Montana LINCS Update


Greetings from Montana LINCS


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1.  Montana ABLE Cohorts and Data


Did you attend the Montana ABLE Cohort Trainings in Billings or Missoula?  Need a copy of the PowerPoint presentation?  Click below.

·       Goals, Cohorts, and New Reports, Oh My! – PowerPoint

·       Goals, Cohorts, and New Reports, Oh My! – pdf


2.  Montana MABLE FAQs Updated


Click here to access MABLE FAQs Update.


3.  Montana ABLE and The Adult College Completion Toolkit


I am thrilled to forward this weekly OVAE Connection, as item number two is encouraging everyone to participate in the Discussion on Using the Adult College Completion Tool Kit. In Montana, MTLINCS has been sharing critical pieces of this document for the last several weeks. I do hope you are following our Montana discussion; once again we are ahead of the curve! The Adult College Completion Tool Kit is a great resource to refer to as you work to have success with your postsecondary cohort groups.

Margaret Bowles, MT ABLE Director


Click here  to access a compilation of all of the MTLINCS research for 2012 – 2013.   

·       Adult College Completion Toolkit, U.S. Department of Education OVAE  


OVAE Announcement


Join the Discussion on Using the Adult CollegeCompletion Tool Kit.

The LINCS Community and the Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) are offering an online moderated discussion with Lisa Rhodes, from Feb. 4 to 8, to discuss OVAE’s Adult College Completion Tool Kit. The tool kit is designed to assist policymakers at the state and local levels in implementing evidence-based solutions that increase the number of graduates who earn high-quality degrees and certificates necessary to compete for sustainable employment. Such solutions connect policymakers to the strategies, resources, and technical assistance tools resulting from the Department’s work. Adult education state administrators and local practitioners are invited to participate in this event. Participants may also post their questions and thoughts in advance by accessing the pre-activity discussion thread.

Need Help Assisting Your Students with Financial Aid? Ask an Expert in the Community Next Week!: From February 4-8, Lisa Rhodes, an employee of the Office of Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education, will host a moderated discussion in the Program Management, Career Pathways, Financial Literacy, and Postsecondary Completion groups. Lisa joined the office in 2005 and has more than 20 years of experience working in higher education, primarily as a financial aid administrator. Join Lisa as she discusses highlights from the recently released Adult College Completion Toolkit, as well as shares resources and expertise from Federal Student Aid. Before the event, post your questions and thoughts in the pre-activity discussion thread!


4.  Research Snippet:  Improving Adult Literacy Instruction – Options for Practice and Research, National Academy of Sciences, 2012


As promised last time, we will now move on to looking at the research on writing.  First, though, you may want to take a look at some vocabulary and reading comprehension activities that were posted on MTLINCS after the Reading is the Bridge workshop in 2007.  Click here and scroll through the resources and click on Vocabulary and Comprehension to access some resources. 

And now on with the show!


What does writing include?


Basic writing skills include planning, evaluating, and revising of discourses; sentence construction (including selecting the right words and syntactic structure to convey the intended meaning); and text transcription skills (spelling, handwriting, keyboarding, capitalization, and punctuation; Graham, 2006b). p. 63


Writing also depends on specialized knowledge beyond the level of specific sentences: knowledge of the audience (Wong, Wong, and Blenkinsop, 1989), attributes of good writing, characteristics of specific genres and how to use these elements to construct text (Englert and Thomas, 1987; Graham and Harris, 2003), linguistic knowledge (e.g., of words and of text structures that differ from those of speech) (Donovan and Smolkin, 2006; Groff, 1978), topic knowledge (Mosenthal, 1996; Mosenthal et al., 1985; Voss, Vesonder, and Spilich, 1980), and the purposes of writing (Saddler and Graham, 2007). p. 64


Whew!  Writing does include a lot of skills!  What teaching strategies should ABLE teachers know?


Explicit teaching of strategies for planning and revising has a strong and positive effect on the writing of both developing and struggling writers (Graham and Perin, 2007b; Rogers and Graham, 2008). p. 65


A key principle from this research is that explicit and systematic instruction is effective in teaching the strategies, skills, and knowledge needed to be a proficient writer. p. 67


Remember to look for the connection between reading and writing.  Automaticity is important for both.


When the connections between reading and writing are made explicit during instruction, a more integrated system of literacy skills develops and learning is facilitated. p. 70


Teachers need to understand the components of skilled reading and writing and how they reinforce each other so that a coherent system of skills can be taught, but the differences between reading and writing should not be overlooked. p. 70


Improving Adult Literacy Instruction – Options for Practice and Research, Page 63-70


You may want to review the information about the neurobiology of reading and writing development and difficulties on pages 70 to 74 of the Improving Adult Literacy Instruction document.


Principles of Instruction for Struggling Learners:  Reading and Writing


The principles that follow specify further that, rather than needing instruction that is qualitatively different from the instruction that is effective with typically developing learners, learners who struggle benefit from certain adaptations—even more explicit and systemic reading and writing instruction; enhanced supports for the transfer and generalization of skills and opportunities for practice; attention to maladaptive attributions, which can be particularly important to address for struggling learners; and scaffolded and differentiated instruction that targets specific difficulties while continuing to develop all the skills needed for reading and writing development.


#1 Interventions that directly target specific literacy difficulties in the context of explicit reading and writing instruction result in better literacy outcomes for struggling readers and writers.


Most who struggle with reading and writing, particularly those with severe literacy learning disorders, have specific difficulties in aspects of speech or language that impact their ability to learn to read and write, such as poor phonological awareness and phonological processing skills, lags in oral language development (e.g., vocabulary, syntax), and slow naming speed (that may or may not be independent of phonological deficits) …

Teaching the language skill of phonological awareness, for example, results in better spelling performance for those who are weak spellers (Bradley and Bryant, 1985;  ’Connor, Notari-Syverson, and Vadasky, 1996). A few studies have shown that teaching vocabulary to developing writers enhances their writing performance (Duin and Graves, 1987; Popadopoulou, 2007; Thibodeau, 1964). Sentence combining, an oral language practice that often relies heavily on combining smaller sentences into larger ones when speaking, has improved the quality of writing in adolescents (Graham and Perin, 2007b).



Remember:  This is research based on youth and must be verified with adult learners.  However, common to almost all effective interventions is that they targeted specific areas of processing as part of teaching and practicing the act of writing, instead of trying to remediate processing problems in isolation. P.76


#2 Struggling learners benefit from more intense instruction, more explicit instruction, and even more opportunities to practice.


#3 Struggling learners need enhanced support for the generalization and transfer of new literacy skills.


A majority of struggling learners do not apply and transfer newly learned literacy skills spontaneously. To be effective, instruction for all learners must attend to the generalization of new skills and knowledge and include opportunities to practice these in varied tasks outside the intervention context … A recent synthesis of intervention research with adolescent struggling readers (Edmonds et al., 2009) confirmed that older struggling readers do benefit from explicit reading comprehension strategy instruction, but these skills did not generalize well. It is possible that more explicit training and scaffolding would support generalization, as might more practice opportunities.


#4 Maladaptive attributions, beliefs, and motivational profiles of struggling learners need to be understood and targeted during instruction.


Struggling learners are usually lower in intrinsic motivation and a sense of self-efficacy for reading and writing, more likely to be extrinsically motivated or unmotivated, and more likely to attribute failure to internal factors (e.g., ability) and success to external factors (e.g., luck)—all of which lead to disengagement from reading and writing activities, less reading and writing experience, and markedly lower literacy achievement … p. 79


Speaking of self-efficacy, you may want to check out the information in #5 of this email regarding noncognitive factors that relate to academic performance.


#5 Intervention should be differentiated to scaffold learning and meet the individual needs of those who struggle with literacy.


Improving Adult Literacy Instruction – Options for Practice and Research, Page 75-80


When the research is expanded to the adult learner, Montana ABLE instructors will be more than likely be pleased, for the strength of most ABLE instructors is that they do meet the individual needs of their students.  They know that a student’s success depends on differentiated learning.


Reading and Writing Across the Life Span


In general, the processes involved in the component skills of reading and writing studied thus far appear mostly preserved into later adulthood, although older adults do experience declines in areas affected by perception and speed of processing …

·       Vocabulary knowledge is maintained and has the potential to grow throughout adulthood … YAY!

·       Reading comprehension can become compromised in several respects with age. Sensory impairment, which becomes more prevalent in later adulthood, may require adult readers (and listeners) to allocate more attention to decoding the surface form, which reduces cognitive resources available for understanding the meaning of text … HMMMM

·       The production of utterances in both speech and writing shows reliable trends toward syntactic simplification and reduced informational density with age … HMMMM

·       Decreased ability to rapidly construct meaning from language may result from age-related declines in mental processing capacity … HMMMM

·       Older readers tend to remember information from elaborated texts that provide redundant support for key information better rather than isolated facts … YAY!

Cognitive aging research suggests that adults may experience some age-related neurocognitive declines affecting reading and writing processes and speed of learning that might need consideration during instruction.


Improving Adult Literacy Instruction – Options for Practice and Research, Page 80-84


OK, OK, so we adults may not be as fast, but we do have tons of lifetime experiences in which to tap.  Sometimes it is *good* to have elephants in the room ‘cuz they *never* forget!!!


What types of activities are you doing with your students to improve their writing skills?  How do you combine both reading and writing skills to increase your students’ chance for success?


Stay tuned:  Literacy Instruction for Adults

National Information

5.  College and Career Standards:  Research on Noncognitive Factors Relating to Academic Performance

Taken from LINCS Community:  College and Career Standards

Click here to access Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners - The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance:  A Critical Literature Review

Snippet from page 8-9

What does it take for students to graduate from high school, go to college, and persist to earn a degree? The list of potential answers to this question is long and extends far beyond content knowledge and academic skills. The noncognitive factors we considered for this review included: persistence, resilience, grit, goal-setting, help-seeking, cooperation, conscien­tiousness, self-efficacy, self-regulation, self-control, self-discipline, motivation, mindsets, effort, work habits, organization, homework completion, learning strategies, and study skills, among others …

Academic behaviors are extremely important for achievement; we will show that virtually all other non-cognitive factors work through academic behaviors to affect performance. We will return to this point in our review of academic perseverance, academic mindsets, learning strategies, and social skills, but it is hard to imagine how noncognitive factors could improve student performance without working through the classroom behaviors that directly shape academic performance.

Would we be calling noncognitive factors soft skills?

6.  Technology:  Moodle or Instructure Canvas

Taken from LINCS Community:  Technology and Learning

Thinking about doing more with Distance Education?  Needing an easier platform to use?  Check this out!


We have been doing distance education in Kansas for about 3 years first for on-line ABE/GED learners. Later, we use our platform to train new instructors about adult education, goal-setting, instructional design, etc. Instructure Canvas is a web-based Learning Management System that has been much easier for me to navigate than moodle. They have tons of resources available to train you on how to use the features and have webinars every month. When I have had a question, their tech support has been quick to respond, too! The best is hosted "in the cloud".

Here is a link to their Help Center:

And here is a link to create your FREE account:

Brooke Isas

7.  Writing:  Using the Web to Support Persuasive Writing

Taken from LINCS Community:  Technology and Learning

Do not forget to check out Tech Tips for Teachers at  This is a great resource for using technology in the classroom.  Recently, Steve and Leah presented a tip for writing.


Click here to access a tech skill that uses typing, clicking, and intermediate web navigation.


For this blog, Leah and I like to present ideas for various levels of students. And in general, we want these lesson ideas to be simple and easy to complete. This one is less of a discrete activity than a complete lesson adapted from websites Cynthia Zafft, LINCS Region 1 Co-director uses with her students. It is geared more toward learners in advanced levels, but I think teachers who are working with beginning levels could apply a similar approach but with different content.


P.S.  Remember -- if you are having trouble with the links in this email, go to the Email Archives at the top of the MTLINCS homepage at .  Also if you no longer wish to receive this mailing, please let me know!  Thanks!


Norene Peterson
Adult Education Center
415 N. 30th
Billings, MT 59101