Montana LINCS Update


Greetings from Montana LINCS 

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Montana Information

1.     HiSET Blast

 Update Directly from ETS

eUpdate | May 2014

Practice Tests Delivered Whenever and Wherever Your Students Are — Official Computer-Based Practice Tests

For more than 35 years, Aztec Software® has been in the business of improving the lives of adults and young adults through computerized academic skills remediation. With the release of its newest suite of high-tech educational solutions, the ETS/Aztec partnership reinvents the student-teacher relationship by creating the most student-centric learning environment ever. Starting this month, Aztec has made available to the HiSET® student both the FREE and FEE-based versions of the Official Practice Test in computer- and mobile-based delivery. These practice exams create the perfect opportunity for students to experience the test in digital format.

Special Message from ETS

We have seen a recent increase in "HiSET" materials being offered by various publishers. ETS recommends only HiSET Approved or HiSET Official preparation materials. Materials without ETS approval have not been reviewed or endorsed by our HiSET test developers and may not be appropriately aligned to HiSET content. ETS is currently working with a variety of publishers, and once materials are released they will be announced on our informational website at

Save the Date — ETS HiSET First Annual Conference


December 1–4, 2014


The Venetian Las Vegas
3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109

More information will be available soon.


Check out the shared resources on the HiSET Resource page at

Remember:  The resources below are teacher-designed resources that may be changed as teachers learn more by experience with HiSET and more vendor HiSET materials become available.

Have you created or found any resources that you are willing to share?  Please email them to MTLINCS.

Share your HiSET success and graduation stories!

Do you have any graduation or celebration information and/or photos you would like to share?  If so, please send them to Margaret Bowles at mbowles@mt.govShe, in turn, with share these with ETS so that others may learn about Montana success!  Time to share!  Your successes will also be posted at

2.  Montana ABLE Graduations

Graduation is in the air for many programs.  Send any of your media coverage to MTLINCS.

Billings Graduation

Click here to access information about the Billings Academic Center.

3.  PEP Talk Updated and MCIS:  Did you miss the webinar?

Message from Margaret Bowles:  PEP Talk Book Ready to Order

The new PEP Talk books are ready to order. The interest in the new PEP Talk was very evident in our recent Webinar, and I know your teachers are eager to get workbooks!

The new PEP Talk truly supports integration of career planning into existing daily practice. At the national state director conference this week, I worked briefly with the new Montana Career Pathway coach. Over the next two years, we will have intense technical assistance supported by OCTAE to help us in endeavor. PEP Talk will be an important part of this work, so these books are timely!

Please email to order PEP Talk books!

4.  Montana ABLE Meetings

Information from Montana ABLE Spring Meetings

·       ESL Conference Summary

Stay tuned for more information!

5.  PIACC Resources:  Have you read this information yet?  PIACC was quoted frequently at National Directors’ Meeting!

Check out Posting #9  below to access snapshot PIACC resources.

National Information

6.  Career Pathways Webinar:  Advancing System Alignment and Career Pathways Innovations

Taken from LINCS Career Pathways


June 4, 2014

2:00pm ET (1:00pm/Central, 12:00pm/Mountain, 11:00am/Pacific

Join us for the second installment of the Eye On the Workforce Innovation Fund Stakeholder Engagement Series. This national webinar examines Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF) grantees' emerging system alignment and career pathways innovations.

Join ETA Deputy Assistant Secretary Eric Seleznow, other national policy experts, and several featured WIF grantees: City and County of Los Angeles Workforce Investment Boards, Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, and Workforce Central of Washington State. 

7.  LINCS:  Update Your Profile

Taken from LINCS Announcement

Dear community members,

Are you an instructor or a researcher? A librarian or a health professional? Our community serves many different roles in the field of adult education. Tell us and other members about yourself by completing your member profile! Access your profile through the My LINCS tab and update your role and organization, then upload a friendly photo of yourself. If you have previously completed your profile, we encourage you to revisit and update it using the brand-new fields.

You can learn more about the new member profile and how creating a personal identity can enhance your interactions with other members in the latest LINCS webinar.

If you have any questions about this announcement, please contact us. 

Best regards,

The LINCS Community Team

8.  Math:  Challenge Problem

Taken from LINCS Math and Numeracy

I have a new challenge problem for us to first figure out here and then take to our classrooms and report back how it went.  This one is definitely a mathematical reasoning problem, so let's put on our thinking caps and discuss the solution, how you arrived at the solution and what standards or mathematical practices do you see at work.  Here is the problem:

The area, A, in square inches, of a parallelogram with a height of 4 inches is given by the equation  A = 4L, where L is the length, in inches, of the base of the parallelogram.  The table shows the area, M, in square inches, of a triangle with a height of 4 inches and a base of p inches.

p (inches)

M (square inches)









The area of the triangle is ___________ the area of the parallelogram.

Fill in the blank.

Brooke Istas

9.  PIACC Resources

Taken from LINCS Evidence-based Professional Development

Need a snapshot of PIACC?  AIR and the National Coalition for Literacy have published new resources on PIAAC.

·        PIAAC Overview Brochure

·        PIAAC: What the Data Say About the Skills of U.S. Adults

·        Adult Education Pays for Safer and Healthier Communities

10.  PISA Results

Taken from LINCS  

You have heard of PIACC, right?  Now there is PISA.  Here is some interesting information about Problem Solving Skills Among 15-Year-Olds Worldwide. 

The first Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) on the problem-solving skills of students in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and other participating countries was released last month.  “PISA 2012 Results:  Creative Problem Solving:  Students’ skills in tackling real-life problems (Volume V)” focuses on the problem-solving abilities of approximately 85,000 15-year-old students in the 44 participating countries and economies.

PISA defines problem-solving competence as “an individual’s capacity to engage in cognitive processing to understand and resolve problem situations where a method of solution is not immediately obvious.  It includes the willingness to engage with such situations in order to achieve one’s potential as a constructive and reflective citizen.”

Singapore (562) and Korea (561) produced the highest-scoring students in problem solving, followed by Japan (552).  U.S. students (508) performed slightly above the average (500) of the 44 OECD countries and economies that participated in the assessment.  The U.S. also lagged behind the leading nations in the percentage of high-performing students that can “systematically explore a complex problem scenario, devise multi-step solutions that take into account all constraints, and adjust their plans in light of the feedback received.”  Where top- performing students made up 11.4 percent of those OECD countries and economies tested, again, Singapore, Korea, and Japan scored highest, with more than one in five students achieving at this level.  For U.S. students the percentage was 11.6.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, while only 7 percent of Japanese and Korean students are classified as low achievers, 18.2 percent of U.S. students fall into this category.  The OECD average of low performers in the participating nations and economies is 21.4 percent.

U.S. students compare worst with their Asian counterparts in the highest-performing Asian nations on tasks where the student must select, organize, and integrate the information provided and the feedback received.

On a somewhat more optimistic note, U.S. students, on average, are significantly better at problem solving than students in other countries who perform similarly in mathematics, reading, and science.  This is especially true for U.S. students with strong performances in mathematics.

U.S. students perform strongest on interactive tasks, when compared to students of similar overall performance in other countries.  These tasks ask students to uncover some of the information required to solve the problem themselves.

The impact of socio-economic status on performance is significantly weaker on problem solving than in mathematics, on average, in both the U.S. and across OECD countries and economies.

When viewed along gender lines, boys in the U.S. score at the same level as girls in problem solving, in contrast with the OECD average difference of seven score points in favor of boys.  However, more boys than girls in the U.S. perform at the highest levels of proficiency. 

These highlights barely scratch the surface of the wealth of information available in this study.  Those with a keen interest in the correlates to successful problem solving will benefit from reflecting on the in-depth data reported in it.

11.  Postsecondary Webinar:  Predictors of Postsecondary Success: Tools Focused on Postsecondary Enrollment and Completion

Taken from LINCS Postsecondary Completion

Interactive Webinar

2:00 – 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Monday, June 2, 2014

Building on the brief Predictors of Postsecondary Success, which summarizes research that identifies student skills, behaviors, and other characteristics that predict future academic and workplace success, this webinar explores the development and use of the National College Access Network's Common Measures. The research-based Common Measures were developed to help college access and success programs better understand and utilize relevant data to improve their desired outcomes. The measures have been used in a range of communities across the country to help support collaborative efforts to ensure all students have access to and are successful in postsecondary endeavors.

Presenters include:

  *   Becky Smerdon, Deputy Director, College and Career Readiness and Success Center at the American Institutes for Research
  *   MorraLee Keller, Director of Technical Assistance, National College Access Network
  *   Bill DeBraun, Program Analyst, National College Access Network
  *   June Giddings, Post-Secondary Coach and Gulf Coast Partners Achieving Student Success Program Coordinator, Houston A+ Challenge

Click here to register for the webinar!

If you have questions about the webinar or need assistance, please contact Patrice Fabel at

The College and Career Readiness and Success Center is operated by American Institutes for Research in partnership with the American Youth Policy Forum, Quill Research Associates, the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium, and the Forum for Youth Investment.

12.  Reading Discussion Continuation:  Which of the five reading components is most closely associated with learners’ reading comprehension?

 Taken from LINCS Reading and Writing 

Click here to read colleagues’ opinions about reading comprehension. 

Another Snippet

It is so difficult to parse out which of the reading components is most important. Certainly, difficulty with phonemic awareness and decoding prevents fluent reading, which blocks comprehension. Reading involves two separate but intertwined components: sounding out words and deriving meaning from those words. There is little value in pronouncing a word correctly if you do not know what the word means. But if you can’t “get the words off the page,” you can’t read…..or can you? (see the last paragraph in this post)

Most adults who enroll in our Center lack the basic component: decoding. Their scores on the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test average at about 3rd grade on passage comprehension and vocabulary and at or below grade 1.5 on word attack/nonsense word reading. Some adults have acquired a fairly good range of sight word vocabulary. Others have only a very limited bank of sight words. Their vocabulary levels are low because poor reading skills kept them from access to information in social studies, science, literature. Thus, they need to build vocabulary as they build basic word structure skills.

Yes, Darrel, one-to-one Wilson Reading System tutoring and independent online work with Lexia software does build basic word structure knowledge. They also need to begin reading text at their comfort level. This builds fluency and vocabulary.

The only secret we’ve found for keeping adult learners engaged is success. When they find they can learn, they want to stay. However, we can’t eliminate all the “stuff” of life that intervenes and causes them to leave.

I’ll go right out on the limb with David. Technology does remove the barrier to text. It’s not cheating to use text-to-speech. It’s the “ramp” to reading for disabled readers.

A small study published in the May 2014 Journal of Correctional Education “Assessing the Effectiveness of Text-to-Speech Software in Incarcerated Adult Literacy Education”, Y. McCulley, C. Gillespie, A. Murr, found statistically significant improvement in reading comprehension when GED students used text-to-speech when studying for GED. If you can get meaning from text by listening, then isn’t that reading?

Anne Murr, M.S. Adult Literacy Center, Drake University 

13.  Teaching:  The Flipped Classroom (cont.)

Taken from LINCS Evidence-based Professional Development 

Click here to access more information about the Flipped Classroom.

Good Book to Help With Flipping the Classroom

I have run across a book that might help kick start your flipping efforts.  The name of the book is Blend:  In seven days or less successfully implement blended strategies by Dr. Jenny Hooie.  It is very short, but full of great ideas to blend or flip your classroom.  She includes clever methods of reaching the students, lots of encouragement, and a great list of resources for getting the job done.

Dr. Hooie's definition of a blended class fits with the flipped class definition nicely.  Her definition is:  "Blended learning is a combination of multiple instructional strategies that combine face-to-face instruction with a mix of online, real-world and explorative learning opportunities."  The flipped definition according to Aaron Sams & Jonathan Bergamann follows what most of us envision the flipped classroom to be and that is to have students do what is traditionally done in the classroom at home and do what is considered homework at school.  Blend encourages "meeting" students and teaching them through things like Skype, Goto Meeting & Google Hangout.  This would also allow interaction with the students and no one has to be in the same place.  She addresses teacher made videos, free online resources, and more costly packages that could be purchased by a group or school district, all of which could be used for flipping. 

One of the best parts about the book is the encouragement she offers.  This advice is valuable for flipping and echoed in Sams' and Bergamann's book, Flip your Classroom, Reach Every Student Every Day.  The best advice in both books is to START SMALL & JUST DO IT!  Start with one lesson, offer it to students, get some feedback, learn from mistakes, & move to the next lesson.  Hooie strongly encourages using resources that have already been created (& there are a lot of them out there).  This seems like wise advice, indeed. 

There is an entire chapter called "Free Apps, Tools and Resources."  This chapter includes content & curriculum, as well as online tools to make and post or upload videos.  There are sites that you can use to create a social media sort of place for your students to meet or places to post assignments.

14.  Technology:  Tech Tip - Bitly

Taken from LINCS Technology and Learning 

This week’s tool is Bitly.  I mentioned Bitly in my post on QR codes on May 7 th, 2014 as Bitly used to be a great way to create QR Codes.  But even now that it doesn’t work for that, it is still a great tool. is primarily a URL shortening tool.  Think of those times when you have sent or received emails that contained a long URL link, so long that it took more than one line and ended up “broken”?  Or perhaps you’ve wanted to include a link in a tweet but it took up too many of the precious 140 characters allowed in a tweet?  Bitly can help. 

To use Bitly you don’t have to have an account, you can just copy the long URL you want to shorten, open up, paste the long URL in the appropriate space, click shorten, and voila, your bitlink (shortened link) will appear.  Now you can copy that bitlink and share it the way you would any other URL.  The one thing to remember about shortened links is that they are case sensitive.

But if you create a Bitly account, which is free, Bitly will save all the links and bitlinks you create.  It will also allow you to customize you bitlinks so that instead of a series of numbers and letters, you can edit the bitlink so that is made up of words that relate to the link destination, making it easier if people are going to have to remember the bitlink or type it into a computer or their mobile device.

One more thing that Bitly will do if you create an account, is track how many times your bitlinks are clicked.  Imagine you give a bitlink to your students as part of a homework assignment.  You won’t know who clicked the link but you’ll have a sense whether the majority of your students did their homework assignment.  Or perhaps you are sending out a bitlink to a listserv or this group, wouldn’t it be helpful to have a sense of how many people clicked on the bitlink?  I just presented at a conference and posted my PowerPoint to a Google Drive folder.  I made a bitlink to the Google Drive folder and shared that during my session.  When I checked the stats on the bitlink I can see that it has already been clicked 38 times.  That is helpful and also feels pretty good.

Nell Eckersly 

15.  Technology:  Tweets

Taken from Twitter

·        Math:  Curious Ruler - #iPad Measurement @ClassTechTips #MobileLearning #AdultEd

·        The PPTs/materials from the #adulted briefing on Capitol Hill are now online via CAAL:

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