LITERACY RESOURCES/RI  Progress report, June, 2000
[Please note - due to changes in the length of the fiscal year, this report reflects LR/RI's work for a nine-month period, and not the full year as previously reported].

OVERVIEW OF PROJECT PERIOD: 7/99 - 6/00 and workplan 2000 - 2002

Literacy Resources/Rhode Island continues to addressing its mission of maximizing collaboration and cooperation among adult educators/literacy providers in Rhode Island, and strengthening connections among existing and emerging adult education programs and practitioners. LR/RI works to expand existing professional capacity of the adult education field in Rhode Island, thereby strengthening the quality of adult literacy instruction.

LR/RI addresses its interdependent priorities of building capacity and strengthening communication by linking existing Rhode Island adult education, literacy and human resources providers and learners via the Internet, and through direct contact in various forms. This work occurs through:

- the development and distribution via mail, email, fax and on the internet, of LR/RI's bulletin through which information is regularly shared amongst agencies/practitioners (usually 2 weeks). LR/RI has continued the ongoing process of linking people and information through the bulletin, which is also posted and archived on the web site. The bulletin is directly distributed to over 200 people, representing approximately 80 educational and/or professional development service providers.

- assisting practitioners in connecting to one another through sharing/discussion sessions and other facilitated meetings focusing on the areas of ESOL, intergenerational learning, women's issues in adult learning, learning disabilities, assessment, adult secondary education, technology and adult education generally. Participation in sharing sessions has served as a means for practitioners to identify both need and interest in learning and teaching more about particular areas. Participation has also furthered more in-depth exploration of particular topics and issues through the processes of sharing resources and jointly exploring topics of interest through practitioners' pursuit of inquiry project funds, minigrants and other forms of support for their professional development endeavors.

- participation in regional and national work through listservs, meetings, and task-based committees, geared towards furthering the National Institute for Literacy's LINCS national and regional web sites, and developing locally-produced content for LR/RI's own web site. Additionally, Janet Isserlis is a member of the LINCS Family Literacy and Civic Participation Special Collections Advisory Committees, and also serves on the National Clearinghouse on Literacy Education (NCLE's) advisory board.

- distribution of The Change Agent in hard copy and through links to The Change Agent on-line.

activity relevant ot addressing the priorities within and beyond the state

- telephone and face-to-face consultation with educators and interested others including referrals, provision of information about programs, employment and volunteer opportunities, pedagogy, legislation, statistics and responses to requests for technical assistance.

LR/RI's web site is linked to that of the National Institute For Literacy - through its news flash page, state directories and through various postings on NIFL literacy listservs, and is also linked through a number of state web sites also listing state literacy resource centers.  Additionally, links to LR/RI can be found at over 15 (and counting) online sites.

During the project period, LR/RI represented the state at the international TESOL conference (March, 2000), moderating the academic session of the Adult Education in ESOL interest section, presenting a workshop dealing with women, violence and literacy, and facilitating a discussion group focused on women and learning.  Janet Isserlis also co-facilitated a workshop on women, violence and learning at COABE 2000 in Chicago, as well as co-facilitating a workshop on that same topic at the Canadian Congress for Learning Opportunities 2000 conference, held in March in Toronto.  Janet facilitated a workshop on integrating ESOL reading, writing and technology practice at LVA's national conference in Nashville, and two similiar sessions at the RI affiliate conference this spring.  She also provided technical assistance to the HRIC conference last fall, assisting people in accessing web-based resources during the conference.

advocating for adult learners and practitioners in the realm of policy and practice

During the previous project year, LR/RI participated in the work of the Mayor's task force on literacy which studied the state of adult education provision in the city and developed recommendations based on that study.  LR/RI was also present at meetings of the Governor's blue ribbon panel on adult education, submitted information to that body for distribution to its members, and participated in its late summer retreat.  Janet has contributed to a draft of a forthcoming document to be presented to the Adult Education Commission, synthesizing, in part, the work of the two above-named bodies.  Although those bodies no longer meet, work on completing reports and recommendations continues, albeit slowly.

LR/RI is present at meetings of the Adult Literacy Council and the Adult Education Commission. In addition to attendance at these meetings, LR/RI provides information to the field through dissemination of policy updates and other relevant information on its web site and through its bulletin. Through the Adult Education Commission, Janet was asked to chair a sub-committee which, since June of 1999, has developed standards for the state's adult education programs (mentioned in further detail below).

LR/RI is working with VALUE, a national learner organization, to support its national and local the VALUE board. Janet Isserlis has participated in VALUE's board nomination and communication committees and is working with the committee to expand portions of the VALUE web site.  As a mentor to the group, she facilitated one of a series of meetings held by VALUE in NY in May.

- forthcoming, late June/2000: a digest on ESOL learners and trauma, to be posted online and in hard copy at the NCLE clearinghouse (
- ongoing web development and publication through Literacy Resources/RI website

developing professional development opportunities for adult education practitioners / review of activities

As stated in previous reports, and echoed very recently during the stateís inquiry project final meeting/sharing session, professional development is most meaningful when practitioners have opportunities to process learning, share, rehearse, and reflect upon changes they make in their practice and to have a voice in determining the kinds of professional development in which they take part. The following describes professional development activities for which LR/RI was entirely or partially responsible for planning and/or implementing, and/or in which it participated:

direct teaching, conferences, workshops, meetings

- Janet Isserlis taught a session at the Providence Public Library's family literacy program in order to enable their regular teacher to observe classes at another site.  (This is an ongoing opportunity made available to area practitioners).

- National Literacy Summit, Washington, DC, held in February; sharing information about the summit locally and collaborating with the state director of education and the state's PDRN leader to plan a local response to the summit documents prior to 6/30/00.

- Adult Multiple Intelligences workshop, held in collaboration with Connections through Literacy. Terri Coustan, a local practitioner was one of the workshopís four facilitators.

- Five workshops held for practitioners (teacher, and social services providers) and learners at the International Institute of Rhode Island addressing issues of community wellness generally and violence against women specifically.  One class facilitated at the Genesis Center, also to address issues of community wellness, violence and civic participation.

- Workshop co-facilitated with Hal Adams of Chicago's Community Writing Project, addressing ways of fostering writing amongst literacy learners as well as those in other community settings

- Workshop with Jenny Horsman, addressing issues of violence and learning.  Both Drs. Adams and Horsman have spoken in Rhode Island before; inviting them to return is one way in which LR/RI is following through on its commitment to move beyond single events and to attempt to build promising practice through making its own expertise and that of others beyond the state accessible to practitioners in the area.  Dr. Horsman's workshop is sponsored through Janet Isserlis' National Institute for Literacy fellowship project (described below).

LR/RI worked with the Department of Education to facilitate a round of practitioner inquiry projects from January through June, again posting initial proposals and interim reports on its website and meeting monthly with practitioners.  Reports of 2000 inquiry projects will be posted to LR/RI's website by the end of June/2000.  Attendance at this year's sharing session has exceeded that of previous years and the state director and others noted gains in the quality of the projects overall.

LR/RI continues to participates in the New England LD partnership project, providing support to Judy Titzel, the state's liaison to the project partnership and to her team of three practitioners in the form of access to technology and needed communications assistance, and in disseminating information about the project on an as-needed basis. LR/RI participated in hiring the three-person team working with Judy Titzel to begin training sessions for the state during the fall of 1999.

LR/RI's project director continues to meet with literacy practitioners and program administrators. She has participated in numerous meetings with others involved in adult education practice and policy in the state, and in regional and national events including the Eastern LINCS Adult Literacy Technology Hub consortium, and on advisory boards for the New England Literacy Resource Center and its Adult Multiple intelligences project, a research project of the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL).

LR/RI continues to work with David Hayes, a practitioner leader participating in another NCSALL project, the Practitioner Dissemination and Research Network, (PDRN), which involves dissemination of information about NCSALL research work to practitioners in the state. Participation in a number of activities linked to NCSALL work has been encouraging and feedback from the field has been positive. As well, a series of study circle meetings, organized by David Hayes, has been well attended; the group focused this round of its study circle activity on analysis of Equipped for the Future Standards as well as those developed by state-based practitioners and posted to the LR/RI website.

As before, as a result of LR/RI's dissemination efforts, a number of practitioners in the state have participated in national and state-based on-line discussion groups (listservs) in the areas of literacy policy and advocacy (NLA), intergenerational literacy learning (NIFL-family), learning disabilities (NIFL-LD) and regional and national concerns around English language learning (NIFL-ESL). Additionally, through regional work sponsored by the New England Literacy Resource Center, practitioners remain involved in national projects, including work around the Equipped for the Future role maps and standards, multiple intelligences research, civic participation, the VERA sourcebook, LINCS minigrants for development of online materials and practitioner-based research.  Rhode Island practitioners have been better positioned to participate in regional and national endeavors:  A Rhode Island practitioner continues to work as a mentor/trainer within World Education/NCSALL's Multiple Intelligences research project and an educational director of one of the state's largest adult education agencies, has joined the board of the New England Literacy Resource Center, thereby increasing the potential of engaging local practitioners in regional activities. Feedback about LR/RI's ongoing dissemination of information continues to be positive.

professional development in Rhode Island - collaboration and future plans

Adult learners and practitioners bring strengths as well as needs to educational processes; recognizing and building from these strengths is an intrinsic part of adult education practice and is explicitly addressed in all elements of professional development activity.

As previously indicated in past reports, professional development needs to occur through a variety of delivery models and in a sustained and ongoing manner if it is to be effective. The need continues to exist for sustained activity over time to enable people to come together to share information, reflect upon practice, read, generate information and advocate, and explore exemplary practice locally and beyond.

LR/RI works to afford a greater number of literacy and language development practitioners in the state opportunities to meet with one another and to participate in staff development activities in order to reflect and act upon current experience and thereby increase capacity in terms of:

- knowledge bases / access to model practices, to colleagues and collegial channels and to information (print and other media)

- expansion of understandings of adult education and the perspectives held by various stakeholders within adult education in the state

- participation in leadership education to expand understanding of and influence over systemic forces impacting literacy education.

This work is undertaken with the goal of accomplishing the following:

- increased access to professional development resources and processes increased ability to communicate with the field

- increased leadership capacity for individuals and programs

- development of sustainable professional development networks engaged in ongoing projects and activities

Toward that end, in addition to those activities described above, mini-grant awards were again offered through LR/RI during the spring with reports to be posted online (proposals are now posted), and findings to be disseminated through sharing sessions and workshops early in the fall of 2000. Topics chosen include ESOL teaching approaches, civic participation and pronunciation strategies.

Literacy educators need a cohesive base for professional development.  Although participation in professional development activity has increased during the previous year, too few people access professional development opportunities not only because of lack of funding, but also because most adult educators work in more than one part time position so that finding the time to participate becomes problematic. Addressing these concerns and building a strong, local base for professional development has continued and will continue to drive much of LR/RI's work. A vision that recognizes individuals engaged in adult education as dedicated professionals must encompass provision of ongoing and sustained opportunities for development for them, and by extension, for the communities they serve.  LR/RI continues to work on strengthening partnerships and communication among education entities across the state.

As the state continued to refine its adult education plan, LR/RI was able to share input with the State Director of Adult Education and to contribute feedback to that plan. Part of this work entails participation in work on developing program standards and assessment measures, as indicated above, with the aim of shaping requests for proposals that mirror the strength and vitality of programs serving the state's adult education population.  It should be noted that a dedicated group of approximately 15 adult educators devoted significant time and energy to the development of RIís standards (online at ), many of them working on their own (unpaid) time.  This coming together within the field represents a significant commitment of time and energy and willingness to move adult education practice forward in the state.

Literacy Resources/Rhode Island workplan - July 1, 2000 - June 30, 2002

As it is administered by the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University, LR/RI continues to be able to utilize University technical assistance for the implementation of Internet applications and University space for conferences, meetings and colloquia.   As well, during the coming work period, LR/RI and the Swearer Center will oversee fiscal arrangements reagarding disbursement of payments for learning disabilities training sessions, inquiry project grants and other activities as indicated by the state director of adult education, thereby facilitating payment processes to those involved.

LR/RI is constantly working to increase participation in professional development opportunities available to adult educators in the state.  These opportunities have come in the form of:

sharing sessions, (which encourage practitioners to come together to identify their own strengths and needs, and connect practitioners to human and material resources needed to strengthen and ameliorate practice).

participation in inquiry projects


ongoing workshops/obvservation

Specific areas of ongoing focus include/specific actions to be taken over the course of the next funding period:

- increasing use of, support for and access to the internet and related technology by continuing to provide access to practitioners and learners wanting to learn to use the technology, and providing training as needed in order to facilitate integration of technology into adult education practice;


LR/RI will continue to facilitate sharing/discussion session on technology and to offer ongoing internet/computer training to the field on an as-needed basis, in addition to its summer drop in session at the Center for Information Technology at Brown University. Weekly drop-in sessions were held during the previous summer at the Center for Information Technology at Brown University; a request for access to that center is in place so that drop-in sessions will continue during the summers of this project period.  As well, the Swearer Center for Public Service is engaged in technology education at the Mt. Hope Neighborhood Center which will enable us to develop and demonstrate viable technology training activities, and LR/RI will participate in this process.

Janet Isserlis has been chosen as one of 15 adult education practitioners in Region I to participate in a week-long intensive web training course in Vermont during the coming summer.  The course will strengthen Janet's ability to provide technical assistance to those wishing to create online materials as well as expand her own current web design and production skills.

- dissemination of information / increasing access to national, regional and local information, conferences, and projects

- maintain an online inventory of program information in concert with LVA-RI/HRIC, increase work in identifying who does what, what professional development is supported and sought; increased sharing of in-house and cross/joint collaboration (part of this chronic need has been addressed with the online release of LVA-RI's Adult Education Program Directory, which is linked to LR/RI's website.  LR/RI also provides an at-a-glance listing of adult literacy centers on-line); LR/RI will continue its proactive efforts to connect practitioners to needed information and resources.

- continue development of the web site: links, pages developed for particular interests, local practitioners adding content

- continue to develop and disseminate the bulletin as noted above

professional development activity

- continue work to expand opportunities, as mentioned above, for practitioners to observe one another within and across programs/agencies

- increase practitioner facilitation of/reporting on sharing sessions so that LR/RI has a less active and more supportive role

- continue to address practitioners' request for assistance on an as-needed basis

- disseminate standards for the state's adult education programs, in collaboration with the Adult Education Commission's committee on standards and all interested practitioners

- develop and support of inquiry projects, and other priority areas to be identified in concert with the state director and other stakeholders.

- support Bridges to Practice learning disabilities training team. In addition to providing support to the team, LR/RI will also work closely with the state director to ensure that adult educators will receive information about diagnosis/assessment available to learning disabled adults and will also work with the state director and LD team to educate program directors and practitioners about the ramifications of different testing instruments as part of a substantive statewide effort towards systemic change.

- developing new funding sources for professional development opportunities which strengthen connections between the adult education field and other social service/community providers whose clients / customers utilize services across domains

Specific work has already been undertaken in this area, through Janet Isserlis' NIFL fellowship in support of an extended learning project involving education practitioners and women's centers across the state in furthering learning about the effects of trauma and violence on adult learning. The project brings $20,000 of inkind resources to the state. Eight practitioners are collaborating in an ongoing manner within the project, and various workshops and events relating to the project have been made available to all interested others in the state and region.   As well, LR/RI was part of a successful application to funding from the United Way to address literacy issues for residents and to build staff capacity to address literacy related issues at the Women's Center of Rhode Island.

LR/RI will also provide informal workshops to staff of the DCYF during the summer of 2000 in order to expand DCYF workers' awarenesses of ways in which literacy impacts upon the lives and activities of their clients.

Other areas of professional development for which additional support will be necessary include supporting programs in implementing two-year grants under the Workforce Investment Act, improved means of assessing and reporting on learner/program progress, as well as an ongoing responsiveness to practitioners' requests for information, assistance and access to one another.

This activity will be evaluated through the use of paper/pencil evaluation at the completion of workshop sessions, as well as pre-post surveys of those participating in the workshops and discussion groups to assess if their understanding of AMI has been furthered by this work, as well as by survey and other means of assessing the project's usefulness in terms of direct classroom instruction. Indicators of success will be found in teachers' and program directors assessment of improved classroom practice, and (where feasible) through learners' reports as well.

learning disabilities team and URI assessment / diagnoses

As mentioned above, LR/RI will serve as a coordinating entity, through which the state's LD training team can receive support (mailing, meeting space, information dissemination, meeting facilitation on an as-needed basis) and will also participate in ensuring that the field becomes aware of the diagnostic assessment procedures available to up to 125 adults in the state through the agreement between RIDE and URI, should this assessment/diagnoses work be continued into the next project period.

ongoing communication/information sharing

LR/RI has developed a viable communications network. Its website and regular bulletin distribution are in place, but also need to be strengthened so that this information is not stopped at the front line (i.e. a program director who may or may not distribute the information). To this end, a growing number of adult educators receive copies of the bulletin directly (via mail or email). Increased proactive outreach to others in the field will continue. LR/RI continuously responds to requests for information in the areas of employment, professional development opportunities and general information about adult education, receives information for dissemination through its bulletin (these requests arrive via phone, fax and email), and also responds to both Rhode Island-specific requests as well as requests from practitioners nationwide. Its project director attends meetings of the state's key literacy groups, in an ongoing attempt to ensure that information is shared as broadly as possible amongst key stakeholders.

moving the field forward

LR/RI remains committed to building an assets-based, practitioner-driven means of moving the field forward in ways that broaden our understandings of adult learners' needs and strengths, and recognize and strengthen connections between discrete areas (e.g. health, housing, community wellness, civic participation) and literacy learning itself. Adults come to literacy instruction with experience and expertise and also with questions and needs to be met. Drawing on learners' stated goals, negotiated curricula processes and increased understandings for adult educators about both theoretical underpinnings and methodological realities while posing broader questions in important contexts remains critical to the work LR/RI does.

Broadening access to and interest in professional development through inquiry and minigrant projects, sharing sessions and workshop activities are concrete ways in which LR/RI plans to work collaboratively with adult educators in moving the field forward. Anticipated outcomes include increased participation in professional development events, strengthened classroom practice and increased sharing of knowledge among practitioners. This work will be evaluated qualitatively
and quantitatively, through surveys, paper/pencil evaluations and interviews and anecdotal evidence.  Evaluation of LR/RI's current daily operations has been formally conducted through survey activity; as well, LR/RI has logged praise, suggestions and requests for service received via email.

LR/RI depends upon the participation of and input from adult learners, educators and administrators across the state, and appreciates suggestions received from literacy workers both within and beyond the state's borders. While RIDE and individual programs have supported practitioners' professional development, there is a pressing need in the state to increase linkages and communication between and among practitioners and programs. Enabling these linkages to
develop organically and over time seems a wise strategy in attempting to institutionalize the possibilities inherent in ongoing sharing and communication for those teaching in and administering programs for adult learners in the state. Literacy Resources/RI proposes to maintain its commitmet to the state's adult education field in disseminating information and providing support for and access to professional development across the state in order to meet the needs of the learner populations as fully as possible in the manners described above and in ongoing consultation with the field.



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