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March 2008 Discussion

As had been stated earlier, this discussion page is an evolving process.  Besides responses to the initial question, several questions/comments have been posted in relation to many of the professional development activities that have recently occurred for Montana ABLE.  The goal is to make this page more user friendly.  Therefore, you will see a chart (below) at the top of each of the main postings for the month.  All you need to do is click on the topic you would like to read more about.  Then just scroll up to read the postings in sequential order on that topic. 

Reading Connections:  May

Conferences Content Areas Content Standards Data ESL NIFL Update Technology and Reading Workplace Connections



MPAEA 2009

Biology website

Nevada Connections

Oregon Content-based Lessons

Reading Connection to Content Materials

Writing Team

Counting Dropouts

MT LINCS Statistics Comparison of 10/07 to 4/08

Discussion List

Highlights from list


Brain and Learning to Read Depends on Language


Catalyst: NIFL newsletter

Reading and Using Technology

Reading in the Workplace


NIFL Newsletter:  Catalyst

Catalyst, the Institute's first newsletter in more than a decade, is here!  The inaugural issue is packed with news and information about the Institute's programs, people, publications, and services. Take a look:


Content Standards for Montana ABLE

Information about applying to be a part of the Montana ABLE Content Standards writing team has now been posted on MT LINCS.

Click here for more information.


How the Brain Learns to Read Can Depend on the Language

A colleague of mine sent me the following link to an interesting article from the online Wall Street Journal dated May 2, 2008. 

Rochelle Kenyon, Moderator of NIFL Learning Disabilities Discussion List

Click here for the article.


MPAEA 2009

The Mountain Plains Adult Education Association Conference will be held March 1-4, 2009 in Las Vegas, NV.  Please submit your sectional ideas as soon as possible to assist the planning committee and plan to visit Las Vegas next spring!!! 

Start saving your pennies and let’s have a great conference in Las Vegas next spring!!!  I can’t wait to see you all there!!

Suzette Fox, MAACE Board Chair

Click here for access to the Call for Presenters form.


Highlights from ELL Discussion (access for complete discussion below under 5/16)

#1  Thoughts from Heidi Spruck Wrigley, Facilitator for ELL Discussion from       5/12 to 5/18

... I wanted to start us off with the two or three things we know for sure from research in reading (though not necessarily from research with adult English language learners – we don’t yet have research that speaks directly to this population).

Heidi Spruck Wrigley 

  1. You learn to read just once (this is also known as “breaking the code”; once you have developed phonemic awareness in one language and you know to decode one language), you don’t need to start all over with developing phonemic awareness in another language – you just need to absorb the rules of the new system – that is, you must learn how English works, not how literacy works.
  1. Knowledge from the first language transfers to knowledge about the second language but transfer is not automatic. You may need to draw your students attention to certain common features of the language.
  1. We make sense of the world by connecting prior knowledge with new knowledge.  We gain meaning from print the same way. So if your knowledge of the world does not match the knowledge of the world that the writer assumes, the text is likely to be confusing to you even if your reading skills are ok.
  1. Reading is an interactive process between the reader, the text, and the writer.  The situation in which you read and write and your purposes for doing so play a role as well (think about opening a letter from the INS – now USCIS or a note from your ex-spouse).
  1. When we read, we activate two types of knowledge – what we know about meaning making (top down processes) and what we know about language (bottom-up processes).  It’s important to keep in mind that the purpose of reading is comprehension.
  1. Although control over bottom-up processes is important for learning to read, it does not follow that new readers must have mastered all sub skills before they can focus on comprehension. Using sub skills effectively enhances comprehension, but control over sub skills does not automatically lead to comprehension.
  1. Language proficiency and reading comprehension are closely related. One way of increasing the reading skills of literate learners is to build language skills.  One way of building students comprehension of (pre) academic texts, is to present such information orally (mini-presentations) and visually (through PowerPoints or video clips) so you can build understanding of concepts without your students getting mired in print.
  1. Vocabulary knowledge is one of the key determinants of reading comprehension. Increases in vocabulary means increases in background knowledge and in reading comprehension, the same as in everything else, the more you know – the more you know


Seven Habits of Successful Readers by Heidi Spruck Wrigley

Click here to access the list.


Reading Time

While the jury may still be out on the benefits of Sustained Silent Reading (SSR), there is a good NCSALL study on using SSR with adult ESL adult learners that shows that “free reading” fared no worse than other reading instructional strategies in terms of student performance on standardized tests.  This may not sound like a ringing endorsement of SSR, but it certainly suggests that it does no harm in comparison to other approaches.  What you are doing in your class seems to fall right in line with this research.  I could also see the benefits of using “free reading” time in a multilevel class where the teacher could assign reading to intermediate and advanced students, while addressing the speaking and listening skills of beginning literacy students.    As I recall, the benefits applied to lower-level ESL students as well.  The bottom line:  read on!

Eduardo Honold, Far West Project GREAT Coordinator, El Paso, TX 79927,


Literacy Problems in Native Language

Here’s another free resource for ESL literacy, now posted on the CAELA site. It’s a copy of a handbook that I wrote as a result of a federally funded study on Promising Practices in Adult ESL Literacy (a national demonstration project) – (Gloria Guth was project director)  I tried to highlight connections between theory and practice along with promising practices from 7 programs that popped up as having classes that focused on adults who struggled with literacy both in the native language and in the second language (English) and employed instructional strategies that reflected what we know about language and literacy learning.

The book includes a chapter on Native Language Literacy and on Assessment and several lesson plans developed by teachers in these programs. 

For those of you who need some practical information right away, check out Tips for ESL Literacy Teachers in chapter 2.  Here is the link  



ESL Discussion on NIFL's Adult English Language Learners Discussion List

A great discussion began on 5/12 on the above discussion list.  Although its main focus has been adults learning English as a second language, much information has been covered .

Go to to access the archives.


MT LINCS RIB Statistics

Interested in just how MT LINCS RIB has evolved?  Click here to look at a comparison of 10/07 to 4/08.


Content-based Lessons from Oregon

Adult Ed Teachers at Sea in Oregon

Adult education teachers are participating in research missions with ocean scientists to develop real life, content-based lessons in reading, writing, math and science, thanks to professional development activities supported by the Oregon System of Adult Education and Workforce Development.  Teachers create or adapt curricula linking ocean sciences, math, technology, critical thinking and communication skills, and disseminate lessons to Oregon’s adult education providers.  Lessons engage adult education students in learning about Oregon’s employment, environmental and economic concerns.  The program also matches ocean scientists with local adult education classrooms through site visits.

Taken from OVAE Notes, 5/8/08


MAACE Summer Conference Cancelled

May 9, 2008


Dear MAACE Members and MAACE Supporters:


The MAACE Board has decided to cancel the 2008 MAACE Conference in Polson, Montana, June 25-27, 2008.  With approximately 30 people attending, the conference would not serve our members effectively and would lose money. The Board felt MAACE funds will be used more effectively by sponsoring advocacy for adult education in Montana at the local, state, and federal levels.   Thanks to those who already registered.  We will be returning registration fees to you as soon as possible.  Please send Steve McCoy a hearty thanks for all of his work and the work of his staff to plan and put together this spectacular event for us.  By pulling together, we will all heal from this disappointment. 


Thanks to those who submitted proposals to present as well.  We appreciate your willingness to share your expertise with your colleagues in the field.  Please re-submit your ideas at a later conference, possibly for the MEA-MFT Educators Conference in Missoula this fall.  We also want to thank Margaret Bowles for securing a contract with our keynote speaker and for being willing to support us in this training endeavor.  A huge thank you goes out to Norene Peterson who has graciously posted our announcements, updated, and maintained our presence on Montana LINCS as well.  Please acknowledge Norene’s diligence and hard work when you get a chance. 


Since the Board felt MAACE funds would be put to better use by sponsoring advocacy for adult education, we will be developing a strategic plan for advocacy at all levels this summer.  We invite you to serve with us and share your expertise in this matter.  We may be surveying the membership for ideas and inspiration to help us build the best plan for our organization and our state.  Please assist us with this project and we will present the results at our Annual Business Meeting, Awards Banquet, and Installation of New Board Members held in conjunction with the Data Quality Institute September 16 &17, 2008, in Helena. 


Thank you, Margaret, for suggesting that we hold our meeting in conjunction with the Data Quality Institute in September.  We are planning to hold our annual business meeting the evening of September 16 in Helena.  Stay tuned for time and place.  We also hope to arrange a fun evening for socializing and networking with colleagues across the state.  The MAACE Board feels this is imperative to the health and welfare of our organization.  Please mark your calendar and plan to attend the Data Quality Institute and the MAACE Business Meeting/Dinner Function September 16!


As always, you may contact me or any member of the MAACE Board with ideas, enthusiasm, questions, or concerns.  We always look forward to discussing adult education with our colleagues. 



Your MAACE Board: 

Suzette Fox (, Jack Eggensperger (, Darrel Hannum (, Steve McCoy (, Yvonne Hauwiller (, and Jean Lemire Dahlman (


Response to Counting Dropouts

For determining Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), the Montana graduation formula has always counted the GED recipients as dropouts. However, OPI also employed a completer formula that included all students receiving a high school diploma and a GED. The completer formula was not the formula used for AYP purposes, but was for a variety of reporting purposes. In the fall of 2007, the Office of Public Instruction sent a notice to all school districts to clarify the definition of a high school graduate, reminding them that according to our state definition of a high school graduate, there are no other high school completers.  If a student doesn't graduate with a regular diploma, they are a dropout.

Margaret Bowles, Adult Literacy and Basic Education Specialist at Office of Public Instruction


Counting Dropouts and Graduates:  Still More People Left Behind


Under a new federal effort to standardize how high school graduation 
rates are calculated nationwide, students who leave school and later 
graduate from adult education programs will still be considered 
dropouts. "In an effort to get a true picture of the nation's high 
school dropout crisis, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings 
announced last week that she will require all states to use a single 
federal formula to calculate graduation and dropout rates, forcing 
some states to completely revamp their data processing systems. 
Spellings did not release the specific formula she will require but 
referenced the National Governors Association's graduation rate as a 

Would such a regulation affect funding for adult education in your 
state? Would it affect how people view the GED or an adult diploma 
awarded by a public high school?

This would increase the national dropout rate, reported recently in 
the America's Promise Alliance study as 30% on average, 50%  in 
cities. If GED and adult diploma holders are counted as dropouts that 
would increase the dropout rate more.

Several years of  "No Child Left Behind"  appear to be leaving many 
more people behind.

Short form of Web Address:

David J. Rosen
Adult Literacy Advocate


Nevada Adult Ed Newsletter Ideas


I gleaned the following web sites from the Nevada Adult Ed newsletter.  Thought maybe you would find them interesting. – Take the TPI and summarize your teaching perspectives. – Doing What Works for education.  The literacy part of this site has not been developed yet!

Suzette Fox, Adult Basic Literacy Education Computer and Business Instructor, Billings


MPAEA Thought

Inclusion of all academic experiences beyond secondary as post secondary  is a paradigm shift for adult education. This is going to require professional dialogue and reflection on instructional delivery, curriculum, and student transition. Montana ABLE is up to the challenge!

Margaret Bowles, Adult Literacy and Basic Education Specialist at Office of Public Instruction


ESL Website on Body Parts

Oops!  Kathy Jackson of Billings sent this website a month ago!  Sorry for not posting this sooner!

They advertised this site as a good esl learning activity.

Shortcut to:

Ferlazzo's Best ESL Websites

Go to

Ferlazzo's Best Civic Participation and Citizenship Websites

Go to


Reading and Using Technology

On the Learning Disabilities discussion list this past week there has been a fascinating discussion initiated by Glenn Young. He has proposed that it is time to focus on helping adults with learning disabilities learn to read using technology. By this he means having computers and hand-held devices read text out loud, with new readers focusing on their getting meaning, not on learning how to decode text. The archives of this discussion will be found at 
David Rosen

Taken from NIFL Assessment Discussion List


Biology Interactive Websites

The research department at Children's Hospital Boston has developed a series of web-based Flash tutorials to present complex medical and biological concepts in an interactive, user-friendly format. These free science "interactives" are useful for students and educators ...

eSchool News

Click here for more information.


Reading Connections to Content Materials

Many years ago, I worked with a high school student who had a significant learning disability in reading (I was actually tutoring him in math). After many unsuccessful interventions, his parents resorted to reading his homework aloud to him. The result was that rather than receiving Ds and Fs in such subjects as history and English, he was able to maintain a C average.

ABE Professional Development Coordinator
State Board for Community & Technical Colleges, Washington

Taken from NIFL Assessment Discussion List


Reading in the Workplace

In thinking about the dialogue we had about the reading levels required for WorkKeys, our discussion, after further research, this might be a good discussion topic for Montana RIB Update.

Woody Jensen, Director                                                                            Billings Adult Education Center


MAACE Professional Opportunities

Summer Conference at Polson

Margaret Bowles has informed us that Lt. Governor Bohlinger has expressed a strong interest in providing the keynote address at our summer conference in Polson in June!!!
This is a perfect opportunity for us to advocate for Adult Education and to demonstrate to the Governor's Office that we are successfully serving adult learners and are an economic anchor in our communities as we help adults complete their GED and assist them in preparing to enter post-secondary training.  However, in order to do this, we need a strong showing at the conference in June.  We need everyone who possibly can to attend this conference, build a network of professional relationships with others in the state, and share best practices while demonstrating our passion for and commitment to our profession. 
PLEASE email Suzette at right now to let her know if you are coming to Polson in June.  We need to know who will be represented and how many of you plan to attend.  
PLEASE call a friend or colleague serving in adult education right now and encourage them to ride with you and/or room with you.  Have them email Suzette as well!
Join your fellow Adult Educators in Polson in June for our annual MAACE conference and training!  We'll see you there!!
Don't forget to email Suzette!!!

Suzette Fox, Billings Adult Education Center


The annual MEA-MFT Educator's conference will be held in Missoula October 16 & 17, 2008. 
MAACE will once again maintain a presence for professional educators who wish to attend this conference and MEA-MFT has agreed to allow our members to register as members for this conference. 
We will once again share a hospitality room and resources with the Math group.  Rose Steiner and Kathie Daviau have once again been instrumental in scheduling sectionals and setting up this opportunity for MAACE.  Thank you Kathie and Rose!!!
Each presenter for the MEA-MFT conference in October is paid $30.00 and we need sectionals to help defray the cost of our presence.  If you will be attending the MEA-MFT Educator's Conference in Missoula in October, a presenter's stipend would help with gas money!!  Please sign up to share your best practices with other educators by clicking on the following link and signing up for one or more sectionals THIS WEEK!!!

Suzette Fox, Billings Adult Education Center


MPAEA Thoughts


Congrats to the MPAEA Board (Montana Board members Suzette Fox and Jake Gustin plus Detlef Johl, MPAEA treasurer) and Utah for providing an excellent MPAEA conference.

Special congratulations to Detlef Johl for receiving the MPAEA Award of Excellence for Montana!


ABE Moves to Higher Ed
Troy Justesen, Assistant Secretary of Vocational and Adult Education at the Department of Education, reminded MPAEA participants that there has been a "paradigm shift" and that in federal policy, Adult Education is now higher education.  Yes, the GED is now considered post-secondary!  He said that this was partly done so that ABE would have more a feeling of self-worth and inclusion. 
Open-entry Versus Fixed Entry Develops Community 
Robyn Rennick, President of National Association for Adults with Special Learning Needs (NAASLN), reminded participants that open-entry programs may want to consider changing to fixed entry points so that students can develop a sense of community and feel less isolated.  She encouraged adult ed professionals to ask the following question: 
How is the setup, activity, and my behavior providing an environment of success and community?