Mission Makers: June — providing a transformative learning experience for students

Mission Makers: June — providing a transformative learning experience for students

June, an LDS remedial instructor, is a bubbly and energetic woman. Throughout her interview, June explained her adventurous and exciting life journey with such joy. From the way she fondly discussed the students she has worked with to how she described the neighbourhood near the LDS office as a “little Italian quarter with mountains in the background that reminds her of her time in Italy, June radiates happiness and laughter. 

June started her teaching career at an elementary school, but soon after she got the travel bug. She received her Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate and began teaching across Europe. Eventually, she found her way back to England and was working on-call and volunteering in her spare time. This was when June was introduced to a young student with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), which prompted her interest in dyslexia and learning differences. June went back to university to train as a Specialist Dyslexia Teacher and soon started working as a one-to-one remedial teacher. 

The experience of one particular student truly impacted June. The student came to June without the ability to read due to his dyslexia. “I worked with him for two years, and I thought ‘this is really quite hard. He wasn’t making much progress, and then suddenly, it all fell into place: he was reading, received accommodations for his exams, and eventually went to university. “He was flying! June exclaims with a laugh. He was June’s first student and case study during university, and she grew very fond of him. June is proud to say he received an art degree and is now a graphic designer. 

June has her own experiences with challenges, similar to students with dyslexia. She struggles with directions, sequencing, and working memory. “We all have our good days and bad days,” says June, “but it helps with my understanding of the students.” 

When asked what her favourite part about working with LDS is, June rattles off a lengthy list without a second thought. “I love that it’s student-centred, the contact with staff, and that LDS is so accommodating. I love that I can mix and match and work in schools, online, and in the Learning Centre. And the kids!” June exclaims. “Everything is just ideal.” 

“I love my students, June says. “I work with so many talented students, every single one of them. So creative, athletic, they all do something and it’s amazing. But they just don’t know it.” June includes positive self-talk, relevant subject matter, and activities that interest students iher lessons with them. She emphasizes her students’ strengths and builds on their talents and interests to encourage them.  

The most challenging part of her job, June says, is the lesson planning. “You need to plan loads and loads of stuff because you never know just how the lessons are going to go,” she says with a laugh. June is very mindful of the multi-sensory materials she prepares for students and includes activities for brain breaks. 

“I hope I can give them a transformative learning experience, and they can use the tools and strategies I teach them in their lives outside of LDS, and that can make a difference in their confidence and self-autonomy.” 

 

—Rie 

_________________ 

Rie Stadnichuk (she/her) is the Digital Communications Specialist at LDS. Currently studying Communications and Economics at Simon Fraser University, she hopes to use this opportunity as a way of exploring meaningful work in the field. She is passionate about social issues and creating environments of inclusivity and open dialogue. Rie graciously lives and works on the unceded territory of the Syilx people. 

LDS Sends Love and Strength to North Vancouver

Our sincerest condolences to the North Vancouver and Lynn Valley communities affected by this past weekend’s tragedy 

As a charity that strives to provide a safe space to learn for our students, we are deeply saddened that these crimes occurred in a gathering place for community and education.  

We hope we can soon reopen to the families we serve in this area and show that together we are resilient. In the meantime, LDS will be moving our North Vancouver sessions online this week out of respect for those involved and to ensure that our families are not unnecessarily affected by being in the area. 

Our thoughts are with the victims—may they recover quickly. And to North Vancouver’s libraries, businesses, and residents, our love and strength goes out to everyone impacted.  

Please know that the safety and health of our families are of the utmost importance to LDS. We encourage our families to reach out if they require further accommodations during these challenging times.  

With deepest sympathy on behalf of the LDS team,

Rachel S. Forbes, Executive Director

 

Mission Makers: Claire—advocating for accessibility

Mission Makers: Claire—advocating for accessibility

 “Some families come to us after being with a private tutor or organization because the services weren’t specialized or individualized for students with learning differences. More often than not, they were also financially inaccessible. I don’t think any child should go without, especially because of money, so if we can help, that’s incredible.—Claire, Program Manager 

For the last three years, Claire has been making a difference in our students’ lives through advocacy and her passion for teaching, first as an Instructor with the Learning Disabilities Society (LDS) and now as our Program Manager. 

Claire’s interest in educationspecifically her experiences as a Teacher’s Assistant (TA) at the University of British Columbia during her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writingattracted her to LDS. “I was a TA for many creative writing courses and saw a lot of students take creative writing as an elective. They thought that writing was easy, so they took it and then realized writing can be hard. I saw that struggle a lot, and it made me think about how writing must be even more challenging for people with written output difficulties.”   

As Program Manager, Claire oversees the onboarding and matching of instructors and students. For instructors, her tasks include recruiting, hiring, and training, which allows her to continue her passion for teaching. For clients, her role includes intake interviews, scheduling, and assisting with funding.  

During client intakes, Claire says, “we learn more about the child’s learning needs, their strengths, their stretches, and what their goals are. We talk about what we do and the ways we can offer support. Following the intake, I help families access internal and third-party funding: CKNW Kids Fund, Variety Children’s Charity Heart Fund, Jordan’s Principle, and Autism Funding Unit. If they are eligible, I’ll help them apply; sometimes I will help with literacy and numeracy skills to fill out the forms if those are barriers for the guardians.” 

This is part of what Claire calls advocating and, in this case, internal advocating.  

Advocating for the financial accessibility of our services and helping families is what Claire finds fulfilling in her job. Claire’s tone softenas she talks about her experiences helping families:   

“From my experience, people think of accessibility in terms of mobility and not so much as financialWhat I enjoy about my job is making our services more financially accessible. I come from a workingclass, single-parent family of two kids with no outside help. If my brother or I had needed any academic or social support that would have been challenging. Our sports were already so financially difficult for my mom, who never wanted us to be without. She got a paper route on top of her full-time job to support us. So, if there is any way that we can provide financial assistance, it means a lot to me.”  

Claire’s advice for families is to keep advocating for their family and their child(ren). “Or find people who can help because not everyone knows how to advocate. That’s also something we can do in small ways. That’s why I’m so passionate about the financial accessibility of our services: it’s a way we can help families advocate for their child.”   

—Rie 

_________________ 

Rie Stadnichuk (she/her) is the Digital Communications Specialist at LDS. Currently studying Communications and Economics at Simon Fraser University, she hopes to use this opportunity as a way of exploring meaningful work in the field. She is passionate about social issues and creating environments of inclusivity and open dialogue. Rie graciously lives and works on the unceded territory of the Syilx people. 

 

Mission Makers: Rachel Y.—a holistic approach to remedial instruction

Mission Makers: Rachel Y.—a holistic approach to remedial instruction

 

The Learning Disabilities Society (LDS) is lucky to have so many excellent and unique instructors to match with our students. One of these instructors, Rachel Y., is not only calm, patient, and kindhearted, she also brings a holistic outlook to her approach to remedial instruction.

Rachel’s varied work experience contributes to her current role of providing Research-informed Individualized Student Education (RISE) to students at our East Vancouver Learning Centre and online through our RISE at Home Program.

Rachel began her career by pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, the study of human body movement. She then went on to help children with developmental delays, physical disabilities, and learning disabilities. She’s also worked with children to improve their academic, social, communication, and life skills. Rachel is delighted to see students making progress. “Giving children the tools to express themselves,” she says, “makes all the difference in their confidence and enthusiasm to continue learning.”

It was Rachel’s experience working individually with one student with physical and learning differences that taught her the importance of having a student-focused curriculum, something that is central to LDS’ RISE programming. By adjusting her teaching to coincide with the techniques and strategies the student best responded to, Rachel was able to see the student quickly make progress in their academics and social skills.

Rachel has also worked in children’s summer camps, community support projects, and social inclusion programs (working with participants with various physical and developmental differences). “My biggest take away [from these experiences] is that everyone should be able to participate in their community—pursue things they find interesting, goals they have, and feel confident in their place in the community. To me, this translates to LDS as: ‘students should be confident in themselves as kids, as members of their school and community, but also confident in their schoolwork.’”

Coming to LDS with an exceptional yet unconventional set of educational and work experiences, Rachel was a bit hesitant to apply. “To be honest, I was a little worried…I don’t have experience in a traditional classroom.” But she was excited to work with LDS, an organization with energy and focus. “At LDS, we are always pushing to grow and improve, whether that’s the instruction or new projects; that was really attractive to me. It’s exciting that everyone is always pushing for new growth.”

“Over time,” Rachel says, “I have gained more confidence. I realized that my education and experiences shape how I approach my work at LDS.” Rachel’s favourite aspect of working with LDS is approaching each instructor-student relationship from a different perspective.

While research, curricula, and teaching strategies guide Rachel’s instruction, she likes that she can apply and adapt them in a way that “makes the most sense for the student.” For example, if a student doesn’t like working with flashcards, Rachel will try turning things into a board game or customizing the worksheets to be themed in an activity that the student enjoys, thereby making it more engaging for them.

“Maybe it’s because I don’t come from a traditional teaching background,” Rachel explains. “I think that a student’s academic work is important, but it’s part of a bigger picture.” Rachel’s holistic perspective on remedial instruction and her interaction with students embodies LDS’ goal to impact our students’ lives beyond academics.

“I try not to look at things as strictly academic,” says Rachel, “even though the main objective is to support students in their academics. It’s important to remember [learning differences are] part of a bigger picture and to be supportive in other areas, like emotional support, social skills, executive functioning, and organization skills. Those are all parts of the picture I try to keep in mind to help build a more holistic approach, … [to build] rapport and trust with students because they’re not just coming to work on math or writing for an hour; it’s more than that.”

—Rie

_________________

Rie Stadnichuk (she/her) is the Digital Communications Specialist at LDS. Currently studying Communications and Economics at Simon Fraser University, she hopes to use this opportunity as a way of exploring meaningful work in the field. She is passionate about social issues and creating environments of inclusivity and open dialogue. Rie graciously lives and works on the unceded territory of the Syilx people.

Black History Month at LDS

February marks Black History Month (BHM), but historical injustices, like systemic racism and oppression, are ongoing issues. As a charity that exists to serve all children and youth with learning differences, we are continually doing what we can to dismantle the internal and external systems that pose barriers to the full participation of students who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Colour (BIPOC). With this in mind, LDS will be celebrating BHM by amplifying Black voices, resources for the Black community, and Black-led organizations. 

Black Folks with Dyslexia   

  • Muhammad Ali was not only a celebrated boxer but also an outspoken activist. 
  • Octavia Spencer is the first Black actress to receive two consecutive Academy Award nominations and dyslexic.  
  • Harry Belafonte is one of the most famous Jamaican-American pop singers in history for bringing Caribbean music to the world in the 1950s. He was also a civil rights activist and a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. 
  • Whoopi Goldberg is a comedian and one of only 16 people in award history to accomplish an EGOT—winning an Emmy (TV), Grammy (Music), Oscar (Film), and Tony (Stage). 

Books with Representation

Representation in the resources we provide is important to LDS. These books authored or co-authored by Black authors share our core values of community, kindness, acceptance, and achievement. 

Black-led Organizations 

These organizations and non profits address historical injustices and help underserved groups like BIPOC youth by providing services and resources. Like LDS, these non profits are working to create change in our society and are essential for creating inclusive communities.

  • Foundation for Black Communities exists to ensure every Black person in Canada can thrive and all Black communities have agency in defining their own future. They ensure that Black-led and Black-serving organizations have the sustained resources they need to make a meaningful impact. 
  • Black Health Alliance is a community-led charity working to improve the health and well-being of Black communities in Canada. Driven by groundbreaking research and strong people and partnerships, this movement continues to build innovative solutions to create lasting change in the lives of Black children, families and communities. 
  • Black Youth Helpline offers Multicultural Youth Helpline & Services; Professional, culturally relevant youth and family assessments and intervention; Stay-In-School Initiatives; and Parent & Family Support. 
  • Hogan’s Alley Society advocates for Black Vancouverites who have endured the legacies of urban renewal and their erasure from the official historical narrative. Through their initiatives, they hope to build the capacity of racialized and marginalized communities to participate in city building. 

_________________

Rie Stadnichuk (she/her) is the Digital Communications Specialist at LDS. Currently studying Communications and Economics at Simon Fraser University, she hopes to use this opportunity as a way of exploring meaningful work in the field. She is passionate about social issues and creating environments of inclusivity and open dialogue. Rie graciously lives and works on the unceded territory of the Syilx people.

Sierra Gemma (she/her) is LDS’ Communications and Fundraising Manager, working remotely from Lək̓ʷəŋən land on Vancouver Island. Sierra has a BA in History and Sociology and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. She enjoys community building, reading, and writing nonfiction, for which she has received a National Newspaper Award and a National Magazine Award. 

Welcome Catholic Educators!

Welcome Catholic Educators!

Request RISE at your school today! 

LDS’s one-to-one instruction is delivered within school settings. We are currently working in collaboration with several public and independent schools. In our Research-informed Individualized Student Education (RISE) program, students work one-to-one with a qualified instructor on ongoing, remedial support, explicit instruction, tutoring and homework support. The goal of this program is to improve student independence, confidence, and academic success. 

RISE at School is offered at participating elementary and secondary schools. We are able to place instructors directly in your school, or at a neighbouring location that is easily and safely accessed by students during regular school hours. Sessions are scheduled in collaboration with school staff and teachers to accommodate students’ existing class schedules. We operate on a sliding scale fee model to ensure our services are accessible to all families. We work directly with the school to arrange accessible services. 

 

We are hiring!  

Please let your contacts in education know that we are hiring for two very exciting roles.  

Join us as our Director of Education, a full-time position that will lead our education and remedial services, grow our education-related partnerships and collaborations, and be a key part of transforming the lives of children and youth with learning differences.  

We are looking for an Assistive Technology Manager! Help LDS grow our assistive technology and social robotics programs (including working on a collaborative university research project). All to enhance the learning and confidence-building experience for kids with learning differences.  

Learn more about these roles and our ongoing openings for contract and potential full-time instructors on our Careers page

 

Sign up, or refer a family today for RISE Spring Break Camps! 

LDS is hosting small, safe, specialized RISE Spring Break Camps. Our team has designed special, creative and stress-minimizing programming and activities that can be delivered safely in-person to exceed health and safety guidelines. Our customized and creative week-long Vancouver and North Vancouver spring break camps will focus on helping students with learning differences develop new skills through fun, hands-on camp programs with a high instructor and camp counsellor to camper ratio. Partial and full bursaries are available for families in demonstrated need.  

This year’s camps include coping and stress reduction techniques and tools, social skills training from the evidence-based Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relationship Skills (PEERS), and tools from our Assistive Technology Studio to reduce anxiety. 

Mission Makers: Alice—connecting with kids!

Mission Makers: Alice—connecting with kids!

If you have recently stepped foot inside our East Vancouver Learning Centre, you’ve probably met Alice, our friendly Support Coordinator.

Alice comes to us from England but completed her Linguistics degree at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. She fell in love with Vancouver while studying abroad at the University of British Columbia. This is also where she met Melissa “Mel” Henderson, who is our Learning Support Manager. Mel encouraged Alice to apply for a position at the Learning Disabilities Society (LDS).

Alice’s bubbly personality, coupled with that classic British wit, has made her a terrific addition and a hit with the kids. “I think they see a kindred spirit in me,” Alice says, “because I don’t take things very seriously and I enjoy having interactions with the kids.”

At LDS, Alice is the Jill of all trades. At different times, she acts as the office space and Learning Centre coordinator, executive assistant, or program administrator. When asked if she is the glue that holds this organization together, she scoffs.

“No. I would absolutely not say that,” she jokingly insists. “I would say I’m like… no I don’t have a metaphor for what I am. I’ll work on it though.”

Another of Alice’s many tasks is maintaining safety and operations as we continue to navigate COVID-19. Recently, Alice and Mel were faced with the problem of physically distancing students and their family members for PEERS, our teen social skills program. “We were just moving furniture around this room trying to figure out how we can space all these chairs out and it’s just so weird cause that’s day-to-day life now.”

Alice has also been key in screening students for COVID-19 before they enter the Centre. “A lot of our families have probably met me because I jump out of the front door ask them fun questions about the pandemic. It’s weird that part of my job is to ask if their kid has diarrhea.”

This highlights Alice’s unique relationship with LDS families. “I might be the first voice that they hear from LDS in our onboarding [process]. They get a phone screening with me and I set them up to come into the Centre. I hear family stories and sometimes commiserate with them. …It’s supposed to be a ten-minute phone screening conversation, but it’s often a half an hour of us just chatting, which is great.”

There are still moments of connection to be had even in these difficult times, and Alice’s relationship with our students is truly special. When asked what she finds fulfilling about working with LDS, Alice says, “interacting with the kids. In the lead up to Christmas, I hadn’t been around kids who believed in Santa for a long time. One of them walked up to me and said, ‘Merry Christmas, Alice!’ I said, ‘Oh! Thank you.’ And then he proceeded to ask me if Santa would still come and if Santa would have to wear a mask. I said, ‘yeah, Santa watches Dr. Bonnie’s announcements, so I think he knows what to do.’”

—Rie & Sierra

_________________

Rie Stadnichuk (she/her) is the Digital Communications Specialist at LDS. Currently studying Communications and Economics at Simon Fraser University, she hopes to use this opportunity as a way of exploring meaningful work in the field. She is passionate about social issues and creating environments of inclusivity and open dialogue. Rie graciously lives and works on the unceded territory of the Syilx people.

Sierra Gemma (she/her) is LDS’ Communications and Fundraising Manager, working remotely from Lək̓ʷəŋən land on Vancouver Island. Sierra has a BA in History and Sociology and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. She enjoys community building, reading, and writing nonfiction, for which she has received a National Newspaper Award and a National Magazine Award. 

Online Learning Tools and Resources for At-Home Study *updated Dec 2020

Online Learning Tools and Resources for At-Home Study *updated Dec 2020

With the school disruptions of the past year, it is essential to find ways to continue to provide learning opportunities and critical services to our students. Below we offer a selection of online learning resources that may prove useful in your efforts to support your child’s learning at home. Please note our top ten resources have been highlighted to supplement our RISE at Home programming!

* original post April 2020; updated December 2020

Click here to explore the BC curriculum by your child’s grade-level and subject.

 

RISE-AT SOFTWARE SUITE

LDS is offering the following programs to our students and families free of charge thanks to our generous AT sponsors. To learn more about these products, or to receive your free copy, please contact AT@ldsociety.ca. 

MindMeister  

Website and mobile app offering simple and effective tools for organizing ideas, brainstorming, taking notes and more in the form of mind maps. 

Read&Write  

Toolbar available on many platforms offering simple and effective literacy support tools like text to speech, dictionaries, highlighters, and focus aids. 

Grammarly  

A program available on many platforms that offers advanced digital writing assistance to improve spelling, grammar, tone, and wording.  

BeeLine Reader  

A browser extension that uses a simple cognitive trick — an eye-guiding color gradient — to make reading on-screen easier, faster, and more enjoyable 

Live It Earth   

A Vancouver-based company offering kids, schools and families online learning about the natural world that takes them from sea to space. Offerings include live broadcasts, expert Q&A, and fun activities that encourage kids of all ages to get away from the screen and in-touch with the world around them. 

MULTIPLE SUBJECTS

2Simple
Online curriculum resource for early years – 11 years old. Subjects include: math, science, english, design, and history.

ALBERT
Practice questions, assignments, and tests for math, science, and english language arts grade 5 – 12.

Arcademics
Boost student engagement & fact fluency with this free multiplayer educational games, math games, language arts games, and more. Designed for grades 1 – 6.

BrainPop
Animated Educational Site for Kids – Science, Social Studies, English, Math, Arts & Music, Health, and Technology. BrainPOP aligns all topics to the standards.

Breakout Edu
An immersive learning games platform to support learning in math, sciences, and language arts. Organized by grade and topic, there are a wide range of games to choose from.

CK-12 Foundation
Each lesson has a reading passage, videos, optional review questions, and self-graded practice questions. The lessons can be assigned to Google Classroom. Free School closure webinar: How to teach online and learn from home with CK-12.

Classroom Secrets
Digital learning tools in all subjects for grades K-6 including spelling, history, math, and reading.

Century
The folks over at Century are allowing parents to access all their resources for free over the next few weeks. Designed for students of all ages, kids can brush up on their math, science, and reading skills.

Digital Learning Academy
An online learning platform with 32 STE(A)M courses that come with lesson plans, instructions, online materials, quizzes, worksheets, and more. Educators will receive full access to all of these courses at no cost during the coronavirus crisis.

Discovery K12
Discovery K12 provides a complete online curriculum for pre-k to 12th grade. All main subjects are covered, plus extra curriculum courses. Curriculum is free to use and available worldwide.

Edmentum
Edmentum is offering schools and districts subscriptions to its online academy and subscriptions to its online practice program. Email info@edmentum.com and watch the recorded webinar to learn more.

Edu-Together
Edu-Together will be providing selected services including online courses, staff training and tech assistance “at cost” to any schools or students who are unable to attend school due to the Coronavirus. This website has online courses for high school students in math, history, science, and languages.

Emile
Free full access to Emile games-based learning resources for reading and math. Designed for early learners and primary grades.

Fluency & Fitness
Fluency & Fitness® helps students review essential literacy and math skills, while getting in some exercise. Find over 900 videos to help your child keep learning at home and burn off some extra energy. The company is offering its subscription website free for parents to use at home during the school closures.

i-Ready
Free printable K-8 math and reading packets for students.

IXL
IXL is built on four key components: comprehensive K-12 curriculum, a Continuous Diagnostic, personalized guidance, and real-time analytics.  Free IXL access for 90 days is offered in addition to a free webinar series with strategies for at-home learning, plus implementation resources and videos to help plan for school closures.

PBS Learning Media
Videos, games, lesson plans and supplemental materials can be searched by grade level, subject area, keyword and standard. PBS Learning Media’s Google Classroom integration makes it easy to share resources.

Khan Academy
You can learn anything. Expert-created content and resources for every course and level. Always free.

Khan Academy Kids
Khan Academy Kids is a free online education program for children ages 2 – 7. the mobile app was designed by child development experts at Stanford University and engages kids in core subjects like early literacy, reading, writing, language, and math, while encouraging creativity and building social-emotional skills. Always free, no ads, no subscriptions, with an offline version available for when internet access is difficult.

Scholastic
The classroom magazines team has created a free “Learning at Home” hub for teachers and families which presents 21 days of engaging, knowledge-building learning journeys for different grade levels that can be accessed at home by kids on any device, even phones.

 Starfall
Online game-based learning for students in grades K – 3. Starfall’s emphasis on phonemic awareness, systematic sequential phonics, and common sight words in conjunction with audiovisual interactivity has proven effective in teaching emergent readers. Starfall activities are research-based and align with Individual and Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics.

Studyladder
This site provides ELA, Math, Science and other areas of study for children through 6th grade. Free unlimited access.

Walkabouts: The Active Learning Platform
Walkabouts are on-demand adventures that transform math and language content into short, movement-rich activities for Pre-K through Second Grade students.

LANGUAGE ARTS

Age of Learning
Age of Learning provides schools closed due to the coronavirus with free home access for all affected families to  digital education programs ABCmouse, Adventure Academy, and ReadingIQ. Programs serve students in preschool / pre-k, elementary school, and middle school. Access to a digital library and online educational games for learning reading skills. Designed for early learners.

Book Creator
Parents can help their school-age kids make their own books using Book Creator’s 90-day free tutorial, which lets kids write and illustrate their own creations.

Classroom Cereal
Grammar practice in free, printable short stories.

CommonLit
Browse our free collection of reading passages in all literary and nonfiction genres for grades 3-12.

Dyslexia Academy
Dyslexia-Academy is an online dyslexia school of support for Parents, Teachers and Pupils.

Ecree
Ecree provides real-time feedback on the elements of foundational academy writing: argumentation, organization and analysis. Due to COVID-19 school closings, Ecree is offering all students free access to its interactive writing assistant software until May 31, 2020.

Handwriting Heroes
Handwriting Heroes is a multisensory handwriting curriculum that teaches children how to form their letters through animations, stories and song. iPad app is being offered free of charge. Letter formation videos – always free.

HOMER
Early learning reading program for ages 2-8 that is personalized to your child’s interests to help them fall in love with learning.

Libby App
Free Overdrive app for digital books and audio books. Access through libraries.

Newsela
High-interest, cross-curricular texts with accompanied lesson plans. Reading level of the articles can be adjusted. Free access to Newsela’s entire product suite for the rest of the 2019/2020 school year.

Phonics Hero
Phonics Hero teaches school-aged children to read and spell with systematic phonics. Using a step-by-step approach, the 850 games teach children the 44 sounds, the reading and spelling of words, and how to conquer sentences. Available on tablets and computers. 30 days full free access.

Pinna
Screen-free, ad-free audio streaming service for kids 3-12, featuring podcasts, audiobooks and music. Use the promo code PINNA4KIDS. To activate, create an account and enter the code in step 2 of the sign up process. Two months for free.

ReadWorks
ReadWorks is an online resource of research-based reading passages and lesson plans for students of all levels K-12. Always free.

Storyline Online
The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s award-winning children’s literacy website streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creative illustrations. Always free.

Wonderopolis.org
Short videos and readings that answers various intriguing questions for students. There are vocabulary challenges and comprehension questions to test knowledge. Good for building vocabulary, comprehension, and reading skills for elementary and middle school students.

Writing Legends
Free writing program for students. Guides through the writing process, and promotes independence. Includes over 200 writing activities.

Vooks
Vooks brings children’s books to life with animated illustrations, read-a-long text and narrated story. The ad-free platform features a variety of titles.

MATH

Asecend Math
Ascend Math offers K12 math instruction providing an individual study plan for each student. Free service is offered from now until the end of April for schools new to Ascend Math.

Bedtime Math/ Cabin Fever Math
Bedtime Math helps families introduce math as a fun part of their daily routine, like a beloved bedtime story. Also, this resource contains ideas for hands-on activities that students can do at home to better understand math concepts.

CheckMath
Boost your math understanding by getting instant feedback on your work.

Data Classroom
DataClassroom is a web app that allows students in grades 6-12 to make graphs (line, bar, box plots, dot plots, etc.) and do basic statistical analysis. This activity uses data from the 1918 influenza pandemic to illustrate why schools are closing in an attempt to flatten the curve. Start a free 90-day trial to create classes with student accounts. Company CEO Aaron Reedy says that teachers can email him directly to extend a trial longer than 90-days.

MathCelebrity.com
Automated online math tutor, like a Google for math. Enter your math problem or search term, press the button, and it shows you the step-by-step work and answer instantly. 2nd grade through college.

Phet
Free science and math simulations for teaching STEM topics, including physics, chemistry, biology, and math, from University of Colorado Boulder.

Prodigy
Join more than million students, teachers, parents and school leaders using our zero cost math learning platform for grades 1–8.

ST Math
It’s a PreK-8 visual instructional program that leverages the brain’s innate spatial-temporal reasoning ability to solve mathematical problems.

Zearn
K-5 curriculum aims to build deep understanding and a love of learning math for all students. Always free.

XtraMath
Free math facts fluency website.

SCIENCE

Alchemie
Develops apps for learning chemistry concepts.

American Chemistry Society
Free articles for high school students to learn about chemistry topics such as chemical reactions, acids/bases, etc.

Defined Learning
Hands-on projects are based on situations in STEM careers to help learners discover their passions and choose a pathway to a promising future.

ExploreLearning Science4Us
Science4Us covers Inquiry, Physical Science, Life Science and Earth & Space Science with lessons designed for K-2 students. 1000’s of online and offline activities teach students using videos, interaction, poems, songs, and digital notebooks. Free 30-day trial.

NASA Kids’ Club
NASA Kids’ Club helps children in pre-K through fourth grade learn the ins and outs of NASA’s missions using hands-on educational games. There’s also a “Now in Space” slideshow that introduces budding astronauts to the crew currently orbiting Earth on the International Space Station.

National Geographic Kids

National Geographic Kids has put together a site full of free educational videos, games, and activities that center on wildlife and preservation for kids of all ages.

SEPUP
Free science simulations, scientist profiles, and other digital resources for middle school science and high school biology. No login required. Always free.

Tyto Online
Next Generation Science video game focused on middle school students. Free 60-day trial offered with the possibility of extension for schools affected by COVID-19/coronavirus closures.

HISTORY AND SOCIAL STUDIES

Active History
British educator Russell Tarr offers tools and resources for teaching history including interactive simulations, quizzes, and games. A one-month free trial is available on request due to school closures.

Big History Project
Big History Project is a free, online social studies course that emphasizes skill development such as writing and critical thinking, as students draw connections between past, present and future.

LANGUAGE

Conjugemos
Conjuguemos makes learning verb conjugations in Spanish, French (+ 7 other languages) easy with drill practices and fun multi-player games.

ESL Library
Offering Plus subscriptions to all Standard users, and its printable lessons on Pandemics and the coronavirus are also currently free for non-members.

TECHNOLOGY

BeeLine Reader
BeeLine Reader helps students read on screen more effectively. It is used both by skilled readers (including high school and college students) and readers with dyslexia, ADHD and autism. The technology is backed by educational research and has won social impact awards from the United Nations and Stanford University. Free access to the BeeLine Reader Browser plugin for Chrome has been added.

CMU CS Academy
Online, interactive high school computer science curriculum that is entirely free.

Minecraft: Education Edition
A game-based learning platform that aims to promote creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in an immersive digital environment.

Typing Club
Always free. Master touch typing using this game / educational program.

Youth Code Jam
Free bilingual, hands-on coding activities for K-8 that can be used in school or at home, teaching basic computational thinking and computer science concepts. Adventure Mode helps drive student-centered learning.

Vidcode
Offering Vidcode’s full computer science curriculum and coding platform at no cost during COVID-19/coronavirus closures.

ARTS

Digital Theatre Plus
Three million students, at over 2,000 academic institutions, in 80+ countries have unlimited access to some of the world’s finest productions, unique backstage insights, practitioner interviews and written analysis. Free during this time.

Mark Kistler
Offering free access to free, virtual, live webcasts for art/drawing lessons for students needing to work from home during this period.

COMMUNICATION PLATFORMS

CiscoWebex
Cisco Webex is the leading enterprise solution for video conferencing, online meetings, screen share, and webinars.

ClassDojo
ClassDojo is a free tool for parent communication, sharing information, and portfolios, provide a platform for teachers to assign and students to complete and submit work online.

EdConnect
EdConnect is a video messaging tool that brings the classroom environment online.

Zoom
Online app for video conferences. Has features to project desktop screen, and a whiteboard.

ViewSonic
From creating digital content and capturing lessons with video, to organizing digital assignments, our myViewBoard education solutions help deliver classroom interaction in digital learning.

STUDY TOOLS

Quizlet
Quizlet makes simple learning tools that let you study anything. Start learning today with flashcards, games and learning tools — all for free.

SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL SKILLS

Centervention
Game-based interventions that focus on improving social and emotional skills in K-8 students. Educators can get a free 30-day trial and have as many students as they’d like to play the programs at school or at home. Free SEL lessons/activities and printables.

Mission Makers: Sierra—propelled by her experience as a parent

Mission Makers: Sierra—propelled by her experience as a parent

As the Communications and Fundraising Manager, I am often assigned the task of interviewing staff about their work. Its always interesting to hear people’s stories, to find out why someone chose to work at the Learning Disabilities Society (LDS). Today, I’m doing something a little different; I’m sharing what led me to LDS.

am the parent of a non-binary* child with a learning difference. While my child Riley** is now a successful adult, I still remember clearly what their elementary school years were like. Riley was a bright kid, but very disorganized. They made what seemed like careless mistakes that resulted in lower grades. Riley was anxious in group discussions and did not like to raise their hand in class. Riley’s teacher for both Grades 3 and 4 assigned a tremendous amount of homework, which became a tearful and exhausting experience for both of us. 

Fortunately, Riley’s Grade 5 Teacher recognized the disorganization as a possible sign of a learning disability. I could not afford a Psychological Education Assessment (PsychEd), which ran about $2,000 at the time. The teacher explained that while the school did finance PsychEds, every school was only given a small number of slots each year, and children with behavioural issues or multiple disabilities were prioritized. Since Riley was a sweet and shy child, they were never disruptive in class, and their teacher said it might take years to work up the waitlist if it even happened at all. 

Thanks to some financial help from the great-grandparents, Riley received a PsychEd that resulted in a specific diagnosis and began twiceweekly sessions with an LDS instructor who specialized in their disability. At that time, I was a low-income graduate student; we lived in city-owned, rent-controlled housing; and I did not have the income to access these critical services. LDS helped me apply for in-house and external bursaries that covered nearly all my child’s expenses. From Grades 5 through 7Riley received LDS individualized educational support. Riley went from being a C- student to being a B+ student. When Riley graduated elementary school, they won the award for the mostimproved student.  

Besides improved grades, my child experienced other outcomes from their LDS instruction. Over the three years that Riley attended sessions at LDS, their confidence, ability to advocate for themself in class, and organizational skills improved dramatically. Riley learned the tools they needed to be able to handle schoolwork and homework on their own. Riley’s grades continued to improve, and by their senior year of high schoolthey became an A/A+ student.  

Riley also came out of their shell. Riley joined the Drama Club and began performing in plays and film productions. Before my eyes, I watched my kid transform from an anxious child afraid to raise their hand in class to a confident teenager willing to get up on a stage! After I graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing and after Riley graduated from high school, we moved to Victoria, BC, where Riley now works and lives on their own.  

I never forgot what LDS did for my child. It was Riley’s remarkable transformation that inspired me to apply for a remote position with LDS when one became available. Riley is proof that LDS changes lives, and I wanted to help change lives too. 

Riley’s school years weren’t easy. I know what it feels like to be a low-income parent of a child with a learning difference. The difficult situation isn’t necessarily permanent, but when your kids need help, they need help nowregardless of whether you’re finishing a degree, or going through a rough patch, or—like many today—recently unemployed due to no fault of your own. 

Now, LDS offers even more programs to help low-income familiessuch as Family Coaching and UBC PsychEd Referrals. LDS has Pro-D, Spring Break, and Summer Break Camps that give working parents a safe and specialized place for their children when school is out. LDS has expanded their programs for teens to include RISE after School and PEERS Social Skills. 

If you think kids with learning differences deserve equitable, affordable access to learning support, no matter what their family’s financial situation is, please consider donating to RISE to the Challenge and help us raise $100K for 100 Kids who need our help now. 

————— 

*a non-binary person does not identify asor solely asa man or a woman and often uses they/them/their pronouns.  

**name changed to protect their privacy. 

.

UBC and LDS collaboration brings affordable, accessible psychoeducational assessments to students

UBC and LDS collaboration brings affordable, accessible psychoeducational assessments to students

LDS is thrilled to announce to our families that we are now able to offer referrals for psychoeducational and neuropsychological evaluations to some of our families!

 

We are collaborating with the University of British Columbia’s Psychological Services and Counselling Training Centre (PSCTC). The PSCTC is a university-based setting for clinical training and research within the UBC’s Faculty of Education. The PSCTC supports graduate training in psychoeducational assessment and intervention, and in counselling, maintains an up-to-date Test Library of psychoeducational assessment and intervention and mental health and social development resources, provides service and leadership in the profession and community, and facilitates research in education.

 

This collaboration with UBC will be a game changer for many of our families, who will now have access to an affordable assessment over a time span that is potentially years faster than currently available via other means. Having this additional evidence and deeper understanding about their child’s learning strengths and stretches will help our families be better advocates for their children and ensure they get learning supports that are tailored to their child’s needs.

 

These evaluations will be offered by PSCTC at a rate that is roughly half of what is available via private practitioners. And thanks to the generous support of our donors and sponsors, qualifying LDS families will be eligible for partial to full bursary support to subsidize the cost of the assessment so that we can make it accessible and affordable to all. 

 

While LDS is facilitating these referrals and will be providing space at our Learning Centre to conduct portions of the assessment that need to be done in person, families will have a direct relationship with UBC PSCTC, will follow their procedures and policies, and will have full ownership of all reports and data generated through the evaluation process.

 

Everyone at LDS would like to thank the professors, staff and students at UBC’s PSCTC for offering this invaluable opportunity to our families. We cannot wait to help more families access the learning supports they need and deserve! 

 

How do referrals work? 

LDS families will be referred to the PSCTC; a professor will arrange an initial intake screening call to see if and what degree of evaluation might be most appropriate for each child. If you are interested and have not yet been contacted by us, please reach out to info@ldsociety.ca to discuss this opportunity.

 

More about psycho-educational and neuro-psychological assessments at PSCTC (from https://psctc.educ.ubc.ca/facilities-services/ )
The PSCTC Assessment Clinics offer psycho-educational assessments and/or consultation for children and youth who have questions about their cognitive, academic, social-emotional, or behavioural strengths and weaknesses in order to provide diagnoses and/or to develop strategies to meet their individual learning needs. Clinicians are interns, senior graduate students, current doctoral students, or recent graduates from the UBC school psychology training program. Interns commonly fulfill this rotation during the summer months. Overall coordination of work in the Clinics is provided by the Professional Practice Leader, working with other doctoral trained, registered psychologists or Certified School Psychologists.

 

The PSCTC also has a neuropsychological assessment clinic where the emphasis is on neuropsychological evaluation of children and youth to help identify areas of strength and weakness to help with their medical treatment, educational planning, and treatment (such as therapy/counselling or behavioral management). The evaluation will be appropriate for children and youth who are experiencing difficulties with learning, attention, behaviour, or social functioning, difficulty with emotional control, medical or developmental problems that affect the brain, or brain injuries from accidents, medical treatment, or other experiences. The assessment reports will also provide support for children and youth who may have a history of cancer, concussion or traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, ADHD, learning disabilities, Tourette’s Syndrome, and other medical conditions. This assessment clinic will also provide supervised training opportunities for School and Applied Child Psychology doctoral students and is a primary training rotation for doctoral interns in the BC School and Applied Psychology Internship Program. 

Apply now for RISE TEAM! More Info!