Creating Authentic Materials and Activities for the Adult Literacy Classroom


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Informational Material
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This handbook is based on the results of "The Literacy Practices of Adult Learners Study" which focused on the nature and impact of two dimensions of classroom practice in adult basic education (see "Affecting change in literacy practices: Impact of two dimensions of instruction." The authors see this book as a starting place for adult education teachers interested in changing their instructional practice, particularly as it relates to their learners' lives. This book will also be helpful to program administrators who are interested in leading change in their programs or who wish to know more about contextualized instruction in order to support teachers who are trying to implement it.

Based on their observations and interviews in 82 U.S. classrooms, the authors provide both concrete descriptions of what works and information and insight into how specific teachers make it work. The book provides illustrative examples from real classrooms as well as feedback from the teachers in those classrooms who use authentic materials for authentic purposes.


This book is appropriate for practitioners in adult basic education (ABE), adult literacy, family literacy and English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). The authors recognize that issues with ESOL students are unique within adult education, so they attempt, throughout the book, to provide examples that address these specific needs.

Required Training

No training is required. This resource offers suggestions and examples for using authentic materials in adult literacy classrooms.

What the experts say

The authors' clear and straightforward presentation makes a fine argument for use of authentic texts. They present points calmly, using their research to support the practices they advocate. The arguments are convincing. Teachers ask for models of how to develop authentic learning materials - Jacobson, Degener and Purcell-Gates provide clear models. In the discussion of assessment, the authors do not shirk from stating appropriate uses of standardized tests and also teacher-made measures.

Teachers can follow the suggestions in this book. I have used it myself and I have suggested it to teachers.

This resource has potential value to the field. It provides ideas and suggestions for the use of authentic materials and activities. It provides a rationale for why this is important, and strategies on how to accomplish this. It is clearly written and user friendly. Examples of actual activities are provided. Web-based resources are provided as well.

However, this resource should be used as only ONE portion of a reading class. Especially for low-level adult readers, research shows that reading instruction in skills such as word attack and reading comprehension needs to be explicit. The instruction needs to follow a developmental sequence.

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