Erika Greene and FLC’s Online Tutor Training Course

Erika Greene

Erika Greene

How did you get involved with this project?

I was very pleased to be invited by Greg Smith, Director, FLC, to join an Online Study Committee established to explore the viability of developing and offering on-line training for potential tutors and teachers.  The team worked together and launched the pilot online training in July 2010.  As the Literacy Coordinator for the Lake County Library System Adult Literacy Program I am constantly recruiting and training volunteer tutors and I was immediately sold on the opportunity to incorporate an online tutor training component into our program.

Why were you interested in facilitating the course?

Being part of the study committee, a program coordinator, and volunteer tutor trainer it was a natural transition to facilitate the pilot course!  I was extremely excited to be able to participate in the online training – not only would I be able to see how it worked but I would be able to provide feedback, input, and guide the new volunteer tutors from Lake County as they traversed this new territory!

What was your interaction with course participants?

I was involved with the new volunteer tutors from the very beginning – recruiting, preparing and educating them on the online training program, providing support and guidance as they worked through the course content, participating in the discussion board topics, and transitioning them to our required face-to-face follow up meeting.

What would you suggest for other facilitators?

It is so very important to be engaged with the volunteer tutors throughout the process.  For some individuals the ‘technology’ can be overwhelming and, at times, discouraging for them.  If you are planning on facilitating your own online training be prepared to be busy!  But the rewards far outweigh the work.  You learn so much about your new potential volunteer tutors and they develop a strong relationship with you as they learn they can trust and depend on you to offer them assistance and support throughout the process.

How do you recruit course participants?

Recruiting volunteer tutors for the online training is similar to the traditional way I recruited tutors.  The only difference is that I stress the need for new volunteers to be comfortable with technology – or at least willing to try and learn!  As the LCLS Adult Literacy Program moves further into the 21st Century we, as a program, need tutors who use and/or are willing to be trained to use technology – hardware, software, the cloud, mobile aps, web-based learning, etc...  The FLC online training is the first step in this process.

For more information on how you can be involved with FLC’s free online training course, please contact schmidta@floridaliteracy.org.

Apps for Education

Smart phones are becoming increasingly popular. Now that they are becoming more affordable, it is not that uncommon to see people in every economic bracket with one.  The PEW Research Center has completed surveys about the demographics of smart phone users.

I heard about using cell phones as a tool during tutor training at the Adult Literacy League. But after the trainer explained how she came to it, it made complete sense. Her student wanted to practice the new words he was learning, but didn’t want to be embarrassed as a grown man using flash cards.  After many trail and error experiments, they found an application that would work well for both of them.  I decided to compile a list of 4-5 applications for the most popular smart phones.  I suggest that you try out a couple and see what works for your student. The gFlash allows you as the tutor to upload a list of words for your student to use, or you can download a list already made by someone else.   All of the Dictionary.com applications include audio so users can see how the word is spelled and hear how it is pronounced.  Is there anything else you would add?

IPHONE

Flash cards + $0.99 English Voice download- FREE
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/flashcards/id408490162?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D2

Dictionary.com (includes pronunciation button) – FREE
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dictionary.com-flashcards/id446342262?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D2

Math games- FREE
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/my-math-flash-cards-app/id412496588?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D2

World Lens (Translates street signs) – FREE
http://www.eschoolnews.com/2011/01/07/10-of-the-best-apps-for-education/2/?

Top 50 iPhone apps for Educators
http://oedb.org/library/features/top_50_iphones_for_educators

ANDROID

Spanish-English Dictionary ColorDict Dictionary- FREE
http://tech4world.net/the-best-android-applications-for-education.html

Math Wizard- FREE
http://www.appsnews.org/2010/06/mathwizard-android-app-review/

gFlash (create your own flashcards)- FREE
http://www.androidapp101.com/gflash-android-app-1381.html

Dictionary.com(includes pronunciation button)- FREE
http://www.androidapp101.com/dictionary-com-flashcards-android-app-2161.html

BLACKBERRY

gFlash PRO flashcards (create your own or download someone elses)- $4.99
http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/134?lang=en

Math Flash- FREE
http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/28944?lang=en

Student Notes (good for those studying for the GED)- FREE
http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/37789?lang=en

Learn to Write- FREE
http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/27646?lang=en

Dictionary and Thesaurus.com- FREE
http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/3626?lang=en

Andy Nash: Learner Persistence, Key to Success

Andy Nash

In the New England Learner Persistence Project, 18 diverse ABE programs throughout New England investigated promising persistence strategies and reported on their impact on attendance, cycle completion, and program practices. In reviewing the dozens of program findings, we tried to understand why the strategies were so successful. What explained their effectiveness?

Our analysis led us to conclude that the strategies work because they support adults’ need for six things, which we call the “drivers of persistence.” Programs can use these drivers to stimulate their thinking about ways to improve learner persistence.

Community and belonging

When we feel welcomed, respected, and offered a sense of belonging, we are more apt to return to that setting or task. For that reason, cultivating a sense of belonging and community from the moment a prospective adult learner comes through the doors or calls is an important persistence strategy.

Clarity of purpose

Clarity of purpose refers to helping students gain clarity about their own purposes for learning – their goals and dreams – and how the instructional approaches of their teachers address those purposes. Knowing this builds trust that the program will meet their needs.

A sense of competence

Adults’ beliefs about their competence and self-efficacy can have a profound effect on their persistence and achievement. Students with more self-efficacy are more willing to persist to reach their goals in the face of adversity.

Stability

Learning is difficult in an environment that is chaotic or unstable. This is challenging, especially, for the many adult learners whose lives are marked by instability caused by poverty and trauma. According to Perry (2006), “The major challenge to the educator working with highly stressed or traumatized adults is to furnish the structure, predictability, and sense of safety that can help them begin to feel safe enough to learn.”

Relevance

The degree of perceived relevance of instruction to the adult learners’ goals, interests and life experience is a key factor in adults’ motivation to persist in their studies. Most adult learners juggle many competing priorities that may take precedence if the instructional program does not feel meaningful to their needs and interests.

Agency

Human agency is the capacity for human beings to make things happen through their actions. As people mature, they move from dependence toward self-direction, and want to be treated as responsible individuals with the capacity to determine things for themselves.

For a description of the specific strategies investigated by NELP programs, see our project report or visit our website.

Gail Rice: Language Experience Approach

Since writing is one of the last skills to develop, native speakers of English who are not proficient in reading are less likely to be proficient in writing. Students that have been shamed in the past for their failures in writing, may dislike writing and write as little as possible.  ESL (English as a Second Language) learners may also experience the same problems because they are aware of their mistakes speaking English.  Thus, ESL and native speaking students are less likely to write because they do not want to see a paper loaded with red marks and corrections.

The language experience approach (LEA) is a powerful tool for tutors to use with any learner who has enough conversational ability to carry on simple conversations, even if that person has no reading skills at all.  It uses the language of the learner, dictated to and written down by the tutor, as the basis of the reading material.  The material is then familiar and understandable since it is based on the learner’s experience, making it easier to read.

But what if learners make grammatical or other mistakes when dictating to the tutor?  What about mistakes that native speakers and ESL learners make in their own writing?

Some tutors feel that they should correct all mistakes and if not they are reinforcing those mistakes.  But such an approach defeats the purpose of the LEA and ensures that struggling writers will become more discouraged and less likely to write.

These issues and others will be discussed at the Tutor Celebration of Learning Seminar offered by the Florida Literacy Council and the Adult Literacy League on the morning of September 17, 2011.

Strategic Reading Instruction to Improve Comprehension of Struggling Readers

Tuesday night, tutors from across the state participated in a virtual training to learn about Strategic Reading Instruction to Improve Comprehension of Struggling Readers. 

Below is a quick summary of the training from presenter, Iris Strunc, of Northwest Florida State College.

Iris Strunc

Iris Strunc

Comprehension is the fundamental reason for reading.  Reading without understanding is merely a futile exercise of readers running their eyes across a page of text.  Many struggling readers, therefore, indicate that comprehension is their most serious reading problem.  In order to understand the text that they are reading, readers must be able to identify the topic and what the author wants the reader to know about the topic (main idea).

One of the strategies demonstrated during this session was analyzing the paragraph for words that carry the meaning in each sentence (key words) and using these words to identify the topic and the author’s point about the topic.  The steps include the following:

  • Reading the first and last sentence of the paragraph
  • Identifying and circling the words (key words) that carry the meaning from the first sentence to the next
  • Identifying and circling the words (key words) that carry the meaning from the second sentence to the next
  • Identifying and circling the words (key words) that carry the meaning throughout the remainder of the paragraph
  • Using the circled keys words to look for patterns to identify the topic (subject) of the paragraph
  • Writing the topic at the top of a post-it-note
  • Determining what the author wants the reader to know about the topic of the paragraph
  • Writing that information under the topic on the post-it-note
  • Combining this information on the post-it-note to write the main idea sentence  of the  paragraph

Students who are directly taught this strategy usually are able to comprehend the text that they are reading without having to reread the text several times.

This training was a collaborative learning event brought to you by the Florida Adult Literacy Resource Center, a program of the Florida Literacy Coalition. This training was made possible through the support of the Florida Department of Education, Division of Career and Adult Education.

Did you participate in last night’s training?  Let us know your thoughts; leave your comments in the box below!