ACCESS WEBINAR: Accurately capture and measure school staff perceptions to foster strong and engaged teams

Education workers strive every day to put the needs of their students’ above their own. Their work is fuelled by a passion to ensure each child has the best opportunities in life and yet school staff are leaving the profession at unprecedented rates. 

Check out our new webinar with Dr. Durepos as she discusses the factors that influence staff attitudes and experiences related to their job, school and work/life balance. Learn how having the right data from staff perspectives can help guide specific professional, emotional, and practical supports and target investments in programs that are most beneficial for staff.

Click here to find out more about the OURSCHOOL STAFF SURVEY!
Read more
United Way 2022

A new partnership with United Way Regina

Unlocking a world of possibilities for more children across Canada

United Way 2022

The Learning Bar is proud to announce a new partnership with United Way Regina. On July 11, the first summer literacy camps developed between the two organizations launched at the Standing Buffalo Dakota School, Fort Qu’Appelle, SK. Fifteen students participated in the camps, designed to help children develop foundational reading skills. 

“We have witnessed such great success over the last two weeks. Children are truly engaged in learning how to read and more confident in their abilities. The reality is that 45% of children in Regina enter kindergarten not knowing letters and 26% are unable to read proficiently by the end of Grade 3,” said Robyn Edwards-Bentz, CEO, United Way Regina. “Our mission is to move the needle on early childhood literacy rates.”  

This figure is not unique to Regina, across Canada many provinces and territories are struggling to achieve better results. “For over 20 years our literacy rates have remained stagnant,” said Dr. Willms, Founder, The Learning Bar. “We have the power to change this by properly supporting educators. Unlike other camps, educators have the opportunity to build on their existing skills, increase their understanding of the Science of Reading, and are actually shown how to apply this in the classroom. The motivation, engagement, and achievement of these students speak for themselves.” 

The success of the summer literacy camps means the partnership between United Way Regina and The Learning Bar will continue to grow in 2023. ”Expanding and offering these camps to more divisions and schools throughout Saskatchewan is another step in our vision to reach more children.  We will continue to support school leaders and educators who are working so hard to improve early childhood literacy,” said Colette Wasson, CEO, The Learning Bar.  

Read more

Seeking Early Adopters for the Elementary Well-Being Survey

The Learning Bar is now seeking early adopters to help us in the final stages of perfecting our newly developed well-being content for Elementary students! Data collection starts immediately and runs until the end of June 2022. Interested in participating? Provide your details in the form and we will get right back to you.

What we measure matters

To truly thrive, students need a healthy body and mind, a strong sense of purpose, opportunities to learn and grow, meaningful connections with others, and the freedom to express themselves as individuals and pursue their passions. How do we know if we’re doing enough to foster our students’ well-being?

The OurSCHOOL Well-Being Survey

The existing Well-Being Survey for Secondary students allows you to deeply understand all aspects of your students’ well-being and the role that your school environment plays in shaping it. It uses a holistic approach to measuring well-being across cognitive, physical, emotional and social dimensions. The survey includes the measures outlined below. New content for the Elementary survey is denoted by an asterisk.

Sense of belonging
General health*
Goal orientation*
Feelings of safety
Positive relationships
Anxiety
Life satisfaction*
Self-regulation*
Cultural awareness*
Sense of purpose*
Happiness*
Nutrition*
Sleep*
Activity time measures*

Your participation is vital to ensuring we are able to make our well-being survey available for all students. Here are the details:

Data collection (May – June 2022)

We are looking for divisions to participate in a sample data collection in late spring. Our goal is to collect a diverse representative sample of grade 4-6 students from across Canada. We anticipate that the survey will take approximately 20-25 minutes to complete. Participating divisions can let their Client Success Manager know that they would like to participate in the early adopter survey. You will receive an unique survey link to complete the survey via QuestionPro, an online survey software tool. The survey link will not be accessed through the OurSCHOOL platform for the early adopter phase, and you will not be required to distribute usernames or passwords.

Analysis (June – July 2022)

Our research team will use the collected data to ensure that all new measures meet the high standard of statistical reliability and validity that OurSCHOOL is known for. They will also use the data to determine the best ways to report results to schools in a meaningful and actionable format.

Reporting (August 2022)

Early adopters will receive a district level report for the Well-being results collected during the pilot phase, produced by the Research team. The report will feature your results as they will be presented within the OurSCHOOL application for future survey administrations. It is important to note that your results from the early adopter phase will not be accessible from within the OurSCHOOL system and, at this time, school level reporting will not be available.

Future developments (Timelines TBD)

Upon achieving sufficient uptake, we plan to compile and release Canadian and Provincial norms for all new well-being measures.

Read more

Many Canadian children struggle learning to read. We can do more to help them.

Opinion: Published in Toronto Star, 29 April, 2022

Many Canadian children struggle learning to read. We can do more to help them | The Star

We are failing our students. Despite living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, at least one-quarter of our children are struggling and vulnerable because they cannot read by Grade 3, a particularly critical stage in education when children move from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”

Shockingly, this has been the situation for over 20 years as Canadian literacy rates remain stagnant.

Most students who are struggling readers at the end of primary school continue to have learning problems into lower and senior secondary school and fall further and further behind. They are also prone to engaging in a range of risky behaviours, having low self-esteem, and experiencing anxiety and depression. Students who do not learn to read proficiently by the end of the third grade are less likely to graduate from secondary school.

Enter the pandemic, and its associated disruptions, including long absences from the classroom, and the question becomes: Has the pandemic made our children even more vulnerable?

Yes. We believe it has.

Although there is currently little data as to how the pandemic is affecting children and learning, preliminary information from the Toronto District School Board revealed a nine-percentage point drop in Grade 1 student reading levels for those learning online, and a three-percentage point drop for those learning in person.

Clearly, we need to look at our approach to how we are teaching kids to read in kindergarten to Grade 3. We need a new plan to help our students recover from the pandemic or they, and we as a country, will continue to fall behind.

The recently released Right to Read report from the Ontario Human Rights Commission, initiated in pre-COVID times, was deeply critical of the way in which reading is taught in the elementary school system. The comprehensive report includes 157 recommendations to effect change.

It calls for a phonics-based approach, based on the science of reading, to instruction in which children sound out words rather than the current approach, “three-cuing,” in which students learn to read, mostly, by looking at pictures and guessing the word. It is the right call and is evidence-based.

The so-called “reading wars” – phonics versus “three-cuing” – have been fought for at least 50 years. It’s time for a truce. It’s time to develop a new plan. Let’s change our focus to phonics and support our teachers and school principals to help them adopt a new way of teaching reading.

But transforming schools requires more than a government edict. It requires a concerted effort by educational leaders to change the organizational practices of schools and strengthen teacher capacity. It requires the ongoing support of teachers to adopt new approaches of teaching and learning.

School districts that have embarked on large-scale programs to transform their schools have found that it usually takes three to five years. Transforming schools requires a singular focus on literacy skills during the elementary school years. Teachers need to be involved in the change process, and superintendents and principals need to drive that change. Students learn at a faster pace when parents and caregivers are engaged in their children’s literacy development.

A realistic and attainable goal is to reduce levels of childhood vulnerability in Canada from the current level of about 30 per cent to 20 per cent in five years.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s inquiry “is not just about an equal right to read – it is about an equal right to a future.”

The Right to Read report has set the right course for change.

And COVID has given us this moment. Let’s not waste it.

Doug Willms is the Founder and President of The Learning Bar Inc. and professor emeritus at the University of New Brunswick. Since receiving his Ph.D. from Stanford in 1983, he has published over three hundred research articles and monographs pertaining to educational reforms.

Read more
A child learning tor ead

Access our new Learning-to-Read to Reading-to-Learn Research Paper

Discover the optimum scope and sequence of skills children need to learn to get them on track to read by Grade 3

The successful transition from Learning-to-Read to Reading-to-Learn during the first three years at school is critical to students’ long-term success and yet despite living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, at least one-quarter of our children are struggling and vulnerable because they cannot read by Grade 3.

Clearly, we need to look at our approach to how we are teaching kids to read in kindergarten to Grade 3. We need a new plan to help our students recover from the pandemic or they, and we as a country, will continue to fall behind.

Download this paper developed by Dr. Doug Willms and the research team at The Learning Bar to learn the process of how children learn to read, based on recent research on the science of reading. It follows a three-phase model presented by Castles, Rastle, and Nation.[i] It extends their work by delineating the scope of each phase, defined in terms of a core set of skills, and proposes a sequence for teaching these skills. It concludes with a discussion about how the proposed scope and sequence align with common curriculum standards.

We can change results and quickly get children back on track, but we must make the development of children’s reading skill during the primary school period a priority for all schools. It will also require concerted investments to support educational leaders and teachers.

[i] Castles, A., Rastle, K., & Nation, K. (2018). Ending the reading wars: Reading acquisition from novice to expert. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 19, 5–51.

Read more

ACCESS WEBINAR: Support your educators to get students back on track

We know that educators are working tirelessly to ensure that students are learning as best they can, yet more and more students are disengaging. The question we need to answer immediately is “what can we do to support our educators?”

Check out our new webinar as Dr. Doug Willms discusses what we can do to change results, what is needed to support educators, and interventions that can be put in place to accelerate learning growth to get all our students back on track.

Click on the video below to find out more about the Confident Learners program

Read more

ACCESS WEBINAR: Build your leadership capacity. It’s time to change the tide on student success.

There is an urgent need to build leadership capacity to improve children’s literacy success. Watch our webinar to learn how you can build principal leadership to create alignment, accountability and collaboration throughout school teams.

Hear Karen Power discuss the leadership skills that empower principals to drive change and transition to a student-centric and collaborative culture in their schools. Topics covered include:

Shared leadership and PLC’s
Collective Efficacy
Intentionality
Instructional focus
Accountability
Student-centered
Evidence-based decisions
Collaboration

Our speaker Karen is a consultant and former teacher, principal, superintendent, and senior advisor for professional learning and leadership. She has won multiple awards and authored books related to her work which focuses on leadership coaching in schools and districts, building collaborative practices through professional learning community (PLC) implementation, district strategic planning, and developing effective instruction, assessment and evidence-based decisions for long-term sustainability. Karen is now working as a consultant with The Learning Bar to support leadership development within schools and districts.

Read more

ACCESS WEBINAR: Capacity building – the key to enhancing classroom practice and transforming instruction

Find out how capacity building and data informed decision-making can enhance your classroom practice and transform instruction.

30% of children are still leaving school with poor literacy skills. This number increases to 60-80% in areas of vulnerable lower SES populations. Recent research and major scientific advancements into literacy acquisition help to explain why. Our current curriculum and teaching practices have not yet aligned with science. So a key question now is ‘what can we do to better meet the needs of our students?’

Check out our new webinar as we discuss three elements that educators can focus on and develop to improve the learning outcomes of every child.

Click on the videos below to find out more about the Confident Learners program and Professional Learning courses we have available.

We will shortly be announcing our next webinar. Standby for new details!

Read more

ACCESS WEBINAR: Teaching Children to Read – Common Questions Answered

Check out this webinar as we address common instructional questions related to teaching reading and strategies to support students at different stages of reading development. Common questions discussed include:

What are the differences between phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, and phonics and why are they important?
How do children learn to automatically recognize words and read fluently?
How do we teach children to comprehend texts they read?

These questions and many others around phonics instruction are addressed using the Confident Learners reading and intervention program. One of the key elements of the program is a structured and systematic literacy program, which guides educators through teaching children to read. The other key elements incorporated into Confident Learners are professional learning and leadership development, instructional coaching, and a simple assessment program, all designed to build educator knowledge and skills to improve the reading skills of all children.

  

About the presenter

Connie Freeman is the Senior Instructional Literacy Consultant at The Learning Bar. She has a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education and has over a decade of experience in the classroom. Connie’s philosophy of education is grounded in a fundamental belief in the importance of equitable education for all and the critical role literacy plays in ensuring success for all students. As a literacy support specialist, Connie has experience supporting students and teachers in the classroom, as well as building professional learning communities in schools. She has been teaching for 10 years and previously used the Confident Learners program to bridge the early literacy gap for her students.

We will shortly be announcing our next webinar. Standby for new details!

Read more

ACCESS WEBINAR: Bridging the early literacy gap: Working hand-in-hand to build educator capacity and improve efficacy of instruction

Access our webinar to hear Neil Debassige, former principal of Lakeview School in M’Chigeeng First Nation and award-winner of the Meritorious Service Medal by the Governor General of Canada, present how he bridged the gap in early literacy. Using a three-year intervention and reading program he put education back in the hands of educators; empowering them with the knowledge, skills, assessment tools and resources to reach more children effectively.

Find out how the Confident Learners program is supporting school districts across Canada to:

advance capacity building for educators through aligning the science of reading, teaching and assessment with classroom practice;
implement a systematic and explicit step-by-step approach to literacy development; and
employ a structured assessment and monitoring system to ensure full visibility of student progress.

Schools can meet the goal of teaching all children to read by the end of Grade 3. Working together we can help you transform the lives of your students, and give all children the opportunity to thrive. 

 

NEW WEBINAR: Teaching Children to Read

The next webinar in our early literacy series takes place on Sept 20th, 4 PM EST. Join us as we address common instructional questions related to teaching reading and strategies to support students at different stages of reading development. 

Common questions to be discussed include:

What are the differences between phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, and phonics and why are they important?
How do children learn to automatically recognize words and read fluently?
How do we teach children to comprehend texts they read?

Find out the answers to these questions and more!

Read more