August 2006, Volume 6, Issue 6

Hot Sites from Instructors Themselves

Another EDU 132 with CCCOnline has ended with hankie sniffs and best wishes. This semester's instructors have recommended the following sites as resources for teaching  GED/ASE, ESL, ABE or Family Literacy students. These resources cover topics that encourage you to drop "sage on the sage" practices and adopt new strategies for reaching adult learners. Thanks to Barbara Olsen, Cheryll Bean, Kay Buffington, Jane Breaux, Nathan Fields, Pamela Lawson, Patricia Eger-Herz, Patricia Thomas, and Sherry Romero for the banquet choices!


In the next issue, you will access their actual creative plans! Stay tuned.

No more sage on the stage!


Project and Problem- based Learning (Patricia Thomas and Patricia Eger-Herz) Problem-based learning focuses on a problem that is to be “solved” or a task that is to be accomplished. Typically it is complex, real world, and current. For example, students might address the problem of how a city might better meet the food and shelter needs of homeless people living in the city. It is typically multi-goaled learning, goes on over a period of time, results in a product, presentation, or performance. One student, a team of students, a whole class, or even a whole school may work on a  project. Project-based learning is learner centered. Students help in selecting the content areas and nature of the projects they do. It focuses on students understanding what and why they are doing a project and how they will be assessed. There is always an artifact or end product. All too often as adult educators we tend to “teach to the test”. With PBL we offer our students a chance to learn in real world situations, thus better preparing them for the job market and further schooling.  (Patricia Thomas) "Project-based learning (PBL) is a model for classroom activity that shifts away from the classroom practices of short, isolated, teacher-centered lessons and instead emphasizes learning activities that are long-term, interdisciplinary, student-centered, and integrated with real world issues and practices."  This part was so succinct. I just copied and pasted.  There is always an end product in PBL; this is what differentiates it from the traditional inquiry method.  This is a type of lesson planning that should be of great interest to adult educators because it uses current, real world problems.  It encourages metacognition, rational thinking, hypothesis thinking, problem solving, and conceptional thinking.

This article stated everything the two articles above mentioned, but in addition it gave
the “Six A’s” of Project Based Learning: Authenticity-Does it have meaning to the student? Can it actually be tackled by an adult at work or in the community? Does it provide opportunities to create or produce something that has personal or social value? Academic Rigor-. Does the it lead to acquisition and application of knowledge related to one or more content areas? Does it challenge students to use methods of inquiry? Do students develop higher-order thinking skills? Applied Learning-Is the problem grounded in the real world? . Does the work require students to develop organizational and self-management skills? Does the project lead students to acquire and use competencies expected in high-performance work organizations (for example, teamwork, problem-solving, appropriate use of technology, communications)? Active Exploration- Do students spend significant amounts of time doing field-based work on the project? Does it require students to engage in real investigation using a variety of methods, media, and sources? Do students present what they are learning? Adult Relationships -Do students meet and observe adults with relevant expertise and experience? Do students work closely with at least one adult? Do students work on the design and assessment of the project? Assessment - Are there opportunities for regular assessment of work through more than one method (for example, exhibitions, portfolios)? Do students reflect on their learning, using clear project criteria that they helped to set? Are adults from outside the classroom involved in the assessment?

Sarah Nixon-Ponder. (2005).  Teacher to Teacher:  Using Problem-Posing Dialogue in Adult Literacy Education.   Retrieved 6/12/06 from   In this paper, Ms. Nixon-Ponder describes problem-posing, not with a definition but with a description of women sitting around a table.   The table is covered with spreadsheets, notebooks and diagrams.  Several women are discussing options while others do research.  This is not a meeting of business women or executives.  It is an adult literacy class, arriving at a solution to a problem they have in common...childcare situations.    She goes on to list the five steps of problem-posing (Describe content, define the problem, personalize the problem, discuss the problem, and discuss alternatives to the problem.).   She provides two examples of problem-posing in action.   One takes place in an ABE literacy class, and the other in a GED writing and social studies class. 

Paulo Friere.  (1993)  Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the oppressed.  Retrieved June 11, 2006. This is actually chapter 2 of Friere's groundbreaking work "Pedagogy of the Oppressed."   In this chapter Freire addresses the failure of pedagogy, with the teacher imparting knowledge to passive students who, in order to be good students, write down every word. In this mode the teacher assumes the students are completely ignorant, and that it is his role to impart his knowledge into these empty vessels.   He describes the students as alienated, as if they were slaves who never discover that they are educating the teacher.

He proposes a reconciliation, one that brings students and teacher into sharing their roles.  He describes rote learning as "the banking approach" in which knowledge is taken in by the students - accumulating it like robots.   There is no sharing of roles here.   He states that problem-posing, in order to succeed, must resolve the teacher - student conflict through dialogue that brings a new configuration:  "teacher-student with students-teachers, allowing the teacher to be taught and the students to teach.   I cannot say it better than Freire, so I must quote:  "In problem-posing education, people develop their power to perceive critically  the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves; they come to see the world not as a static reality but as a reality in process, in transformation."

A. Motter.  (undated).  George Polya (1887-1985)   Retrieved 6/11/06, from - This is a brief history of George Polya, a Hungarian immigrant to the U.S. in 1940.   He had a long history in academia in the U.S., teaching at Brown and then for the rest of his life at Stanford University.   His major contribution to education (especially mathematics) was his theory of problem solving. This reference lists the three principles (Understand the problem, devise a plan, and carry out the plan.   Each principle contains a list of questions to be asked at each stage. Mathematicians still use his method today.  

Blooming with Bloom - The Taxonomies (Jane Breaux)

Huitt, W. (2004) Bloom et al.’s taxonomy of the cognitive domain. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved 6/15/06 from

Valdosta State University in Georgia presents an easy-to-use chart of Bloom’s taxonomies including the level, definition, sample verbs, and sample behaviors. The sample behaviors are student expectations explaining Bloom’s taxonomies at each of the six categories of knowledge.

“Major Categories in the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives.” (Bloom, 1956). This is the website of the University of Washington. The website lists Bloom’s six categories in the cognitive domain and defines each one. Also included are what the website terms as “outcome-illustrating verbs.” The verbs are useful in crafting questions that will help to generate the desired level of learning.

“Taxonomies.” The United States Military Academy at West Point includes this article about Benjamin Bloom’s theories on its website. “Taxonomies” is a brief history of the classification of levels of intellectual behavior including the cognitive, the psychomotor, and the affective domain. Definitions and keywords are given for each domain.

Intergenerational Literacy (Sherry Romero)
I found this website from the Colorado Department of Education to be both informative and helpful.  It contains a notebook called Intergenerational Literacy Activities.  The notebook has 17 sections, 282 pages, and each section is accessible in pdf.  The notebook contains an introduction, assessments, and references.  It also has several pages of activities listed in varying subjects for use in both the community and at home.
This website is an archived commissioned paper on Intergenerational Transfer of Literacy.  If you want to understand the concept of family literacy, the familial influence, and recommendations for literacy programs, this is an excellent read.
The National Center for Family Literacy provides information about what’s happening in family literacy programs around the nation. They provide interesting announcements and news updates in the field. You can access many products and resources with free downloads.  “The NCFL is recognized worldwide as the leader in family literacy development.”
The Association for Childhood Education International recommends the book Celebrating Family Literacy Through Intergenerational Programming.  This looks like a very good resource for anyone interested in family literacy.  It is recommended for use by educators as well as parents.  As an adult education teacher, I thought it might useful in helping me to inspire my students to become more active in their child’s education.

Cooperative Learning (Barbara Olsen)

Prince George's County Public Schools

Prince George's County Public Schools has written a 'Guide to Cooperative Learning'.  It defines cooperative learning, explains the teacher's role, and the benefits to the students.  It explains team formation: size, formation, duration.  It gives management tips: noise, deadlining and task structure, instructions, questions, circulate, and roles.  It suggests the following techniques: Think-Pair-Share, Three-Step Interview, Roundtable, Numbered Heads Together, Pairs Check, Send a Problem and Jigsaw

University of Kansas resources - - This site offers a variety of links to other resources and answers several questions about cooperative learning:

What is cooperative learning? How can cooperative learning help your students? How can you implement cooperative learning in order to effectively meet the diverse learning needs of students? What are the different types of cooperative learning? Where can you find more information about cooperative learning?

Teaching Resources

THIS IS AN AMAZING SITE!!!  It includes a 'book shelf', a file cabinet, a reference book, literary lessons, and a cooperative learning network.  The file cabinet is filled with activity sheets and blackline masters that are free for the taking.  Drawers of math, health, science, language, cooperative learning, etc.  The reference book is filled with teaching ideas and explanations.  If you want to network with other teachers and share practical ideas can.

Constructivism (Kay Buffington)

This website addresses constructivism in science and mathematics education.  The author Michael R. Matthews feels constructivism is a theory about enduring achievements, mainly science. Science knowledge is constructed from practice and practice. He also brings into life the problems most teachers have with theoretical constructivism.  In science students must have basic instructional activities, where the teachers make them memorize in order to understand the basis of constructivism.  He uses examples of rusted nails to explain this.

This website explains a teaching approach to student learning and the effectiveness of the Constructivism theory.  Author Maureen Epstein does an excellent job in explaining the nine general principles of learning: ( 1) active process, (2) learn to learn, (3) physical actions and hands on experience, (4) language, (5) social activity, (6) contextual, (7) need knowledge to learn, (8) takes time to learn, (9) motivation. Students should not be made to feel stupid but let them explore knowledge for themselves. (If a window opens, click OK to access page.)

Authors George W. Gagnon, Jr. and Michelle Collay have set up this website to show teachers how to apply Constructive teaching styles in the classroom.  The outline describes how to place students in groups, bridging between what students already know and what new ideas they are to learn, questions to keep interests going, exhibits to show what they learned, and then as always reflections on what the student were thinking during the whole process.  This outline will be very helpful in my classes to set up new projects this summer.  I plan on using it in a budget segment of my” to the work force”.  

Multiple Intelligences (Cheryll Bean) article make a case for many students who have been labeled with learning disabilities are actually gifted in one of the multiple intelligences not taught to in typical public school.  Thomas Armstrong goes as far to say that most ADD kids are actually gifted, or have unique learning styles not addressed by a heavily linguistic or logical-mathematical styles of teaching.  (Click cancel or OK to access page from the permission window.) article goes over the teaching methods used to meet the various integrated intelligences.  Gardner states that each person’s primary intelligence, or learning style, is complemented by the other, less dominate styles.  By incorporating a variety of learning styles and activities into lesson plans, teachers teach to all the intelligences. This article speaks of the problem of teachers focusing on their own intelligences to create lesson plans.  Or even go so far as to match the intelligences behind a scripted plan set by school districts or individual schools.  This goes against the theory. Teachers must design lessons around their students MI.  As a result of this incorrect usage of MI, the theory often fails, and teachers fall back to only teaching in Linguistic intelligence and Logical-mathematical intelligence

The Basic Skills Connection (Pamela Lawson)
This website is from the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills. There are a number of reports from their findings which can be downloaded as “Identifying and Describing the Skills Required for Work” and “Teaching the SCANS Competencies”. These both are specific to work preparation but since our students are involved or preparing for work, they give excellent goals and rationale for teaching basic skills, thinking and decision making skills and emphasizing each person’s personal qualities of self-responsibility and integrity. This information gives us the end-goal for all of our teaching and helps us style lessons to help move our students toward that goal. It also emphasizes the need for relating their experiences to the world of work with emphasis on critical thinking and learning how to work well with other people. The exhibits in the documents give lists of skills they have found to be necessary to be successful in the modern work place.
This website is for Integrated Curriculum for Achieving Necessary Skills. It gives instructional strategies, rationale, assessment tools, lesson guides, ways to teach people how to learn, thinking skills, ways to develop group effectiveness and personal qualities. It is a huge site which appears to be able to be the complete course for teachers to use to know how to effectively teach necessary skills for life. Unless we were in a specialized course to specifically teach this subject, we won’t be using all of it. However, the principles and awareness which it supplies can influence our thinking and lesson planning.
This is the website for the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy. This has a site search window where you can type in Basic Skills. Then there appears a large list of many research papers on the topic of how basic skills are being integrated into workplace teaching, ESL, ABE and all the way into the GED classes. The research papers explain how the project was done and the results. The full body of the text are online.

Competency-based Education (Nathan Fields) -This is a report on Competency-based Education sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), U.S. Department of Education.   It is for post-secondary education.  It includes the results of eight case studies of the use of Competency Based Education in post-secondary education.  This was done to give information to other post-secondary institutions to use for setting up their own competency based education programs. Colorado Community Colleges’ Incumbent Worker Project was one of the eight case studies used. This is an interesting article describing the BEST testing used in many Adult Education programs. It describes the history of BEST (Basic English Skills Test) as written by Moria Lucey of The International Institute in Boston, MA.  I actually found this while looking for information about the MELT Project, which I’ll get to next.  Because much of the ESL curriculum focuses on Competency Based Education, it’s interesting to read about how this testing evolved from Competency-based education.   There is another article on this site by Dulaney Alexander of Operation Bootstrap in Lynn, MA.  He contends that BEST is not an effective tool to use in adult education.  He says that people’s backgrounds are too diverse to use the BEST to evaluate all students.

The Center for Adult English Language Acquisition website has information about the MELT project, which stems from Competency Based Education.  The MELT project was developed to help an influx of refugees from Southeast Asia in the early 1980’s. The idea was to follow Competency-based curricula that would teach skills to help these refugees function in society.  There is an interesting section that describes the six different literacy levels that they believe would come into an ESL classroom.  That would be Preliterate, Non-literate, Semiliterate, Non-alphabet literate, Non-Roman alphabet literate and Roman-alphabet literate.  This really hits home when I think about the differences between my Spanish speaking students with and without literacy within their own language and also the differences between my Asian students and those who grew up in a Roman-alphabet world.  

NOTE: In our next issue, I'll give you links to the lesson plans (terrific!) and retention plans that these same insightful instructors develop for your use!


From Pamela Lawson - This Website has a variety of vocabulary games including crossword puzzles, word searches, quizzes and even a vocabulary test for SAT. It is very colorful and easy to navigate around in. For students who are not real used to a computer it is set up quite easily. For example, on the crossword puzzles, the cursor automatically moves to the next square for the next letter. They can choose different levels and topics so it could appeal to most everyone while they are using the computer. It is written for all levels from K to 12 so the student chooses what level they want. Looks like fun to me.

From Sherry Romero- I found a website that provides k-12 classroom resources. It has printable worksheets and interactive sites students can do online.  There are numerous levels and subjects.  I hope that is helpful to some.

From Jane Breaux - This is the website of the freshman comp textbook that I use. There are grammar exercises, spelling, reading comp questions, a learning style quiz, etc. I know that most of your students are not college level, but I don't see much of a difference between high school and college grammar. After all, the rules are, well, the rules! From Patricia Thomas - Here are a few of the sites I use on a continual basis.  I keep these in the Favorites pull-down on the classroom computers. This one has all grade levels and is great for worksheets or anything you need. This is one I use to get riddles for my classes. I also post a challenge riddle or problem each day often from this site. love this one; it reaches for the higher level thinkers all the way to basic math facts.

From Cheryll Bean I found the format of this website very helpful.  It is a checklist and can be used with just about any group of students, including ESL.

From Nathan Fields: resources for Adult Educators. This is  my new security blanket website. This fall, I move from the pre-GED room to the GED room....

Ideas for Retaining Students as Lifelong Learners

The same teachers who are sharing the sites above also developed retention plans for their students. Their goal was to think out of the box and use strategies gained from quality adult ed research on barriers that students face in learning. Help yourself to the strategies to be implemented this fall!

Wanting New Ideas - Where Does It Itch?

Some of you have taken advantage of the free computer training offered onsite to your programs through the 4CVRC mobile lab. Those sessions were very productive and useful, but the requests ceased.

Next, we offered you free hybrid classes using phone and computer connections. The last one was offered on Friday August 4th, with no takers. As a matter of fact, we only had takers for one session for the whole year!

So I'm wondering, do you have any technology itches that the 4CVRC can help you scratch? We can offer a great variety of training in very short or longer sessions over a variety of media or combination of media, including two-way video). All it takes is a minute to drop me an email saying, "Need resources on..." or "Need training in or for..." or "Will hire the cruise ship if you will offer the following practice sessions on the way to... "

How about it? ->