Keighty Ward (they/them), Community Literacy Program Manager, Literacy Works, Chicago email@example.com
Editor's note: Scroll down for a video introduction to this resource.
Hi everyone! My name is Keighty Ward and I work for Literacy Works in Chicago. I am in charge of professional development for adult educators, but before this I taught ESL and Citizenship at Heartland Alliance. I taught multi-level classes as well as levels 1 - 5 so I have a range of resources to share.
Since the shutdown, Literacy Works has been producing tutorial videos for tutors to use as their tutoring transitions into distance work. We are focusing on meeting the tutors and learners where they are and sharing resources that fit their situation. For example, we have a video where we share suggestions for lesson planning in a variety of settings, including how to tutor when your learner only has a (non-smart)phone. Please visit the Literacy Works resource page [https://www.litworks.org/resources] to see all of our tutorials.
However, in this blog post I want to focus on one that is particularly great for advanced ESL and Citizenship students, and ABE students who are practicing their reading for an HSE test. It is called CommonLit.org [http://www.commonlit.org]. One thing I’ve heard from tutors and volunteer coordinators is that tutors are running out of higher level reading material at their homes. This site offers so many texts to practice with. They are organized by reading level, genre, literary function, and grade level so you can be sure to find exactly what you need for your particular learner. They even have adapted books from a wide variety of titles.
This site is totally free to educators. You only need to have a .edu email address to create a free account. If you don’t have this, though, it’s not a problem, as most of the functions are still available to you. One of the best features is the Paired Text section. Here you can find texts related to the one you just read - these can be assigned as ‘homework’ or can help you plan for your next lesson.
Whether you’re tutoring over the phone, through Whats App, or over video conferencing, this site will be a great addition to your reading lessons. Students can read out loud as you follow along and you can practice pronunciation or vocabulary as it comes up. Also, there are built in comprehension and discussion questions to help you along the way.
I have used this resource in all my classrooms and always recommend it to those practicing reading at higher levels. While it is a website, all of the materials can be printed and shared so even when we’re back to teaching in person, you can continue to use this resource. Please be sure to watch our tutorial video on this site here. [https://youtu.be/jNRUy4z2u_4] Y
Have you used CommonLit.org with your learners? Tell us about it in the comments! Best of luck and stay well.
Bill Swiderski, Joliet Junior College
This is the second in a series of posts featuring Stanford University's free Reading Like a Historian resource page. Part 1 can be read here.
In this blog, I would like to give an example of how to organize the choice of lessons to present to students. I look for themes that span across different lessons. It will take a little time to discover what might be found in the content of the lessons, but I am sure that there are many possibilities. The first one that I found was on the issue of slavery.
The lesson on the Declaration of Independence gave the information about the main document itself, as well as the grievances listed by Jefferson against the King of England. It points out that in the original list, one of the grievances was the use of slavery by the King and the strong condemnation of the practice. However, in the final document, that item was not included and thus began the approval of the practice by omission. My student activity was to match main ideas with the grievances and to discuss the dangers in leaving that out.
The theme continued in the writing of the Constitution lesson where different arguments for not abolishing slavery in the constitution were delivered during the debate. I match main ideas in these arguments for the students to identify. We discuss how these excuses, though inappropriate for today, were the prevailing way of thinking at that time.
I also continue the theme in the Abraham Lincoln lesson, which goes into the politics of the Emancipation Proclamation. They read some of the comments of Lincoln during the debate with Stephen Douglas for the Senate position and letters that Lincoln wrote which show his inner thoughts about the subject, which would be considered bigoted by today’s standards.
I constantly remind the students about the previous lessons. We try to draw conclusions about what effect the delay in dealing with the problem had and how attitudes today have and have not changed.
With the large number of lessons available for free on Stanford's Reading Like a Historian website, there are many other themes that can be found. If you're using this resource, what other themes have you found? What themes would you like to build lessons around? Share your ideas in the comments!
Marcia Luptak, Elgin Community College
Census Resources (Click "Read More" below for Census facts and figures)
Information, fact sheets, talking points, teaching activities and resources, videos: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/sis/2020census/2020-resources.html
Information and classroom resources (including lesson plans for math, leveled ESL, reading):
If you would have asked me about the census a year ago, I would have said, “Yeah, I know it’s coming,” and I could have given you a few facts and figures in a disinterested way. However, several events occurred over the past year that have completely changed my attitude. The first event happened last March when I was talking to a colleague, John, about the possibility of doing a learning community between his college speech class (CMS101) and our college transitions ESL class. He and I had taught together in a learning community, so I was familiar with his style and thought it would be a great fit. I knew that John was big in service learning with his classes and had even formed a consulting group for students on campus, Spartan Consulting. During this initial conversation, I was hoping he would suggest integrating a service learning component. When he did, I jumped at the opportunity. The adventure began...(click "Read More" to continue)
Bill Swiderski, Joliet Junior College
My name is Bill Swiderski and I teach an HSE reading and social studies class for Joliet Junior College. The goal of the majority of students is to pass either the GED or Hi-Set test. A few are in the class to improve their basic skills in reading before taking classes for obtaining a certification in a field or another degree. The students have multi-level TABE reading scores from two up to five with the majority in the 3-4 range.
In the social studies portion of the curriculum, because Illinois requires proof of passing the Constitution Test (which many of the students have not done), I have preparation materials for them to do before taking the Constitution Test and almost all pass this on the first attempt. I also do some short lessons on map reading, geography and economics, since a few question on the HSE tests will cover those topics. The challenge for me was to find suitable materials for the history and government areas. The students have to read actual documents and answer question on those readings. My goal was to find resources for that area.
I found a free online program from Stanford University called Reading like a Historian, which offers detailed lessons to present to students that use historical documents as the primary source of material. In future blog posts, I hope to share some of the lessons I have used (their list continues to grow each year) and to show how I use and adapt these lessons for the students. Since my curriculum also requires the language arts reading, language, and the essay, I do not have the class time to make elaborate plans, so I have streamlined many of their lessons to cover them in a short amount of time.
To teach these lessons, I give them in a sort of chronological order to show the progression of the historical periods and highlight how one has affected another. During the course of each lesson, I try to give the necessary background information on the topic so that the documents will make more sense, include some visual presentation (pictures or short video), the reading of the document, multiple choice questions to answer (which I adapt from their lessons since that is the format for the tests), and discussion that may relate to today’s circumstances and their lives. I do not avoid political discussions but insist that they be done in a respectful manner.
One lesson I've used is titled Examining Passenger Lists. When colonists came to the New World, these lists may have contained the only record of who was aboard. After discussing why the passengers might have wanted to come here, I chose the smaller of the lists presented in the lesson in order to streamline the time needed. The goal was for the student to sort and organize the information into categories of gender, age, and marital status. After completing this, we discussed the genealogy of our own families and what some may have found out from using sites like ancestry.com. The lesson took about 30 minutes and seemed to be well-received.
Have you used Stanford University's Reading Like a Historian resource? Or have you used another resource for teaching social studies that was well-received by students? Leave a comment on this post and tell us about it!
Jenny Siegfried, Waubonsee Community College
Cathy Kramer, Joliet Junior College/College of DuPage
Do you find yourself using a variety of web resources and wishing you had a way to keep them all together? Do your students ask you for internet resources they can use to practice at home? Do you want to do more with introducing your adult learners to the internet, but aren't sure where to start? We've had great success using Weebly.com to create websites we can use with our adult learners in a variety of ways.
Weebly is an internet-based platform that allows you to build and publish your own website for free. The first step is to create an account and do some activities to prove that you're human. Next, you'll select a theme - there are plenty to choose from! Once you choose a theme, Weebly will take you to its site editor. Here, you can edit and add text, change pictures and other elements, and customize each page of your site to suit your needs. You can also add pages and reorganize your site by clicking the "Pages" tab at the top of the editor. There IS a bit of a learning curve with using the site editor, so start simple – you can always add more once you get the hang of it!
So you've created your site and done some editing - now what? Here are some ways that we've used our Weebly sites with students:
Even with these minor issues, we have found Weebly to be an easy and rewarding way to incorporate technology use into our adult education classes. We hope you’ll give it a try! Feel free to check out our Weebly sites for inspiration:
Have you built a website for your students? Share a link in the comments!
Truman College is looking to hire an Associate Dean of Adult Education.
Please encourage talented, mission-driven individuals to apply ASAP to the Associate Dean of Adult Education position at Truman College, City Colleges of Chicago.
Check out the job description by downloading the Word document here:
Did you attend the Forum for Excellence in September or the ALRC’s Northern Region Fall Conference in November? IACEA sponsored sessions at both fall conferences.
At the Forum, Matt Beasland and Christopher McElroy presented a session called “ICAPS: Reinventing the Wheel.” In this session, they discussed the challenges of an ICAPS program and how to make it more accessible and useful to students. See the Google Slides presentation below (or click here to view in a new tab).
At the Northern conference, Jenny Siegfried and Shannon Wood presented original research looking at the benefits of using repeated reading with adult learners. While the research focused on low-intermediate adult ESL students, the benefits can be seen at almost every level of education. This session will also be presented at the upcoming IACEA conference in March! Click here to view the slides, or see the embedded slides below.
Did you attend either the Forum or the Northern conference? What was your favorite session? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Welcome to the new IACEA blog, “Voices of Adult Education!” We’ve created this space to be a way for practitioners to share best practices, feature programs and individuals, share updates from the field, and more.
If you’d like to submit an article for our blog, please email Jenny Siegfried at firstname.lastname@example.org or Chris McElroy at email@example.com. Articles should be around 300-500 words and may include photos, links, slides, and more!
Want to submit an article for the IACEA Blog? Send your 300-500 word article to: