Next Week in Cleveland: XPRIZE & CLE-BEE

Adult literacy providers and supporters in the Cleveland area have two exciting opportunities next week to network and learn:

$1 Million Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition Info Session

Want to revolutionze adult literacy by testing out the newest, research-based adult literacy mobile apps? Willing to compete for a chance at $1 million by motivating the most adult learners to utilize mobile learning? Register for free lunch and more information at 1pm on September 12th at Cleveland Public Library, Main Branch.

XPRIZE representative Haneen Khalef will also be hosting information sessions in Columbus on September 10th and in Akron on September 14th.

Not in Ohio? Find out more about the Communities Competition here.

One Night Only: 3rd Annual CLE-BEE

Many years ago, Christine Lee trained me as a volunteer adult literacy tutor, opening my eyes to the depth of the issue and inspiring my future career path.

More recently, Christine continues to inspire awareness and involvement with the crazy, fun idea to host a corporate spelling bee fundraiser to benefit adult literacy.

The whole team at The Literacy Cooperative of Greater Cleveland has worked to make this fun idea a reality. On September 13th, CLE-BEE will celebrate its 3rd year with high energy, local celebrities… and of course some good food and drink.

Individual tickets are $30.

Hope to see you there!

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!

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!

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.”

Building Engaging Lessons for GED® Test Prep

Our goal on Tuesday is to leave with lesson plans ready for the classroom! Tuesday morning, we’ll warm up with a little review of some GED Test basics before exploring the GED Assessment Targets. This is the first step in creating a standards-based lesson plan.

Next we’ll talk about increasing engagement and excitement in the classroom. I’ll be facilitating a session that my colleague Steve Qunell developed and presented at COABE last week. It’s pretty fun stuff!

We’ll finish the morning by getting into groups to brainstorm a specific lesson plan. What GED Test Assessment Targets do you plan to teach this week? How will you get students excited about it?

 

Bigger, Better Writing on the GED Test

This afternoon in DC, we’ll divide into two groups, then switch mid-afternoon. Educators will have the chance to get on GED Academy and respond to both an RLA Extended Response and a Science Short Answer item. Directions:

Folks in the classroom will practice using rubrics and samples to improve writing instruction. And hopefully improve scores on the GED Test!

How are your students doing on the writing portion of the GED Test? Let me know in the comments!

Fun Ways to Teach for the GED® Test

Will there be some cherry blossoms left in Washington DC this weekend? It’s my goal to find out…and also to teach 60 adult educators about how to increase outcomes and fun in the classroom!

Monday morning we’ll go deeper into the content of the GED Test itself. We’ll start by taking my Kahoot quiz “Intro to the GED Test.” Participants just have to open kahoot.it on a browser in their mobile phone, then enter the code I’ll display on the screen. I’ve been itching to try this after hearing about it on the LINCS listserv a couple weeks ago.

After the friendly competition, of course leading to enlightening conversation about the GED Test content, we’ll dive into instructional strategies in Teaching Adults: A 2014 GED Test Resource Book. I’ll provide an example, then allow participants to test them out.

How did you do on the Kahoot quiz, or the lesson examples? Let me know in the comments! Subscribe to the blog to get updates on the other workshops I’ll be teaching in DC this week.

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