TRANSITION YEAR PROGRAM
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.
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. 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. Ideally, students start in the July term prior to their September start and continue through the following July term.
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.
Kindle e-Reader & Audible Audiobooks subscription (required). Students in the transition program are required to have a new Kindle e-reader with at least 32GB of storage (and without 3G network access), plus an Audible Gold Audiobooks subscription. Note that the newest Kindle Paperwhite is waterproof - essential for the program at OHS. A Kindle and Audible subscription is highly recommended for students with most other IEP needs - particularly distractibility, and language needs.
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. Cellular data, and social media apps must be turned off. This is a privilege, and students using any of their devices for non-academic purposes are subject to the progressive discipline policies.