Memorial Day Lesson Plans!

When Memorial Day first was proclaimed a U.S. holiday in 1868, it was a solemn day set aside to remember and honor the nation’s war dead. While it is still celebrated for that reason, many people recognize it as a day off, start of pool season, and a reason for sales at different stores. Take the time this Memorial Day to learn more about the holiday and different ways to celebrate it with your students.

If you are looking for writing practice, try watching a video on Memorial Day Across America or look through a slideshow of pictures. Share how you celebrate the holiday with your student and  ask if they are willing to share how they celebrate or a memory from their past. You can then have the student write a journal entry reflecting on their experiences or write down the key words mentioned in the video or your student’s story to go over.

If your student is more advanced or interested in history, start by looking at this graphic interactive slideshow focusing on the history of Memorial Day. You can also use an infographic of the history of Memorial Day to read through together. Once you’re done learning about the history, try a fill in the blank to check reading comprehension.

Memorial Day can be a great opportunity to incorporate civics in an ESL curriculum. Use this Pre-Intermediate English Lesson on Memorial Day to learn about the holiday and then test comprehension with a quiz. The EL Civics for Memorial Day site has a brief passage on traditions of the holiday and then questions you can ask your students to test comprehension and start conversation on the topic (i.e. How are you celebrating this year?). You can also practice a CLOZE exercise to understand verb tense.

Other lesson plan sites

Memorial Day Lessons and Teacher Resources- Lessons Page

Memorial Day Teacher’s Resources- Teacher Vision

Free Memorial Day Lesson Plans- Yahoo

Roberta Reiss- “ESOL Conversation Clubs: Design and Delivery”

Just like any endeavor, successful conversation clubs require some careful thought and planning to meet the needs of the adult learners seeking to improve their listening and speaking skills.

The design should grow from the needs of the participants and your motivation for forming the club:

  • Is it a request from existing learners already active in your literacy program?
  • Is it an idea coming from tutors who see a need for their learners to get more conversation practice?
  • Do you need a way to keep learners on your waiting list connected to the program in a productive setting?

If you are meeting the needs of existing learners, be sure to ask them what they want to practice specifically.  Are they focused on life skills English, current affairs or grammar in use?  The content of your sessions should reflect their preferences.  It will also be feasible to have sessions with a start date and end date that build on one another.

If it is to help your learners on the waiting list start their learning before they are matched with a tutor, you should consider an open-ended, open-enrollment, drop-in model for the club.  This will require the facilitator to create stand-alone sessions with a different topic for every meeting.  It will also require skill in facilitating multi-level sessions with learners of varying skill levels.

Roberta Reiss

For any model, adult learners will appreciate having the chance to master and practice specific skills, whether it is life skill dialogues, grammar in use, or pronunciation.  This can be achieved with learning activities in which there is two-way interaction, time within the session to allow learners to plan what they might say, and a task with a closed solution or end product.

Within the session, the facilitator can rely on a set procedure no matter what the topic:

  • Announce the topic
  • Present vocabulary and allow for practice
  • Model the learning activity
  • Create pairs/small groups to do the activity
  • Walk through the room to offer help, monitor work flow and clarify the task
  • Have learners report back to the whole group

Meeting the needs and expectations of your adult learners is the best way to ensure attendance and gains in skill levels.

If you would like to see the full “Conversation Clubs” webinar hosted January 22, please click here.

Top Stories in Literacy: February 6

Financial Literacy Class Offers Skills Not Taught in School
The program also helps participants, many of whom left school before graduation, with job-readiness training and educational services like preparation for the high school equivalency diploma test. As an incentive to complete the program, participants receive a monthly stipend of $200.

Hundreds protest plan to eliminate L.A .Unified adult classes
About 300 adult education students rallied near downtown Tuesday afternoon, protesting a plan by Los Angeles Unified School District officials to slash the district’s entire adult education budget.

The growing alternative to English-Only Education
Instead of a strict English-only, several programs across the country have developed a two way immersion program of bilingual education. Native English speakers and non-Native speakers go to classes in both English and another language.

Jeb Bush and Bob Wise Release Roadmap for Reform: Digital Learning /Foundation
This is an older article explaining the digital literacy initiative set up by former governor, Jeb Bush, and Bob Wise of West Virginia. This plan is also tracking bills going through state legislature on this issue, including Florida SB 1402, which is currently going through the senate.

Brent Stubbs: Career Pathway to Nowhere- Why technology matters

Recently in Adult Education, the “shot heard round the world” was that the GED test was going the way of the computer. Many held their breath, wringing their hands and pondering how and why it made sense. (Note: Corrections programs have a real legitimate concern as to the logistics of how this is going to work) For decades the test had been paper-based, and we all know that a lot of people don’t know how to use computers or do not type proficiently…

…or so the thought process went.

Recently, my friend pointed out on this blog that more people are on computers than we think. I will set aside my judgment on whether or not everyone is computer savvy for a moment and even grant you that many are not. In fact, this post assumes that too many are computer illiterate. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they don’t know how to use a computer, just like someone who is illiterate can probably still hold a decent conversation. However, the question we should all be asking ourselves is, “What can someone do, today, without computer literacy?” Let’s get a little closer to home:

How good is our literacy program if it does not include digital literacy? If someone learns English but not the ability to navigate the web using that language, what have we given them? How good is our Career Pathways system if we are not empowering every student to gain digital competency that will translate to any career path?

“It’s the Economy, Stupid” -Bill Clinton

I know one thing. Employers (the ones with jobs) are not, on average, behind the times. They understand that technology = speed = efficiency = competitive advantage. Competitive advantage means you survive, thrive, and become a fixture, not a novelty in a community. There was a time that to get work meant you had to have air in your lungs and a pulse. Those days are long gone, especially in the Sunshine State. As we progress deeper into the 21st century, digital competency is the new basic skill. Just like businesses need a competitive advantage that starts with an even playing field, today’s prospective employee needs an even playing field so that their career path is not aborted prematurely.

That means skills: digital skills.

Is this your program?

What’s the Career Pathway’s connection? It’s quite simple. A Career Pathways model–be it via family literacy, GED classes or ESOL at it’s genesis–that leaves out technology is a “pathway to nowhere”.  A pathway to nowhere means a student getting a credential that means nothing. It means a student learning something that does not translate into a feeling of “making it” in life. Why? Because in their case, there is literally a digital divide between what they know and what they can do. Digital literacy (technology) is about closing that gap by giving our students a leg up in the 21st century jobs marketplace. 

Why Change?

What’s at stake is twofold. For one, we are playing catch up with the rest of the world. While we are wringing our hands about computer-based GED tests, somebody is doing this:

Instead of lamenting what we can’t do, we must start preparing for what we will have to do.

Second, it’s about what is best for our students. They come to us, many times, because they want a new chance at life. Because they lack certain basic skills, life is always lived somewhere between understanding and confusion. They come to us to gain those skills, and we ask them to dream again and create a plan for their career path–a path to their success. However, if digital literacy gained through engaging relevant technology is not a part of our process, we do them a great disservice.

We set them up for failure and frustration, again.

I think that answers the “why” question. What do you think?

English Language Learners and Technology

Technology has significantly aided in the advancement of English language learners. From interfaces and tools to help in the learning process, to resources for teachers, to communication, technology has made it easier for language learners to better integrate into their new country. In today’s world, technology is instrumental in teaching and learning English, and adapting to the demands of the culture.

Translation sites and tools have made it easier for learners to understand words or phrases found on the internet. In Google translate, users can input any text and get a fairly accurate translation for what it means. Although at times it might be off in the meaning, since its assuming context, the definition provided is fairly close to the translation. Several websites also have the option to translate the page. While this doesn’t exactly help with learning, it helps those not familiar with the language to find locations for ESL classes or other places in the case of an emergency.

The internet is also filled with resources for ESL teachers and activities for students. Interactive games help students learn English because it is using a different method of learning. Students can find activities to practice in their spare time and the computer is able to correct things they got wrong (instead of memorizing the wrong thing). Teachers are also able to find lesson plans, brainstorm with other teachers, and download additional resources with the wide assortment of ESL websites. It is one of the best tools teachers can use when trying to find additional curriculum since learning English is a very popular subject. Here are some good websites for teacher/student resources:

FLC ESOL Tutor Help Center

Center for Adult Education Language Acquisition

English Page.com

Thirteen EdOnline

Using technology has become increasingly necessary to advance in economically in the United States. The GED will be computer based in a couple of years, most jobs only seek applicants online or through a computer, and several jobs require basic computer skills. Technology is also becoming the dominant mode of communication. Hundreds of millions of people use social media to find jobs, keep in touch with friends, and stay up to date with current events. If you are working with someone who is new to the country, incorporating digital literacy in your curriculum will help your student on multiple levels. Try different word activities using the computer. Teach your student how they can hear how words sound using a computer. There are many ways you can do this and it is becoming increasingly important that you try.

Roberta Reiss: Five important tips for a great conversation club

Roberta Reiss

1.  Research grammatical structures that are challenging for English learners.  Chose only one or two per session for participants to focus on, practice and perfect.

2.  Always model an activity first, i.e. show by example what you expect the participants to do or achieve.

3.  More true conversation occurs if your activity is designed around “closed tasks.”  For example, ask a participant to reproduce a drawing based on the directions offered by his or her partner.

4.  Design “two-way tasks” for your activities so that an exchange of information is required.  For example, asking one learner to tell a story to another learner requires only that the second learner listens.  The “two-way” version of this activity would be to ask a learner to interview a partner and report the information back to the whole class.  This activity requires listening, questioning, answering and clarification.

5.  Try to include new vocabulary, a few idioms and a few verb phrases in every session.

Roberta Reiss: Top 3 things to keep in mind when facilitating a multi-level conversation class

1.  Start a class by reviewing challenging vocabulary or vocabulary necessary for the task/discussion.  More advanced participants can improve their pronunciation while beginners expand their vocabularies.

2.  The facilitator should circulate through the room when pairs/groups are working on a task.  Offer encouragement, be available to answer questions, and help with pronunciation.

3.  Let learners “negotiate” language.  Create activities during which pairs or small groups of learners try to make themselves understood within the pair/group in order to achieve a product, find an answer or reach a goal. They then report back to the whole group.  The more advanced will be able to help out the beginners.  If by chance a pair/group of beginners is formed, the facilitator should join them for a while and assist.

Teaching English Through Spanish Literacy

Do you have Spanish speakers who:

1. want and need to learn English?

2. Have difficulty reading and writing in Spanish?

This often difficult to serve population wants and needs to learn English, but research and experience suggests that these skills can often be more readily acquired if learners have basic literacy skills in their native language.

Spanish Basic Literacy/ESOL Curriculum – “Lectura y Escritura en Español”

In response to a growing need in the field for a combined approach to teaching ESOL and Spanish literacy, Ruth Colvin, noted author and founder of Literacy Volunteers of America, has worked with an educational researcher to develop a curriculum serving the needs of Spanish-speaking students with minimal native language reading and writing skills. She will be facilitating a session on May 6th-7th at the Orlando Marriott Lake Mary.

We invite you to join Ruth in field testing this exciting curriculum.

To register, go to www.floridaliteracy.org and select Teaching English through Spanish Literacy under Literacy News or click here.

Ruth Colvin, Founder of Literacy Volunteers of America, to speak at the Florida Literacy Conference

Ruth Colvin

The Florida Literacy Coalition is proud to announce that Ruth Colvin, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, will be a keynote speaker at the 2011 Florida Literacy Conference. Ruth is the founder of Literacy Volunteers of America, Inc., a national, non-profit, educational, volunteer organization to help combat the illiteracy problems in the USA. LVA has merged with Laubach Literacy and is now ProLiteracy Worldwide.

Since 1962, when Ruth started LVA, she and her husband, Bob, have traveled all over the United States and to 26 countries, giving workshops in Basic Literacy (BL) and English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).   The recipient of nine honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degrees, Ruth also received, in 1987, the President’s Volunteer Action Award, presented by President Ronald Reagan, and in 2006 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, presented by President George W. Bush. Ruth was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1991.

Ruth is an author of books on various topics including literacy, with titles such as I Speak English: A Guide to Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages-Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing.  She and her husband, Robert Colvin, live in Syracuse, New York, USA.

We are so honored to have Ruth Colvin speak at the conference. Make sure that you are registered for the conference so that you do not miss the opportunity to hear Ruth share her experience.

FATDEC Adds 2 New Members

FATDEC is proud to announce that 2 new members have joined the consortium!  The organization warmly welcomes Flagler and Baker County Schools!

FATDEC, Florida Adult and Technical Education Consortium, is a group of public schools, school districts, and community colleges working together to deliver curriculum in a web-based environment for adult education and career technical programs in Florida’s postsecondary public institutions.

Now, the FATDEC network consists of 35 members serving adult students with online ABE, GED, ESOL, and Adult High School courses in 38 counties across Florida!  Click here to see our membership map!

The online courses offered are very beneficial for adult learners as they have 24/7 access to the program – allowing students to customize their schedule and learn from home – and many of the courses are free of charge!

Want to know more about FATDEC?  Click here!