Chapter 4 Transcript - Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Options for Practice and Research Study Circle Discussions - Discussion Lists - Professional Development

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Options for Practice and Research Study Circle Discussions

Chapter 4: Principles of Learning for Instructional Design



Full Transcripts

Discussion Description | Preparation | Guest Biographies

Welcome Message

Subject: [PD 6091] Discussion Begins Today! Details
From: Jackie Taylor
Date: Mon Nov 28 10:49:06 EST 2011

Dear PD List,

I'm excited to announce that our Study Circle Discussions of Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Options for Practice and Research begins today! This week, guest facilitator Stephanie Moran will lead us in a discussion of Chapter 4: Principles of Learning for Instructional Design (pgs. 4-1 to 4-24).

To help us cover the chapter in breadth and depth, we'll begin discussions of various topics each day:

  • Monday: Self-Regulated Learning
  • Tuesday: Teaching in Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)
  • Wednesday: Performing Well on Complex Tasks and Deep Understanding/Mastery
  • Thursday: Transfer and Generalization / Student-Generated Content and Reasoning
  • Friday: Feedback, Adaptive and Interactive Learning Environments, Motivation, and Wrap-Up

Discussions that begin on designated days should continue as long as you would like, but she will introduce a new topic each day. We can also adjust this framework during the week to accommodate our discussion needs.

Managing Email Volume:

Email traffic may get high. If it's too much, consider changing your subscription to "digest format" before unsubscribing. Digest format bundles all posts into a one (or a few) email(s) each day. Digests are sent to you by the server when a message size threshold is met. To learn how to set your subscription to digest, visit: http://lincs.ed.gov/lincs/discussions/list_help.html#digest.

Below are a few important tips for a successful discussion.
Discussion tips:

  • To post, either reply to an existing post, or send a new email to:
    professionaldevelopment@lincs.ed.gov
  • When replying to posts: Change the subject line to reflect the change in topic.
    Delete old replies (old messages found beneath your reply to an email that is not relevant to the point you are making). This helps keep everyone's inboxes within their organization's institutional size limits and helps digest subscribers be able to actually find and read your post within the body of the digest email.

For more tips on how to make an effective post, visit:
http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/Effective_Email_Posts

Monitoring the Discussions:

Thanks, and looking forward.

Jackie

Jackie Taylor

Professional Development List Facilitator | Jackie@jataylor.net


Helping Adults Become Self-Regulated Learners

Subject: [PD 6092] Study Circle for Ch 4 "Principles of Learning for Instructional Design"
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Mon Nov 28 11:04:52 EST 2011
Study Circle for Ch. 4, "Principles of Learning for Instructional Design"

Good morning! Here's our kickoff question for the day: How do you help adult learners to become "self-regulated" (p. 4-2)?
How do you deal with the primary instructional challenges in helping students become independent learners?

Self-regulated learners develop "expertise" that has eight specific features noted on 4-2, and the chapter examines each of these in detail. Throughout the week, look for practices that you and your team already use and one or two that you can create a professional development activity around for the team to strengthen. Share practical tips, tools, and lessons that you find particularly useful that model one of the principles.

Here are the specific features that self-regulated learners practice:

  • "Experts acquire and maintain skill through consistent and long-term engagement with domain-relevant activities, deliberate practice, and corrective feedback."
  • Experts "notice features and meaningful patterns" that are missed by less experienced learners.
  • "Content knowledge.is organized around core mental models that reflect deep understanding."
  • Experts use metacognitive skills.
  • Knowledge is "tuned and conditionalized" and an expert knows when and in which contexts to apply the skills.
  • "Experts retrieve and execute relevant knowledge and skills automatically" so they can focus on harder tasks with less stress.
  • "Experts approach tasks flexibly, so they recognize when more knowledge is needed and take steps to acquire it while monitoring progress."
  • Experts "Retain domain-related skills through adulthood" within standard/expected losses in speed and endurance related to aging.

Clearly, the report views metacognition as an underpinning of self-regulated learning. According to Tei & Stewart (1985, NCREL and Valdosta University), metacognition is "thinking about one's thinking" and then using strategies to increase understanding. Metacognition relies on students recognizing their memory systems and strengthening them, checking for comprehension and using fix-up strategies, and making adjustments when their understanding stops.

How familiar are you with metacognitive strategies to teach students how to develop their own inner strategies to check for understanding and avoid the "learned helplessness" syndrome? Would you like some questions that you can use with students to develop metacognition before, during, and after learning sessions?

Stephanie Moran

Guest Facilitator

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction:

Options for Practice and Research Study Circle Discussions
http://lincs.ed/gov/lincs/discussions/professionaldevelopment/11circle


Subject: [PD 6093] Questions to promote self-regulated learning
From: Wendy Quinones
Date: Mon Nov 28 11:32:19 EST 2011

Thank you, Stephanie!

I would love questions that would help learners begin to assess their own understanding. One of the interesting (frightening?) aspects of research on reading is the extent to which students are unaware of their misunderstandings. I see that all the time in my students—they believe they have understood a passage while entertaining wild misconceptions of what it is about.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to BEG people, when they respond to this discussion, to delete previous messages before they send their own. It only takes a second and it makes the discussion so much easier to follow.

Thanks,

Wendy Quinones


Subject: [PD 6095] Some Questions to Help Students Develop Metacognitive Strategies
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Mon Nov 28 11:55:49 EST 2011

For Wendy and others who might be interested in questions that can help students develop metacognitive strategies, here are some questions educators could help students to ask as they approach a new skill:

  • What's my prior knowledge about this subject/skill/issue?
  • How can I use it to help me now?
  • Do I know what I need to know (basic information)?
  • Did I understand what I just heard, saw, or read?
  • What should I do first? What's my first step?
  • Why am I reading this selection/story/chapter/word problem-what is my purpose?
  • How much time do I have to complete this activity or task?

Questions to ask during learning:

  • How am I doing? What's my comfort level?
  • Am I on the right track or should I move in a different direction?
  • What information is important to remember? To write down? To highlight or make a note about in the margin?
  • What do I need to do if I don't understand?
  • What question do I need to ask the teacher or my study buddy right now?

Questions to ask after learning:

  • How well did I do? How do I feel about this learning session?
  • Did my thinking approach/strategy work as well or produce as much as I expected or wanted?
  • What could I have done differently if I still feel confused?
  • If the session went well, how can I apply the same line of thinking to other problems or class work?
  • Do I need to go back through the task to fill in blanks in my understanding or speak to my teacher?
  • If I'm still unsure or confused, should I speak up right now or call/e-mail my teacher later?

If you have questions or strategies that you use that are different, please share them with us.


Subject: [PD 6102] Re: Questions that Promote Self-Regulated Learning
From: Wendy Quinones
Date: Tue Nov 29 11:53:09 EST 2011

Stephanie,

Those are great questions! I really need to integrate them into my classwork. I can see using the "after" ones as terrific "exit tickets" to encourage a bit more reflection among my students. I especially love "What could I have done differently if I am still confused?"

Sometimes I get discouraged because I see my students only 3 hours a week. A question like "What information is important to remember," along with making a note or highlighting, for example, assumes that students can determine the main ideas in what they are reading. At the pre-GED level -- roughly 6 - 8 grade reading level at my center -- that is one of the most difficult skills to teach. It's all a work in progress, isn't it?

Wendy Quinones


Subject: [PD 6096] Re: Some Questions to Help Students Develop Metacognitive Strategies
From: Tom Sticht
Date: Mon Nov 28 14:12:44 EST 2011
Colleagues: Here is a little historical note regarding the metacognitive fostering questions which Stephanie Moran has discussed. It is a variant of the active reading strategy based on work by Francis Robinson in the 1940s.

During World War II, in what was known as the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP), United States colleges were swamped by Army personnel who were on campus to take courses for hundreds ofspecialized skills needed to win the war. The courses these soldiers had to take were accelerated, highly concentrated, and placed considerable demands on reading and mastering the content of difficult technical manuals. Under such conditions, many men were experiencing reading and learning difficulties.

At the Ohio State University, Professor Francis Robinson, a member of the psychology department faculty, was selected to head a new Learning and Study Skills program that would teach military personnel to learn better by reading. After reviewing research and approaches to effective study skills, Robinson came up with a formula for reading and study that has endured for two-thirds of a century. He developed what is called the SQ3R method of reading and studying. In this method, students are taught to first Survey the text and to raise Questions about the meaning of what they are reading, then they Read the text carefully, stopping now and then to construct and Recite to themselves summary statements of what they have just read, and to later Review what they have read.

The SQ3R method is today referred to as a "study skill" and sometimes a "reading comprehension strategy" and is one of several such strategies that can be subsumed under the label of "active reading strategies." These strategies deal with what readers should do Before they read (as in Surveying and Questioning), what they should do While they read (as in Reciting), and what they should do After they read (as in Reviewing).

Perhaps what Stephanie has discussed might be called an active learning strategy since it concerns what learners should do before the learning activity, then during the learning activity, and then after the learning activity. This type of strategy is frequently taught in developmental reading programs in colleges to help students become better prepared for postsecondary studies.

Tom Sticht


Subject: [PD 6106] Re: Some Questions to Help Students Develop Metacognitive Strategies
From: Robben Wainer
Date: Tue Nov 29 01:35:20 EST 2011

Dear Tom,

To train in comprehensive reading using the web, I was presented with graphic organizers that displayed the message panel that was allowed by a web page, and then a web page that was followed by a message panel. I was literally shown by demonstration how to complete a sequence of five different forms of web based texting. I was finally asked to author a version of agreement terms to certify secure messaging. I was never asked to copyright, or to alliterate an interest on a topic of discussion as a reference point to begin to develop my skills.

Thank You,

Robben Wainer


Subject: [PD 6105] Re: Questions to promote self-regulated learning
From: Gabb, Sally S.
Date: Tue Nov 29 11:14:24 EST 2011

Hi Wendy and all - (Wendy, I'm sure you use most of these ideas!) in my reading classes, we place heavy emphasis on student awareness of the strategies that are effective for finding meaning in text. First I emphasize that a human being wrote the text: the author wanted the reader to understand both information and ideas. The metacognitive questions encourage students to think about their own mental conversation with the author. Some of the questions I always pose include these:

  • What do I need to do before reading to increase my understanding? Scan, survey title, headings, first sentences in reading) what is the topic of this text? (What was the author writing about? One to three words)
  • What do I know about this topic (what prior knowledge do I have that will help me understand this text?
  • Why am I reading this text (what is MY purpose for reading) - what do I want to learn from this text - (develop questions I want answered)
  • What do I need to do while I am reading this text to increase my understanding?
  • Answer my questions - does the author provide answers to my questions?
  • What is the author discussing about the topic? What is the author's main idea about the topic?
  • Does the author provide me with enough evidence (supporting details) to support the main idea??
  • What is the most important information in this paragraph? (underline the paragraph main idea)
  • Reflect while I am reading: do I understand each paragraph and how it relates to the topic and main idea (author's thesis) of the text?
  • What do I need to do after I complete a reading? What questions do I need to ask myself about the reading?
  • What was the author telling me about the topic? (Main thesis of the text)
  • Did the author answer my questions?
  • Was the author's writing clear? Did he/she present the information and ideas clearly?
  • Did the author provide opinion, or was it information (fact) only?
  • If the text is opinion, do I agree or disagree?
  • What was the tone of the text?

If I can't answer these questions after I complete a reading, I need to go back and review. I always emphasize that while following this process, asking all the questions, seems laborious, with practice, the process will gain automaticity (like learning to drive?)

But again, I feel the most effective approach has been to encourage students to think about reading as an active conversation with the author. This seems to enable greater engagement with text, and greater awareness of mental processes involved understanding what we read. I use a comparison with oral conversation, that if we don't understand what someone is telling us orally in person, we usually say - "wait a minute, what do you mean? What are you saying? We need to do th same with text, actively seek the message the author is bringing through text.

Sometimes I'll have an exercise in which students write down what they would like to say to the author about a text (You must be crazy, I don't agree, you have clarified this for me, thank you for this information, etc.) This kind of personal response seems to be effective in connecting challenged readers to text. Hope these ideas help!

Sally Gabb

Reading Skills Specialist

Bristol Community College


Subject: [PD 6112] Re: Questions to promote self-regulated learning
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Tue Nov 29 14:20:39 EST 2011

Awesome questions, Sally-thanks for sharing them. It's essential that we teach such approaches to students because when they come to true college-level texts, particularly in the sciences, they will often fail unless they have the tools to work through difficult material.

Stephanie Moran

Guest Facilitator


Metacognition and Math

Subject: [PD 6094] Re: Study Circle for Ch 4 "Principles of Learning for Instructional Design"
From: Susan Jones
Date: Mon Nov 28 11:50:46 EST 2011

Stephanie asked, "How do you help adult learners to become "self-regulated" (p. 4-2)?"
One thing I do is the obvious thing -- try to talk about it... and stress how important it is... and model it.

In math, it can be really hard, because if the student's in deep water, then Memorizing Formulas is the lifeline to survival, and if you haven't seen the patterns, then everything is a formula, so there are so many of them to memorize that if I talk about a pattern, you perceive it as... another formula to memorize.

However, most students aren't quite as in over their heads as they think... but it takes some convincing, and it helps to start early and find some Really Important Big Ideas to stress throughout, because they come up again and again.

In Math, I've discovered that my learners have different big ideas than I do. I learned to manipulate these cute little symbols so my rules and patterns are based on that language. My learners... they've got different ones. Some of them work, and some of them don't. "A plus sign means you get more" is one that works, sort of, some of the time. When I found Dorothea Steinke's article about "parts and wholes" (http://www.ncsall.net/fileadmin/resources/fob/2008/fob_9a.pdf) I was intrigued, and now that I've been trying to imbue my tutoring with that idea, it's turned out to be helpful and something I've tapped into when I hadn't expected to. The idea is that when you're looking for the whole thing, you're going to have to add things up and make 'em bigger to get it, but if you're looking for one of the parts-even if I've asked "what do I add to get there?"-well, just because I said add doesn't mean to add... and here's why, instead of "well, look at the numbers, and if they look like you subtract, do that, and don't worry about why because you won't get it anyway." When we're doing those scary "you know the perimeter, now what's one of the sides?" deals... when it's the Pythagorean Theorem... my model was "hey, subtract from both sides to get x by itself," but I saw the light bulb go on a lot more often when I said "hey, when you're looking for the long side, you add and when you're looking for one of the legs - one of the parts - you subtract."

So... it's not just modeling and teaching the patterns - it's discovering what patterns they're bringing to the task and working with that...

And then when they start Getting Things Right -and knowing why ! - that the self-regulation starts germinating...

... just some thoughts between helping a few students with factoring and percents ... really curious about how this works with more subjective subjects...

Susan Jones

Academic Development Specialist

Center for Academic Success

Parkland College


Subject: [PD 6097] Metacognition & Math
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Mon Nov 28 14:17:23 EST 2011

My responses are embedded below beginning with ***

One thing I do is the obvious thing - try to talk about it... and stress how important it is... and model it.

*** Right--as Susan points out, just introducing metacognitive concepts is important. In math, it can be really hard, because if the student's in deep water, then Memorizing Formulas is the lifeline to survival, and if you haven't seen the patterns, then everything is a formula, so there are so many of them to memorize that if I talk about a pattern, you perceive it as... another formula to memorize.

*** One of the challenges with memorizing formulas that this chapter points out is that students so often have trouble applying the formulas in contexts other than the precise ones they were introduced in class.

However, most students aren't quite as in over their heads as they think... but it takes some convincing, and it helps to start early and find some Really Important Big Ideas to stress throughout, because they come up again and again.

*** Yes, this is where using metacognitive strategies can really help students, even on the simplest levels. In Math, I've discovered that my learners have different big ideas than I do. I learned to manipulate these cute little symbols so my rules and patterns are based on that language. My learners... they've got different ones. Some of them work, and some of them don't.

*** The report discusses the need for checking for comprehension and monitoring for error correction via feedback (pp. 4-15 and 4-15).
"A plus sign means you get more" is one that works, sort of, some of the time. When I found Dorothea Steinke's article about "parts and wholes" (http://www.ncsall.net/fileadmin/resources/fob/2008/fob_9a.pdf for the article) I was intrigued, and now that I've been trying to imbue my tutoring with that idea, it's turned out to be helpful and something I've tapped into when I hadn't expected to. The idea is that when you're looking for the whole thing, you're going to have to add things up and make 'em bigger to get it, but if you're looking for one of the parts -- even if I've asked "what do I add to get there?" -- well, just because I said add doesnt' mean to add... and here's why, instead of "well, look at the numbers, and if they look like you subtract, do that, and don't worry about why because you won't get it anyway." When we're doing those scary "you know the perimeter, now what's one of the sides?" deals... when it's the Pythagorean THeorem... *my* model was "hey, subtract from both sides to get x by itself," but I saw the light bulb go on a lot more often when I said "hey, when you're looking for the long side, you add and when you're looking for one of the legs -- one of the parts -- you subtract."

So... it's not just modeling and teaching the patterns -- it's discovering what patterns they're bringing to the task and working with that...

*** Absolutely critical across the curriculum and especially in math!

Stephanie Moran


Subject: [PD 6104] Re: Metacognition & Math
From: Lisa Mullins
Date: Mon Nov 28 22:08:14 EST 2011

This is an important discussion. Thank you so much for the opportunity to join.

I agree that modeling is very important for the learners. This gives them an example of how to learn and what is good thinking practice. Recognizing in other students good practices, critical thinking, and problems solving skills is very important as well. They can learn so much from their peers, not just the teachers. So promoting a learning community works as a good modeling system.

I believe that some ways to promote self-regulated learning and metacognition would include helping the student identify how they learn best. One way is to find the learning style. Another is to help students discover that it is okay to think out loud or to question their own thinking by asking the teacher questions. In my classroom, many students begin a question with "this may be a silly question or I was just thinking". We can encourage metacognition at this point by recognizing their question and giving this thinking validation.

Math is a great area to encourage self-regulated learning. I often suggest several strategies to learning a new math skill. For example, saying to the students "this is how I would solve this problem, but you might draw a picture, make a chart, or use an equation to solve it." Then I ask for examples of different ways of thinking. This allows the students to see that others might think just as they do or in a new way.

I'm looking for new ways or different ways to extend my students' learning. What do some others think I can do to achieve this task?

Lisa Mullins

Adult Education Teacher

Hawkins County Adult Education Program

Rogersville, Tennessee


Subject: [PD 6107] Re: Metacognition & Math
From: Peggy Baker
Date: Tue Nov 29 12:56:04 EST 2011

Memorizing formulas has been pretty well discredited as a way of learning math at all levels. One thing many of us aren't aware of is that in the US math is taught differently than almost anywhere else in the world. It is worth trying to get a math book from Singapore just as a comparison--most math books used elsewhere are about the size of drivers' manuals from the DMV. Math is taught in context, and this is something which should support adult learners well.

Peggy Baker

www.easlinstitute.org


Subject: [PD 6111] Re: Metacognition & Math
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Tue Nov 29 14:17:06 EST 2011

These are great suggestions for helping students become more strategic in their thinking and their problem-solving.

The more that we help students to verbalize their thinking, the more that helps them to retain the skill-as well as allowing for a tactful way of monitoring for misconceptions and the need for correction.

It's also useful, as Lisa points out, to suggest various ways to approach a math problem other than the traditional way. Encouraging students to draw a picture or a chart is particularly good for students who relate better through a different this medium than through pure numbers, and a picture may help a peer tutor/teacher understand where the jam-up is occurring. We also encourage metacognitive thinking with these questions:

  • Tell me what the problem ask you to do.
  • What have you tried so far?
  • Write down or tell me everything that you already know about this problem.
  • Write down what you understand and what is unclear to you.
  • What would make this problem simpler?
  • Think about how you have used math in the last 24 hours and share your example.

Stephanie Moran


Subject: [PD 6118] Re: Metacognition & Math
From: Susan Jones
Date: Wed Nov 30 09:20:21 EST 2011

Even if we don't give students a formula to memorize, most of my adult learners don't understand the math, so the successful ones will seek and develop a formula and memorize it. Since the math is often being taught as a series of procedures (check out most of the "cutting edge" software programs such as ALEKS for a stark example), the procedures are memorized.

The formulas that the students generate are often arbitrary and often wrong... but if they're right for, say, a few more than half of the problems on a test then assorted other point-getting activities can lead to a Passing Grade.

Going back and looking at yesterday's questions, the successful students (about half) actually do apply a lot of those "expert" skills in metacognition, etc. —except they are only experts in surviving a math course with a passing grade, as opposed to being numerate.

But... time for *today's* discussion ;)

Susan Jones

Academic Development Specialist

Center for Academic Success

Parkland College

Champaign, IL


Clear Organized Presentation of Content

Subject: [PD 6098] Study Circle for "Principles of Learning for Instructional Design" Clear, Organized Presentation of Material/Content
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Mon Nov 28 14:23:20 EST 2011

Chapter four also raises the need for instructors to present material in clear, consistent ways that will reach most students.

Because many learners, especially in ESOL classes as well as low-level math and reading classes, are distracted by extraneous information, the report recommends "[removing] any irrelevant information, even if interesting, that could detract from learning to minimize cognitive load and competing demands on attention" (4-4). It also recommends that visual displays be clear and simply presented, noise be at a minimum, and that content should be logically connected for the sake of coherence.

How do you know how much time you/your teachers spend on task/content vs. digression?

Why might we encourage/require educators to create lesson plans, especially inexperienced teachers?

Do teachers allow students to listen to music during class or support an environment that reflects a quiet test or workplace environment?

What kinds of visual information do teachers display and use as teaching tools? Do you LCD projectors, smart boards or document cameras, even overhead projectors to present information other than verbally/in written form?

Stephanie Moran

Guest Facilitator


Zone of Proximal Development

Subject: [PD 6108] Study Circle for Improving Adult literacy Instruction: Principles of Learning for Instructional Design
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Tue Nov 29 10:53:08 EST 2011

Yesterday, we reviewed the eight principles that self-regulated learners practice and explored the role of metacognition a bit.

  • "Experts acquire and maintain skill through consistent and long-term engagement with domain-relevant activities, deliberate practice, and corrective feedback."
  • Experts "notice features and meaningful patterns" that are missed by less experienced learners.
  • "Content knowledge.is organized around core mental models that reflect deep understanding"
  • Experts use metacognitive skills
  • Knowledge is "tuned and conditionalized" and an expert knows when and in which contexts to apply the skills.
  • "Experts retrieve and execute relevant knowledge and skills automatically" so they can focus on harder tasks with less stress.
  • "Experts approach tasks flexibly, so they recognize when more knowledge is needed and take steps to acquire it while monitoring progress."
  • Experts "Retain domain-related skills through adulthood" within standard / expected losses in speed and endurance related to aging.

Today, we focus on the report's findings about how to keep students interested and challenged but not so challenged that they feel overwhelmed.

TUESDAY: Teaching in Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)

Vygotsky's 1986 concept of ZPD on 4-6 states that "learning goals, materials, and tasks should be sensitive to what the student has mastered and be appropriately challenging-not too easy or too difficult, but just right." I call this the Goldilocks theory-presenting material not so easy that we bore students but not so hard that they feel stupid or inadequate; at both ends of the learning spectrum, we risk losing students. The report highlights the need to offer multi-leveled "explicit teacher-managed code-focused [reading] instruction," and this reinforces virtually all the research to date: low-level readers must have targeted instruction by educators who know how to teach using multi-sensory approaches that often should start at the phonemic awareness level, programs such as Lindamood-Bell and Orton-Gillingham (LMB/O-G).

Does your center offer multiple levels of reading instruction even though such instruction is labor intensive and requires a serious commitment from adult learners?

How do you reach low-literacy learners if you do not offer a multi-sensory, accelerated and intensive reading program?

What strategies do you use to reach our varied student populations to avoid boring them or overwhelming them? (some examples might include a "Guided Instruction" for 1:1 work, volunteers who work with one student or a small group of students on very targeted skills, offering leveled courses—ABE/GED/College Prep/Word Power [for very low-literacy students-this would be an LMB or O-G based course], and technology classes that invite more creative applications of core skills)

Stephanie Moran

Guest Facilitator

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction:

Options for Practice and Research Study Circle Discussions
http://lincs.ed/gov/lincs/discussions/professionaldevelopment/11circle


Subject: [PD 6109] Zone of Proximal Development and digital learning tools
From: David J. Rosen
Date: Tue Nov 29 13:22:40 EST 2011

PD Colleagues,

The topic for today's discussion is Vygotsky's concept of Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). Chapter four addresses this on pages 6 - 7.

ZPD has always made a lot of sense to me: a teacher or tutor is asked to find a level of difficulty that is not too easy (because there would be no challenge) and not too difficult (because the challenge might be overwhelming and therefore discouraging). To do this, the teacher needs to know what that is for each learner. That means knowing what each learner's level of background knowledge is for a particular topic, and also what level of difficulty would be in the zone for that learner. No problem if you are tutoring one learner; a huge problem if you have a large class of students.

I find intriguing the Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Options for Practice and Research authors' idea that computers may offer a solution to this problem.

The United States Common Core Standards for reading and writing have adopted the ZPD principle by proposing that text assignments push the envelope on text difficulty, as reflected in Lexile scores and other text characteristics, but not too much beyond what the student can handle.

Consider this instructional design:
With a short, initial reading assessment a learner is asked to select from a group of perhaps five reading passages that have a range of lexile scores the one that seems about right: not too hard, not too easy.
The computer- (or Internet-) based learning system has for each learning goal or objective a wide selection of readings, each with its lexile score coded.
Dynamically, the computer chooses readings with the right lexile score (one level higher than that chosen by the learner) for each learner.

This design is possible, for example, for adults who use the Learner Web. It is also possible, using the Learner Web, to dynamically match readings (or other learning resources) based on a learner's interests and learner-assessed level of background knowledge. There may be other computer-assisted learning systems, as well, that have this capability.

Learning involves being proficient with the tools needed to complete the tasks to be mastered and so requires practice with using tools. Tools can be anything from a physical tool (pen, computer, textbook, graphic organizer) to more abstract tools—such as the appropriate lexicon of a particular domain or knowledge of how people in a domain construct written arguments or literature. Chapter 4 - 3.

I wonder if anyone is concerned, as I am, that we do not spend enough time in professional development introducing teachers to useful learning tools, especially computer-based and online learning tools, helping them to help their learners use the tools well, and to integrate these tools with other classroom activities. If so, what should we do about this?

David J. Rosen


Subject: [PD 6110] Re: Zone of Proximal Development and digital learning tools
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Tue Nov 29 14:08:46 EST 2011

"I wonder if anyone is concerned, as I am, that we do not spend enough time in professional development introducing teachers to useful learning tools, especially computer-based and online learning tools, helping them to help their learners use the tools well, and to integrate these tools with other classroom activities. If so, what should we do about this?"

David raises a very important question and concern-the fact that computers have much better adaptive qualities than in the past, and with this feature, computers can ascertain an individual student's ability level and hone in on it with appropriate reading passages, math problems, and writing questions/exercises. Certainly, states need to help adult educators become more proficient at using adaptive technology and to supply centers with modern computer labs.

Is your state helping its adult educators to use this technology, and if so, how are you using it with your students?

Stephanie Moran


Subject: [PD 6115] Zone of Proximal Development
From: Robben Wainer
Date: Tue Nov 29 15:54:20 EST 2011

Hello,

In depicting the zone of proximal development, we understand that a student may be asked to answer a question, and then to reply with a question of their own. We understand learning as perception that requires a control over the stimulation of a learning response. At times we may be asked to lead the discussion to the topics of proof, or to synthesize how we ascribe meaning from cognitive skills to what our thought process may represent. Then to understand this theoretical interjection as a synthesized form of the value in responding to challenges, still perhaps with some anticipation of it's delivery. This is why we feel the zone of proximal development is very visual and conforms to the environment, as an internal assessment of developing logical reasoning from motives that work in unison with both internal and external perception.

Thank You,


Subject: [PD 6120] Re: Study Circle for Improving Adult literacy Instruction: Principles of Learning for Instructional Design
From: Susan Jones
Date: Wed Nov 30 09:46:21 EST 2011

I think this is one of the toughest challenges of our job.

I'm afraid code-based instruction is next-to-impossible to come by in these parts. I have a fantasy of starting a tutor training program using Susan Barton's OG-based materials, and suggesting that students try it out *especially* if they suspect they might have some gaps in their own skills. (I taught O-G intensively at The New Community School for five years. It's good stuff, but hard to sell for so many reasons, especially the perception that it just takes too long, and that pervasive mythological "fluent word-caller with low comprehension skills.")

However, a lot can be done without O-G. We encourage students to use our technology so they can have text read to them, and gradually this is becoming common enough (on mobile devices, etc.) so that it's easier to get to *and* regarded as a convenience rather than a Special Accommodation For Stupid People. Our teachers also teach active reading very explicitly, so students are much less likely to look at the pages and hope they figure out enough from the discussion to get by. There's a fair amount of text analysis that gets down to the word level, so students pick up patterns and their reading does improve. Yes, I still cringe when it's painfully obvious that a little training in the sound-symbol patterns would open so many doors (like the student who couldn't spell "haven" and didn't believe the spelling... until I explained that no, it wasn't "heaven," it was like "ra-ven" but with an "h.")

Just as memorizing formulae out of context is a mistake in math, it makes sense to learn the code in context, too. My other fantasy is putting together a program to teach students to use Dragon Naturally Speaking... and gosh, we'd do a lot of practice reading passages aloud into that mic and making sure that what it said matched the text. (There was a product for kids that did this, but I think it didn't go far.)

Susan Jones

Academic Development Specialist

Center for Academic Success

Parkland College


Subject: [PD 6133] Re: Study Circle for Improving Adult literacy Instruction: Principles of Learning for Instructional Design
From: Schwarz, Robin
Date: Wed Nov 30 15:59:27 EST 2011

Susan-- I am aware of some successful efforts to teach struggling adults to read using the Kurzweil Reader. This system reads—and now records—for students so they can hear while they read. It reads whatever is scanned into it and will highlight key parts of words, phrases, sentences, etc., as needed. It has been very helpful to those who find the decoding part of reading confusing initially. It also helps those who are dependent on sounding out and cannot get to the "blending" part of reading—whole word reading.

Robin H. Lovrien, Ph.D.

Consultant in Adult ESOL/Learning Difficulties

118 Village Road

Steuben, ME


Using Learning Centers with ESOL Students

Subject: [PD 6103] Re: Study Circle for Ch 4 "Principles of Learning for Instructional Design"
From: Schwarz, Robin
Date: Mon Nov 28 18:34:19 EST 2011

In my experience, I find that ESL students may not engage in very many of these 'expert' behaviors either because of cultural differences in the way learning is engaged in or the way knowledge is regarded. Lack of these skills was probably the primary issue for students in my community college ESL classes. Many - but not all - of these students from many different cultures found the idea of interacting with the text and admitting to not understanding it quite puzzling and daunting. Though our well-thought out departmental syllabi were constructed precisely to help students develop these skills, it was quite a challenge to convince them to think differently about learning. I will never forget the terrified looks on the faces of many of my older African students who were university educated when I reminded them that memorizing the readings would get them nowhere in terms of the tests they had to take!

I have found it sometimes helpful to engage in direct instruction - for example, seeing patterns in grammar structures, spelling, how exercises are done in workbooks-as one way of helping build practices that students need to have in American classrooms, but all of the skills from 3 on involve applying knowledge or thinking about what one has learned to create a context for other learning. This was hard for my learners to do. They could learn to see patterns in one context, but did not readily apply that approach to other contexts.

Another way of developing self-directed learners in ESOL (adult education) is setting up the classroom so that students can engage in what might be called scaffolded self-direction (I use classroom learning centers for this). This is even more conducive to developing self-regulated learning than direct instruction, which is why I have evolved to this approach. This is a situation where there is a lot of choice of activities to learn a lot of different things. Students are introduced to this way of learning very gradually so that eventually they can make unguided choices according to what their interests and needs are and they can check for themselves how well they did at a particular activity. This was hard to do in a community college class, but easier in an adult ESOL setting.

I would love to hear from others who work with persons from other cultures about what they have observed in terms of the questions Stephanie asked and how they help these students acquire and develop the self-directed learning practices valued in American learning.

Robin H. Lovrien, Ph.D.

Consultant in Adult ESOL/Learning Difficulties

118 Village Road


Subject: [PD 6113] Using Learning Centers with ESOL Students
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Tue Nov 29 14:34:52 EST 2011

The learning centers that Robin refers are so effective for the reasons she states—as long as every center offers an activity that is skill-building in nature, centers offer students the chance to choose and they can figure out quickly whether the skill level is right or wrong for them and move on. As Robin notes, teachers need to spend time training students in how to use learning centers, and once they do, students really like this approach.

Stephanie Moran


Subject: [PD 6134] Re: Using Learning Centers with ESOL Students
From: Schwarz, Robin
Date: Wed Nov 30 16:05:03 EST 2011

This is correct, Susan, they really do like them. My research showed a distinct shift from really being suspicious of centers to preferring them to teacher- led classes as students gained experience with centers and understood that they were actually learning from using them. This is where the real shift to self-regulated learning happened, as they saw they could choose to practice what they wanted to practice.

Another advantage of centers is that they allow the huge amounts of practice that helps students master things to automaticity. As you mentioned in another post, games are terrific for helping students attain automaticity in math concepts, and they are just as good at helping with mastering grammatical features of English or sight words or phonics concepts, too. As you reiterated, three major keys to success are making sure the student knows how to do the activities, making sure there is a range of difficulty within the activities and having the activities be entirely self-checking.

Robin H. Lovrien, Ph.D.

Consultant in Adult ESOL/Learning Difficulties


Subject: [PD 6141] Re: Using Learning Centers with ESOL Students
From: Hinton, Phyllis [ED]
Date: Thu Dec 1 09:11:03 EST 2011

Usually I am an avid lurker and learn so much from everyone but want to respond here.

I also found learning centers as successful and motivational with ABE students. As was mentioned, there is time needed to teach students how to use the centers but it well worth it. It also allowed for gathering student input into their own learning, which drove more centers for their individual goals. I found the approach very effective.

Phyllis Hinton, MS

Adult Literacy Consultant

Iowa Dept. of Education

Division of Community Colleges

Bureau of Adult, Career, and Community College Education

Des Moines, IA


Subject: [PD 6142] Re: Using Learning Centers with ESOL Students
From: Kathleen Meilink
Date: Thu Dec 1 09:36:01 EST 2011

I used centers when I taught elementary school and would love to implement them in my adult classes, but where do I find the resources to make them? If they are out there I don't want to spend my time developing/designing/making them. Any help would be very much appreciated. If I missed this link in an earlier post, my apologies.

Thanks very much,


Subject: [PD 6148] Re: Using Learning Centers with ESOL Students
From: Schwarz, Robin
Date: Thu Dec 1 16:34:25 EST 2011

Stephanie-the teachers who initiated learning centers for adult ESOL learners and whom I coach use have shown me that the principle of centers is the same no matter what grade, but the content is adjusted to whatever the students need. Therefore you would not use commercial materials since they would not be personalized. Teachers find interesting ways to learn what it is students need go know or what English they should have and then design centers to help them master that English. For example, one of my star teachers has centers with real hand tools, ones with small cars for learning all the parts of cars, centers for learning the names of male, female and baby animals that farm workers work with, centers for learning phrases for a job on a construction site, and so on.

If teachers must follow a pre-set curriculum, then centers are set up to enrich that curriculum and permit mastery. That is what I did for my doctoral study. The classes I worked with had to learn basic grammar structures and several units of vocabulary, such as words to describe pieces of clothing or words related to health topics. I designed mostly games-versions of Go Fish, board games, complex bingo games, -as well as activities such as putting words into correct sentence order in a wall pocket or pair dictations. Students practiced question word order, the present tenses, negative sentences etc. in these activities. Students could engage with different games or activities every class but were reviewing basically the same grammar and vocabulary in every center.

I usually recommend a sort of template for centers: organize them either by type (all Go Fish games in one center, board games in another, wall pocket activities in another, and so on) or by purpose (all activities that provide practice in learning the alphabet in one area, phonics in another, sentence word order in another, etc. ) These choices would depend on what the class needs to accomplish.

Centers need to have activities of different levels so students of all levels can be challenged (though there may be some centers where some students do not need to work) and to be changed often so that boredom does not set in. The teacher I mentioned earlier has a collection of probably 30 or 40 centers and puts out about 7 or 8 per class; some are put out when students request them.

Once the practice is established, and there are sufficient activities for students to choose from, the whole room runs itself. Every teacher I have coached in this practice reports that they have much more time to work with students and find it easier to keep up with the class in this form of management.

As for information, as I said, since the principle is not different from centers for elementary school, there are books available that have lots of wonderful ideas on setting up and managing centers available at Amazon, for example. I find these are sort of overkill, however. The version my teachers use is pretty simple. What is more demanding at first is figuring out a way to capture progress and learning achievement.

Robin H. Lovrien, Ph.D.

Consultant in Adult ESOL/Learning Difficulties

Steuben, ME


Instructional Design & Practice for Long-Term Retrieval and Automaticity

Subject: [PD 6114] Study Circle Instructional Design & Practice for Long-Term Retrieval and Automaticity
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Tue Nov 29 16:28:10 EST 2011

4-7 states that "gradual age-related declines in speed of processing, attentional control, associative binding, and working memory may decrease learning efficiency" and consequently, "slower pacing or more practice or both may be required" for expertise. Also, for many people, especially youngsters, advancements in technology have made them less aware and less patient of the need for extended efforts to learn something fully and at the level of immediate recall.

How can adult educators promote to students the need for practice as essential to long-term retrieval and automaticity?

How do we balance the evidence with an adult learner's goal, which is often to achieve language acquisition or earn the GED as quickly as possible, which is at odds with gaining true expertise?

What are the implications from this research as it applies to your own practice and/or for program design and policy?

Teach vocabulary and terms across the curriculum-see academic vocab lists such as Jim Burke's at http://www.englishcompanion.com/pdfDocs/acvocabulary2.pdf -esp. useful for readers with "higher lexical decoding skills but low vocabulary" (4-6).

Make sure that students have ample time to review before testing (e.g., after a holiday or break in instruction), and schedule assessment posttests appropriately.

Stephanie Moran

Guest Facilitator

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction:
http://lincs.ed/gov/lincs/discussions/professionaldevelopment/11circle


Subject: [PD 6116] Re: Study Circle Instructional Design & Practice for Long-Term Retrieval and Automaticity
From: David J. Rosen
Date: Tue Nov 29 17:00:35 EST 2011

PD Colleagues,

On Nov 29, 2011, at 4:28 PM, Stephanie Moran wrote:
4-7 states that "gradual age-related declines in speed of processing, attentional control, associative binding, and working memory may decrease learning efficiency" and consequently, "slower pacing or more practice or both may be required" for expertise. Also, for many people, especially youngsters, advancements in technology have made them less aware and less patient of the need for extended efforts to learn something fully and at the level of immediate recall.

How can adult educators promote to students the need for practice as essential to long-term retrieval and automaticity?

One solution may be the "flipped classroom" model, where what teachers usually do one time as stand-up demonstrations is replaced by (the very best possible) video demonstrations, watched at home -- before coming to class, as many times as one needs, and ideally with more than one video to choose from for each concept. In some cases, e.g. Khan Academy math videos, the students also take a formative assessment (quiz) online. When students come to class, the teacher already has seen the results of the formative assessment and can:

  • Group students who need help so that s/he (or a volunteer or learner who got the concept) can help them in class;
  • Work one-on-one with students who need more help;
  • Assign new or more difficult work for students who demonstrated they "got" the concept.

This is called a "flipped classroom" because what is traditionally done as homework is now done in the classroom, supervised by a teacher, and a teacher's stand-up demonstration, presentation, or modeling of skills is done on video and watched for homework before each lesson, not after.

Some K-12 teachers claim that they have seen terrific gains using this model. Are any adult education teachers using it?

If this model becomes more common, its success, I think will depend on having the very best teachers doing the video lessons, and a lot of professional development to help classroom teachers make the shift from "sage on the state" to "guide by the side". One of the features of this model that is pertinent to this discussion is the ability of an adult to watch the video presentation / demonstration as many times as needed. Another is to take greater advantage of the teacher's time for help. I would like to see this model piloted in some adult education classes.

Although the number of adult learners who have access to the Internet at home continues to grow, for now at least, these videos would also need to be available on a DVD or CD for adults who do not have Internet access. And there may be a need to have a few inexpensive loaner CD players, although in some places libraries loan these.

David J. Rosen


Subject: [PD 6123] Re: Study Circle Instructional Design & Practice for Long-Term Retrieval and Automaticity
From: Susan Jones
Date: Wed Nov 30 10:04:47 EST 2011

I think there is a *ton* of potential here-for good or for bad.

There's a lot of mediocre-to-poor instructional stuff out there... that makes our students feel even stupider, or reinforces the "it's not about understanding, it's about butt-time" and "education" is a sentence to be served. I think there's a real need for thorough evaluation of what students are doing and learning from "the technology" because some of it *is* excellent... and of course, the resource and method can be perfect but if it's delivered wrong, learning isn't going to happen.

What does "less patient of the need" mean?

I think the right games can make automaticity fun.

Susan Jones

Academic Development Specialist

Center for Academic Success

Parkland College


Subject: [PD 6126] Re: Study Circle Instructional Design & Practice for Long-Term Retrieval and Automaticity
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Wed Nov 30 11:13:43 EST 2011

In other words, some students don't want to gain automaticity and long-term retrieval--they want a quick out of HS and the GED gives may give them that--but they will still hit a cognitive wall if they try college and lack all of the foundational skills that "expertise" and self-regulation demand.

Stephanie Moran


Subject: [PD 6130] don’t want to..? Long-Term Retrieval and Automaticity
From: Isserlis, Janet
Date: Wed Nov 30 12:53:37 EST 2011

Stephanie

Is it really that students don't want to, or haven't yet seen or understood the broader purposes of understanding why and how the formulas work-or don't?

I don't think people willfully choose not to know how to learn; I think maybe this meta level of learning and learning strategies hasn't been made clear to them; they've not had ample exposure. I question, though, whether or not adult learners are resisting learning as such.

Janet Isserlis


Subject: [PD 6145] Long-Term Retrieval and Automaticity
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Thu Dec 1 15:14:42 EST 2011

Pardon me if I intimated that students don't want to learn; I certainly believe they do or they would not make the effort to attend an adult education center.

What does seem to be true is that for students to buy into making a long-term effort to gain authentic skills that they can recall with ease, instructors must lay the foundation and articulate the purpose and usefulness of the process carefully and clearly. When we explain why building the academic foundation is important down the road, we make believers of students.

Stephanie Moran


Subject: [PD 6128] Re: Study Circle Instructional Design & Practice for Long-Term Retrieval and Automaticity
From: Dorn, Phyllis
Date: Wed Nov 30 11:55:45 EST 2011

Has anyone used Khan Academy? We are using it with great success in our Distance Learning Program at Central Georgia Technical College's Adult Education Program.

Phyllis Dorn


Subject: [PD 6136] Re: Study Circle Instructional Design & Practice for Long-Term Retrieval and Automaticity
From: Susan Jones
Date: Wed Nov 30 16:43:05 EST 2011

I perused it and blogged about it. It's *sometimes* a nice review of procedures but the emphasis is quantity over quality; the man is not a math teacher, so if you don't already understand what's going on, you're not likely to figure it out based on what he said, based on the lessons I saw.

http://wp.me/sRqZZ-average will get you to my comments on his "average" lesson.

Susan Jones

Academic Development Specialist

Center for Academic Success

Parkland College


Subject: [PD 6137] Automaticity
From: Susan Jones
Date: Wed Nov 30 17:03:37 EST 2011

I agree that more students would learn things to automaticity if they were given the chance. In my not-so-humble opinion, it's the teachers who are quick to dismiss fluent, automatic skills.

When I taught O-G I got to do the data analysis of student progress. Our most methodical, review-till-you-rot teachers... darned if they didn't happen to consistently get the best results, even with students I'd have said didn't need it-the quick, bright, highly verbal kiddos whose LD was weird and subtle, and the very bright but very dyslexic kiddos who had been told "hey, just use your strengths, don't worry about the details." I would have been tempted to move faster with them... hey, they were SMART. The teachers who moved slowly and thoroughly... welp, the kiddos got further according to the standardized tests. Every stinkin' year, so I couldn't even blame sample size ;) I also realized that *I* am the one that gets bored with the drill. My kiddos had actually rarely experienced answering a lot of questions right, quickly... so "too easy" was actually satisfying for them. It was in small doses (another important part), but it was every day.

Susan Jones

Academic Development Specialist

Center for Academic Success

Parkland College


Subject: [PD 6138] Re: Automaticity
From: Lisa Mullins
Date: Wed Nov 30 20:37:21 EST 2011

I so agree with you when you state "if given the chance" also I find your observation that your students were satisfied to be able to answer the questions quickly to be so true. Just today in my adult education GED class, one student who had never experienced much success with learning math was able to answer most of the questions on our math quiz. She was so pleased and had a deep feeling of accomplishment. This is a result of review, review, review. Yes it is boring to me. I sometimes think when I am planning for the class "I don't think we need to do this again, but just in case, I plan for a review. I am very happy with a multi-level group -some students answer quickly, some know the skill, but are unsure, and some are learning for the first time. In our reading for this discussion, I was reminded of scaffold teaching and it's huge impact.

I hope others can share methods they use with adult education students.

Thank you for a great discussion so far.

Lisa Mullins

Hawkins County Adult Education


Subject: [PD 6147] Re: Automaticity
From: Schwarz, Robin
Date: Thu Dec 1 15:56:03 EST 2011

At the risk of beating my horse very dead, providing students with endless opportunity to practice to mastery on whatever EACH individual needs is one of the purposes of learning centers. Then the teacher does not have to get bored with review, and the students who don't need it don't need to review either. The self-regulation of students seeing if they have indeed mastered what they set out to is extremely rewarding, too.

Robin H. Lovrien, Ph.D.

Consultant in Adult ESOL/Learning Difficulties


Subject: [PD 6149] Re: Automaticity
From: Susan Jones
Date: Thu Dec 1 18:04:07 EST 2011

It's not a horse, it's a soap box and worth stepping up to :)

The challenge is providing an opportunity that isn't conveying the message "everybody else knows this... so on your own, do this until you know it."

I just got a link from my Smartbrief Ed-Tech daily blurge about how speech recognition could revolutionize teaching reading. This fascinated me 'cause I have entertained the same thought; if you read out loud into the mic and it says what you said, and then you match it to the text ... we could set things up for feedback... and I've daydreamed about a "how to use speech technology for your college courses and sort accidentally incorporate a lot of "training" that is reading... and gosh, if they really begged they could even read the same passage more than once for a higher score on that came...

The article is at http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/11/29/13adams.h31.html?tkn=TOCFt6GJBisoYEWrd%2FhtqZYnHYeeegEhT3bL&cmp=clp-sb-edtech and the author is Marilyn Jager Adams. You know, the first name on the list of "sources cited" on a few million articles about reading?

Susan Jones

Academic Development Specialist

Center for Academic Success

Parkland College


Subject: [PD 6209] Re: Automaticity
From: adjua mcneil
Date: Fri Dec 9 13:18:09 EST 2011

Greetings All,
IBM has produced software called Reading Companion which uses voice recognition to create corrective practice for low level readers. Individual literacy providers can receive a grant from IBM as well as the software to use with emergent readers regardless of age. In Philadelphia, the Mayor's Commission on Literacy has partnered with the public computing labs housed within the city's recreation centers to provide the public with access to this software. Unfortunately, there are few programs in our area that provide instruction for the lowest level readers. We are looking at the software to provide guided practice where individual tutoring may be scarce or unavailable.

Here is the link to Reading Companion: http://www.readingcompanion.org/

Best,

Adjua

Adjua N. K. McNeil, M.Ed.

Assistant Director of Adult Literacy Programs

Mayor's Commission on Literacy

Philadelphia PA


Subject: [PD 6213] Re: Automaticity
From: Schwarz, Robin
Date: Sat Dec 10 12:14:28 EST 2011

WOW!!!!! This is an AMAZING program!!! As a reading tutor, I am thrilled with this! It would be terrific for programs with limited numbers of tutors and with tutors who are not so well trained in reading instruction. I love the freedom it gives to the reader to choose, repeat and correct reading. And I love the feedback it gives!!

Will there be data on how it supports reading development in different populations, Adjua?

Robin H. Lovrien, Ph.D.

Consultant in Adult ESOL/Learning Difficulties

Steuben, ME


Performing Well on Complex Tasks & Deep Understanding: Scaffolding

Subject: [PD 6122] Study Circle: Performing Well on Complex Tasks & Deep Understanding: Scaffolding
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Wed Nov 30 09:54:15 EST 2011

WEDNESDAY: Performing Well on Complex Tasks and Deep Understanding/Mastery

Good morning.

4-8 states that scaffolding-building on earlier concept knowledge-yields better results than "building atop barely learned and abstract ideas [that leads to being] error prone" vs. proficiency, and that "much knowledge comes from everyday activities."

How do you assure that educators are applying scaffolding in classrooms? How can they apply scaffolding with the varied schedules and 'stop out" periods of adult learners?

What approaches should we use to help students who are absent for a short or prolonged period to catch up? Given that "literacy expertise [of] an hour per day from kindergarten through twelfth grade amounts to about 2,000 hours in total," and that adult learners lack this amount of prolonged study time, what should be our guiding principle for an absence policy? How does it relate to the instructional principles presented in Ch 4? Should students return to a scheduled class at any time or must they wait for the next formal start date for a class if they've missed a lot of class?

How can we help adult educators to use more real-life scenarios across the curriculum to improve learning and expertise in domains? Share examples that have proved effective in your classrooms.

What kind of Individual paper or electronic Student Educational Plans (SEPs) do you keep where teachers keep detailed notes about each student's progress so that when the student stops out and returns sometime later, a student can resume studies most effectively?

Stephanie Moran

Guest Facilitator

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction:

Options for Practice and Research Study Circle Discussions
http://lincs.ed/gov/lincs/discussions/professionaldevelopment/11circle


Subject: [PD 6124] Re: Study Circle: Performing Well on Complex Tasks & Deep Understanding: Scaffolding
From: Christy Stephens
Date: Wed Nov 30 11:00:13 EST 2011

We do managed enrollment, but always have learners who end up leaving our program or are out for a period of time. Our teachers run a 6 week cycle, scaffolding each subject area. If a learner misses the lesson they will catch it the next time around. Sometimes learners need to hear a lesson 3 times before they really get it. We have tutors who will help our learners get caught up, and teachers do their best, but also emphasize to learners who missed the lessons that they will catch it the next time around.

The downside to all of this is that a learner could come back in at Algebra, having missed some fundamentals prior to this. But, how do you help them get caught up when there is only one of you and 20 of them?

One thing we do is that if a learner has missed a couple of weeks in the 6 week cycle then we ask them to start fresh when the new cycle starts. It just seems easier for the learner so they don't come in feeling completely lost.

Christy Stephens


Professional Development Using the Metric System

Subject: [PD 6121] Re: Metacognition & Math
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Wed Nov 30 09:40:44 EST 2011

Given how many of our students come to us not knowing the 3 basics of math--fractions, decimals, and percentages--in addition to some students counting on their fingers--how can we justify not having switched to the metric system in this country? Many math educators tell me that we would not have this persistent low numeracy if we would make that leap. And by the way, I was teaching my 5th graders the metric system 30 years ago--in preparation for the supposed switch.

Math educators, would it make a serious difference in our learners' ability to progress if the U.S. were on the metric system? If the answer is yes, should AE advocacy groups make that a focus on their respective service boards?

Stephanie Moran

Guest Facilitator


Subject: [PD 6125] Professional Development in using the Metric System
From: David J. Rosen
Date: Wed Nov 30 11:12:06 EST 2011

Stephanie, and others,

In addition, in some states the great majority of adult learners are immigrants from countries that use the metric system. Their numeracy teachers should be fluent in using the metric system. I wonder if you have some suggestions for how adult education teachers, who may not be able to benefit from group PD on this, might efficiently learn these skills on their own.

David J. Rosen


Subject: [PD 6129] Study Circle--Metric System
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Wed Nov 30 12:06:49 EST 2011

Thanks for bringing up this point, David.

If the field sees the need for the metric system to be taught, then we can contact state adult education departments as well as state, regional, and national professional development groups and ask them to make the metric system a part of their standard training.

Here in Colorado, almost all adult educators must begin work on the Literacy Instructional Authorization (LIA) within six months of being hired, and perhaps the metric system could be part of the coursework.

The LIA is a two-track authorization process whereby educators who have AE experience within the last 5 years can choose to submit a portfolio (as a substitute for coursework) of their experience after teaching a minimum of 720 hours and being observed by a trained evaluator at least twice or three times (depending on the course).

The other track is based on actual coursework including Intro to AE, Planning, Organizing, and Delivering AE, ABE and ASE [Pre-GED and GED levels], Teaching ESL, and Family Lit (optional for those who do not teach in a FAM Lit/Even Start program).

Does your state require specific training in adult education for its adult educators?

How many of you who teach math or supervise math instructors make sure that your instructors are familiar with and teach the metric system?

The current version of the GED has asks very little related to the metric system.

Stephanie


Subject: [PD 6127] Re: Math disabilities & Saxon Math
From: Sharon Hillestad
Date: Wed Nov 30 11:51:18 EST 2011

Hi Stephanie,

I am not surprised that you have so many adults not knowing fractions, decimals and percentages. The materials and training that elementary teachers get in order to teach those subjects is not good. I don't think switching to metric would solve the problem when the intention seems to be to teach to the top 10% of the class. I am not talking about the teacher's intention. It is the system that is at fault. I tutor children for the most part and the misunderstanding they have on math would astound you. John Saxon wrote math text that work, yet you will be hard pressed to find his text in public schools. Homeschoolers and private schools keep the Saxon math materials in print. I know of one public school that bought Saxon Math books and the limited to the gifted students! Oh well...

Sharon Hillestad

Community Learning Center

Clearwater, Fl


Subject: [PD 6131] Re: Math disabilities & Saxon Math
From: Karen Sooter
Date: Wed Nov 30 14:21:31 EST 2011

There is a lot of truth in what you say. My youngest daughter has had Saxon Math from K on and is now in Algebra in 8th grade. As a former English language education teacher / now adult education director, I believe it is an excellent approach with the continual review of all material covered from the first of the year while introducing new skills. It has been effective for my daughter, but we are also very attentive parents, talking with her and checking for understanding on every assignment.

I have considered buying some Saxon Math texts and teacher guides for our adult education program for the very reasons you stated. So many of adult education students just missed vital concepts back in elementary school, no one ever took the time to make sure they really got it, and they fell further behind as each new skill/concept was introduced.

Therefore, they walk in our door with so MANY academic gaps, believing they are no good at Math. Fortunately, many have that "AHA" moment after some instruction and discover that they really can "do Math". Instructional materials are important - but teachers who have a clue and won't give up seem to be the most important factor in adult education student success. I still may purchase Saxon materials at some point though. They make so much sense to me, both as a teacher and a learner.

Karen Sooter


Subject: [PD 6135] Re: Math disabilities & Saxon Math
From: Susan Jones
Date: Wed Nov 30 16:17:13 EST 2011

I would wholeheartedly agree that changing to metric would simplify the procedures, so students could get more problems right, but ... numeracy? Fractions, percents, and decimals? A significant chunk of students in developmental courses have managed to skip some *very* basic number sense concepts.

Saxon math works for some students, but it is very rote and procedural. My LD hands-on learners tend to find that very frustrating. It does have a lot of practice... Math-U-See is great for its hands-on approach, but doesn't build the *connection* between the seeing-and-doing and the symbols, or provide the kind of practice & scaffolding the struggling student needs.

One of these years I may check out David Berg's _Making Math Real_ lessons on those concepts. I have been through the overview and he emphasizes going from concrete to semi concrete to semi abstract and then to abstract... with all kinds of scaffolding and connecting of all four parts along the way... with fun and drama and stories and STUFF. Not sure I'm ready for eight sessions in two weeks patience-wise, much less financially ;)

Susan Jones

Academic Development Specialist

Center for Academic Success

Parkland College

Champaign, IL


Subject: [PD 6151] Study Group-Mathematics
From: Robben Wainer
Date: Thu Dec 1 22:58:43 EST 2011

Dear Stephanie,

In studying the metric system and the Dewey Decimal system, we have a more modern concept of functions than what was taught in algebra 2. In the US, the metric system was thought to account most easily to exchange and currency, while measurement was the practice of solving the more relevant equations. The truth is the metric system is thought to adapt much more easily to the binary system, than a formula theory is for solving equations. As communication is thought to transfer messages, reasoning is displayed as a matrix of options, rather than a fiscal concept. Thus the metric system is more applicable to many forms of fundamental instruction.

The old theory which also ascribed numerology to many of its thought of measurement, and performing functions, even in our society is not necessarily what is applied the solutions we encounter in mathematics. The prior form of metrics that included geography and geology were typified by the contrast of either two quarts or one liter of liquid. That is the two systems then became equally relevant to problem solving. As we learned than the studies of measurement in mathematics were equally divided into categories of functions of the binary and matrix systems, and much more so the design. The metric system provided the theory of concepts theory that can change the way we view an operation.

Thank You,

Robben Wainer


Using Stories and Active Experiencing

Subject: [PD 6132] Study Circle: Using Stories and Active Experiencing
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Wed Nov 30 15:20:22 EST 2011

4-8/4-9 note that using stories about "everyday experiences can create perceptual-motor memories" because "stories are easier to read, comprehend and remember than other types of learning materials" and that "[linking] concepts to be read or learned to concrete perceptions and actions" is helpful in retention of material.

How well have your teachers been trained in using visualizing and verbalizing (V/V) with students to help them link reading to concrete perceptions and actions? How do educators use V/V across the curriculum and especially well with reading and writing processing and tasks?

You can learn more about V/V at the two sites below, neither of which is a recommendation for a program-only for explanations/definition purposes.

Also, "active experiencing"-related to the Total Physical Response (TPR) used in many ESOL programs-that uses physical and emotional expression to learn lots of dialogue "without explicit memorization" can enhance retention.

Since we know how important learning vocabulary and key terms across the curriculum is for adult learners, how can we help instructors to approach vocabulary, word families, terms, and key concepts by telling stories and using active experience?

Stephanie Moran

Guest Facilitator

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction:

Options for Practice and Research Study Circle Discussions
http://lincs.ed/gov/lincs/discussions/professionaldevelopment/11circle


Functional Literacy

Subject: [PD 6139] Instructional design
From: tibekilem
Date: Thu Dec 1 07:42:17 EST 2011

Hello Jackie. I'm also excited at being part of literacy professionals. I am a Swazi in Africa engaged in basic literacy provision for adults youth and out of school children. We are using functional literacy for adults and not sure if same approach would be appropriate for the out of school children. Also would there be a theory that underpins that?

tibekilem


Subject: [PD 6155] Re: Instructional design
From:Tom Sticht
Date: Fri Dec 2 12:37:25 EST 2011

Colleagues: Tibekilem asked for information regarding functional literacy and its theory. Following is some information which provides theoretical underpinnings for functional literacy approaches for adult learners. The reports also provide illustrations of program design. The first five reports are authored by myself. Following the five reports is an outline of my workshop on Functional Context Education and Workplace Literacy which lists the topics I cover in four parts. After that is a listing of the resources/reports I draw upon in the workshop. All the reports are available for downloading online. Hope this is of use Tibekilem.

Tom Sticht

The Theory Behind Content-Based Instruction. This article discusses the theory underlying functional context education and appears in Focus on Basics located online at: http://www.ncsall.net/?id=433

Reading for Working: A Functional Literacy Anthology. The research and development reported in RfW set the stage for what became known as "workplace literacy." For the first time, adult literacy work included an extensive body of empirical research to find out just how literate adults had to be to perform well in various occupations. The work took place within the context of the U. S. Army of the Vietnam era of the 1960s and continued into the newly implemented Volunteer Army of the 1970s and beyond. It expanded from studies to determine how literate personnel had to be to work as automobile mechanics, cooks, supply clerks, medical corpsmen, etc., to the design of more readable and usable books and manuals, and the design, development, and implementation of workplace literacy programs at Army recruit training centers across the United States. The book also presents early data on the intergenerational transfer of literacy from parents to their children, data in support of policies basis for family literacy programs. http://www.nald.ca/fulltext/sticht/rfw/cover.htm

Functional Context Education: Making Learning Relevant (1997 edition). Eight chapters including The Power of Adult Literacy Education, Some Challenges of Diversity for Adult Literacy Education, Views On Contemporary Cognitive Science, Introduction to Functional Context Education, Functional Context Education and Literacy Instruction, and four case studies in applying Functional Context Education to the design of programs that integrate (or embed, contextualize) basic skills and vocational or parenting education (workplace literacy, family literacy). http://www.nald.ca/library/research/context/context.pdf

Functional Context Education: Making Learning Relevant in the 21st Century (2005 edition). Functional Context Education (FCE) materials available online in several nations, the Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALL) survey, National Adult Assessment of Literacy (NAAL) survey, FCE in historical perspective, (1860-Present) including Paulo Freire and Learner Centered, Participatory Literacy Education. Methodologies used in adult literacy research for determining what is relevant to youth and adult learners; five case studies illustrating the application of FCE in parenting, vocational training, and health literacy. http://www.nald.ca/library/research/fce/FCE.pdf

Functional context education: A scientific, evidence-based approach for adult literacy education. Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada: National Adult Literacy Database. Available: www.nald.ca/info/whatnew/headline/2002/evidence.htm

  • Workshop title: Functional Context Education and Workplace Literacy
  • Presenter: Tom Sticht, International Consultant in Adult Education (tsticht at aznet.net)
  • Workshop Schedule & Resources
  • Part 1. 09:00-10:30am Contemporary issues calling renewed attention to Functional Context Education and Workplace Literacy
  • Overview of theories, methods, and professional wisdom in the history of FCE and workplace literacy.
  • 10:30-10:45 Break
  • Part 2. 10:45-12:00 Scientific research on FCE and workplace literacy leading to the National Workplace Literacy Program (NWLP) in the United States.
  • 12:00-12:30pm Lunch
  • Part 3. 12:30-02:00pm Workplace literacy and workforce development research and programs following the NWLP
  • 02:00-02:15pm Break
  • Part 4. 02:15-03:30pm Contemporary projects on contextualizing and integrating program design and engaging employers and employees.

FCE & Workplace Literacy: Resources for Part 1 (Use Google to locate these reports titles online)

  • Working Together: Integrated Language, Literacy and Numeracy Support in Vocational Education and Training
  • Literacy and Human Resources Development at Work: Investing in the Education of Adults to Improve the Educability of Children
  • Bridges to Careers for Low-Skilled Adults: A Program Development Guide
  • The Career Pathways How-To Guide
  • Workplace Literacy and Essential Skills: What Works? And Why?
  • Breaking Through: Contextualization Toolkit
  • Integrating Adult Basic Education and Occupational Training: A Review of Research and Practice
  • Literacy-Friendly Further Education and Training: An Exploration of the potential for a whole organization approach to integrating language and literacy to further education and training in Ireland
  • Strengthening Literacy and Numeracy Through Embedding: Guidelines for Private Training Establishments
  • Work, Society and Lifelong Literacy: Report of the inquiry into adult literacy in England
  • ABE Career Connections: A Manual for Integrating Adult Basic Education Into Career Pathways

FCE & Workplace Literacy: Resources for Part 2

  • Partnering with Employers: To Promote Job Advancement for Low-Skill Individuals
  • Reading for Working: A Functional Literacy Anthology
  • Cast-off Youth: Policy and Training Methods From the Military Experience
  • Workplace Literacy: Reshaping the American Workforce

FCE & Workplace Literacy: Resources for Part 3

  • Workplace Literacy Programs: Resources for Program Design, Assessment, Testing & Evaluation
  • REFLECT: Transferring literacy skills in the workplace (eMagazine from NRDC.ioe.uk)
  • Passports to Paradise: The Struggle to Teach and to Learn on the Margins of Adult Education “You wouldn’t expect a maths teacher to teach plastering”: Embedding literacy, language and numeracy in post-16 vocational programmes-the impact on learning and achievement Learning Faster-Learning Smarter: The Functional Context Education Approach to Economic Self-Sufficiency Improving Immigrants’ Employment Prospects through Work-Focused Language Instruction

FCE & Workplace Literacy: Resources for Part 4

  • Contextualized Teaching & Learning: A Faculty Primer
  • Educating Adult Workers: The Shifting Gears Initiative: An Overview
  • Measures of Success: Workplace Literacy & Essential Skills
  • Workbase New Zealand Adult Literacy, Numeracy and Communication Support (web page)Reaching customers-supporting staff - workplace literacy and essential skills
  • Making Cent$ of Literacy: The Bottom Line Impact
  • Making it Work: A Practical Guide for Effective Delivery of Skills for Life in Workplace Learning

Transfer and Generalization

Subject: [PD 6143] Study Circle: Transfer & Generalization
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Thu Dec 1 11:42:17 EST 2011

THURSDAY: Supporting Transfer, Generalization, and Learner-Generated Content and Reasoning

The report Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Options for Practice and Research, mentions on 4-3 how difficult "transfer and generalization" can be-what the GED test calls application skills. The report notes that these skills require more than rote memorization, so presenting information in varied contexts helps students to transfer the skills and problem solve independently when faced with a math word problem or a reading passage different from the exact one studied or those on an Official Practice Test. Transfer and generalization skills are expected to be more plentiful on the next version of the GED.

In your experience, what role does rote memorization play in learning, and how much transfer and generalization ability do adult learners require to be successful lifelong learners?

What type of PD would be most helpful to help instructors to present information in enough varied contexts so that students transfer and generalize knowledge and rely less on a "multiple choice mentality"?

4-9 explains that for the learner to be actively engaged means that "the student should be doing the acting, thinking, talking, reading, and writing for learning." Learners have better retention from "free recall or essay tests that require the test-taker to generate answers with minimal cues" vs. MC tests. The next version of the GED is expected to contain far fewer MC type questions and more questions that require the learner to generate the answer. Furthermore, the report states that adult learners "[past] their 20s.may be less likely to spontaneously generate content that is rich, elaborate, and distinctive if they are learning in a domain outside their previous knowledge and experience," so educators may need to supply "more contextual support."

How can PD staff help educators develop lessons and informal assessments that engage students and encourage them to generate answers vs. bubble them in?

While it's an expectation that centers hire and mentor expert teachers (esp. in math and reading) who can model and demonstrate concepts and communicate them effectively to students who have math/reading anxiety, how does your PD system assure quality instructors?

How does your experience compare with the report's finding that older students have more difficulty than younger students in generating content easily when they are less familiar with the domain?

Stephanie Moran

Guest Facilitator

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction:

Options for Practice and Research Study Circle Discussions
http://lincs.ed/gov/lincs/discussions/professionaldevelopment/11circle


Questions and Cognitive Disequilibrium

Subject: [PD 6146] Study Circle: Some Afternoon Questions about Questions and Cognitive Disequilibrium
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Thu Dec 1 15:16:35 EST 2011

The report finds that the Socratic method of asking "deep questions" (4-10) is still valid. These include open-ended questions that ask "why, how, what-if, and what-if not."

How intentionally do you teach instructors/students how to use questions effectively to enhance curiosity and extend a student's intellectual grasp?

4-12 notes that "reading strategies at deeper levels are underdeveloped in many children and adults, especially for expository texts, so they would benefit from comprehension strategy training."

Does your standard PD include teaching all AE instructors how to teach reading skills, and if so, which of the core reading skills do you teach at the Abe, the GED, and the ESOL levels?

4-11 recommends that educators "present some challenges, obstacles, or contradictions that place the learner in 'cognitive disequilibrium'" that then encourages students to "ask relevant questions, such 'desirable difficulties' slow down initial learning but promote long-term retention and transfer." Helping students deal with complex questions and issues and contradictions that are not obvious with a superficial treatment makes students more adaptive learners and better lifelong learners.

What kinds of instructional design are best to create useful cognitive disequilibrium?

Why is/is not developing cognitive disequilibrium appropriate for all learners across ABE, GED, and ESOL?

4-13 notes that "complex strategies can be acquired by well-engineered instruction that is structure, explicit, scaffolded, and intensive."

What should PD programs do to assure that such instruction is the norm?

Stephanie Moran

Guest Facilitator

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction:

Options for Practice and Research Study Circle Discussions
http://lincs.ed/gov/lincs/discussions/professionaldevelopment/11circle


Adaptive Learning Environments

Subject: [PD 6152] Study Circle: Adaptive Learning Environments and Wrap-Up
From: Stephanie Moran
Date: Fri Dec 2 10:16:59 EST 2011

Friday: Adaptive Learning Environments and Wrap-Up

Good morning.

4-17--4-18 discuss the "moderate evidence that learning of complex material requires adaptive learning environments that are sensitive to the learner's general profile and to the level of his or her mastery at any given point in time..and that computer environments, rather than human instructors, may have the most promise in manipulating and controlling these complex interventions because of the complexity of diagnoses and remediation mechanisms."

What is your experience with adaptive technologies, and what is their place in teaching adult learners?

What are the benefits and challenges of computer-based assessment and instruction?

Stephanie Moran

Guest Facilitator

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction:

Options for Practice and Research Study Circle Discussions
http://lincs.ed/gov/lincs/discussions/professionaldevelopment/11circle


Subject: [PD 6154] Re: Study Circle: Adaptive Learning Environments and Wrap-Up
From: Susan Jones
Date: Fri Dec 2 10:49:24 EST 2011

I think teachers do this all the time—oops, the good ones do. The "get out my fourth week's lecture on history and recite while they take notes" guys ...

My experience with "adaptive technologies" is that so far they are vastly overrated. The gap between theory / sales pitch and practice is phenomenal. It has finally ceased to amaze me that somehow, we're supposed to be asking "what if?" "how" and "why?" questions if students will have a chance to learn—and then come up with technology that does a mediocre to poor job of diagnosing even rote procedural skills, but since it Enables Students To Show Measurable Progress, call it success. (I think and hope the problem is far worse in math than humanities.)

That said, my hope is that like, for instance, speech recognition technology, the practice can catch up. My next reading task is this report about using speech recognition for reading instruction: http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/Reports-30.html

Susan Jones

Academic Development Specialist

Center for Academic Success

Parkland College

Champaign, IL


Subject: [PD 6161] Re: Study Circle: Adaptive Learning Environments and Wrap-Up
From: David Collings
Date: Sat Dec 3 01:29:21 EST 2011

Susan,

I appreciate your critique of the instructional software that we use with our students. As you implied, "adaptive" is not the right word for the current iteration of the technology. It sometimes lives up to the marketing term "interactive."

When I think of the term "adaptive," I envision a student using a tool or a system of tools to move beyond their current physical or mental limitations. And you put your finger on the problem with the software available. A learning environment which adapts to student needs requires a variety of questions and techniques to determine what is needed for a specific situation.

Here are a couple of examples:

My student begins working with percents and comparing one number to another number. He is somewhat comfortable with the method of using a proportion to find the answer, but he struggles with multiplication and division. I let him borrow a calculator to adapt to his calculation deficit. After correctly working a number of exercises, his confidence grows, and we start estimating the answers instead of using the calculator.

Another student has started working on the same percent problems. She is not yet comfortable with the idea of proportions, but is good with multiplying and dividing. She also was very successful with adding and subtracting fractions and the whole common denominator bit. I show her the percent problem set up as a proportion, but instead of cross-multiplying and dividing, we treat the two sides of the equation as equivalent fractions. She gets it right away. We work a few problems using that method and then look at one where cross-multiplying is easier for getting to the answer.

Some of the software does a decent job of breaking a process into appropriately small steps and then challenging the student in a variety of ways. But I haven't seen a computer-based solution which stops the student after two failed attempts and says, "Wait, let's try doing this another way."

David

David Collings

Adult education instructor


Subject: [PD 6156] Resources: Adaptive Learning Environments and More
From: Jackie Taylor
Date: Fri Dec 2 13:09:18 EST 2011

Dear PD List:

Here are a few resources specific to our discussions from this past week and supplementals for next. Several (but not all) are resources found in the LINCS Program Management Special Collection http://lincs.ed.gov/lincs/resourcecollections/ProgramImprovement:

Supplemental resources for next week's discussion:

Thanks ~ Jackie

Jackie Taylor

Professional Development List Facilitator |Jackie@jataylor.net

Subscribe, unsubscribe, or edit options:
http://lincs.ed.gov/mailman/listinfo/Professionaldevelopment/


Subject: [PD 6185] Re: Study Circle: computer-based assessment and instruction
From: Marie Cora
Date: Wed Dec 7 12:25:23 EST 2011

Hello everyone,

Sorry to jump in late with this, but last week Stephanie asked:
What are the benefits and challenges of computer-based assessment and instruction?

In September, the LINCS Assessment Discussion List hosted a panel discussion on the 21st Century GED initiative and several of the topics discussed this question and related ones (in regard to the new GED). The transcripts from the discussion are divided into threads according to topic; you can read them here: http://lincs.ed.gov/lincs/discussions/assessment/11gedinitiative_transcript

I hope you find this information helpful.

Marie Cora

Assessment Discussion List Moderator