SUPPORTS FOR STUDENTS WITH DYSLEXIA, DYSGRAPHIA, & DYSCALCULIA
Students with dyslexia are by definition typically above average to gifted, but process text in different ways. They excel at seeing the big picture and making connections between disparate concepts. “Reading” is not just reading text, it includes audiobooks and text to speech. Schools often fail to meet all the needs of gifted students with dyslexia - either attempting to meet their dyslexia learning support needs or providing gifted programming. That results in students either feeling bored and that they’re “stupid” because they are working far below their mental capabilities, or feeling that they are stupid because they can’t keep up with the text based teaching and learning environment in many gifted programs.
IEPs and Assistive Technology for Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and Dyscalculia
An IEP is developed and implemented before each student with dyslexia and/or learning disabilities starts at Odyssey Heights School. IEPs are created with input from families, the student, past teachers, medical professionals and recent psychoeducational assessment. Ongoing and open dialog with families, the principal, medical and support professionals, and the student helps adjust to changing needs.
Odyssey Heights is a 1:1 iPad with keyboard & Apple Pencil school. All Apple devices have text-to-speech and speech-to-text as part of iOS and MacOS. iPads allow students to write in cursive as well as type. Cursive writing is accepted best practice for students with dyslexia.
“…cursive can help them [students with dyslexia] with the decoding process because it integrates hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and other brain and memory functions”
For students with dyslexia, reading materials can easily be converted to “Dyslexie” font - a special font created by and and for people with dyslexia that aids in reading text.
The blended learning environment for grades 7 & 8 uses multiple learning styles, and with the rare exception, all materials posted in students’ Canvas accounts are in accessible screenreader ready OCR format.
For grades 9-12, as all the credit courses are online, students can work at their own pace, with teacher guidance, academic coaching, and support. All materials are in accessible formats.
accessible Required Course Readings for Dyslexia:
All readings are in both paper book and text to speech accessible OCR PDF format. Most major readings are also available as Audible and/or Apple audiobooks. Some readings can also be converted into accessible “Dyslexie” font. Though the overnight trips are screen free, students with language based IEP needs can bring a Kindle e-reader to use just for the Harkness discussions. (Kindle e-readers read text aloud.)
For above average to gifted IQ students with language and math based IEP needs who are working below grade level.
How Odyssey Heights Helps Students With Dyslexia Who Are Behind Their Grade Level in School - Through No Fault of Their Own.
Sadly and horrifically, schools fail to provide a learning environment that supports and remediates for students dyslexia needs resulting in gifted and talented students working one or more grade levels below - when, with the right supports, they are capable of working one to two or more grade levels above their age.
Odyssey Heights offers an individualized “transition year” for students with dyslexia whose former schools have seriously failed to support them working at their potential. The goal is to get students up to excelling at grade level, and working as independently as their peers within their transition year. We call this year a “me year” for students and help them to understand that it’s a year to (finally) focus on what they need; that they are in the transition program because their former school failed, not because they failed.
Transition Year Program Overview
Students work one-on-one or in a small group of 2-3 girls on the research proven Logic of English program. Logic of English provides “linguistically accurate phonics instruction, spelling analysis, fluency practice, morphology and vocabulary development, grammar, and composition.” It covers rules and practice for 98% of all English words, and includes Latin, Greek, and French roots.
Students also work on their reading comprehension when reading with narrator read audiobooks and text to speech voices, as well as with Dyslexie font. They learn how to convert any physical text (such as a library book used for research) into text to speech enabled OCR PDF format on their iPad.
Learning cursive handwriting is crucial for students with all “dys” IEP needs, as it can physically change the structure of the brain. It is also a 21st C skill that is key to clearly handwriting on iPads and other tablets. At Odyssey Heights students learn The Rhythm of Handwriting program - a Logic of English extension - first on paper, then on their iPads.
An adaptive math test is taken to determine where a student actually is in their mastery of math concepts. Then students are guided through a program of mastery learning in math based on Khan Academy with a focus on learning strategies, and learning math facts using multi-sensory methods (e.g. multiplication, division with Montessori math bead materials.).
Students must take French as it is a core part of the program at Odyssey Heights. The DELF French program is more visual and much better structured and taught then Ontario Core French.
Ideally students in the transition year will be with some of their peers in a beginner A.1 class with 4-8 students, with an additional 1-2 hours of private instruction after school on Mondays and/or Tuesdays. However, there is the option of students taking two, one hour private lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and spending the remaining 30 minutes of the French period in individual or small group transition program lessons.
Are students still part of their class? Yes!
Students still participate in all class activities in other subjects. As 25% of school time is in hands-on trips with many activities being strongly visual-spatial based (a cognitive strength for many with “dys” needs), students may find that they excel and are leaders. All learning materials at Odyssey Heights are in accessible formats - not just ones given to students with IEPs, so using assistive technology is the norm.
Schedule & Homework
The exact schedule for each student depends on her individual needs. Some of the transition program occurs during regular school hours, while some is before school on Wednesdays, or after school on Thursdays.
Homework. The transition program is the one exception at Odyssey Heights to the No Homework Ever policy. This allows students to continue to work on all/almost all of the same coursework as their classmates, while still catching up to their grade level in math and language.
However, the amount of homework is usually minimal (15-30 minutes 3-5x/week), and typically at least half of it involves games and/or listening to audiobooks. For students commuting via GO train, it may be possible for the majority of the work to be done during their commute, turning homework into “train work”.
Transition Year Fees
Transition program: Fees vary depending on the needs of each student.
Math: Due to the nature of our math program at Odyssey Heights, transition year math needs can usually be accommodated during the school day and/or with minimal additional instruction. Fees range from $150/year (in class instruction) to $500+/year (before/after school). Depending on student needs family may need to purchase some additional hands-on math materials.
Language & Handwriting: Fees range from $500 to $2,000+/year, again depending on how much time before and after school is needed. Families will need to purchase Logic of English and Rhythm of Handwriting materials to use at school and at home.
French: Small group DELF French is included in tuition. Fees for private instruction is paid directly to Alliance-Français. Odyssey Heights students receive a 15% discount as they are all AF members. There is no “rebate” or credit for the included DELF small classes for families who choose to arrange private DELF French for their daughters during Tuesdays and Thursdays French classes.
Kindle e-Reader & Audible Audiobooks subscription. Students in the transition program are required to have a new Kindle e-reader with at least 32GB of storage, plus an Audible Gold Audiobooks subscription.
iPod/iPhone (not required): Students in the transition year may be allowed to use an iPod (strongly preferred) or their iPhone for some school work - especially in taking photographs to convert physical books and magazines into accessible text. They can also have their Logic of English phonics app and/or their dictionary open on their iPod while they are using their iPad to read in large print Dyslexie font and/or when making cursive or typed notes.