Re-visioning Intervention for Dyslexics and Other Outside-the-Box Learners – Wings to Soar Online Academy’s Hybrid Solution

January 7, 2019

Jeannette Tuionetoa

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While this article summarizes Wings to Soar Online Academy’s unique hybrid intervention solution, many of the principles apply whether you choose to work with Wings to Soar. Look for the bold phrases throughout the article to help you find these principles. Evaluate whether you are already using these key principles we have found are so important for intervention success for struggling learners in your homeschooling.

Wings to Soar online academy

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 custom Path to Success™ Learning Plan for each student. Start with free Just-Right Level™ Assessments to identify each student’s specific skills gaps.

Our Intervention Specialist will recommend a Personalized Path to Success™ Learning Plan. She’ll tailor this plan using learning concerns the parent expressed on the initial Just-Right Level™ Assessment request form, assessment results, and insights from the parent during a complimentary Path to Success™ Curriculum Consultation. This draws from over 25 different online programs offered through Wings to Soar Online Academy. Lean into our years of experience, training, and expertise. Using our free trial gets to just the right combination for each student quicker and with less hassle than a parent having to figure it out themselves. Our weekly usage reports and more detailed quarterly reports provide progress monitoring that increases the odds that students will effectively use the programs. This means the parent is no longer alone in monitoring their child’s education. They have a partner. We provide information about the student’s performance to guide the daily check-in and check-out they should have with each student. Students have an additional outside source of accountability.

We begin at the student’s actual functional level in each skill area. 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 writing levels. We do the same for math with gaps identified in each skill strand. Working at this Just-Right Level™ in each skill strand challenges them, but at a level where they can achieve confident and independent success.

We back down to the student’s Just-Right Level™ in each skill and bump up the overall time and intensity with short practice sessions in a few different programs. This strategy allows for the needed repetition and practice for the brain to build the neural pathways for automaticity of the skills. It allows the brain to have adequate time to assimilate the learning. This can be more effective than a similar amount of practice time in a single program even if the program itself is of high quality. Also, this minimizes student resistance and maximizes engagement with the programs. Using several programs provides variety and keeps any one program from becoming boring.

Most of the programs we use are diagnostic and prescriptive. This means the programs identify what the student knows and doesn’t know and constantly adjusts the learning path based on the student’s responses. If the student has trouble learning a concept in one program, the different presentation in another program will help them to “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 each click of the mouse the student makes determines what instruction they receive next.

Most dyslexics need one to three years of an Orton-Gillingham phonics-based approach. Wings to Soar Online Academy achieves faster results with far less resistance by using a custom combination of online programs that support core Orton-Gillingham principles from multiple perspectives. This approach gets 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 may be useful individually, the way we recommend using them together is getting more powerful results. When used according to our recommended plan students typically see 1 ½-3 year skill gains in a single school year.

In addition to laying a solid phonics foundation, many students 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 they hear it read aloud to support visual recognition of words. We also offer programs that provide supplementary instruction and practice specifically on comprehension skills, vocabulary development, and language skills such as grammar, usage, and mechanics.

While we work on building foundational reading skills, students can explore writing informally, with the parent acting as scribe to get used to the idea of being a writer. Once students have at least a solid 3rd/4th-grade reading level, we move them into our more structured small group webcam based writing intervention classes. Our writing teacher designed these courses specifically for 5th-12th grade age students with language-based learning challenges. Powerful scaffolds she’s developed support students in learning how to write strong sentences, basic paragraphs, then expanded paragraphs, and essays in a variety of genres. Once students can write paragraphs we add a computer program with powerful artificial intelligence feedback and built-in skill instruction. This augments the feedback in their regular one-to-one sessions with our writing coach.

As students work in their custom Path to Success™ Learning Plan, go as slow as they need, but as fast as they are ready. Many of the programs include targeted re-teaching as needed. The goal is mastery, not mere coverage of the curriculum. As the student uses their intervention plan, we will monitor their progress and make adjustments. We are teaching a child, not a curriculum. The quality online curricula we choose are merely tools.

Wings to Soar Online Academy partners with parents as co-teachers to help students experience success. Our teachers provide expertise in curricula, learning challenges, and strategies. Parents need to be on the front lines every day, observing how their child interacts with the programs. We value parent feedback so we can use expertise to further tailor our recommendations.

Parents need to implement the changes suggested by the progress reports. 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. Parents are ultimately responsible to make sure the student does the work. Time in the programs is the biggest predictor of gains. Parent need to communicate with the teacher if they perceive a need for modifications.

Wings to Soar Online Academy offers

  • Quality curriculum customized to your child’s needs
  • an approach that centers on 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. Whether you enroll your student in any of our programs, knowing where your child is 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 down and filling in any gaps will lay a foundation for further learning. Ignore concerns about where your child “should” be functioning. Intensive work at their actual level will help them fill in the gaps and eventually get where they should be.


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