Halifax Learning Centre After-School Program

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Program Description

The Halifax Learning Centre has a long history of building strong, confident readers in greater Halifax and around the world.

SpellRead delivers unparalleled student results. With our program, your child will become a skilled and confident reader in a year or less. Your child will experience immediate progress from the very first SpellRead lesson, delivered in an environment free of risk. Your child’s confidence and overall attitude towards academics will improve as he or she becomes a skilled and confident reader. 

The SpellRead program is more than just tutoring. It is specific, organized and detailed. It focuses on developing students’ phonological automaticity, as well as lifelong comprehension skills. The program’s power and effectiveness has been demonstrated through concrete results in clinics and the classroom.

All students work in small groups, which allows instructors to meet individual student needs. Students are grouped according to age and reading ability. There are also private classes available.
SpellRead Structured Activities Develop Automaticity and Efficiency

Each class includes these  three components:
• Linguistic Foundations 
builds automaticity with scaffolded phonics and phonemic awareness activities.
• Active Reading 
supports students’ fluency through oral-reading practice using trade books and leveled readers.
• Writing Connections 
develops students’ ability to turn oral language into written language.

SpellRead classes feature reading instruction with a proven delivery method. This intensive intervention model is designed for groups of up to six students with one certified teacher or paraprofessional, in two 90- or 120-minute classes per week.Halifax


Halifax Learning

Strategies for sustainability

With any sort of "training" it requires an amount of time and dedication – SpellRead program training is very similar.  Our goal is to normalize skills and within a year, move all literacy skills to a point at or even above grade level.  As well, to ensure these skills are sustainable. As students progress through their academics their literacy skills should be continually improving and not holding them back.  We do guarantee that within a year or 120 hours students will achieve this end goal.  As long as a student has regular attendance and is committed to doing homework this is a realistic result. 


Impact of program

The basic and almost universal truth is that children are hardwired to seek and absorb information.  But that changes if kids encounter systems that make learning tedious and boring.  As educators we need to find approaches that engage students and make learning a rewarding experience.  It doesn’t take much to fan that flame once kids receive the tools they need.  And given the paradigm shift that has occurred in technology and communication over the past two decades, there is no telling how much a generation of curious and motivated people might create and accomplish.

Evaluation tools

If a student does not achieve this end goal, on a case by case basis we will continue with students at no charge and/or add in extra supports.  It is also important to note that in some cases there are exceptions.  Our approach and class delivery is very transparent so students, parents and professionals have up to date communication on class outcomes, goals and expectations.  We use the initial assessment as a skill to bench mark and continually re-assess skills throughout the program. 

Key elements towards success

Between 1998 and 2001, SpellRead's effectiveness received attention from local and international literacy leaders, including Dr. Reid Lyon at the National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Joe Torgesen, the Director of Florida Center for Reading Research. SpellRead was rigorously tested through numerous formal clinical studies, the results of which are published in the Florida Centre for Reading Research and What Works Clearinghouse through the US Department of Education. These results show SpellRead to be the number one program in developing reading comprehension.

Challenges to meet them

The Halifax Learning Centre was rooted in the SpellRead program, a gold-standard reading program used in many American public schools. SpellRead derived from the passion of Kay MacPhee, a mom from Prince Edward Island who was determined to teach her profoundly deaf child to read. Kay spent 25 years learning and developing techniques to enable the hearing-impaired to acquirelanguage skills for reading. At the request of a local physician, Kay began to work with students who were said to be learning disabled or dyslexic. She found they could not hear the sounds of the language, similar to the circumstance of a hearing-impaired student.

Length & stage of project

The Halifax Learning Centre was established in 2006 by Sarah Arnold, who brought more than a decade of experience working in a broad array of literacy programs.