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Rhode Island Adult Educators' Conference, May 11, 2006

On May 11, Rhode Island hosts its fourth annual State Adult Education Conference, supported by the RIDE Office of Adult Education, at the Radisson .


conference program


Morning sessions: 9 - 10:30


workshop: Learning from our differences

Jean Marrapodi

In RI, we deal with a variety of different learners from around the world with our multinational immigrant population. In this participatory workshop, learn about what makes us culturally different from one another and some of the unwritten rules for behavior. Understanding our differences helps in relating to one another in the classroom and makes us better teachers for ESL students..

Among other things, Jean Marrapodi is Director of Education at the Providence Assembly of God Learning Center where she also serves in the church overeeing Christian education programs. She works full time as Senior Education Specialist for Private Healthcare Systems, where she does instructional design, technical training and e-learning programs. She is a PhD student at Capella University, writing her dissertation on metacognition in beginning adult readers. Jean regularly presents workshops throughout New England and has presented at several national conferences. Learn more about Jean at http://www.applestar.org.


workshop: Women Leading Through Reading - Using Reading Discussion/Action Circles as a Holistic Learning Activity

Mev Miller, Ed.D., WE LEARN

WE LEARN Reading/Discussion Action Circles address barriers faced by women learners through a contextualized learning setting that assists each student to develop her confidence, leadership, overall well-being, critical thinking skills, and education in the broadest and fullest sense. This interactive workshop will present how the circles are organized and facilitated, ways to integrate them into current curriculum structures, and how to include writing, civic participation, and assessment components.

Research on women's learning emphasizes women from all backgrounds benefit from life-based approaches integrating relationship and interconnectedness. This research asserts the need for teaching/learning approaches that recognize and integrate the coexisting links for women's learning through social contexts, self-esteem and identity, voice, communication, and transformation. Women attending literacy programs view them not only a place of schooling but also as an opportunity for social contact and meaning-making for their lives. WE LEARN Reading/Discussion Action Circles address barriers faced by women learners through a contextualized learning setting that assists each student to develop her confidence, leadership, overall well-being, critical thinking skills, and education in the broadest and fullest sense.
The foundations for the curriculum design of WE LEARN Circles originate from our own best practices supported by adult learning theory and research in adult basic education. Research in ABE instruction in general, and reading instruction in particular (Research-Based Principles for ABE Reading Instruction) indicates that (a) use of authentic, or real life, literacy activities and materials and (b) collaboration, dialog, and responsiveness to the lives of learners, supports better educational gains for adult learners including reading comprehension, motivation, persistence, and self-esteem. Research on women's learning emphasizes women from all backgrounds benefit from life-based approaches integrating relationship, interconnectedness, and voice. Adult learners draw on their previous experience and make meaningful connections to their roles as parents, workers, and community members. Research done by WE LEARN with women who participated in book discussion groups in Minnesota (Women Leading Through Reading), indicates that reading discussion circles provide an additional learning-based support for women learners in ABE who struggle to confront the barriers that face them, as women, balancing complex issues and responsibilities.
In this workshop, we will discuss various ways to integrate Women Leading Trough Reading Discussion/Action Circles into program curriculum in a variety of ways. We will discuss ways to incorporate student writing activities, civic participation goals, and assessment strategies. WE LEARN currently seeks funding to sponsor these circles in RI programs, beginning in September.

Mev Miller, Ed.D. is the founder and coordinator of WE LEARN (Women Expanding / Literacy Education Action Resource Network). She has been developing and effectively using the Women Leading Through Reading program for many years.


presentation: Making Connections: Integrating the Library's Resources to Enhance Adult Education Instruction

Evelyn Castillo and Karisa Tashjian RI Family Literacy Initiative (RIFLI is based at five library systems throughout RI).

This is an interactive presentation of how library resources can be used in the adult education classroom including GED and ESL. Participants will look at library materials and share practical ideas on how they can be used in a lesson. We have found that adult education teachers often struggle with how to use the resources the library offers with their students and/or aren't familiar with the myriad of resources available for students. We will also present several of the library's online resources. This presentation will give you an overview of literacy materials and programs available in the library and online that you and your students should be aware of and know how to access: language software, computer classes, ABE collections, book discussion groups in English or Spanish, and other special programs open to all library patrons. Join us to discover what the library offers!

Evelyn Castillo is RIFLI's Assistant Literacy Coordinator. Evelyn also coordinates the library's Spanish Book Club and several Reading America projects.
Karisa Tashjian is RIFLI's Civics and Technology Coordinator. Karisa supports the integration of computers and civics into the curriculum. She holds an M. Ed. in ESL and Social Studies.


workshop:Using Graphic Organizers as Instructional Tools in the Classroom

Nazneen Rahman, Katherine Meyer, International Institute of Rhode Island

This hands-on workshop will help participants explore different kinds of graphic organizers and assist them in discovering ways of apply this visual tool to their teaching context.

One way to maximize student learning is through the use of Graphic Organizers, which is a mind map/visual aid to help categorize and link thoughts for better understanding, such as the Venn diagram We propose a workshop that will introduce participants to graphic organizers and help them uncover possible ways of using them in their classrooms. Graphic Organizers are like any other visual resource tool available and can be applied to any context-- personal, academic, or work related. We will facilitate the workshop through hands-on activities using Graphic Organizers.

After we were introduced to this instructional tool through EFF Workshops and the SIT TESOL Certificate course, we were encouraged to use it with our students. Students seemed to grasp the concept readily. We found creative ways of using it and discovered that it lent itself well to aiding reading comprehension, as well as teach grammar, utilizing the participatory approach. This became evident when we used the herringbone graphic to teach the WH Questions. We plan the following activities for the workshop:

Participant Learning - one: (individual activity)
- Create a Personal Timeline and share with someone introducing self.
- Facilitate reflection activity
- Introduce 2 new graphic organizers.
Participant Learning - two: (group activity)
- Introduce mind mapping as a pre-reading activity.
- Illustrate segments of a story for reading comprehension.
- Facilitate reflection activity
- Introduce a new graphic organizer
Participant Learning - three: (group activity)
- Participants select a graphic organizer and provide a context for its use.
- Facilitate reflection activity and provide handout.

Nazneen Rahman is Director of Education & Training at the International Institute of Rhode Island, and is a candidate for Masters in ESL.
Katherine Meyer earned a TESOL Certificate in 2004. She teaches English to beginning learners at the IIRI.


Morning sessions:10:45 - 12:15


workshop: More than Life Skills: Using the Change Agent for EL/Civics

Andy Nash

This session introduces a new book that celebrates 10 years of The Change Agent and offers strategies for building EL/Civics lessons that explore social issues, build academic and civic skills, and introduce students to US systems.

Much of what gets done in the name of EL/Civics (the teaching of competencies such as going to the post office) is a repackaging of life skills that should already be addressed in standard ESOL curriculum. This session will introduce a new resource that supports teachers in bringing civic issues (the decisions that affect our lives as community members and citizens/workers/residents of a nation as well as the processes by which those decisions get made) into the ESOL classroom.

This resource celebrates 10 years of publication of The Change Agent by providing practitioners with strategies for:
- building timely lessons about current events that are of concern to ESOL students
- building academic and civic participation skills
- adapting and supplementing articles to address the needs of varied reading and language levels
- creating thematic units that teach integrated skills and give students practice at inquiry, critical reflection, and a practical understanding of US systems.

Participants in this session will discuss competing notions of EL/Civics and reflect on the objectives of their own EL/Civics curricula. They will also compare experiences using the Change Agent, learn new approaches, and consider the ways that this resource can be used to enrich the goals of their current curriculum. Participants will receive extensive excerpts from the book and a copy of the most recent Change Agent.

Andy Nash supports teachers in integrating civic participation into their classroom teaching. She is the editor of this new resource entitled, "Know Justice, Sow Justice: Strategies for using the Change Agent in adult education."


My Reading Coach: Innovations in Reading Instruction Software

Jean Welsh, EdD

My Reading Coach is a software program that provides explicit, differentiated instruction in phonics. Consistent with the Orton-Gillingham approach, My Reading Coach begins with a diagnostic assessment that identifies gaps in a student's ability and places the student in computer-assisted lessons that target individual needs and learning rates. Sixty-one interactive lessons with practice activities include phonics, grammar and comprehension. Bilingual instruction (English/Spanish), an automatic advance feature and teacher reports help support students at different reading levels. My Reading Coach has an age-neutral interface which is appropriate for older students in adult education, correctional facilities and community college developmental reading programs.

Jean Welsh, EdD, Managing Director, Lincoln Learning Solutions, LLC


workshop: Using Children's Literature in the Adult Education Classroom

Heather Sullivan, Karen Day, An Even Start in Newport

During this presentation, we will focus on how children's literature can be used to teach important skills and concepts to adult GED and ESL students. We will share a variety of classroom lessons, including book comparisons, reading, and writing assignments. We will explain how children's books can help adults become more comfortable reading aloud, while introducing them to concepts that will become more complex as they progress academically.

Research shows that family literacy programs are most effective when all four components are successfully integrated; therefore integration is one of An Even Start in Newport's major goals, and our staff is continually working to improve our program accordingly. One of the ways we have done so is through themed months. In the fall, we hold Children;s Book Month and we focus on reading children's literature in all program components. During our Adult Education classes, students read, compare, and discuss a variety of children's books. We have found that children's literature can be used to teach adult learners the skills they need to pass sections of the GED exam, as well as help them learn the English language. During this presentation, we will share a variety of fun classroom lessons designed for both GED and ESL students. We believe that children's books are a great way to help adults become more comfortable reading aloud, while introducing them to concepts that will become more difficult as they progress academically.

Heather Sullivan is the GED Teacher / Adult Education Coordinator for An Even Start in Newport, in her eighth year of teaching for the program. Karen Day is Even Start's ESL teacher, in her second year. In 2005, both instructors presented at the National Even Start Association's conference in Washington, D.C.


workshop: Total Physical Response: Learning with your body - Introduction to the Highly Effective Language Learning Method.

Victoria Richter, Ph.D

This workshop introduces the use of the Total Physical Response (TPR) and Total Physical Response Storytelling (TPRS) methods in the ESOL classroom. Theoretical background will be given at the onset of the workshop. The effectiveness of the method will be demonstrated while participants learn several words and expressions in an unfamiliar language. Activities and games associated with the method will be demonstrated. Through the workshop participants will understand the use of the TPR method for various learning goals.

Victoria Richter, Ph.D., is a life long language instructor and learner. She believes in learning on the right side of the brain by bringing games, music, movement, and performance into her lessons. She is currently an ESOL instructor and coordinator for the Pawtucket School Department Adult Ed, an adjunct lecturer at Brown University, event coordinator at the Rochambeau library, as well as an independent artist and performer.


publisher's session: Teaching in Multilevel Classes: Lesson Planning Strategies / Establishing Goals

This workshop will focus on using the Word by Word Picture Dictionary and will provide strategies for working with multilevel classrooms. The presenter will model lesson planning strategies and how to 'teach to the middle' and then assign level-appropriate tasks for the varying classroom levels in. Participants will have the opportunity to participate in the activities, and will then have a chance to develop their own lesson plan with multiple-leveled options. Participants will be provided with copies of lesson plans and other materials that they can implement as soon as they return to the classroom.

Melinda Roberts is Pearson Longman's National Educational Consultant. In addition to her ten years of teaching experience, she has developed curriculum for teacher training, EL Civics, and CBET (a California community-based ESL/family literacy program). She served as program facilitator for a model collaborative CBET program between a community college and a K-12 district. As a mentor teacher/teacher trainer, she was involved in many facets of staff development, has presented at local, state and national levels, and has a TESOL Certificate from UC Irvine and MATESOL from Azusa Pacific University.

lunch 12:15-1:15


Afternoon sessions: 1:15 - 2:15


workshop: Reflecting on a Work Readiness/Literacy program A Guide for Administrators, Teachers and Counselors

Kristen P. McKenna, Project Director, Mobile Education Center -Wheels to Work (MEC)

In this interactive session we'll look at tools you can use to assess your work readiness program taking it from the student goals in the classroom to the Big Picture of your organizations goals. The mobile classroom inspired adults to improve their literacy skills, find a job, or works towards a career.

Kristen McKenna is Project Director for the ILSR's Mobile Education Center. She also serves on the board of the New England Literacy Resource Center.


workshop: Teaching pronunciation

Barbara Piccirilli Al-Sabek, M. ED TESL

1 hour pronunciation workshop for ESOL instructors that will includes some common pronunciation difficulties of English language learners from different linguistic backgrounds. Practical tips on instructing problem areas such as the "th", the pronunciation of /r/ vs /l/, /v/ vs /b/, /w/ vs. /v/, and the always troublesome vowel distinction in "ship" vs "sheep".

This workshop is an introduction to the teaching of pronunciation based on the understanding of the articulation of English language vowels and consonants. Emphasis will be placed on the place and manner of articulation of vowels and consonants English language learners often find difficult. The workshop will introduce the nomenclature of applied linguistics, while making the vocabulary and concepts accessible to ESOL instructors with no prior training in teaching pronunciation. Tips will be given on instruction in pronunciation from phonemic discrimination to teaching suprasegmentals.

Barbara Piccirilli Al-Sabek, M. ED TESL, RI College, has taught TESOL at post-secondary level for 14 years, including an Oral Communications in ESL course since 1996, and teaches Applied Linguistics and First/Second Language Theory in TESL graduate program at Rhode Island College and teaches Family Literacy at the Genesis Center.


publisher's session: Serving Our Students While Meeting the Standards

Michael Huckaby, McGraw-Hill ESL/ELT

The presenter will demonstrate the features of McGraw-Hill's new standards-based, 4-skill adult basal series, All-Star. It features an activity-based "Big Picture" approach that systematically builds language and math skills around life-skill topics. All-Star helps teachers create an authentic, visual environment in their classrooms. Complimentary copies provided to all who attend.

Michael Huckaby taught ESL 5 years in Fairfax County Public Schools. He has taught for Adult Education programs and private language schools in the Washington D.C. area


workshop: Integrating math and language into everyday life

Fofana Bubacar, Scarlett Riservato, Progreso Latino

During this workshop, presenters will share work they have done with adult learners at Progreso Latino's Project Opportunity program, including the development of a student run cafe and bookstore, and will also invite participants to generate ideas, projects and lesson plans incorporating math concepts and usages for their own contexts

Scarlett Riservato completed her M. A. in English Education at University of Puerto Rico. She has taught ESL in Puerto Rico and in the northeast since 1995, has taught Spanish in high school and now teaches Basic English, Spanish, and GED Spanish Composition, at Progreso Latino. She is also the ESOL Coach for the Project Opportunity program.

Fofana Bubacar earned a Bachelor degree in Biology & Chemistry at the Escola Normal Superior Tchico-Te ,Guniea-Bissau, .taught Biology for five 5 years and taught ESL more than 5 years at Santa Catarina High School, Cape Verde Islands, He worked with Model School & Home Saty for five years with Peace Corps Volunteers in Cape Verde Islands and is currently math and science coach for Project Opportunity.


workshop: The External Diploma Program- A Competency-Based Alternative to the GED for Adults

The GED is not the only way that Rhode Island adults can earn a high school credential. The External Diploma Program (EDP) is available to all adult Rhode Islanders who need a high school credential. The EDP is a competency-based high school completion program offering adults the opportunity to earn a traditional high school diploma by demonstrating skills within the context of their life and work experiences.

In this interactive workshop, participants will learn that the External Diploma Program is a viable alternative to the GED. It is especially appropriate for people who need a high school credential, for those whose first language is not English, adults with learning disabilities, or people who need to demonstrate high school level skills at their own pace in a non-testing environment. A brief history of EDP will be presented. Workshop participants will become familiar with the EDP materials and learn how EDP is especially appropriate for workplace education since the competencies closely correlate with SCANS and credentials skills that employers want. Participants will also become familiar with ways that the EDP compliments the four purposes of Equipped for the Future and meets the needs of the Workforce Investment Act.

Participants will:
- Become familiar with the EDP process and materials
-Learn how EDP can meet the needs of adult learners who are seeking a high school credential
- Learn how the EDP competencies complement WIA, EFF and SCANS
- Learn the necessary steps to making the External Diploma Program available to your program participants.

Donna Chambers has 25 years experience in the External Diploma Program in Fairfax County, VA and with the American Council on Education as Lead National Trainer and technical advisor on the USDOE/ACE EDP Grant. Donna works Project RIRAL coordinating the External Diploma Program for RI adult education programs.


Afternoon sessions: 2:30 - 3:30


Balancing the Needs of Learners and Employers in Workplace Adult Education Classes

Denise DiMarzio, Institute for Labor Studies and Research

This presentation briefly will describe the basic design of workplace education classes offered at the Institute for Labor Studies (ILSR)and offer lesson samples on incorporating the expressed goals of learners with the requirements of their employers.

Workplace education classes vary slightly from the typical adult education class because of the additional presence of the employer. As with other adult education classes, the topmost priority of a worksite class is to follow the learners' lead to serve their expressed needs and goals. However, an employer's ideas of what participants should be learning and the learners' ideas may be very different. Balancing the needs of both parties provides a challenge, but not an insurmountable one.

This 1-hour presentation will include the design of ILSR's workplace classes and the challenges faced in these types of classes. Participants will see sample lessons and writings from one workplace class and be offered suggestions on accommodating learners and employers in any program.

Denise DiMarzio is an English/ESOL teacher working as the Adult Education Project Coordinator for the ILSR


using art in language learning

Barbara Shema, Judy Alexander

Since January of 2005, Barbara Shema has been a volunteer in Judy Alexander's ESL Beginning Literacy class at The Genesis Center, teaching art to adult students once a week. Together, Barbara and Judy have worked with students on projects ranging from paper tearing, collages, painting, and making jewelry. Students in the class are recent immigrants and refugees; most from Laos, Thailand, and Somalia. They all arrived in the US with limited literacy skills in their native languages and no knowledge of English. Working on art projects has been a wonderful means of expression for the students as well as fostering a sense of community and accomplishment for the group. The work has served as a catalyst for the acquisition of new vocabulary and for conversation. Judy and Barbara will talk about projects they have done and the good things happening as a result of their work. Projects will be on display, and participants will have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on art project.
registration limited to 20 participants

Judy Alexander, M.Ed. has taught Beginning ESL/Literacy since January, 2004. She has over 20 years of teaching experience in multi-cultural settings in Africa, Asia and the US.

Barbara Shema, a visual artist and educator, has an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and an undergraduate degree in art education. She is listed on the RI State Council on the Arts (RISCA) Education Roster as an artist/educator who has met their standards for artistic excellence as well as teaching experience. Barbara works at Brown University as a project coordinator with the Watson Institute for International Studies.


Meeting the Needs of Refugees Through Adult Education

Baha Sadr, Laura Wood – International Institute of Rhode Island

What are the educational needs of specific refugee populations? How is a refugee different from an immigrant? What are the priorities for teaching newly arrived refugees? What educational and employment barriers do refugees face?What are specific educational needs of Liberians as opposed to other immigrant and refugee groups? What are the community resources for refugee services? What new refugee populations can we expect to see in the upcoming months and years? Join us as we begin to answer these questions and more in an in depth look at the basic profile of a newly arrived refugee in Providence. We will strive to share our common discoveries and experiences and begin to strategize how the International Institute can be a community tool in solving these issues. We’ll look more at the numbers, demographics, history and future of refugee resettlement and outline services for refugees that IIRI provides.

Laura Wood is Refugee Skills Development coordinator at IIRI, providing cultural orientation, adult basic education and life skills training to refugees; Baha Sadr is Refugee Resettlement Director


planning, reflecting, teaching, learning: ESOL literacy at many levels

Janet Isserlis

How does lesson planning inform instruction? How are teachers working with learners to address learner goals, identify strengths and needs and facilitate engaged learning? The facilitator will offer ideas about lesson planning that can integrate a range of activities for learners at multiple levels. Practitioners are invited to share ideas that work - or have posed challenges - in their contexts as well.

Janet Isserlis, project director of Literacy Resources/RI, has worked with adult learners and practitioners since 1980.


exhibitors at the conference

Jean Welsh, Lincoln Learning Solutions, LLC

Michael Huckaby, McGraw-Hill ESL/ELT

Melanie Greitzer and Melinda Roberts, Pearson Longman ESL

Gary Nelson, Phoenix Learning

Suzanne R. Merna, Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation, Inc.


For additional information, please contact LR/RI.

updated August 11, 2006

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