Helping Multiply Disadvantaged Adult Learners Achieve Goals

Sandra Petruzzi Beverly Chase

Adult Education Inquiry Project June 23, 1997

We would like to express our appreciation to Jenny Horsman of the Canadian Congress for Learning Opportunities for Women (CCLOW), and to Nancy Veleno of the DaVinci Community Center.

Project Summary

We know from previous research that single parenthood, domestic violence, poverty, poor work history, cultural conflicts, drugs, health and mental health issues impact heavily on adult learning. The problem is that we don't know which teaching strategies are most effective for low income, multiply disadvantaged, high risk, adult learners. For our Inquiry Research Project, we decided to read, research, reflect, and report on emerging viewpoints in this area. Specifically, we wanted to know a) which teaching methods will increase class attendance, and b) how can teachers best help students attain their career and life goals.

When dealing with low income, multiply handicapped populations, adult education teachers sometimes wonder if their job is only half teacher, and half psychotherapist. Our classes are composed mostly of poor single women, sometimes teenagers, often minority women, who do not leave their personal problems at the classroom door. Reading level is often low; students have ADHD or learning disabilities on top of drug, alcohol, housing, legal, child care, transportation, and health problems. Work experience is often lacking. Class attendance is sometimes erratic; decision-making, organizational, and social skills are often poor. The students themselves are adament that they strive for a middle class life with traditional lifestyles, like a picket fence and college education for their children. Too often, though, they do the opposite of what will help them achieve these goals efficiently. Teachers flounder in frustration as attendance dips, community based programs risk cancelation, and administrators struggle to design programs that work. The urgent need for effective teaching strategies for low income, state subsidized, adult education programs is clear. Our report focuses on the difficulties and potential of context-based instruction.

The methodology for this study was ideographical, that is, a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods, aimed at understanding the unique, socially constructed reality of participants within a system. This systems theory, ethnographic, context-laden, approach is exploratory and "fuzzy," impressionistic like a Renoir, for it includes us, the researchers also. We seek to understand the unique as well as common threads of our low income learners' lives, so that we may be better practitioners. We've read, we reflected, we've shared conversations with other practitioners and students, we've compiled our results, and now we share our conclusions with you. The reader is the ultimate judge of any qualitative study. We trust you will find our albeit short-term investigation as interesting and worthwhile as we have.



We know from previous research that single parenthood, domestic violence, poverty, poor work history, cultural conflicts, drugs, health and mental health issues adversely impact on adult learning (Petruzzi & Dery, 1996; Valentine & Darkenwald, 1990). The problem is that no one really knows which teaching strategies are most effective for low income, multiply disadvantaged, adult learners. For our Adult Education Practitioner Inquiry Project, we chose to focus on emerging viewpoints in this area. Specifically, we wanted to know which teaching methods increase class attendance and how teachers can best help adult students attain their career and life goals.

The methodology for this study is ideographical, that is, a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods, aimed at understanding the unique, socially constructed reality of participants within a system. This systems theory, ethnographic, context-laden, approach is exploratory and fuzzy, rather impressionistic like a Renoir, for it includes us, the researchers, as participants also. We seek to understand the unique, as well as common, threads of our low income learners' lives, so that we may be wiser practitioners (Scott, 1990). We've read, we reflected, we gathered statistics, test results, and survey data; we've shared conversations with other practitioners/providers and with students, we've compiled our results, and now we share our conclusions with you. The reader is the ultimate judge of any qualitative study. We trust you will find our, albeit short-term, investigation as interesting and worthwhile as we have.

Researcher Reflections

Since most adult education programs still look like school curriculum (and adults hate to be treated like children), we believe adult educators need to change program structures and strategies. The one-size-fits-all model means that teachers are not being responsive to the needs of students. Sissel (1996, p 97) states that programs and practitioners must "meaningfully assist adults in learning to read not only the word but the world." Since political and financial pressures dictate the expected form and structure of programs, conscientious practictioners learn to subversively improvise stategies and practices that reflect the real needs and goals of students while still remaining within mandated guidelines. Experienced practitioners evolve their own criteria, especially for the multiply challenged adult learner, reflecting the practitioner's knowledge of the past and present experiences of students' lives. The student population we refer has been traumatized: they have basic safety and trust issues; they live in constant crisis, they have attention deficits, they tend to think in "all or nothing" terms; they need to tell their stories before they are ready to do math or reading (Horsman, 1997). At the beginning of our study, we reflected on what we think we are doing right for our own students. The next page lists a summary of our brainstorming sessions. The logs that we kept during this study document specific examples of our teaching strategies. We wrote about the up and down complex lives of our students and how we try, as Kazemek (1988) recommends, to provide instruction in keeping with the women's understanding of themselves in relationships with others. We recorded the frustrations and triumphs we teachers face and that other practitioners and students experience. We noticed, for instance, that the projects we provided allowed for exploration of skills and what's available in the job market; we noted that although there was resistence, students began to form supportive relationships with each other. One important conclusion we reached was the need for adult education practitioners to collaborate with other professional service providers.

Reflections on teaching strategies for multiply disadvantaged adult learners

We create a safe environment.

We are aware of the impact of the larger system on individuals -- family, friends, children, schools, social services, police and community attitudes toward welfare recipients.

We listen to students' problems. We offer empathy and support. We accept their fears and find ways with them to deal with those fears. We deal with psycho- logical issues: abuse and mental health. We relate to students authenticly, letting them see that we are human, treating them with respect, and acknowledging their right to be listened to. We accept them as they are.

We teach practical problem-solving skills. We teach them to brainstorm alternatives. We teach decision-making skills and stress that there are always alternatives. We help them see other points of view. We expose them to mediation and communication skills. We provide real-life living and employment situations. We encourage students to learn from each other. We deal with poor reading and basic skill deficits.

We plan lessons that relate to self esteem. We provide valid and realistic feedback and encouragement. We stay positive, not dwelling on the negative. We under- stand how violence and trauma impacts their lives. We start where students are at. We call them at home to see what the problem is. We make referrals, and if necessary, ensure that appointments are kept. We expect ups and downs, set-backs, and slow progress. We don't get discouraged, angry or cynical with noncompliance. We remove the pressure. We have high expectations they will succeed. We help them move in a direction to achieve goals. We teach social skills and the value of teamwork.

We help students obtain the skills to join and participate in the workforce. We invest them in the community. We tell them our goal is to help them find meaningful careers, not dead-end, low-paying jobs. We stress that education is life-long. We respect their native and sub-culture values. We coordinate with community agencies. We teach them to progress in small steps. We convey that they are participants, not just recipients. We teach civic responsibility.

We lobby for change and justice, for realistic legislation and regulations that affect students' lives. We participate in professional organizations and personal education/development so that we can best serve our students.

Case study: A Portrait of Our Clientele

Both of us were teaching low income, low level, adult classes while conducting our Practitioner Inquiry. We chose to focus our attention on Sandy's 20-hour per week Project Opportunity class of 16 women, aged 24 to 42, who recieve public assistance. The goal of this program is to prepare participants for employment, providing remediation if necessary, and to assist and monitor participants in volunteer work, job searches, and early employment. Participation in Project Opportunity was voluntary for these women, although legislation has since taken effect making 20 hours/week of educational or vocational program participation mandatory for AFDC recipients. Some women enrolled out of fear of benefit loss; some said they want a job; the group voluntarily consented to participate in our study.

The sixteen women were followed over a 13 week period. Four dropped out before the program began, leaving 12 in the study. Four women entered with a high school diploma, one with a GED, and three women were simultaneously attending GED classes. For three of the women, English was not their native language. The entering group mean reading level was 8.9 and language level 5.6 (TABE Work Related Foundations Skills, General Form, Level D). During our study period, four women discussed previous sexual abuse victimization, seven disclosed involvement in domestic violence situations, one woman sought a restraining order against a violent ex-mate, one woman's brother died, one woman was burned out of her apartment, one recieved medication for panic attacks, five reported criminal charges in their pasts, two had prison records, two women admitted addiction histories, two admitted alcohol abuse, one admitted a past career as a prostitute, and one reported hospitalization for attempted suicide.

Attendance for the group was relatively good, despite these crises and past traumas. Three women had perfect attendance; the average number of days absent was 7.8, with one woman absent 14 days for court appearances and resultant panic attacks; one woman was absent 13.5 days for issues resulting from her 6 yr old son being sexually molested by a neighbor; the woman with the most absences feared for her safety and was hiding from a stalker. These observations support research findings that poor women experience extraordinary high levels of stress (Browne & Bassuk, 1997), yet with appropriate support, minor miracles can occur.

All teaching instruction for this 13 week class was context based. The class read newspapers, studied job related materials, undertook group projects, made community field trips, learned computer skills, and followed SCANS work skill related objectives. The mean reading level at exit was 9.4 and language level had risen to 7.6; all 12 of the women were placed in volunteer internships, further job training programs, or employment at the end of their classroom experience.

Teacher Workshop: Helping High Risk Adult Learners Achieve Goals

As an opportunity for community teachers to share with us their experiences, and for us to share our findings with other practitioners, on April 29, 1997, we facilitated a two hour workshop for eleven teachers from Newport, Providence, and South County. The handout folder, group worksheets, and evaluations for this workshop can be found below.

Recurring themes of student issues, as we expected, included English as a second language, community violence, parenting problems, drugs, physical/sexual abuse, poor social and work-ready skills, low self esteem, and LD/ADD. High drop out rates, low attendance, and lack of active participation were cited as common, frustrating, concerns for instructors. Participants shared with us their experiences, including two extremely positive programs: Dorcas Place where educational and social services are available like one stop shopping, and a Providence School Department sponsored program where parents attend class at the same time and place as their 3 and 4 year old children. Bev shared with the group a social work model using a systems analysis case study, and the group compared clinical theories, methods, and roles with educators' theories, roles, and methods. One teacher commented on the systems analysis, "This is just like webbing, which I use all the time." The idea of multidisiciplinary treatment teams and Family Service Plans was novel to the teachers, yet appealing. Sandy ended the session on a humorous note, while demonstrating the power of metaphor, a teaching strategy we recommend. She held up a bottle of Revlon Flex hair conditioner and said, "It's occurred to me that we teachers are like this bottle of Flex advertises to be. Isn't this our job? To fortify, nourish, and protect?" We all laughed, and someone else added, "Yeah, and we're cheap like Flex too!"

In a port-mortem evaluation of the workshop, we and a colleague from Da Vinci Center concluded it had been a successful session. Participants seemed to appreciate the opportunity to share and everyone left feeling they had learned something. We realized that the content of this two hour session could easily turn into a two day conference to cover the topic adequately, for we noticed that teachers reported receiving no special pre- or in-service training to work with low income, high risk, populations.

Teacher Survey: What We're Doing Now and An Ideal World

In our initial, informal discussions with other practitioners, we sensed a strong dissatisfaction with the status quo of adult education delivery systems, which published research confirmed (e.g. Quigley, 1997; Velazques, 1996). We heard sharp edges of cynicism, frustration, and burnout from other teachers who deal with low functioning groups -- comments like, "You can't expect these people to get a GED in nine months, especially when English isn't their native language and they have all these extra problems." One teacher said, "We've got to make them listen." We later recorded oral opinions and viewpoints at the teacher workshop (see appendice), and invited these participants to send us further ideas they might think of later. We then mailed written surveys to 19 selected practitioners, asking two open-ended questions:

a) What methods do you currently use to retain mulitply disadvantaged students?

b) In an ideal world, what would you do to help students achieve their and society's goals?

The ideal world, miracle question as it's called in brief treatment clinical theory, aims to focus clients' attention on behavior they would be engaging in if miraculously all their problems disappeared. In social work this is an effective therapeutic technique when time is limited.

We received three responses to the written survey (15 per cent response rate), including from other Inquiry Project participants, and Dorcas Place, who held a group brainstorm session. We recorded several suggestions that were concrete and positive (see appendice). Responses supported our previous reflections, showed us that teachers and administrators are dedicated and commited, and indicated that teachers are not afraid to dream of the future. The current practices and suggestions for an ideal world practitioners mentioned include the need for flexibility, one-on-one time with students, home and community visits, group projects, multicultural activities, and further teacher training and sharing opportunities. The message was repeated, in an ideal world we would be meeting the real-life needs of our students.

We were disappointed in the written response rate, since the teachers we selected to survey are known, actively involved, practitioners. Is it overwork, a lack of desire to commit on paper, burnout, indifference, or something else that caused practitioner lack of participation?

Student Survey

In late April Bev visited Sandy's class to discuss a student needs survey. Even before designing the survey we wanted extra input from the students' perspective. We thought there might be student concerns that we weren't already aware of. We know that delays in child care payments were an issue, but during this visit we also learned that the group had other issues with program administrators, more severe than we could have imagined. The women were angry that a case manager had been rude to them which they interpreted as unprofessional and incompetent, and they were concerned that they were about to begin internships with very little follow up support. These issues were added to the survey checklist we designed and Bev stayed with the group, listening, for two hours. See appendice for survey checklist and results.

The results were mostly as anticipated. A high school diploma, GED, and basic reading, math, and computer skills rated as strong needs. A clothing allowance for important to all of them, although surprisingly, help with personal problems and learning disabilities was important to less than half. Better coordination of service delivery was checked by 91 per cent as important. Better transition support from training to work was also a significantly perceived need.

In person, the twelve students were enthusiastic about stating their needs. A week later, when the survey was presented in written form, there was reluctance to participate and no one wrote extra comments. Although we tried to design an easy-to-read survey, we have reason to suspect some vocabulary (e.g. "spending allowance") may not have been understood. The message which came through clear in both the oral and written surveys was that a serious conflict exists between students and service providers about what the goals of the program should be. We heard students comment, "Go slow with me," while in the other ear, traditional practitioners say, "We've got to make the rules harder."

The Tree Project

To demonstrate SCANS objectives in action, Bev initiated an enterpreneurial project with Sandy's class. For Earth Day, the women potted 175 small evergreen trees, which they then sold at Parenting Matters Conference in Warwick in early April. The objective was to provide real-life experience running a business, to learn to appreciate environmental issues, and, perhaps, to make a profit.

The class agreed to commit to the project, mostly because of the prospect of profits. They discussed several ideas for using the potential profit, but had trouble making a final decision. They researched ecology and plant care on the Internet, formed committees for finance, advertising, and staff management; they bought supplies; leaders emerged; and they gathered together at Sandy's garage to pot 175 trees. A couple of classmates didn't pull their weight to do the potting and selling, which led to heated group discussions on morality and irresponsibility. In the end, eight students not only gained retail experience selling the trees, but we killed two birds with one stone and they also attended (for the first time) a parent education conference.

The project did not make a profit, which is just as well because other than sending flowers to a classmate's family funeral, they did not reach consensus about what they would have done with the proceeds. What several wanted to do with "extra" income was to spend it on themselves, like going out to dinner. When asked at the end of April how they liked this project, three students called out, "It sucked." They were still angry at some classmates, they were disappointed that they didn't make a profit, and they perceived the whole project as a failure.

They commented that it must be difficult for employers to deal with shirkers, and that making money is a lot harder than they thought. Once they vented several frustrations, they conceded that they did begin to learn how businesses are run; they stated they learned a lot about ecology, some even said they had fun; and that they gained experience working as a team ("If only our teammates had been better players").

The purpose of teaching to SCANS objectives is to teach a person how to fish, rather than give them a meal. This exercise showed that the students have problems with teamwork and decision-making, but they can follow through on initiatives. There was resistence and difficulties handling self-sufficiency, quite probably due to trauma issues (Horsman, 1997). Raheim (1997) observes that such active, innovative, teaching strategy is apt to meet opposition from many quarters, but when we expect welfare recipients to find jobs that don't exist, teaching enterpreneurship makes sense. 9


When dealing with low income, multiply handicapped populations, adult education practitioners begin to wonder if their job is only half teacher, and half psychotherapist (Horsman, 1997). Our classes are composed mostly of poor single mothers, sometimes teenagers, often minority women, who do not leave their personal problems at the classroom door. Reading level is low; students have ADHD or learning disabilities, drug, alcohol, housing, legal, child care, transportation, and health/mental health issues. Work experience is lacking or poor. Class attendance is erratic. Decision making, organizational, and social skills are often poor. The students themselves are adament that they want to be independent. When asked, they answer that they want a home with a white picket fence and a college education for their children. Too often, though, they do the opposite of what will help them achieve that goal efficiently. Teachers flounder in frustration as attendance dips, community programs risk cancelation, and administrators struggle to design programs that work. The urgent need for effective teaching strategies for low income, state subsidized, adult education programs is clear.

We found that low income students suffer educationally from cultural disadvantage. They can't take too much in at once or their systems become overloaded and break down completely. They ask that program providers treat them with respect and dignity. We found that other practioners are as frustrated as we are to design programs that don't waste anyone's time or money. Context-based learning, such as advocated in SCANS objectives, can work -- these strategies need time, patience, and sufficient funding.

For this project, we researched the relationship between poverty, multiple disadvantage, and learning progress (achieving goals). We found other practitioner researchers in the United States and in Canada who seem to be following the same reform oriented direction for continuing education for low income participants as we concluded from our reflections. We talked to local teachers, practitioners, and students: we found our "cohorts" verbally vocal in informal situations, but when we asked them to put their thoughts on paper, most declined. For some reason, few participants -- neither teachers, case managers, vocational coordinators, nor students or administrators -- want to "go on record." What we gleaned from our "subjects," however, was a goldmine. We found teachers and program providers who sincerely care about their students, who have big hearts. We found students who, in their words, are "doing their damnest to do right." We found strong support for context based approaches, and we documented some of the difficulties (glitches) that arise from creating "real" involvement for participants. We weigh the scale and conclude that the labor intensity and commitment by providers is worth the long term gains students can make with the context-based approach.


As a result of our study we would like to make the following suggestions. Our findings concur with Quigley (1997) who states, if adult literacy educators are going to be successful to attracting and retaining more adults in their programs, they must change how they think about programs. The school model that predominates must be exchanged for one that is based on adult perceptions of their goals and purposes and that addresses the realities of their lives.


As adult education practitioner researcher professionals, we found that much work needs to be done. We have only scratched the surface. Much of the literature, research, and our own brief inquiry reinforce our premise that adult learners face on-going trauma. Our inquiry was limited to 12 high risk learners, but this represents many learners in traditional four hour per week adult education classes. Our learners also represent the adult basic literacy learners who do not or cannot attend formal programs.

Our process was also interesting in that we found we worked well together as a team; we have similar beliefs but different styles. These likes and differences forced us to further examine our practices and knowledge.

It must be noted that we found a continuous theme of providing safety in all programs and the importance of group interaction. Kazemek (1988) suggests that adult education programs should be more in keeping with women's understanding of themselves, as contextually bound in caring relationship with others. We laugh, cry, and cheer with our adult learners. The statement about relationship and statements concerning safety of the environment will push us further in our on-going inquiry as practitioners.


Browne, A & Barsuk, M (1997). Intimate violence in the lives of homeless and poor housed women: Prevalence and patterns in an ethnically diverse sample. American journal of orthopsychiatry. 67:2, 261-278

Horsman, J (1997). But I'm not a therpist: literacy work with survivors of trauma. Canadian Congress for Learning Opportunities for Women. Research in progress.

Kazemek, PFE (1988). Women and adult literacy: Considering the other half of the house. Lifelong learning: An omnibus of practice and research. 11: 4, 15-24

Petruzzi, S & Dery, J (1996). How does current or previous involvement in domestic ] violence affect an adult woman's ability to learn and implement selected SCANS foundation skills that are necessary for gainful employment? RIDE Adult Education Teacher Inquiry Project.

Quigley, BA (1997). Rethinking literacy education: The critical need for practice-based change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Raheim, S (1997). Problems and prospects of self-employment as an economic independence option for welfare recipients. Social work. 42:1, 44-53.

Scott, D (1990). Practice wisdom: The neglected source of practice research. Social work. 35:6, 564-568.

Sissel, PA (1996). Reflection as vision: Prospects for future literacy programming. In A community-based approach to literacy programs: Taking learners lives into account. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education. No 70. pp 97-103.

Valentine, T & Darkenwald, GG (1990). Deterrants to participation in adult education: Profiles of potential learners. Adult education quarterly. 41:1, 29-42.

Valazques, LC (1996). Voices from the fields: Community based migrant education. In A community based approach to literacy programs: Taking learners lives into account. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education. No 70. pp 27-36.

Additional readings by Jennifer Horsman

RESULTS Practitioner Survey Comments

One practictioner

-- calls students

-- insists they call if absent

-- provides alternative solutions to "I was late because...."

-- allows 3 unexplained absences, then removes from class roster and puts on wait list

-- is looking for new techniques

-- keeps personal problems out of classroom. Can discuss before or after class.

-- wants to try exercises like Tai Chi

Another reported

-- he/she gives mostly pep talks now. Inspirational examples of why and how staying in class will benefit them and people they love

-- wishes to have time one-on-one, visit schools, businesses, homes, etc. to see what people need to do to be productive in our society. Also to show success at various levels of educational achievement

A third described

-- advance organizers

-- cooperative learning

-- de-emphasizing teacher's role

-- writing workshops with conferencing. A good way to meet needs of multi-levels while whole group is together

-- writing on computer. Using computer for word processing and spread sheets (math)

-- Cuisinnaire rods for math -- taped books and GED exercises

-- have students teach conepts they've "over learned"

-- of course, project based curriculum stuff

Recommended References

Imel, S (1996). Adult literacy education: Emerging directions in program development. ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education. Digest 179.

Quigley, BA (1997). Rethinking literacy education: The critical need for practice-based change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Sissel, PA (1996). Reflection as vision: Prospects for future literacy programming. In A community-based approach to literacy programs: Taking learners' lives into account. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education. No. 70, pp 97-103.

Canadian Congress for Learning Opportunities for Women (nd). CCLOW Fact sheets. 47 Main Street, Toronto, Canada M4E 2V6: Author. e-mail:

National Institute for Literacy (nd). Literacy: It's a whole new world. Helping equip America for the future (kit). Washington, DC: Author.

Quigley, BA (1990). Hidden logic: Reproduction and resistence in adult literacy and adult basic education. Adult education quarterly. 40:2, 103-115.

O'Shea, LJ & O'Shea, DJ (1994). What research in Special Education says to reading teachers. In KD Wood and B Algozzine (Eds), Teaching reading to high risk learners: A unified perspective. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, pp 49-81.

Canadian Congress for Learning Opportunities for Women (1995). Isolating the barriers and strategies for prevention: A kit about violence and women's education for adult educators and adult learners. Toronto, Ontario: Author.

Rhode Island Protection & Advocay System (1997). Accessing services for student with mental health needs: Through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Providence, RI: Author.

Herman, JL (1992). Trauma and recovery. NY: Harper-Collins.

Lytle, S & Cochran-Smith, M (1992). Teacher research as a way of knowing. Harvard Educational Review. 62:4, 447-474.

Velazquez, LC (1996). Voices from the fields: Community-based migrant education. In A community-based approach to literacy programs: Taking learners' lives into account. New directions for adult and continuing education. No. 70. pp 97-103.

Raheim, S (1997). Problems and prospects of self employment as an economic independence option for welfare recipients. Social work. 42:1, 44-53.


Beverly Chase Practitioner Inquiry Research March - June, 1997

3/27 Project approval received. 5 hours to get to this point: 1 1/2 hrs meeting with Sandy deciding what we want to do and reviewing her study from last year; 1 1/2 hrs at Ed Dept mtg about these grants; 2 hrs reflecting and writing grant proposal.

4/1 (storm day 11 am - 3 pm) Prepared flier for teacher workshop, which Rebecca will distribute for us. Huge indecision and several revisions on what to call the student population we're targeting -- multiply disadvantaged? Persons in need of services (PINS)? Dysfunctional? I finally settled on "high risk," which I lifted from a Sp Ed textbook I'm reading. Without telling Sandy where I picked up this term, she commented, "Oh, we're getting academic now, are we?"

4/3 (9 - 11 am) Have talked to Sandy, Nancy and Rebecca. Workshop set. 2 hrs to outline w/s format. Most interesting part is similarities between teaching low income students and what a social worker does.

4/5 (7:30 am - 5 pm - Parenting Matters Conference) Sandy's class there selling trees. They were very proud of their exhibit and insistent that Sandy not interfere. They set up last night and didn't show up to the exhibit hall till 11. I was in a bit of a panic -- but turns out they all went to hear the keynote speaker. It was a good day for them -- they made friends with other exhibitors, incl some job contacts. They didn't sell as many trees as I expected, but their display wasn't very professional. But they didn't want us interfering, so I didn't say anything about the dirty pots. They tied ribbons in the trees, tho, which were attractive. I think I gave a sigh of relief at the end that their participation in PM went smoothly (no fist fists!). I could tell they were nervous in the big crowd.

For the 2nd yr I've helped organize Parenting Matters. About 1000 parents, teachers and professionals attend each year; it's sponsored by Bradley Hospital (now Lifespan) and the RI Committee to Prevent Child Abuse. I organize the community resource center exhibit hall, and this year I also led a community scholarship outreach program so that low income parents could attend. More than 200 scholarship parents attended, doubling any other year. Somehow, I managed to coordinate with 55 RI social service agencies, arrange child care and transportation for anyone who needed it, and I even found where to get simultaneous translation equipment (which no one requested). Next year someone should specifically target non-English parents. Maybe interns.

Speaking of interns, Gayle, Sandy's student from last semester and my PM intern, worked well at the beginning of this internship. She made phone calls, attended meetings, made a 500 piece mailing list, but then her course at CCRI began and we hardly saw her again. Both Sandy and I talked to her later and concluded the stress was too much. She had even regressed in capability because she had so much on her plate. She told us she was afraid to go to a big conference with so many strangers; CCRI stress was high; family illnesses and situations overwhelmed her; she sounded depressed and mentioned giving it all up. "I didn't know it would be this hard," she said. I want to de-brief on what happened in this internship. Sandy said J should follow up. We both knew that won't happen unless I initiate it.

4/7 & 9 (7 - 9 pm) I gave Sandy my reflections on good teaching strategies. She gave me her draft on a questionnaire for students. Oh, no! We're on different wavelengths -- she thinks we're after barriers and I think we want to know what works. We need to talk about this. We decide to re-read the proposal.

4/11 (9:30 am - 12) Ed Dept meeting. 2 1/2 hours. Information on methodology and presentations. Several other projects aiming at increasing teacher/program/student effectiveness. Heard interesting comments from frustrated Woonsocket and Pawtucket teachers. Sandy sees what I mean regarding focus of student questionnaire. She has interesting sharing time too.

4/16 (7 - 9 pm) 2 hrs with Sandy. Very productive (and long winded). Discussed 1) student questionnaire 2) characteristics of students we teach 3) reports from Janet 4) community resources 5) teachers we want to target -- plus much personal stuff. Teamwork is great when everybody works well together. Sandy and I work well together.

4/21 (7:30 - 9 pm) Sandy and I share "things" we've pulled together. We're pretty well organized for workshop. Do survey letter and collect data 51/ - 5/15. Both of us to work on adding to list of community resources we want to share with teachers. Both following up on calls and contacts. Sandy gave me stuff to read; I gave her Pam Goodwin's legal notes on teen parents. She liked my miracle question, but commented, "It's a hard one. You've got to think." I said, "Yeah?"

4/22 (11 am - 1 pm) Writing, reading, calling, and thinking. From Vygotsky (1993), reflections: Log, p 3

1. Go with the flow. Don't resist client's resistence. Psychological defenses serve a purpose. Change will occur in spurts or small steps over a long period of time. If a student threatens to slam a door, do something unhealthy, be defiant, irrational, etc, GIVE IN to them -- don't argue. Use paradox. Do the unexpected. Say, "Go ahead. What's the worst thing that could happen?" [based on theory: where there is friction, there will be resistence.] Exercise: with your index finger, try to push someone who resists - they don't move. Then try to push someone who doesn't resist -- they will go wherever your finger points them. The therapist leads from behind.

2. Look for metaphors, similes, and analogies. Probe meanings. Each person has symbolic parallels, some unique and some universal. You know an interpretation works when the client resonates with it.

4/22 (10 - 11 pm) It's been a very interesting teaching week. I have a new private student -- who took a year between telling me she wanted to work with me and actually calling to make the first appointment. Her exact words were, "I can't stand it any more. I've got to do something." Yup, she had to be desparate before seeking help.

On Tues my other private student showed up finally after 3 weeks absence. His mother died and his wife is seeking a divorce; he watched his best friend get beat up in a bar recently; he told me he taught his 15 mon old son to pillow fight; he's been drinking heavily -- and he hasn't studied for a month. "I can't concentrate. I've got too many things on my mind." I understood. He didn't bring any books and we casually talked for the first half hour. At the end of our last session (called doorknob behavior) he had asked, What's the point?" This session I answered his question by describing the specific changes I expect to see in him as a result of increasing his education. I kept stressing the effects his changes will have on others' impressions of him , but he kept correcting me, "Nah, I'm doing this for me. I want to do it, just for myself. I don't care what anybody else thinks." Okay, I said. You're right, it's got to come from you FOR yourself. But I couldn't help repeating what a difference his educ will make to others. "A" is a high risk student: he admits he was not into school as a kid, and he reads as little as possible now. He's more into drinking and ruining his family, resisting change, but giving a lot of rhetoric how he's commited to studying and improving his life. He's from the Islands, and has strong family values. His mother's (expected) death was also connected to the break-up of his marriage. When he wife forced him to choose between her or his mother, he chose to be with his mother. He's having conflicts with his father too, and as he related to me the past 3 wk's events, he admitted his explosive temper is only-just under control. He described himself as a Sly Stallone, Rocky character. He's inarticulate, but managed to tell me he has a soft side too -- and he's not dumb. For the rest of the session I told him about my upcoming trip to Alaska -- sneaking in geography. It took a long time before he was ready for academics.

Tonight's (GED) class was another crisis-in-progress. Sandy and I have switched classes and one of her students announced she's had a recurring nightmare the last 2 nights about a class member being killed. Safety issues have been BIG TIME in these 2 classes this year. This took an hour to resolve (and I was grateful that S, a student on SSI because of psychosis, wasn't there. We really didn't need to set him off.) Everyone was moved, almost to tears, as this women described what she's been through (attempted incest rape). She talked about her suicide attempts.... What a day!

4/29/97 (1 - 5 pm) The workshop was a great success: generated much discussion and interesting suggestions (eg Windmill School project). Everybody there deals with difficult students. They vented a lot - and then felt better. I was surprised that none of the teachers have had experience with multidisciplinary teams. Gosh, if I'd known that, I would have brought blank IEP, FSP, and social history forms. Nancy was funny. Yesterday a.m. she called excited about the w/s, suggesting we invite students (which was a great idea but too late); but by the afternoon she was fuming -- because J double booked the room. It all worked out well, as I knew it would. I was very very pleased that our plan for the w/s ran perfectly smoothly: discussion flowed naturally to the next point on each chart. "S" was really impressed with the systems analysis; I could "see" ideas moving in her head. A new teacher said, "I like Maslow," -- as if he were new to her. Can that be? Our conclusion: we could easily turn this 2 hr w/s into an all day conference. Hardly had time to discuss community resources (so important), and most of the practical teaching tips were in the handout, hardly explored.

5/6 (9 - 10 am) Prepare for Sandy's class tomorrow: What are your goals? How do you plan to achieve those goals? How can teachers and administators help you?

5/9 (8 - 4) Attended Child Advocacy Conference. Fantastic.

5/11 (1 - 4 pm) 2 hrs to construct student questionnaire. It was hard to write the deep q's we want to ask in vocabulary the students can understand. One phrase I wrote (to move ahead) Sandy reinstated "to achieve goals," which I thought was too high-brow for this group. I wrote "program providers," but Sandy didn't think they'd understand that. We had time to work on the survey last night since only 3 students (from both classes) showed up. Two of them worked on mult. flash cards together, and one wanted to take a pre-test. I hear attendance is atrocious around the state. This is what our study is about -- although, I know where most of my students are and why they're no-show. Take C for example: she got caught in a Big Fat Lie and is probably so ashamed she won't show her face for weeks. She told us she's taken 4 GED tests -- even told us her scores -- but it was all a figment of her imagination: there's no record she's taken any of the tests. We're sure she'll be back eventually because Da Vinci is the only positive influence in this woman's life.

5/12 & 14 (9 - 4) Attended RI Institute's into training course on child sex abuse. Wow...

5/16 (12 - 2) Attended Lisa Galagher's Trauma Treatment Training at Bradley. Lisa is wonderful.

5/19 - 23 Sandy hasn't collated student surveys yet, tho I'm bugging her. The class was supposed to come out to my farm this week. They said they wanted to see where the trees came from. Every time I call, the class is in the midst of big crises, so not much happened at my end. Sandy finally got through to me why she's been so concerned about police record procedures lately. I didn't get it at first (she went on and on), but now I see -- she has 5 students having trouble getting jobs (in hospitals, etc) because of police records. Uh-huh, I see, yeah, okay, ex-cons might have trouble finding a job. I hadn't thought about that one before.

6/2 (1:30 - 4) Met with Sandy to discuss results and finalize project. We're both complaining that this research is taking too much time for the compensation we're receiving -- but it's a topic we both care about, so I guess that's why we keep at it. We found a lot of interesting published material, and we're both pleased that we've started a correspondance with Jennie Horsman in Canada. She wrote that she's 100% in aggreement that conflicting goals (admin and clients) is a huge part of the problem. We -- once again -- concluded that it's legislators we need to be educating. I'm off for a week in Alaska. Maybe I'll think about adult ed while I'm gone -- and maybe I won't.

6/16 (1 - 4) Compared/collated together our final report draft. It took two days to write my contribution. As a final log entry, I offer a last reflection: By the year 2010, half of the US population may not be able to read or write well. This leaves an ominous responsibility to the half who can, especially to the teachers who know how to teach reading and writing. As I learned in CPR class, the first approach to a patient should always be, "I know how to help you. Do you want my help?" Students who come to us asking for help, but who at the same time do not take our advice, are very frustrating. They say, Teach me," but then they don't come to class. As a native American might say, they speak with forked tongues. But when I look at what my students are going through in their lives, I'm impressed that they keep on trying. Would I be as strong as they are under such adversity? Would I be able to concentrate if I'd been beaten up the night before? I doubt it, yet this is what we expect of low income -- powerless -- students. Society is dishing out tough love these days, whether the clients like it or not. This, I'm afraid, could lead to a dangerous social situation. We already have too much violence in our society. At the bottom line, I guess, I'm motivated by self protection: when half of the population has poor quality of life, mine is diminished too.

letter from Bev to Jenny Horsman

Dear Jenny,

A colleague and I who are conducting inquiry research on goal achievement for low income, multiply disadvantaged, adult students heard your call for feedback and dialogue, and we'd like to hear more about your study. We have a small state Ed Dept grant and are doing an impressionistic study -- surveying students and sharing ideas with teachers -- on the same topic that interests you. My observation so far is that students and their goals are at cross purposes with program providers and their goals: there's a big communication gap. Students seem to be saying, "Go lightly with me, please," while providers are lamenting, "These students aren't learning. We need to be heavier with them." That's one major theme that sticks out to me and results in frustration for all.

Our final report is due mid-June, so, if possible, we would appreciate an urgent reply so that we can share your thoughts with other Rhode Island practitioners and administrators. I'm a bit of a Luddite and don't have a fax or e-mail, but Janet Isserlis at Literacy Resources/ Rhode Island will take messages for us. Her fax number is (401) 863-3094, and e-mail address is ( Center/ Literacy_Resources/) Sandy Petruzzi and I look forward to hearing from you. If adult education, especially for women, is to be effective, we providers, I think, need to listen carefully to the learners.


Beverly Chase, MA, LCSW

May, 1997 Code # _____


We know there are many problems facing adults who want to find a job, improve their education, and reach other personal goals. In order to find solutions for these common (and serious) problems, we ask you to help adult education program providers by completing this survey. Check any of the following items that you feel are important FOR YOU to achieve your goals. Thank you for taking the time to answer our survey; your ideas may help other Rhode Islanders too.

Sandra K Petruzzi & Beverly Chase

INSTRUCTIONS: Check ( ) each item that you feel if needed for you to reach your goals. You can write extra comments on the page of the page. Please return to Sandy Petruzzi.

(Education) Is it important for you to have...

____ a high school diploma or GED

____ better reading and writing skills

____ better math skills

____ better computer skills

____ a college education

____ vocational training (such as Community College of RI certificate courses)

____ help with learning disabilities

____ help with English if this is a second language for you

____ year round courses/programs

____ other (use back of page. Describe as fully as possible)

(Personal/family/community) Do you need help with...

____ solutions to transportation problems

____ solutions to child care problems

____ solutions to phone, housing, and/or utility problems

____ appropriate clothes for work

____ personal problems, such as domestic violence, medical issues or psychological problems

____ financial support, such as a spending allowance while in training

____ personal fears and doubts

____ relationships with teachers, program administration, social service agencies, employers and/or the public

____ other (use back of page)

(Career Development) Do you need...

____ better work skills, such as sticking to a schedule or getting along with others

____ better support by adult education staff for transition from class to work and follow-up in placements

____ more advice on career opportunities

____ other (please describe on back)

Lastly, do you think program instructors should provide...

____ academic education

____ group projects as job training

____ individual and/or group psychological counseling

____ political education

____ self-esteem training

____ stiff negative consequences for non-compliance to program rules

____ other (write comments on back)


May 5, 1997

TO: Adult Ed practitioners who work with low income, multiply disadvantaged learners

FROM: Sandy Petruzzi, Bev Chase

RE: Successful teacher strategies

Despite the several barriers that face low income learners (e.g. cultural conflicts, family problems, mental health issues, learning disabilities, etc), our society now requires Welfare recipients to improve educational and job related skills. It is our job as instructors and administrators to develop effective teaching methods for the hard-to-reach, resistent, high risk, learner population. As part of a teacher inquiry research project sponsored by the RI Department of Education, we are asking local adult ed practitioners to brainstorm and share (anonymously, if you prefer) teaching ideas that work with high risk populations.

This is an open-ended survey. We ask you to take 15 - 20 minutes to write and return your ideas by May 21 to 124 Hall Road, Greene, RI 02827. We will share our results in June. Consider--

1) What methods do you currently use to retain multiply disadvantaged students?

2) Imagine a miracle occurred and you are a perfect teacher. In this ideal world, what would you be doing that helps students achieve their and society's goals?

Thank you for your cooperation.


Clinical Social Work Adult Education

1. Empathy and acceptance

2. Theory-based intervention

3. Strengths perspective

4. Confidentiality

5. Contracting

6. Treat whole person/whole system

7. Partialize issues

8. Empower for permanent change

9. Parallel process

10. Worker use of self

11. Advocacy

12. Supervision and accountability

13. Multidisciplinary team (MDT) approach

14. Peer support and self care


1. Reading comprehension -- able to recognize words (vocabulary) -- able to understand meanings (definitions) -- able to understand the main idea -- able to recognize 'figures of speech' (ex: Kill 2 birds with one stone) -- able to recognize hidden, unstated, attitudes, values, and opinions -- able to see similaries and differences between 2 sets of information -- able to draw reasonable conclusions from given information

2. Analytical abilities -- ability to recognize the effect of time (what happens first, second, and so on) -- ability to compare and contrast this to that -- ability to apply logic: -- recognize what makes sense -- organize events in time -- identify cause and effect -- use scientific method (1. state problem 2. form tentative conclusion, called the hypothesis 3. test theory/collect information 4. draw reasonable conclusion) -- ability to use general knowledge of the way the world works -- ability to answer the specific question as given (rather than what you think it should be) -- ability to make wise decisions and show good judgment (ex: to show up for test appointments; to finish what you start (remember your goals); to keep going even when it's hard....)


Thank you for attending today's workshop. Your feedback is welcome.

Workshop title _____________________________________

Date ________________________

1. How would you rate this workshop overall?


2. The amount of information was



3. Would you like more information on this topic?


4. Other comments


Reflections on successful teaching strategies for multiply disadvantaged adult learners

1. We expect ups and downs, set-backs, and slow progress. We don't get discouraged, angry, or cynical with low attendance. This takes pressure off students.

2. We liason with community services. Make referrals.

3. We listen to students' problems. Offer empathy and support.

4. We encourage students to learn from each other. Peer collaboration.

5. We call them at home if frequently absent to see what the problem is.

6. We relate to students authenticly. Let them see we are real/human.

7. We convey that our purpose is to help them find meaningful careers, no just dead-end, low-paying jobs.

8. We teach practical problem solving skills. Help them brainstorm alternatives.

9. We teach decision-making skills. Stress that there are always choices.

10. We invest them in the community. Convey that they are participants, not merely recipients.

11. We start where the student is. Deal with poor reading and math skills.

12. We are aware of the impact of the larger system on individuals: families, schools, police, social services, community attitudes toward welfare recipients.

13. We deal with psychological issues: abuse, fears, mental health issues, low self esteem.

14. We have high expectations that they will succeed.

15. We use special ed techniques (structure, routine, organizing strategies), realizing that many students have learning disabilities.

16. Our model is Maslow. Hierarchy of needs.

17. We encourage students to clarify values.

18. We offer hope, where perhaps there is none.

As an extension of last year's inquiry project, we would now like to explore teaching techniques that we both find useful for teaching low income, multiply disadvantaged, adult learners. We believe these methods are responsible for increasing class attendance and helping students attain job-related goals. We would like the opportunity to reflect, research ethnographically, and share with other professionals characteristics of these methods. When our students enter a classroom, unfortunately, they do not leave their worries and problems at the door. We know that single parenthood, domestic violence, poverty, poor work history, cultural conflicts, drugs, health, and mental health issues seriously impact on adult learning. As teachers we need to be aware of student issues and use effective methods for teaching this specific population. We need to arm ourselves with an understanding of social service delivery systems. We chose this question because we believe we've identified some successful strategies and we're interested in reflecting, researching, and sharing these ideas.

1. Reflection on current methods early April (exploring successful strategies) 20 hours

2. Observations of strategies in action late April a) participant observation (log book/portfolio) 10 hours b) elicit learner feedback via checklist questionnaire 5 hours (design, implement, evaluate) c) contact other practitioners concerning current 5 hours practices; analyze results

3. Post observation reflections (data analysis) early May 10 hours 4. Report conclusions late April, May, June a) RI Education Department 6 hours b) Adult Ed In-Service Seminar 4 hours c) publications (e.g., RIALRC) 10 hours

1. Completion of checklist for Activities 1 - 4.

2. Pre and post test TABE (Work Related- Level D) results.

3. Log book, portfolio of student work, documentation of student progress; emphasis on attendance and job skill training/placement.

4. Questionnaire of needs -- learners and professionals input concerning needs and successful strategies for learners to obtain goals.

5. In-Service workshop evaluations and feedback from colleagues

6. Self and group reflections

1. April 29, 1997, 2 - 4 pm, DaVinci Community Center. In-Service presentation: "Helping Dysfunctional Learners Achieve Goals."

2. RIALRC dissemination of research report (e.g. Internet/hard copies)

3. RI Department of Education Sharing Session - June, 1997.

4. Boston University Special Education Department - doctoral research report

Dear Rebecca, Judy, and Janet,

Enclosed is the flier for the Adult Ed in-service I volunteered to lead at the last practitioner sharing day. We recently discussed that you or the Education Dept would copy and mail the fliers; Nancy Velano at DaVinci will take RSVP's; and we'll have to confer about refreshments a few days before the workshop.

Sandy Petruzzi has volunteered to co-lead the group. We have a three-part program planned -- first, share experiences, then discuss the role of social workers who work with our students (including a list of community resources), and lastly a discussion of teaching techniques that work with multiply disadvantaged/handicapped students. We're excited about the topic, and we've included this workshop as part of our 'teacher sharing' for our practitioner research project with the Dept of Ed.

Thanks for your help. We'll talk before the 29th.


Bev Chase

Helping High-Risk Learners Achieve Goals -- A Workshop for Adult Education Practitioners

April 29, 1997 2 - 4 p.m. DaVinci Community Center 470 Charles Street Providence, RI

"There's a Reason I'm a Flake, You Know" (Recovering substance abuser, domestic violence victim, and single mom who earned a GED in 17 months)

We know that single parenthood, domestic violence, poverty, cultural conflict, drugs, health, and mental health issues can seriously impact learning. Many of our adult students have personal, family, financial, and social problems in addition to educational handicaps which place them at high risk for failure. Come SHARE case histories of students who have been the most challenging for you. Come LEARN about similarities between teaching and social work and how the two professions can collaborate. Come DISCOVER therapeutic social work techniques that work in the classroom.

Co-leaders Bev Chase and Sandy Petruzzi are special educators with more than 25 years teaching experience, and both specialize in adult students with multiple problems. Bev, a GED teacher at DaVinci, is a licensed clinical social worker. Sandy, who teaches pre-GED at DaVinci, also teaches at CCRI and Pawtucket Project Opportunity.

Call DaVinci Center to register 272 - 8010 (Limited to 20. Refreshments) For further information, contact Bev Chase 397 - 7102 Sponsored by RI Department of Education and DaVinci Community Center

Introduction to Social Work for Adult Educators

PART I. Discuss challenging students' cases, e.g family issues, poor attendance, personal problems, domestic abuse, poverty, etc. Encourage teachers to share frustrations, most pressing problems, success stories. Define problem. Refer to Maslow. (Start with "Cat")

PART II. Discuss similarities between teaching and social work, e.g. qualities of leader, theoretical orientation (e.g. Piaget & cognitive therapy), similar goals, methods, and assessment procedures. (Bev) Stress how methods overlap. Discuss collaboration of services. Provide list of community resources.

Part III. Share strategies that work, e.g. a) careful assessment (demonstrate examples) b) empathy (patience, understanding) c) partializing problems - tackling one thing at a time d) student as equal partner - contracting e) recognition/reinforcement f) strengths perspective g) activities to increase self esteem, clarify values, improve decision making (eg, affirmations/self talk, journal writing, "All About Me" etc)

Individual Education Plan

This is a learning contract between student and teacher to achieve the goals listed on the following pages.

Name: Address: Phone: DOB: Last grade completed in school:

TABE results: Grade equivilent average ____ Date ____________

Vocabulary ____ Computation ____ Mechanics ___

Comprehension ____


____ Expression

____ Total ____ Grade equi

____ Total ____ Grade equiv

____ Total ___ Grade equiv

GED test results: Date: ______ Date: ______

Written Expression ______ ______

Literature & Arts ______ ______

Mathematics ______ ______ Social Studies ______ ______

Science ______ ______

TOTAL ______ ______





_____________________________________ (Student) Date _____________________________________ (Teacher) Date Writing Skills

Skill Method Goal date Date Achieved

Sentence structure

complete thoughts

text reading


text assignments


library usage

subject essay assignments

predicate homework

subject/verb agreement

practice tests

parts of speech




reading assignments


spelling practice

linking verbs


verb tenses

irregular verbs


pronoun/antecedent agreement c

ompound sentencesconjunctions


rewriting sentences

dependent clauses

parallel structure


dictionary skills, spelling rules, prefixes homophones


brainstorming ideas, organizing/outlining ideas, descriptive writin,g persuasive writing, using examples giving reasons, paragraph structure editing

Critical Thinking

creativity, comprehension, organization, analysis/application

Literature and the Arts

Skill Method Goal date Date achieved


text reading, setting, text assignments, plot, independent reading, characterization, homework, point of view, writing exercises, style, practice tests, tone, role playing, themes, critical thinking, exercises, dialogue, library usage, dialects field trips, figures of speech, guest speakers, main idea/details, vocabulary interpretation

Poetry & other arts

structure, meter, alliteration, imagery, personification ,similes/metaphors, interpretation


structure, stage direction, diaglogue, characterization, interpretation


identification of types, interpreting commentary

Critical thinking skills

comprehension, vocabulary, comparison and contrast, facts/opinions, analysis, evaluation, application

Skill Method Goal date Date achieved


Whole numbers, textbook reading, addition/subtraction, textbook assignments, multiplication/division, class exercises rounding off, practical problems, estimating, practice tests, word problems, review assignments


place value, comparing quantities, addition & subtraction, multiplication, division, word problems, rounding off


equivilent fractions, whole no's as fractions, decimal equivilents, percent equivilents, mixed numbers/improper fractions, adding and subtracting, multiplying, dividin,g word problems

Ratios Rates Proportions

Percentages as ratios/proportions, interest rates, percent increase/decrease


standard measurements conversion basic operations metric measures

Money Time (continued...)

Skill Method Goal date Date achieved

Scale drawings

Meters Graphs & Tables



exponents, square roots, scientific notation,


formulas, angles, triangles, Pythagorean Theorem, plane figures, area, perimeter, solid figures, volume


algebraic expressions, setting up equations, order of operations, simplifying equations, factoring, solving algebraic equations, graphing, slope of a line, negative numbers, absolute numbers, Word problems, reading comprehension, identifying question, operations, decision making, multi-step problems - operations order calculation set up problems

I, ________________________, promise to keep working toward a GED until I am successful. I will attend class regularly, participate actively, and contribute to a positive classroom learning atmosphere.

_________________________________________ (Signature) (Date)

Social Studies

Skill Method Goal date Achieved

Critical Thinking

textbook reading

reading comprehension

textbook assignments

paraphrasing, library usage, main idea/details class, exercises, idiomatic expressions, class discussions, analysis, media- TV, newspapers, interpretation, homework, hypotheses, independent readin,g distinguishing fact/opionion, guest speakers/field trips, sequence writing assignments, cause and effect, brainstorming, comparison and contrast, critical thinking exercises, evaluation (conclusions), life experiences, logic (inductive/deductive reasoning)

Behavioral sciences

psychology, personality, motivation, learning theories, sociology, groups, culture, values, social structure, social change, anthropology, ecology

US history -- colonial period, 18th century, 19th century, 20th century

Political science -- types of political systems, US political system

Economics -- production/supply/demand policies

Geography -- US/world Chart/graph/map/cartoon/illustration interpretation Science

Skill Method Goal date Achieved

Critical thinking



reading comprehension

textbook assignments, logic, homework, hypothesis testing, class exercises, analysis, class discussions, evaluation, independent study, application, class experiments


library study cells, newspapers/TV/films, scientific classification, guest speakers, human anatomy, field trips, human physiology, writing assignments, heredity, practice tests, organic chemistry, plant biology ,human health

Earth science -- astronomy, geology, oceanography, meteorology

Chemistry -- atomic structure, chemical properties & reactions, chemical bonding, types of chemicals, enviromental chemistry

Physics -- gravity, energy, states of matter, sound, light