Cyber Monday Deal: 40% off Keys to the 3 HSE Tests

Are in Ohio or another state moving to three High School Equivalency tests? Get a jump on the new content with this exclusive one-day offer:

40% off the online course “3 Keys to the HSE Tests.”

Use the coupon code: CYBER.

Learn about key differences between the tests, consider how they will impact your adult education classroom, and ask your questions or comment to share with other online participants.

This training is also available as a facilitated webinar, but space is limited. Contact Meagen at 216.973.4977 or learn@mustseed.org to reserve your spot for 2018.

New Course: Keys to the 3 HSE Tests

In August 2017, Ohio Department of Education approved all three national exams as official assessments to earn a High School Equivalency Credential:

  • GED® Test
  • TASC Test &
  • HiSET® Exam

Save yourself from wasting time searching, and spend it getting hands-on with the best resources to get you started navigating all three HSE exams.

Keys_teakwood

The Literacy Cooperative has generously sponsored a live training to help Cleveland-area educators learn about working in a multi-assessment environment, and become more familiar with the TASC and HiSET exams.

The workshop filled up quickly, and we have had interest from all over the state. To help spread this vital information, I developed an online version of the live workshop.

The video-based lessons are full of curated links to save you time and help you understand key differences in the exams.

In addition, you can still gain the value of networking by commenting on the lessons to share insights and resources.

 

I look forward to diving deeper with you into the three exams, and reflecting on what this means for us as adult educators. Hope to see you in Keys to the 3 HSE Tests!

I Took the GED® Test…How Can I Get College Credit?

In January 2016, the GED Test changed its scores from pass/fail, to three different levels:

GED Performance Levels
Source: GED Testing Service
  • 175 College Ready + Credit
  • 165 College Ready
  • 145 Pass: High School Equivalency

Find more details in the Quick (Unofficial) 2017 GED® Test Update: Only available until June 30, 2017!

The new GED College Ready Plus Credit is a recommendation for colleges & universities to accept a GED Test Taker’s score to count towards college credit.

What does that mean?

If you do well enough on the GED Test, you can save yourself time & money by starting in higher level classes. Skip Math 101 for a more interesting statistics class, for example. GED Test scores can equal up to 10 college credits…that’s almost one entire semester!

But you can’t skip a class everywhere you apply. GED Test Takers who want to make the most of their high scores may want to look closely at where they apply to college.

To find out if your GED College Ready + Credit Scores are worth $$$:

  1. Start by checking if your nearby college or university is part of the ACE Credit College & University Network. I sorted this list by state so I could easily scan which Ohio institutions are on the list. In some cases, I see two branches of Kent State University, but not the branch nearest me. Hmm…
  2. Next, contact the Admissions department. Ask if they accept College Ready + Credit. Even colleges within the network can determine whether or not to accept certain types of credit.
  3. Even after contacting the Admissions department, they will likely give you the name of the department head, or someone else who will have to approve your application to transfer credit. If the answer is yes, then ask for the forms. If the answer is no…

This is when you change from a prospective student to an advocate.

So for example, maybe Youngstown State University’s English department is okay with giving 1 credit for Reasoning through Language Arts, but the History department has not made a decision about the Social Studies credit. Each department or dean the right to make their own decision (more about the process).

However, in many cases, a department chair may have no clue that the GED College Ready Plus Credit even exists, or what it means.

If they say “no,” or they haven’t heard of it, this is your chance to teach them!

  • If you are a test taker, explain how hard you studied, the skills you learned, and more.
  • If you are a teacher, share the Performance Level Descriptors, and a press release from GED Test Service about the new passing level.

Want more details on cool new tips and tools for GED® Test preparation?

Learn More

If I Ran the School: Blended Learning

If you ran a school for at-risk teens or non-traditional adult learners, what would you do?

I’ve been fortunate to work in adult education, where this question gets asked daily. What do you do when 100% of your students have the most barriers to learning, and a bad taste in their mouths?

What works, and what doesn’t?

I would focus on two words:

BlendedLearningCover

Next week, I am facilitating a live course about BLENDED LEARNING for Virginia Department of Corrections educators. 

Want to join us? Sign up for details about how to follow along online!

Tell Me More

Here’s a closer look at common adult education program structures (and why I think blended learning is the best):

Business as Usual: Face-to-face Instruction

No matter your student population, some teachers are all about classic face-to-face group instruction:

  • lecture,
  • textbooks,
  • long videos,
  • and now many students ignoring it all in lieu of cell phones…

Okay, Ferris Bueller is a super exaggeration. I mean, I have seen some really excellent group instruction: engaging, interactive, relevant. But… it’s still face-to-face group instruction.

“What’s wrong with business as usual?” you ask.

Well…if you miss a day, you’re behind. Or you show up, but you don’t understand it, you’re behind. Guess what? Most at-risk students already start BEHIND!

Actually, the truth is that a slim majority of high school students actually pass with business a usual. At least, they graduate.

But I’m not worried about “most students,” and neither are you. We’re worried about the ones who didn’t get it the first time, the ones who fall through the cracks.

What alternative programs do high schools or adult education classes offer for the large minority of students who do not succeed in traditional face-to-face group instruction? How do they stack up against 

Worst Outcomes: Self-Paced Online Learning

A few years back, some members of the educational press were crowing that MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) were going to be The Golden Ticket that was going to FIX education!

As predicted, MOOCs did not fix business as usual… follow up studies showed that only 10% of students who enrolled completed a MOOC.

These outcomes could be improved by adding elements of faciliated coursework. But that required removing the Massive and Open parts of a MOOC. Then it’s just an OC (online course), and stops being entirely self-paced.

The high school where I worked fell into a similar trap as MOOCs. The district offered online learning for students with barriers:

  • teens who had babies,
  • were ill for extended periods, or
  • their behavior was too disruptive.

Most of the at-risk online students didn’t have the discipline to complete their coursework. For the 10% of motivated, self-paced learners, online learning is critical.

But purely online learning needs additional support, not less than traditional teaching. It works well for traveling artists & athletes, not discipline cases.

Moderate Success: Dual Enrollment

With the merger of workforce development and adult basic education through WIOA, career pathways are all the rage.

Dual enrollment combines high school level study with post-secondary credentials.

Technical training, classes at a local college campus, and supervised work-study tend to help students persist in learning, and give them a head start on productive careers.

There are plenty of data backing up the effectiveness of these programs for those who enroll.

Men in ties in a carpentry workshop
Returned soldiers at vocational training in Queensland, 1920

So why aren’t they top on my list?

These approaches are not scalable because enrollment is limited.

And limited enrollment is a good thing! Specialized technical training is not for everyone, especially when we’re preparing people for jobs that won’t exist a decade from now.

On top of that, the students with the most barriers–OUR adult basic education students–are often the least likely to benefit from highly structured programs.

Best Solution: Blended Learning

What can we do? 

How can we consistently improve outcomes for adult education or alternative high school programs?

How do we reach the at-risk adults and teens who lack:

  • the stability for dual enrollment programs,
  • the discipline for self-paced online learning, and
  • the attention span for face-to-face instruction?

We throw in a mix of each with blended learning!

Blended learning combines face-to-face, instructor-led programs with self-paced student use of technology.

Multiple pathways are accessible for students in the same building. Through online learning, students can engage the world… while maintaining the support and continuity of instructor oversight.

WhyShouldWeBlend

Vulnerable students of all ages need genuine human connection to successfully graduate.

But they also need the flexibility and autonomy to make their own choices, and accommodate the messiness of life.

Graduate schools have figured this out: they are expanding their reach by adding flexible, blended learning programs that encourage individual inquiry while developing a community of scholars.

Those at “the top” of their careers share the same barriers as those who are most vulnerable:

  • unpredictable schedules,
  • work and family responsibilities,
  • need for increased support, and
  • an inability to participate in an immersive on-campus experience.

Blended learning meets all those needs, plus it’s scalable. Thus blended learning is the optimal solution to prepare at-risk high-school-level graduates for a 21st century economy.

Graduates will be entering a world that mixes:

  • oversight and autonomy,
  • independence and teamwork, &
  • technology and human connection.

Blended learning prepares students for the “both… and” aspect of our strange new world.

“Blended learning is the optimal solution… for a 21st century economy.”

Next week I look forward to discussing the details of how to implement blended learning in adult education programs. I hope you can join us!

 

Tell Me More

I Will Pay You to Finish My Crowdfunding Course

Last week, I had way too much fun and learned quite a bit at the COABE Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. Per tradition, I nearly lost my voice singing after hours at both the House of Blues at Disney Springs and Jellyrolls at Disney Boardwalk. However, I managed to preserve my vocal chords long enough to present about Mustard Seed Books and Crowdfunding. 

While the Mustard Seed Books workshop was its usual addictive fun, I was really thrilled with the level of engagement on Crowdfunding. As always, folks wanted to stay afterwards to chat, but two comments in particular stuck with me:

“Can I share your slides with other Directors?”

Yes! But…

I proposed this session because adult literacy is a critically important and underfunded industry. Utilizing crowdfunding platforms could help adult literacy providers–and other non-profit organizations–tap into the projected $90-96 billion (with a B!) crowdfunding market by 2025.
We NEED new sources of funding, and this is a promising avenue.

So please share these ideas widely, but cautiously. Crowdfunding is not as simple as slapping some text on Indiegogo and watching the money roll in. It can bring new energy and donors to your organization, but only if well planned and executed.

I know I usually just share my deck with the world, but in this case…I really need you to KNOW HOW TO DO IT RIGHT! This is too important to get wrong. There’s a high rate of failure on crowdfunding campaigns, and I don’t want to steer you in the wrong direction.

So if you were in my COABE session, go to the Conference App > My Agenda > Crowdfunding and I have posted the link to the slides.

If you were NOT in my COABE session: would you be interested in a facilitated online course? If yes, please comment below and stay posted.

“Since you like to back campaigns, will you be our first donor?”

No! But…

A big part of my talk was that 70% of unsuccessful Kickstarter campaigns receive a whopping $0. So that first dollar is really critical. First you need to convince your own close circle that your project is worthwhile. You need the support of your friends and family to really make your project a success.

However, IF you can get someone in your inner circle to fund your project, plus a few other pointers from my workshop, then…
I would happily be your SECOND donor. 

After years of watching the crowdfunding industry grow, and backing many successful (and a few unsuccessful) projects, I want to help your organization reach your funding goals. I don’t have the cash on hand to provide full grants, but I can help you develop the skills to meet more of your funding needs. Your organization’s time and social capital is too important to waste.

So I really want you to take my course! But more importantly, I want you to finish it and implement the tips for a successful crowdfunding campaign. Since Wednesday, I’ve been asking myself: How can I make sure folks actually PAY ATTENTION to the tips I have to share?

Today I was intrigued by Kevin Kelly’s proposal: I’ll Pay You to Read My Book. He suggests creating software that will pay readers back who complete an eBook.

Here’s my counter-proposal: Would you complete my facilitated, online crowdfunding course if I promise I will be your second funder? Let me know!

Friday in Cleveland: Make & Take Mustard Seed Books

Ready to have some fun with literacy learning? Three hours will fly by on Friday, April 21st at The Literacy Cooperative workshop on making your own Mustard Seed Book. Space is limited to 30 participants, so register today.

Mustard Seed Books are leveled readers that can assist your learners–at any age–to become fluent with 1st grade reading. We’ll look at the original series by Dr. Rick Chan Frey to explore the breadth of skills covered at this level. 

Then I’ll show you how to create your own fun little books that will truly engage your readers. Warning: This is where it gets addictive!

As a demo, I’ll walk you through the process I took to create my own multi-media reader: Monty the Cat.

Every participant will get a printed book to take home, and we’ll have a drawing for a few to get the whole series.
Last week, I facilitated a short version of the Make & Take: Mustard Seed Books workshop at COABE. Participants found that 75 minutes was way too short! They came up with excellent topics about doctor’s appointments, gardening, cats, family vacations and more. 

I’m very excited to offer a full 3-hour version of this engaging workshop. I hope you in the Cleveland area will join me! For learners of all ages, this fun and simple process can help transform beginning readers into lifelong learners.

This FREE training is offered through The Literacy Cooperative of Greater Cleveland on Friday, April 21st at 9:00 to noon. Register here

Interested in bringing a Mustard Seed Books workshop to your organization? Contact Meagen at learn@mustseed.org or 216.973.4977.

As Promised: Quick (Unofficial) 2017 GED® Test Update

Hi friends! I had a lot of fun last week at The Literacy Cooperative’s training “2017 GED® Test Update” in Independence, Ohio. Teachers shared about their program’s practices, challenges, and had lots of hands-on exploration with free online resources.

As promised, I am making the workshop content available online for those who couldn’t make the session in person!

Check out Quick (Unofficial) 2017 GED Test Update today

Save yourself the time searching and sorting and spend more time exploring! Check out my curated list of the BEST resources that GED® Test Prep instructors NEED TO KNOW for 2017.

For just $5, access my recommendations and descriptions with links. Post in the comments section to network and share ideas. Discuss the landscape of College Ready Plus Credit and WIOA. Strategize to become an advocate for GED® Test prep students and passers in your region.

Join now!

GED® is a registered trademark of the American Council on Education (ACE) and administered exclusively by GED Testing Service LLC under license. Any content on this website is not endorsed or approved by these trademark holders.

COMING SOON!

In addition to the planned workshop content, participants also had a lot of questions about the upcoming changes here in Ohio.  The state is taking steps to evaluate adding the HiSET and TASC Tests as options to earn a high school equivalency diploma. While I gave folks in the session a quick overview of the alternatives, this topic deserves its own full workshop.

I have already helped programs in states like Texas, New Jersey, and California navigate the territory of multiple High School Equivalency exams and options. Once we get an announcement from the state of Ohio, I will be providing a FREE live workshop through The Literacy Cooperative. Look for that date and get your questions answered on whichever HSE test option(s) the state decides.

Your Early Holiday Gift: A Sneak Peak at Mustard Seed Teaching

Hi friends! SHHHHH! I have been working on something, and I can’t keep it a secret any more! But don’t tell everyone just yet…

I’m not ready to shout it to the WHOLE world, but just couldn’t wait to give you a sneak peak into an exciting new project I’m planning to launch in early 2017. I really look forward to your feedback!

fb-profilepicYou may notice I’ve been updating my social media profiles and testing out a redesign to my website, which will still be around at Farrellink.com

While I’m keeping the website, I closed Farrell Ink LLC as an organization last year. In 2017, I will be building a new social enterprise called Mustard Seed Teaching, which will work closely with the existing non-profit Mustard Seed Books.

Check out our first two FREE courses!

You know how much I love sharing FREE study materials! Dr Rick Chan Frey and his team at Mustard Seed Books developed a series of 1st grade level readers that anyone can view, download or print for free. That’s TWENTY FREE BOOKS for 1st graders! Having a first grader myself, I decided I had to tell the world about these cool books.

But sharing the books is just the beginning…

Mustard Seed Books has the potential to go way beyond the existing original series. We want to develop a community of authors so that teachers, parents, and even kids can write their own Mustard Seed Books to share with the world. It’s not rocket science to write a 1st grade book, after all, and turns out to be quite a bit of fun!

screenshot_20161013-074005
Little Lizard

With my background in adult literacy, I instantly saw these elementary school books as adaptable for adult beginning readers as well.

Mustard Seed Books has the potential to address a major crisis in our field: we don’t have enough high-interest, beginning-level readers for adults, nor do we have many high-quality mobile apps for that demographic. Sure, there are some really awesome book series available on the market, and some great desktop-based software that has converted to mobile friendly.

But adult literacy publishers and programs alike are struggling to keep their doors open. The financial pinch means open source content is taking over. Mustard Seed Books offers a simple, engaging method to make that movement relevant to beginning adult readers. AND make reading materials easily accessible on any device, online OR offline!

“We don’t have enough high-interest, low level readers for adults.”

So I started daydreaming, as I often do…..

WHAT IF…

instead of writing books FOR adult educators, we wrote them WITH adult educators?

WHAT IF…

instead of writing books for a NATIONAL audience, we wrote them for LOCAL contexts?

WHAT IF…

instead of writing separate science, social studies, language arts, and math courses, we COMBINED them in a series of short and fun-to-read books?

WHAT IF…

we encouraged readers and parents and teachers to write and share their OWN stories?

WHAT IF…

high-demand entry level jobs had short, easy-to-follow training manuals?

That’s just a first glimpse at my vision for Mustard Seed Teaching. I hope you’re getting as excited as I am!

Starting in the spring, I will be offering a LIMITED NUMBER of online and face-to-face workshops to bring Mustard Seed Books to the world of adult literacy and workforce development. The workshops are not quite ready for prime time yet, but I wanted to share these FREE materials with you first, my most loyal readers.

PLEASE TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK!

I’m very open to improvements, and eager to talk with you about possibilities to get involved. Please feel free to comment, email, or schedule a call. But most importantly…

Enroll in the first two FREE courses today!

Think of it as an early holiday gift from me to you. Hope you enjoy!

The Story of the 2016 GED Testing Service Conference

[Looking for my series on the Hough neighborhood of Cleveland? It continues later this week, once I’ve caught up after traveling]

Couldn’t make it to Alexandria, Virginia last week? Not to fear! I took my notes on Twitter and so did a bunch of other folks using the hashtags #GEDTS16 and #LearnLeadInspire.

Not on Twitter? Not to fear! I consolidated the tweets into a Story, so you can get the highlights, videos, and tips right here!

The theme was well chosen, because we certainly left inspired! Motivational speaker Mark Anthony Garrett, also a GED graduate, reminded us of the importance of teaching our students that they can be significant. Watch this and grab a tissue!

I was also on the edge of my seat during the GED Awards, particularly the student stories. GEDWorks also had some stories to tell, like Sara, a Taco Bell employee and GED graduate:

Equally important, we learned critical tips in the sessions. For the first time, frontline educators were invited to the conference, and showed up in droves! With the implementation of WIOA legislation, career pathways were a hot topic.

The biggest throw down was definitely Friday morning with the unveiling of GEDWorks. There have been rumors and headlines around this new partnership between GED Testing Service and employers like WalMart, but we got the full outline for the first time. Nick Laul called it a “game changer initiative.” While it is still getting on its feet, it seems to have a ton of potential.

The biggest benefit for employers and test takers is the connection between work and education. We know that outcomes increase when employment and literacy go hand-in-hand, when students have a clear goal and chance for advancement through training. That’s good for everyone!

A huge thing GEDWorks will do for the GED Testing Service is allow participants to take the GED Test even in states that do not issue a credential for the exam. In states where there are multiple test options, it will provide an incentive for participants to choose the GED exam. It’s easy to see why GEDTS wants to invest in these partnerships in a competitive assessment environment.

The best part of conferences for me are the connections and in-between conversations. In particular, I met and reconnected with lots of DC-area educators including Academy of Hope, international partners who will be updating from the 2002 series to the 2014 series soon, and also the GED Testing Service legal team, who did not consent to have their pictures on social media!

Friends, for you: “Raise a glass to [education] / Something they can never take away / No matter what they tell you. / Raise a glass to the 4 [hundred] of us. / [Next year] they’ll be more of us. / Telling the story of tonight.”

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