Montana LINCS Update


Greetings from Montana LINCS


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Montana Information

1.    HiSET Blast:  November Update

HiSET website:


Montana HiSET Requirements:


HiSET Practice Tests:

2.    Text Complexity:  Handouts from Susan Pimentel

Still wrapping your head around Text Complexity?  Click here to read Text Complexity is the New Black.  Tuning into text complexity does not mean that we let go of other things.  It just means that we have a better understanding of those items that have already been documented.  Here is a snippet from the reading:


There is always something worthy of our attention in reading instruction. It seems that text complexity is now having its day. That’s not to say that the previous areas receiving focused attention have been bad or useless. Things are hot for a while, and when they are, new knowledge is generated. At one point, not too long ago, phonics and fluency were hot, but they are less so now (Cassidy & Loveless, 2011). When things are hot, attention is focused, and new insights into readers and the reading process are gained. When things become less hot, it seems that the field has reached some consensus or a new level of understanding for the time being, and therefore attention can be turned to a new area.


Needing the handouts from Susan Pimentel’s ELA presentation?  Click here  to access all of the handouts.

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

Technology to Promote Adult Literacy


As was stated in the 10/28 research snippet, according to Improving Adult Literacy Instruction, there are many ways that “technologies might enhance adult and adolescent literacy practice and acquisition”.  The snippet covered six areas:  group collaborative communication software, word processing software, bulletin board discussion tools, commenting tools embedded in programs, virtual meeting tools, and Speech-to-text and text-to-speech tools.  The following tools may also enhance literacy practice.


Embedding low-level coaching in electronic texts


With the push toward text-complexity thinking, this type of coaching could help students by providing the following strategy:


… the possibility of embedding popup questions in texts that are presented on screen.  … It is possible to have pop-up questions tailored to match a system’s best understanding of how the reader is processing the text in question. For example, if the student is not spending enough time on difficult content that is important, then there can be pop-up generic questions (Are you sure you understand this section?) or specific questions that target particular ideas.


Automatic Essay Scoring


Do you tend not to give your students as many writing assignments that they need to have because you just do not have time to read and comment on them?  The research suggests two solutions:


One is supported by the tools for collaborative text processing discussed above. Specifically, students can comment on each other’s work. The other solution may be the e-rater system developed at Educational Testing Service (Attali and Burstein, 2006; Burstein, 2003), the Intelligent Essay Assessor developed at Pearson Knowledge Technologies (Landauer, Laham, and Foltz, 2000, 2003; Streeter et al., 2002), and the IntelliMetric Essay Scoring System developed by Vantage Learning (Elliott, 2003; Rudner, Garcia, and Welch, 2006). … Automated essay graders have been used in electronic portfolio systems to help students improve writing by giving them feedback on many features of their essays, as in the case of Criterion (Attali and Burstein, 2006) and MY Access (Elliott, 2003).


Intelligent tutoring systems


Montana ABLE has provided the SkillsTutor system which is an example of a simple intelligent tutoring system.  By taking a pretest, the student is then provided a customized program of instruction.


From 1985 to the present, there have been a number of intelligent tutoring systems developed (see citations above) that track student performance on various tasks, provide feedback, and intelligently guide students in ways that promote learning.


Instant feedback tailored to the situation


Intelligent tutoring systems employ instant feedback.


 Intelligent tutoring systems operate by trying to discover what pattern of present and missing knowledge best accounts for a student’s performance.


Detection and tailoring to emotion and engagement level


Do your programs have any tools that detect student emotion and engagement level?  These are tools that are just beginning to be developed.  However, most of the time teachers can notice a student’s lack of engagement when the student’s snoring becomes obvious! =)


Such systems can be more flexible in engaging students if they understand when a text is not engaging the student or when a task is producing an emotional response that leads to avoidance rather than deep engagement. 


Serious Games


Just what are serious games?  Is there a place for serious games in the classroom?  Opinions differ.


Engagement in the game should facilitate learning by increasing time on task, motivation, and self-regulated activities, as long as the focus is on the instructional curriculum rather than nongermane game components that distract from the knowledge and skills to be learned … Researchers have identified a long list of features that are good candidates for explaining why games enhance motivation (Loftus and Loftus, 1983; Malone and Lepper, 1987; Ritterfeld, Cody, and Vorderer, 2008): interest, fantasy, challenge, play, feedback, narrative, hypothetical worlds, entertainment, and so on. These hooks optimize time on task and so could be useful to learning of reading components. The integration of game components and literacy instruction seems destined to have a large future (Gee, 2007; McNamara, Jackson, and Graesser, 2010).


Immersion Environments


This kind of environment creates realistic systems which may help languages learners; however, it may be cost prohibitive.  Direct role-playing may be more cost effective


An interesting example of the sophisticated level of intelligent training environments is the system called Tactical Iraqi (Johnson and Beal, 2005; Johnson and Valente, 2008; Losh, 2005), which has been expanded to a more general Tactical Language and Culture System for multiple languages. This system has intelligent tutoring system components embedded in virtual reality with multiple fully embodied animated agents. This system was developed to help junior officers prepare for duty in Iraq, where they would need to interact with local tribal leaders in a new language and culture.


Electronic entertainment technologies and related tools


Are you using iPads or tablets in the classroom?  If so, then you have a variety of apps available that provide entertainment while students learn.  The biggest challenge is finding age appropriate apps for students.


A variety of simple tools have been used (mainly in elementary education, some for secondary education, and very little for adult literacy) to help people practice and become more facile in basic components of literacy. The tools promote, for example, practice of basic word reading and increases in vocabulary …

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction – Options for Practice and Research, Page 186-188


Technology can be a valid tool for adult learners.  However, costs may keep programs from implementing some of the tools.  That should not keep literacy providers from considering technology implementation.  We live in a digital era.  As a rural state, Montana is a prime target for just such type of learning.  How can we not be supportive of this learning environment so that we do not limit ourselves?


Technologies are vital to making the entire population literate because of their value for improving, leveraging, and making more affordable activities that require intense human effort, such as literacy instruction. Internet technologies also have the potential to alleviate barriers associated with limited times and places of instruction. Digital technologies are important to incorporate into literacy instruction as the tools required for literacy in a digital age.


Learning, Reading, and Writing Disabilities coming next!


National Information

4.  Career Pathways:  Free Online Course - Integrating Career Counseling and Planning into Adult Education

Taken from LINCS Career Pathways

Click here to find more information about the free, self-paced online career counseling course.

5.  Digital Badges Discussion

Taken from LINCS Notice


On December 3–9, 2013, LINCS will provide an online public discussion through the Technology and Learning Community of the newly released report: The Potential and Value of Using Digital Badges for Adult Learners. This report examines the nature, value, and potential impact of digital badges, an emerging electronic system designed to certify an individual’s knowledge and skills. Badges can represent different levels of work and engagement, including more granular skills or achievements, marking in some cases small and/or very specific abilities. For this reason badges hold particular promise for adult learners in basic education programs, many of whom have few, if any, formal credentials (such as diplomas), but who are obtaining functional skills that would be valued in hiring situations if a mechanism for certifying those skills and knowledge was available.

Please join us for an exciting discussion about digital badges facilitated by Steve Reder ( and David Wiley (, two researchers who bring combined knowledge of adult education, technology, and digital badges to our forum. The Potential and Value of Using Digital Badges for Adult Learners was co-authored by Jonathan Finkelstein at Credly, Erin Knight at Mozilla Foundation, and Susan Manning at the University of Wisconsin, under contract to the American Institutes of Research and with funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE).

6.  ESL:  Role of Culture

Taken from LINCS Adult English Language Learners


Click here  to read postings about the role of culture.


Snippets from Discussion


The DIE process of Describing what I learn from a culture, Interpreting this information (of a culturally significant activity.) and then Evaluating this new knowledge broadens my perspective on the cultural significance of the activity to the student and makes it more relevant to its incorporation into the lesson plan …



I believe that cross-cultural understanding in the ESL classroom (or any other setting) should always be a two way process, therefore, ESL students should share their beautiful culture, but at the same time, (teachers) should emphasize the importance of being sensitive and understanding with the mainstream culture.  In my opinion, respect and understanding (from each side) are essential if we want to create a more bi-cultural sensitive ESL learning environment.



Here at The Times in Plain English we use osmosis. To apply learned material and reading techniques to the reading and parsing of content relevant to the lives of readers, we publish varied stories of interest and accessibility to English Language Learners. (That sentence was not an example.) 

Readers choosing what they want to read leads to readers gaining a broader understanding of the world around them. No big C or little c. Self-selection is one way to gauge the interest of the reader.

Arthur Schiff

7.  Health Literacy:  Information for ABLE Centers

Taken from LINCS Health Literacy


Click here to join Health Literacy Discussion.


The LINCS Community Health Literacy Group will now focus on health literacy as it relates to adult basic education programs. In recent years, this Group has had a lot of discussion geared to the public health and medical community, but it is now trying to address the more specific needs of literacy teachers and programs.


Discussion November 11 – 15

Heath Literacy is a topic that has been used in many ABE and ESOL programs as a context for literacy education and language acquisition. It is immediately relevant to learners' everyday lives, and also to their use of new skills to take control of their life and make it better. Because of this relevance, it is a good way to keep students engaged in their literacy and English learning, and to encourage them to practice their new skills immediately and in the future. So, addressing health literacy in our classrooms can help to encourage the learning that is already taking place. But it can also add an important dimension to what we are doing to help our students. The health care system is maddeningly complex, yet a vital part of functioning in our society. And now, with the Affordable Care Act, everyone will be required to get health insurance, and then use it. Adding some health literacy into our ABE and ESOL programming will be something that will benefit everyone.

This discussion is an introduction to addressing health literacy in an ABE or ESOL class. Our guest speaker, Kate Singleton, has many years of experience teaching ESOL, writing curricula, and training teachers. She is also a social worker who works with health programs. We are thrilled to have her guide us through an overview of what health literacy means in the context of what we do in our programs.

8.  LINCS Community User Training

Taken from LINCS Notices


Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 1:30 PM ET. 


This webinar will be a great opportunity to talk directly to the LINCS Community team and ask any questions you may have about the community’s purpose and features!


Members of the leadership team will present the purpose of the LINCS Community, and highlight the benefits of engaging in the community through a live walk-through of the features as well as a discussion with guest presenter Jackie Taylor (Subject Matter Expert for the Professional Development group). The webinar will culminate in a Q&A session and an overview of next steps that attendees can take in the community’s discussion groups. Attendees also will be able to post their questions for the presenters in a pre-webinar discussion thread.


Register for free at: Upon registering, you will receive instructions on how to access the webinar.


If you cannot attend this event, you will be able to view an archived version online soon after the event.

9.  PIACC Gateway

Taken from LINCS Program Management


Click here  to access the most current information about PIACC.


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