Charles ‘Skip’ MacArthur
Well one thing I liked about the TEAL project not my work in particular but I think for professional development they adopted a pretty good strategy themselves of providing introductory online training over the course of the year in five or six units that instructors worked through before they came to this workshop. If you come to a workshop like this and you are hit with all of this stuff at once it is really too much to absorb and expect that you are going to be able to go out afterwards. The usual strategy is to hit them with a workshop first then try to support them afterwards but I think this way of giving them some general background first and asking them to try some things before they come to the workshop is good. I think we had a lot of good questions from the audience as a result of that because they had an opportunity to try some things first so they came with particular questions. I thought it worked well.
Associate Professor, Special Education
Michigan State University
I think that any professional development that really is trying to ramp up the importance of evidence base practices and literacy instruction and in this case writing instruction for any struggling learner or any learner at all is really important because we know from the data that most students really struggle with writing. I think I quoted a statistic from the NAEP data National Assessment of Educational Progress that among twelfth graders it is only about a quarter of students that are really scoring at the proficient level in writing. So that means three quarters of twelfth graders are not proficient at writing. These are twelfth graders and so as you can imagine students who have dropped out or are in the criminal justice system they are going to be even weaker writers. A larger proportion of those populations are going to be struggling with writing. So I think the TEAL institute with its emphasis on writing is really advantageous because as I said reading and math often get a lot of play and writing doesn’t. I think that there is especially with these meta-analyses and the work of the National Commission on Writing and others were really getting some traction now and people are realizing that writing is really important and that is also why I wanted to present the writing to read report because I wanted people to understand that when we teach writing it actually improves reading performance also and so it’s not that we have to treat reading and writing separately they can be integrated and have beneficial effects on both reading and writing outcomes. I think this is a terrific opportunity for state level people to come and learn about this and then go back to their states and share it with the people that are going to be working with the adult learners.
Professor, Psychology and Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
I think this TEAL Summer Institute was a fantastic opportunity for educators from a number of states to come and interact with each other. They are extremely knowledgeable and thoughtful people and I think this institute gave them an opportunity not only to hear about new research and strategies that they can use in their classrooms but also to meet each other and to interact with very thoughtful and energetic people who really have the needs of adult basic education students close to their heart so I think it was a great opportunity for them. One thing I noticed in my session was that participants were mentioning ideas that had been presented to them in earlier sessions. They are obviously integrating some of the information and applying it to what they are thinking about now so I was very impressed by that. The participants seem incredibly excited about it that I found my session to be very active. There were lots of comments and questions lots of comments especially. There is a lot of expertise in that room and people were being so thoughtful and offering their own views of how some of the concepts I was discussing were playing out in their programs. It was a very active session and I was very excited because I always learn a lot from these sessions. I think I learned more than usual from the amount of interaction there was so I thought it was good.