students from a predominantly white high school in Halifax began working to establish a Cultural Awareness Youth Group (CAYG). The CAYG would become a vehicle for endorsing pride and self-esteem among Black students through education and cultural programs aimed at remembering the richness of their heritage and learn new ways to effect change in their communities. In particular, this video highlights the ways in which "whiteness" has historically been and remains the norm in our society including in the education system. The normative "whiteness" is maintained through institutionalized racism which holds Black people and other marginalized peoples including Indigenous communities, away from positions of power, privilege. 
 
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Hamilton, S. (Director). (1992). Speak It! From the Heart of Black Nova Scotia. [Film]. National Film Board of Canada. https://www.nfb.ca/film/speak_it_from_heart_of_black_nova_scotia/

 

From 1992- 2021, has real change been implemented to make room for Black students and Black History in education?  

 
I challenge educators to expand their own understandings of history to include the unwritten and previously seldom taught legacy of Nova Scotia's Black communities and the achievements of our people. These stories are still being written, and it is not too late to encourage our students to write their own stories in bold so they will never be forgotten. 
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Side note to educators- Something to think about
 
With Covid 19, how has access to quality education differed within the Black and Indigenous communities of Nova Scotia in comparison to the predominantly white communities and schools? 
How as an educator can you reduce the gap in equal opportunities for progress and literacy amongst all your students to ensure no one is left behind? 
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I came across this article featuring a classmate of mine from High school who is finishing up his MSW. He highlights the importance of making space for Black learnings and teachers within the education system.

Acting for Change.

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https://blackspan.com/include/african-descent-education-reports.htm -

Links to a number of works on educational barriers for Black Nova Scotians from 1994- 2019.

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More states, from the government "How Are We Doing? Baseline Data on African Nova Scotian Learners"

https://dbdli.ca/wp-content/uploads/Baseline-Data-on-African-Nova-Scotian-Learners.pdf

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The Nova Scotia Brotherhood Fund expands Black Nova Scotian's Mental Health Supports (for Black men) 

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Africentric Mind, Body and Breath- A Mental health Partnership of the Black Wellness Cooperative and the Heather Association of African Canadians Funded by the Canadian Red Cross, based on yoga, breathe and mindfulness practice to open and relax the body, release tension build spiritual awareness and reduce stress.

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And of course (our continued support for)  L.O.V. E NS- HRM youth inspiration and goal achievement in academics and social skills. 

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Also, this article highlights Black Nova Scotian writer and their work and they situate themselves and their identities within our society, which is built on white colonialist agendas and frameworks.

https://roommagazine.com/7-black-nova-scotian-writers-you-should-be-reading/

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 Article on the need for Africentric counselling in Nova Scotia

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The SpellRead Approach

By Halifax Learning on Mon, Mar 05, 2018 @ 11:42 AM

spellread read write spell learn tutor tutoring halifax learning spellread evidence-based reading program

SpellRead focuses on developing a student's "phonological automaticity", the ability to master sound-letter relationships and automatically process the sounds.  Activities in phonemic, phonetic, and language-based reading and writing form the foundation of SpellRead.  The SpellRead approach ensures that students' reading and writing skills become as developed and automatic as their verbal ability.

Students and educators see progress from the first lessons.  All lessons are clearly defined in the instruction manuals and taught in a carefully sequenced and explicit manner.  Each skills is thoroughly practiced in a fast-paced format so that students stay engaged in learning.

spellread read write spell learn tutor tutoring halifax learning spellread evidence-based reading program

SpellRead ensures students can automatically and efficiently decode all 44 sounds of the English language.  One way to ensure mastery of skills is through explicit, systematic, repetitive instruction that is equally effective and engaging.  SpellRead adheres to best practices in pedagogy by ensuring consistent, minimal language, positive reinforcement, fast-paced, multi-sensory program delivery.

What are the stats on SpellRead?

In one year our students:

  • learn how to effectively and efficiently decode new language using the 44 sounds of the English language.
  • are exposed to hundreds of new vocabulary terms without even touching a book.
  • take part in 25+ hours of Active Reading.
  • take part in 10+ hours of Writing Connections.
  • gain the confidence to approach new language with the tools identified by experts in reading research.
  • gain the skills to tackle school work and thrive!

 

Watch SpellRead in the classroom!

View our Student Results here.

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