Path to Success™ Personalized Learning Plan
Our mission at Wings to Soar Online Academy is to break the chains of failure, inadequacy, and shame so often associated with dyslexia and other outside-the-box learning needs. We address the whole person, building the skills and confidence to thrive and succeed in school and life, not just survive. We do this by creating a Path to Success™ Personalized Learning Plan for each student. We start with free Just-Right Level™ Assessments to identify each student’s specific skill gaps.
Based on the findings from the Just-Right Level™ Assessments and insights from the parent during a complimentary Path to Success™ Curriculum Consultation, our intervention specialist recommends a Path to Success™ Personalized Learning Plan from over 25 different online programs offered through Wings to Soar. Not only do we offer years of experience, training, and expertise, but our free trial allows us to hone in on just the right combination of programs for each student with a lot less hassle and much quicker results than parents having to figure it out themselves. Our progress monitoring increases the odds that students make effective use of the programs. This means parents are no longer alone in monitoring their child’s education. They have a partner. They have information about their child’s performance to guide the daily check-in and check-out they should have with their child. Students have an additional outside source for accountability.
We begin at the student’s actual functional level in each skill area, backing up from where they’ve been working if necessary when creating their personalized learning plan.
Far more useful than a general “reading level,” we break it down to the foundational skills of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The assessments also address spelling, grammar, usage, and mechanics, and provide a snapshot of the student’s functional writing level. We do the same for math, with gaps identified in each skill strand. By working at their Just-Right Level in each skill area, the student is challenged, but at a level at which they can achieve confident and independent success.
We bump up the overall time and intensity with short practice sessions in a few different programs. This strategy allows for needed repetition and practice so the student’s brain can build neural pathways for automaticity of the skills. This allows their brain adequate time to assimilate the learning, which does not occur when a similar amount of practice time is devoted to a single program, even if the program itself is of high quality. It also minimizes student resistance and maximizes engagement with the programs. Using several programs in their personalized learning plan provides variety and keeps any one program from becoming boring.
The programs we use are diagnostic and prescriptive, meaning they are built to identify what the student knows and doesn’t know, while constantly adjusting the learning path based on the student’s responses. If the student cannot grasp a concept in one program, more than likely presenting it in a different way in another program will help them get it. Once the student has mastered the skill, each program automatically moves on without unnecessary repetition of already-learned skills. The power of the quality, adaptive, computer-based programs we’ve chosen is that quite often a click of the mouse literally determines what instruction the student will receive next. The program mix we use includes more programs than any one student will use in their personalized learning plan, and is constantly being updated as we find programs that do an even better job. Most dyslexics need one to three years of an Orton-Gillingham phonics-based approach. Wings to Soar achieves faster results with far less student resistance by using a custom combination of online programs that support core Orton-Gillingham principles. We get faster results with far less resistance and lower cost than I ever achieved doing one-to-one Orton-Gillingham tutoring. While each of these programs is useful individually, the way we recommend using them together within an individual student’s Path to Success™ Personalized Learning Plan achieves more powerful results.
In addition to a solid phonics foundation, many students also need focused instruction and practice to strengthen visual tracking, efficiency, stamina, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. Practice reading audio-supported material on a wide variety of subjects builds background knowledge, vocabulary, and interest in reading. One program we offer provides this at gradually increasing levels of difficulty, with each word highlighted as it is read aloud to support visual recognition of words. We also offer programs that provide supplementary instruction and specific practice in comprehension skills, vocabulary development, and language skills such as grammar, usage, and mechanics.
While we work on building foundational reading skills, students can begin to explore writing on an informal basis, largely with the parent acting as scribe so the student can get used to the idea of being a writer. Once students have at least a solid third-grade reading level, we move them into our more structured writing curriculum with instruction and feedback from our writing coach. Powerful scaffolds we’ve developed support students in learning how to write paragraphs, then expanded paragraphs, and finally essays in a variety of genres. Once students are able to write paragraphs we add a computer program with powerful artificial-intelligence feedback and built-in skill instruction, as well as regular one-to-one sessions with our writing coach.
As a student begins to work in their Path to Success™ Personalized Learning Plan, they are encouraged to go as slowly as they need to, but as quickly as they are ready to. Targeted reteaching is built into many of the programs as needed. The goal is mastery, not mere coverage of the curriculum. As the student uses their intervention plan, we monitor their progress and make adjustments if necessary. Students do not progress at the same rate in all areas, so the balance of the mix might need adjusting from time to time to get the maximum benefit. After all, we are teaching a child, not a curriculum. The quality online curricula we choose are merely tools.
Wings to Soar is dedicated to student achievement in learning
We want to see students succeed. However “we” is not only our staff. It includes the parent(s) as well. Our staff provides expertise in curricula, learning challenges, and strategies. Parents know their children. They have struggled with them and have seen what works and what doesn’t. They experience their children at their best and their worst, their strengths and their challenges. We are co-teachers of these children. For example, a parent can choose to reward a student with extra time in a program they love as motivation to complete something they resist. Or a student’s health or family circumstances might necessitate modifications in a group class assignment for a particular student at a particular time. Although all assignments are already customized to the student’s needs, external circumstances can’t always be predicted. Wings to Soar works with parents to adjust accordingly. We do not work only with the child; we work within the framework of the child’s entire life, including family life.
To do this effectively we need to build a solid, working relationship with the parent, who is co-teacher, through regular communication. Monitored progress reports can tell you only so much. Parents need to be on the front lines every day, observing how their child interacts with the programs. Wings to Soar greatly values parent feedback so that we can help each family even more expertly with their child’s learning needs. Parents need to ensure that the changes suggested by the progress reports are implemented. Is the required time being put in? Are assignments completed? If things continue being done in the same way as before, one can’t expect improved results.
Students respond better when there are multiple sources of accountability supporting each other. Teachers can’t be effective when parents do not support them. Parents must enforce implementation of suggestions the teacher makes for improvement or communicate why they are impractical so that the teacher can make other suggestions.
The teacher is responsible for teaching, making and correcting assignments, and providing feedback on progress or the lack thereof. Parents are ultimately responsible for seeing that the student does the work. They must also communicate with the teacher when they perceive a need for modifications.
Parent and student interactions with our teachers take our whole-person, child-centered (in the context of the family) approach to a whole new level. Through one-to-one and small-group webcam interaction, our teachers help dyslexics and other outside-the-box learners gain the confidence and skills they need to succeed in school and in life.
For families that choose to homeschool, we offer science and social studies courses at the middle school and high school levels that can be added to a student’s Path to Success™ Personalized Learning Plan. We use quality online curricula that include full audio support for text, while other content is presented through images, video, and virtual labs. Wings to Soar emphasizes comprehension, not spitting back facts, at all levels. Quizzes and tests are not emphasized, and are open-note. The student’s understanding is demonstrated through weekly small-group webcam discussions that are considered far more important than tests.
At the middle school and high school levels, we weave social studies, literature, and composition together to create a series of classes that we call Integrated Liberal Studies. The reading and writing assignments do double-duty in more than one subject area; for example, a composition assignment builds on a history lesson. At the high school level, our rich, four-year Integrated Liberal Studies sequence uses history as the organizing spine and weaves in art and music appreciation, government, economics, archeology, anthropology, philosophy and religion, literature, and composition. Students make deep connections with the subject matter and find that diverse fields have relevance to each other. Students learn through a variety of approaches including reading (and/or listening), watching videos, small-group webcam discussions, writing about what they’re learning, virtual field trips, debates, and role-playing. Using a variety of methods for taking in content taps in to the dyslexic strengths of contextual learning and interaction. Integrated Liberal Studies embraces diverse learning styles, making it ideal for many students, dyslexic or not, struggling or not.
Students receive a rich education that is usually only available to those with strong reading and writing skills. We are able to offer this experience by keeping their individual ability levels and challenges in mind and making accommodations as necessary. Assignments can be modified to fit the student’s skill level. As stated before, Wings to Soar staff members have the expertise, but parents are co-teachers. As such, they have our permission to make any adjustment to any assignment that their child needs in order to be successful. Accommodations are standard and normal at Wings to Soar. We encourage accommodations, such as speech-to-text, audio support, and parents as scribes, for all students who would benefit from them.
A student’s whole-person well-being is more important than any given assignment. While we have high expectations for our students, we understand that some days are more challenging than others. We provide a healthy balance of grace and accountability. If the student has a non-academic opportunity or need that temporarily outweighs a particular assignment being completed on time, our teachers work with the student to make sure that what is important receives the focus it deserves. We ask that parents communicate with us about why changes were necessary, though if a parent has a tendency to excuse their child from assignments or ignore progress reports too often we will call it to their attention and initiate a conversation to see how we can best work together. If the student is to make gains in overcoming their deficits, an adequate amount of work at an appropriate level is needed.
Wings to Soar Online Academy offers Path to Success™ Personalized Learning Plans:
● quality curriculum that is customized to your child’s needs
● an approach that centers around your child’s whole-person well-being
● innovative accommodations and modifications
I invite you to get your child started with our free Just-Right Level™ Assessments today. Whether or not you choose to enroll your student in any of our programs, knowing at what level your child is actually functioning should guide your educational choices. No child is a grade-level package. Every child functions at different levels in different subject areas, and even in different strands of the subject. Backing up and filling in gaps completes a foundation for further learning. We ask you to ignore concerns about where your child “should” be functioning. Work intensively at the level at which they really are, and eventually they will get to where they should be.