Literacy Resources/Rhode Island

LR/RI home


Bulletin Archives

ESOL and  EL/Civics

Practitioner research


Learning, Dis/abilities

Links to resources
corrections education
intergenerational learning
workplace education

RI: learning centers and community resources

Literature and learning

Practitioner,  resources

Technology and Learning

Women and literacy

Writing from the field


New practitioner orientation

a working outline for adult educators : Rhode Island new practitioner orientation


Since June of 2007, the RI Adult Education Professional Development Center has offered an orientation process for practitioners who are new to adult education (either just beginning, or within the early years of their work as educators) and/or are new to Rhode Island.

The New Practitioner Orientation is designed to provide an overview of the adult education system in Rhode Island, of adult learning generally, and a focus on particular elements of adult education practice, as determined by participants at each session. This page is intended to provide information about the process and matierals utilized during the orientation, but is not designed to supplant the face-to-face interaction that is integral to the orientation process.

Prior to the session, participants are asked to prepare a written observation of an adult education class; and/or a written reflection of a recently-taught class, and to consider these questions:

What do you believe an orientation should include?

What are you hoping to learn from your participation?

and to read Persistence: Helping Adult Education Students Reach Their Goals by John Comings. at; pdf version here

Participants are asked to write a response to the article and to bring questions it raises to the session.

Agenda, New Practitioner Orientation

- What are we doing? - Introduction to people and programs.

goals :

To learn with and about one another
To learn about the system of adult education in Rhode Island
To understand systems of accountability and reporting
To further our understanding of adult learning and learners
To explore persistence and goal setting and their implications for classroom practice and program design
To learn about workforce development and its connection to adult education
To further understandings of adult learning, practitioners and learners, and to increase critical thinking about our roles and repsonsibilities
To learn about and increase awareness of learning disabilities and available resources
To explore online and other resources
To learn more about one another's work and programs
To explore classroom approaches for multilevel learners, including planning processes and connections to goal setting
To consider the integration of numeracy into ongoing practice, and
To pull together our learning and explore next steps to support ongoing professional learning.

Introductions : (borrowed from the Literacy Assistance Center, NYC): Participants are asked to tell who they are, where they work, their position, length of time in that position, what drew them to adult literacy education, what they most look forward to in their work and what they feel will be the greatest challenge.

overview of the orientation

Debriefing observation [making distinctions between observation and judgment]

Practitioners describe classes they've observed. The initial observation is designed as a way to ensure that all participants have had an opportunity to spend time in a classroom classroom before the orientation process. The observation and subsequent debriefing processes provide a way for us to learn what people are thinking about, and to get a baseline sense of people's views, understandings and knowledge of adult education.

We also ask that participants write a second observation after the orientation in order to push us all to think about how it is we observe, translate and articulate what teaching practice looks like. We believe that it is not only important that practitioners be able to work well with adult learners, but also that we're able to speak to why we do what we do as we work towards strengthening professional development for ourselves, and for our colleagues.

During the initial debriefing, participants are asked to address these elements of the classes they observed, initially in small groups, and then with the entire group:

- context (ESOL ABE, ASE, Transition to College, time of day, program)
- learners (immigrants, refugees, youth)
- objectives
- approaches

Share back:
What stood out?
What questions would you have asked the teacher?
What questions does it raise that we might address during the orientation?

Overview: the adult education system - federal and in Rhode Island

2017 AEFLA resource guide - The Adult Education and Family Literacy Actis the principal source of federal funding for States for adult education programs. AEFLA is title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA, Pub. L. 113-128)

2014 Legislation: OCTAE: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

  • systems: Office of Vocational and Adult Education OVAE, RI Office of Adult and Career and Technical Education the Office of Multiple pathways, Adult Education and GED, and an an overview of the US system by John Comings (from an electronic discussion list)
  • working groups, advisory committee
  • funding: federal, state, foundation, tuition
  • DHS (Department of Human Services) /Rhode Island Works (formerly Project Opportunity)
  • RI Adult Education Professional Development Center
  • programs: CBOs, LEA, proprietary (tuition-bearing, for-profit), CCRI

    content areas/focus

  • ABE, ESOL, intergenerational/family/[Even Start]
  • citizenship, prevocational, workplace
  • Transition to College
  • GED, External Diploma
  • adult education facts by World Education (word document)

    Commonly used acronyms (word document)

    (yet more acronyms, from Texas)

    (and yet more, from Illinois

    strands - integrating technology, use of Chrome books and Google drive, classroom, sites (forthcoming)

    Initiatives -- TIAN Teachers integrating adult numeracy, Standards roll out, TEAL, Teaching Excellence in Adult Literacy, Student Achievement in Reading STAR, Standards in Action.

    accountability (briefly): to students, to funders to ourselves/programs

    National Reporting System: movement from one level to another, as measured by a standardized instrument

    stats : NAAL, Providence Plan DataSpark, RI DataHub NCES (National Center for Education Statistics)

    What does it mean?
    Why do we care?
    How does data inform program design, classroom practice?

    Learn more about Rhode Island demographics (word doc)
    the NAAL (word doc)

    Improvements seen in state's adult education programs - Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary of Education, US DOE and former director of adult education for the state Department of Education said that changes in the state's adult education policies made since 2006 are beginning to show positive results on standardized test scores. (Providence Journal, November 2, 2008).

    What are the differences between educating, advocating and sharing information?

    LR/RI's advocacy page

    adult learning:

    learner characteristics

    What do we know about adult learning and adult learners?

    The Adult Learner - revisted; incorporating in previous sessions plus participants' observations (if they've observed programs) and/or reflections on readings, previous sessions

    learning styles (to consider, briefly):
    How do you learn to:

    program a new phone?
    use a computer?
    drive a car?
    try a new recipe?

    (distinction between learning styles and multiple intelligences)


    What helps/hinders?
    What have we seen? What does this mean?

    principles of adult learning

    The cyberstep project linking adult learning principles to specific examples of web sites/activities/practice.

    Using Adult Learning Principles in Adult Basic and Literacy Education ED425336 Susan Imel 1998

    Learning dis/abilities and differences

    TESOL standards for Instruction (pdf file).

    goal setting - what could it look like?

    (intake process) for administrators?
    for teachers?
    for learners?

    wrapping up and evaluation:

    something I learned
    something I want to know
    changes I'd suggest


    read/review RIDE policy statements (please scroll down)

    Please complete three NRS online (overview) courses. Between sessions one and two, participants are asked to complete these three courses: What is the NRS?, NRS Data Flow and Using NRS data. You will need to sign up online; registration is free and very quick.

    To learn more about the NRS, additional courses are also available; This page (self evaluation questions) can help you decide which courses to take over time

    Take a quiz on the NRS (word doc)

    assessment 101

    How do you see where learners are?
    How do administrators support ongoing evaluation?
    How do practitioners help learners see ongoing progress?

    progress/lack of progress

  • digests on assessment:
  • Needs Assessment for Adult ESL Learners (1997, ERIC Digest)
    Adult ESL Learner Assessment: Purposes and Tools (1995, ERIC Digest)
    Learner Assessment in Adult ESL Instruction (1992, ERIC Q & A)

    Techniques for Authentic Assessment Practice Application Brief ED381688 Sandra Kerka 1995

    Learning Disabilities

    Resources for Teachers: Differentiation and Accessibility and LD Designee Training Archive; resources for practitioners working to address a range of learning abilities, differences and disabilities

    homework: resources
    for multi-session orientation cohorts
    : During a multi-session version of the NPO, participants are asked to explore online resources and share useful, interesting or otherwise outstanding web-based resources

    in the computer lab - resources - sharing what works/doesn't and why

    pulling it together, next steps


    incorporating needs of learners at multiple levels

    determining purposes (goal setting, lesson planning)

    What more do we need to know?

    What has this orientation focused on? missed?

    Re-connecting, checking in

    questions? suggestions? feedback?
    program shares

    resources - a list compiled for and with participants

    planning: and planning backwards

    program design lessons

    intake and goal setting processes - who does what?

    RI Office of Adult and Career and Technical Education policies and procedures: (please scroll down)

    (for an example of an intake process assessing one learner's speaking and reading abilities, see the video at

    revisiting goal setting - what could it look like?

    for administrators?
    for teachers?
    for learners?

    Ongoing assessment - how do we know what someone knows ?

    In the classroom - teaching demonstrations - accommodating multilevel learners

    reading demo

    Integrating numeracy

    Resources for adult basic education/English language and literacy

    Resources from the New England Literacy Resource Center, including The Change Agent,

    Adult Education: Social Change or Status Quo? ERIC Digest No. 176.

    Popular Education: Adult Education for Social Change ERIC Digest No. 185, Sandra Kerka, 1997

    Adult Education for Social Change: From Center Stage to the Wings and Back Again An ERIC Monograph by Tom Heaney

    Education: a powerful tool article providing an overview of the impact of the Highlander Center and of popular education in adult learning.

    Literacy in the community learning context by Craig McNaughton. While considering Canadian adult literacy programs, many of the reflections on community and literacy are applicable to US and other contexts.

    Beginning ESOL Learners' Advice to Their Teachers by MaryAnn Cunningham Florez

    The ERIC Clearinghouse provides a number of brief reports, (digests and practice application briefs) related to basic adult education. The Center for Adult English Language Acquisition provides similar documents, focussing on adult English language learners.

    Literacy Resources/RI - please scan the teacher tutor and ESOL pages

    Literacy principles

    from Situated Literacies: Reading and Writing in Context edited by David Barton, Mary Hamilton and Roz Ivanic. London: Routledge (2000).

    from the first chapter, Literacy Practices, by Barton and Hamilton, page 8.

    Literacy is best understood as a set of social practices; these can be inferred from events which ar mediated by written texts.

    There are different literacies associated with different domains of .

    Literacy practices are patterned by social institutions and power relationships, and some literacies are more dominant, visible and influential than others.

    Literacy practices are purposeful and embedded in broader social goals and cultural practices.

    Literacy is historically situated.

    Literacy practices change and new ones are frequently acquired through processes of informal learning and sense making.


    Zhaba facilitators collective

    Highlander Research and Education Center

    Together We Can Do It!: The Role of Volunteers in the Assessment Process, Vicki Trottier, Community Literacy of Ontario, December 2001

    Classroom resources/lesson plans

    Frontier College: A Toolbox for ESL Tutors - an instructional guide for teaching ESL to newcomers. Provides interesting assessment questions to help tutors determine what learners know about a particular theme before launching into the topic. Although some of the themes are Canadian-based, the questions and processes are easily adaptable to other contexts.

    Using Inexpensive Technologies to Promote Engaged Learning in the Adult Education Classroom - links to various resources desribing approaches to integrated high and low end technologies (videos, computer, photos, etc.) into classroom work. (scroll down)

    Tips for ESOL/literacy teachers from Bringing Literacy to Life by Heide Wrigley and Gloria Guth.

    Student Coalition for Action in Literacy Education (SCALE)

    trauma and learning

    Trauma and Adult Learning (2002 ERIC Digest)

    Trauma and the Adult English Language Learner (2000, ERIC Digest)

    Mental Health and the Adult Refugee: The Role of the ESL Teacher (1999, ERIC Digest)

    Adult Education: National issues

    LINCS - Literacy Information and Communications System

    Unpacking white privilege


    Diversity vs. White Privilege, an interview with Christine Sleeter, in Rethinking Schools, Volume 15, No. 2 - Winter 2000 / 2001

    Peggy McIntosh, an Anglo American sociologist, says that white people carry around an "invisible knapsack" of privileges. She is referring to the way that society is organized so that white people receive privileges of which they are usually unaware. For example, white students usually do not have to be concerned that they will be the only one from their racial background in the classroom. Whites seeking rental property do not have to fear that they will be turned away because of their race. Generate a list of invisible privileges that whites have in U.S. society.

    McIntosh Privilege Questionnaire

    health and literacy

    Health and Literacy - enter "health and literacy" in the search box.

    Health and Literacy Special Collection; compilation of resources related to teaching and learning about health.

    technology resources

  • Captured wisdom - video vignettes - Home Countries
  • Computers in Action - resource for "teachers interested in integrating technology into the ESL/EFL classroom. Its goal is to promote the use of technology in the field, thereby bringing more equitable access to the knowledge, skills, and technology necessary to the people we teach."
  • Additional archived resources from NELRC/World Education available at

  • Northeast Literacy and Technology Consortium; for, about and utilizing web-based resources


    Bright Ideas Videos

    Captured Wisdom on Adult Literacy video footage of 6 adult education contexts in which use of technology is incorporated into ongoing learning

    Media Library of Teaching Skills Edited, annotated adult ed video clips

    Teacher Tube - unmediated video of classroom practice, submitted by teachers/practiitioners

    supplemental resources for supporting practitioners

    March 31, 2018

    back to LR/RI home