Labor Day Lesson Plans

What does Labor Day mean to you? End of summer? Pools closing? School Starting? A day off work? After growing up in the Midwest, the last day the pool was open was a big one for me (pool weather year-round was a major decision factor for moving to sunny Florida). And while I’m no longer on a school calendar, it does bring bittersweet feelings of an end to summer fun.

So what can this mean for adult education and ESOL practitioners who have been practicing all year? A chance to mix up your curriculum. Here are three things you can do to celebrate Labor Day and diversify learning with your student.

Learn about the history of Labor Day

  • The History Channel has great resources and video clips explaining the origins of Labor Day, the history of the assembly line, child labor in the United States, and brief biographies on the industrial moguls in the US. Watch these videos with your students and then pose comprehension questions to your students.
  • The US Department of Labor also has a brief History of Labor Day on their website. You can print out these sections and practice reading them aloud, silently, and together. Many of the events addressed in this page are also in the videos from the History Channel. Try combining the two to engage different learning styles.

Integrate College and Career Pathways in your curriculum!

  • Even if you have been slowly incorporating career pathways and workforce readiness, make your next lesson special by having it as a main focus. You can practice writing a cover letter and resume, explore Florida CHOICES with your student, practice interviewing, or help your student create an action plan to reach their career goals.

Learn about Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Worker Movement

  • Since the origins of Labor Day may seem distant, take the opportunity to include more recent labor and human rights struggles. Cesar Chavez started the National Farm Workers Association, later to become UFW, in 1962 and used nonviolent tactics to gain better working conditions for grape farmers and the opportunity to unionize.
  • You can find a book on Chavez in your local library to read with your student. You can hand out a vocabulary sheet to go over new words addressed in the book, or in a section of the book  you are going to read, and highlight words that include phonemic elements that you are currently working with. Suggestions for books are Cesar Chavez and La Causa by Naurice Roberts and Cesar Chavez by Ruth Franchere. Finish by asking topic questions
      • How did Chavez help migrant farm workers?
      • What were the reasons he had for helping the farm workers?
      • How has Cesar Chavez affected farm workers today?

SABES Guide to Student Persistence

Student Persistence is a priority in adult education. With attrition rates at 70%, practitioners are looking to change their methods to keep their students. The System for Adult Basic Education Support (SABES) created a publication in 2009 at the Annual Summer Directors’ Institute on Student Persistence Strategies. Here are some of the highlights!


Have a concrete and comprehensive orientation

  • Make sure students feel welcomed from the beginning. A successful orientation and intake paves the way for students and increases retention. Conduct a focus group with current students to see what worked and where there are areas for improvement from their orientation.
  • Invite students to attend a general information session, observe a class or meet with a current student before orientation so they are better prepared with questions.
  • Provide students with a handbook of policies, helpful information about the larger agency, program brochures, and counselor’s contact information.
  • Explain that the program is free to them, but costs $50/day in tax dollars and you the money is wasted if they do not show up.
  • Address what your policy is about stopping out and make sure learners are aware of what their options are. Let them know what the policy is for missing a class or any type of absence.
  • Use current students as ambassadors to sing praises about your program, but then leave the room so learners can feel comfortable asking questions about the schedule and expectations

Placement and classes

  • Make sure learners feel welcomed with the titles of programs. Some may be embarrassed or turned off by being placed in “pre-GED” classes. Try renaming them GED 1 & 2 so it appears to be more sequential and that the learner does not feel his intelligence is belittled.
  • Have a class that is focused specifically on skills needed to succeed such as study skills, time management, note taking skills, and other support skills that help with student success.
  • Have a starter class for very low level ESOL so they can get individualized help to catch up with the class.

Staff interaction

  • Have directors, counselors and teachers greet learners at the door each evening and address as many by name. If someone is new, be sure to let the teacher know and escort him or her to their first class.
  • Follow-up with new learners one and two weeks after starting class to address any problems that might occur.
  • Make sure receptionists and teachers are prepared with talking points for addressing students who want to stop the program
  • Create multiple options for students to stay connected when they aren’t in the program. (Ex. Social Media, Online Learning, etc)

In-Class help

  • Create a visual pathway so learners can see where they are in the process of achieving their goal.
  • Discuss potential barriers with students from the start. Based on the feedback, provide resources and suggestions to support students and incorporate positive strategies in the classroom.
  • Invite former students to come back and talk about their success so your current students are motivated and inspired.
  • Develop content based on common themes of interest.

Searching for Jobs Online

The nature of looking for jobs has changed. We are no longer looking for ads in newspapers, but searching for things on the internet. If your student is interested in finding a new job, try going over these sites with him or her. is designed to help people find a  job and to help employers find employees. Users post their resume, network or initiate contacts with other interesting people who can introduce you to potential employers or leads to employers.  You can search for jobs without an account, but must create an account to apply or save the job search. It is free to join, but I suggest signing up with your student to make sure they do not sign up for unwanted things. Then, you can either upload, copy/paste or build a resume. If you choose to build a resume, it could take some time, but it is set up in a very easy to understand format.

When you search for jobs, you can type in the job title, keywords, or geographic location. Once you see the jobs, you can sort them by date, job title, company and location. is dedicated to promoting job awareness. companies post jobs to this site daily. It is designed to be user friendly. Registering with CareerBuilder is free. Leave the postal code field blank if you plan on applying for a job outside the US.

You can find jobs, set up job alerts, post a resume and search for jobs through popular job categories on the main menu. If you are unsure how to spell a city name, you can always look up a city by the first few letters of their name under “City List”. If you are interested in setting up a job alert, select the “alert icon” and enter your criteria. You can enter up to three job categories, three cities and mileage radius and receive email alerts on a daily or weekly basis. You can change your alert by selecting “edit” under “My searches”.
Idealist posts jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities in nonprofits.
Craigslist posts  several part-time and full time jobs. Be cautious with who you are responding to and never give information that is too personal (like your social security number). Some restaurants will post when they have an open call for servers to apply.

Top Stories in Literacy: April 16

Top Stories in LiteracyTeach Your Children Well-April is Financial Literacy Month
M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group, is using Financial Literacy Month to provide consumers a fiscal education lesson each week. This week’s tip is how your children can learn while they earn.

Young man with autism appeals to Obama for college opportunity
Billy Perogi is 20, autistic, and about to graduate from high school in Naples, Fla. He wants to go to college more than anything. Every school he and his mother have contacted has told them there is no program available for his specialized needs.

Indian River Adult education offering home health aide program
Indian River State College is offering career workshops on becoming a home health aide, security officer, phlebotomist, a new practical nursing program and excel classes for adult education students.

Job-seeking Collier County adults are back in class to catch up to computer skills
Fort Myers residents are among a growing number of both employed and unemployed adults seeking to better their lives and improve their current and future job marketability by going back to school for refresher courses on fundamental computer skills most of today’s teenagers take for granted.

Adult Learning Not Increasing With Internet Availability
Adults who are out of school are not necessarily active learners, for a number of reasons. With the growth of the Internet though, many hope that adults may use the technology available to them for some informal learning.

Successful Studying for a Standardized Test: GED Edition

First, congratulations on your decision to take the GED. It can be a lengthy process to get to this point, but you did it! Your next step is making sure you are on the path to success. Although you can retake the test and even sections of the test, I’m sure you want to get this done for the most part in one step. There are several websites that will help you study for the test and will even provide practice tests. Here are some things you can do to make your studying successful.

1. Budget your time

You aren’t going to pass this test simply with good wishes/prayers. You have to put in the time and energy to get this accomplished. Make a schedule of your day. Include work, class, and any other commitments you have. Be sure to include drain time. Do you spend a couple hours watching TV or surfing the internet? Find places to fit studying in your schedule and find ways to incorporate it in your life. Practice vocabulary words at work. Turn history into a game to play with your family. There are many ways you can prevent studying from being a chore.

2. Get rid of obvious distractions

So you plan to study. You sit down in your kitchen with your books, notebooks, and writing utensils. Then, you get a text message. After that, you start hearing the TV in the other room. Next, your child needs you for whatever reason that could not wait. It’s easy to lose focus, especially if you might be looking for a distraction. Put yourself in a secluded area with only the materials you need. Prepare for the fact you’re going to get thirsty, hungry and you will have to go to the bathroom. If you are in a public place, here are some polite ways to ask people to be quiet.

3. Take care of yourself

Diet and exercise is very important in life, but especially when you are preparing for taking an important test. Regularly exercising and eating well will get you thinking clearer and feeling positive.

4. Squash negative voices

There will always be people trying to pull you down. Maybe these people contributed to you not completing high school. Maybe they are still in your life. Ignore them. Write down rebuttals so you don’t psyche yourself out. Remind yourself that you have been preparing for this and you will succeed at it, just like you have succeeded at other things in life. You deserve to achieve your goals and you can achieve your goals.

5. Prepare for the test!

That’s the point, right? Familiarize yourself with test procedures. Know the format of the test so there aren’t any surprises. Answer multiple choice questions before reading the answers. If you can’t answer it without the answers, get rid of the answers that you know are wrong. If the question is confusing, try finding a way to say it in your own words. Take practice tests online to get yourself used to what you’re working with.

Most importantly, remember Thomas Edison’s quote, “Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.” You are equipped with the tools to pass this test. Don’t forget to believe in yourself!

GED Student Success Story: Noriko Tilley

To go along with the GED theme this month, we’ve decided to include student success stories. If you are interested in reading more stories like Noriko’s, please visit our website. 

Noriko Tilley

Noriko Tilley is a 44-year-old Japanese born woman.  Tilley graduated from high school in Japan and spent two years learning English and German at a vocational school.  In 1988, Tilley married an American air force officer and they moved back and forth several times between Japan and the United States.  During that period, Tilley and her husband had two children.

While her children were at school, Tilley would shop with friends and maintain her home.  Twenty years after she graduated from vocational school, Tilley decided she wanted more from her life.  She enrolled in Oskaloosa-Walton Community College’s ESOL class and then at the recommendation of her instructor, she took a GED class and passed the examination just after two months.

Tilley went full circle from student to teacher; she now works at the college as an advanced level accounting tutor and adult education proctor.

Words of Encouragement:

Stay with the program, why quit.  Set your goal and why quit.  I’m sure there are some people who want to come, but they can’t.  They have to work or something, but if they can, if they have time to stay home then why not?  Come to the great program and study.

GED Studying 101

Studying for the GED can be daunting. Students may be embarrassed to go to a program to study, be nervous about additional costs, or think that they could do a better job with their own schedule. FLC has a GED section to our website that can answer any question you might have about getting a GED; testing places, program sites, online resources and FAQs.

The GED testing service has a series of videos that will answer FAQs from the source. This is great if you find the wording too confusing, or just want to have someone tell you more about the test.

Besides taking the GED, let your students know that there are other options. Florida Virtual School has classes for students to complete so they can get their high school diploma. Online Adult Education courses can be enormously helpful for the student who wants to get a standard high school diploma versus a GED. Florida Adult and Technical Distance Educational Consortium also has some free classes on subjects that could help you study or get high school credit.

Take a practice test! You can do this initially to see what you need work on, throughout the studying process as a check in, and then again at the end to feel more confident and ready. Nothing will help ease the nervousness like getting familiarized with your opponent.

After you have your questions answered, have taken a practice test, and decided that you want to take the GED, visit Florida GED Task force. This is your ultimate source for any question and any section you could have issues with on the test and a website with a corresponding activity.

As an educator, if you want to practice with the NEW GED assessment for the 2014 updated GED, don’t forget to check out GED’s new assessment materials. 

Sneak Peek at the Career Pathways Track at Conference

AHH! Conference Season is in the air. In seven weeks, we’ll have Conference and there will be much enjoyment in the air. If this is your first conference, I’ll let you know some tricks. Florida Literacy Conference has 13 different possible tracks to follow; Adult Learner, Corrections Literacy, ESOL, Program Management, Reading, Technology, Family Literacy, Health Literacy, Volunteers in Literacy, Learning Disabilities, Library Literacy, Workforce Education, and ABE, GED, and Adult High School. No matter what your interest area is, we have something for you. And if you have many interests, you can mix and match.

BUT if you’re interested in Career Pathways and plan on attending the Conference, we have a sneak peek for the sessions and their descriptions! The sessions aren’t overlapping time for the most part. This is the opportunity to get your schedules ready.

Sessions Include:

  • Higher-Order Thinking Skills: Using Advanced Organizers to Support Instruction
  • Let’s Make Student Success EASY
  • 10 Innovative Ways to Connect Learning with Career Pathways
  • Yes, You Can! Enhancing Student Tech Skills & Goal Setting Using Web 2.0 Tools
  • The Power of Testing: Why, What & Who to Assess
  • Technology Skills for career Success
  • English for Carer and Technical Education Standards
  • Top 10 Commandments of Building an Adult Education Career Pathways Program
  • Building a Local Database to Enhance Career Pathways
Select “Sessions Include” for more information on these sessions! What other tracks are you interested in? Perhaps I can do some detective work and provide you with other top secret information 😉

Scholarships for Continuing Education

To go along with the GED theme of this month, I decided to include a post that has information on scholarship opportunities for adults looking to continue their education. Jan Smith put together a wonderful blog post a while back that went over several free resources for financial aid. Be sure to check that out, along with visiting these other sources.

The following are different scholarship sources. Before you give up the search, be sure you have covered all battle grounds. I found these from a great website focused on Continuing Education. 

Federal Grants
Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants are available through the federal government. The money eligible adults receive from these two grants range from a hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. You cannot apply for the grants directly to the federal government. You must apply through your college or school of choice and they will forward it to the federal government. The earlier you apply through a school, the more likely you are to receive a federal grant. Additional information is avialable at Federal Student Financial Aid.

State Grants
Most states provide grants to residents. Some of these grants are based on financial need, others are based ethic orientation, and for those enrolling in designated college programs such as technical fields. Some states even provide grants for adults desiring to continue their education. Unlike federal grants, application must be made directly to a state’s commission on higher education.

College Grants
Many traditional online colleges, universities, and technical schools provide students with grant money for tuition not funded by other sources. Many schools offer these grants to minorities, low economic background students, and older students returning to school for continuing education. Not only do adults benefit from these grants, schools benefit financially for enrolling these students. This in turn enables the school to provide additional grant money for adults returning to school.

Corporate Scholarships
Corporate scholarships are targeted for adults from underprivileged backgrounds, outstanding scholarship, community involvement, or enrollment in specific programs such as nursing. Although corporate scholarships have deep scholarship money pockets, the competition is steep. Applying to these scholarships must be early, along with accurate applications.

Private Grants
These grants offered through charities, religious organizations, community associations, fraternal orders, unions, and other organizations. For example the U.S. Navy Relief Society provides grants for active and retired members, along with their families for continuing education programs.

List of scholarships available for non-traditional students. 

FastWeb scholarship database includes more than 230 awards with a minimum age restriction of 25 years or older. FastWeb also has tips for writing your essays, so check that out before you start applying.