Betsy Stoutmorrill: L2A Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners

Adult learners can improve their literacy skills, but the challenge for tutors is figuring out the most important skills to teach.  Before beginning that first lesson, I suggest that adult learners need to understand and experience self-determination. L2A offers the tools to do just that for diverse learners.

Understanding each factor is fairly easy, but the challenge is designing a lesson that presents the relationships among the factors.  Is there a sequence that truly presents the relationships among these factors?

Doing this activity in a small group helps us see the complexity of the relationships among these factors and the challenge — and potential — for helping adult learners gain self-determination. The activity ignites big discussions and tough questions: Can someone be proactive before knowing how to plan? Does someone reflect and readjust before valuing herself or after?

All that’s needed is a large sheet of paper, some markers, or sticky notes — and a little bit of self-determination!  Each time I provide this training I see amazing creative models for self-determination.

One group simply presented a blank page and the factors printed on 3X5 cards. They plan to create a representation with each adult learner — every learner designs a unique representation of self-determination!

Not only is that a fantastic idea, but it also is an excellent way to use the L2A concept of explicit instruction: I do; we do; you do.  This teaching strategy lets adult learners experience the concept of directing their own learning through modeling and practice.

Imagine picking “self-awareness” and modeling for the adult learner your thought process in through the “I DO.”  Thinking aloud about who you are… Drawing or using pictures to represent your talents… Listing weaknesses and ideas for improvement…

Think of working in equal partnership with the learner in the “WE DO” to explore her own self-awareness.

Picture encouraging the student in the “YOU DO” to choose the next factor and take you through her process.

Teaching literacy skills is the focus of what we do, but if we can build self-determination we have done more than teach literacy skills.  We have empowered the adult learner.

To view Betsy’s L2A webinar, follow this link.

RESOURCES: L2A http://lincs.ed.gov/programs/learningtoachieve/learningtoachieve.html

Learning to Achieve: Help for those working with students with learning disabilities

Roberta Reiss

Learning to Achieve (L2A) is an interactive series of professional development modules focusing on meeting the needs of adults with learning disabilities (LD) seeking instruction in literacy programs.  The three on-line “prep” modules and the eight “face-to-face” modules are research-based instruction provided by the Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS).  Whether on-line or in-person, each module is designed for approximately 90 minutes of interactive learning to inform and train adult tutors or service providers.

L2A Online Modules:

  • LD and Neuroscience: The science and research supporting neurologically based LDs
  • LD and English Language Learners: The unique needs of special populations learning English
  • LD and Accommodations:  Reasonable and appropriate accommodations to improve learning

L2A “Face-to-Face” Modules:

  1. Definition of LD: Providing six basic consensus statements that define and identify LD
  2. Self-Determination: Enhancing self-advocacy to empower adult learners
  3. Legal Issues, Self-Disclosure, and Confidentiality:  Protecting the rights of the adult learner
  4. Explicit Instruction for Strategy Learning:  Research-based strategies to augment adult learning
  5. Reading Disabilities: Providing a clear picture of reading preferences, difficulties, and disabilities
  6. Written Expression Disabilities:  Identifying and improving transcription and generation challenges
  7. Content Learning:  Learning with a purpose and sequence for a degree, credential, employment, citizenship, or life goal
  8. Workforce Preparation Strategies:  Preparing adult learners with basic and applied skills for employment success

Dr. Betsy Stoutmorrill

During October and November, L2A trainers Betsy Stoutmorrill and Roberta Reiss provided five full-days to train 174 literacy volunteers, adult education instructors, service providers, and program administrations.  Trainings were held in Lady Lake, Marianna, Lake City, Palm City, and Port Charlotte. The training session provided an amazing opportunity for professionals and volunteers from a variety of literacy programs to work together and gain knowledge of not only specific learning disabilities but also of research-based strategies and teaching tools.

“Providing the L2A modules to four different groups was an amazing and enlightening opportunity for me,” says Betsy Stoutmorrill.  “I was inspired by all the dedicated volunteers and professionals who asked tough questions and invested their time to attend this training to improve their teaching and understanding of learning disabilities.”

The hope is that additional training days can be offered throughout Florida to introduce more people to L2A or for those who attended a training to complete the online modules.  Thanks to the partnerships between LINCS, the Florida Literacy Coalition, and the individual sponsoring regions, this training will make a difference in the educational and personal success of many adult learners and support the growth and development of the professionals and volunteers who dedicate themselves to adult literacy.    Funding for these trainings were provided through grants, but more funding is needed to continue these important trainings.

“I talk to so many literacy program directors and coordinators who fear that volunteer tutors feel inadequate to the task of working with adult learners with learning disabilities.  This training has allowed us to demystify the topic and to share the best practices based on the most current research.  Judging from the feedback so far, I think we have gone a long way in addressing the challenges,” states Roberta Reiss.