2. Ask learners to take the last 5 minutes of each day's session to record their thoughts, feelings, reactions to the group, group activities, and instructor.
3. At the end of each week, ask learners to read their diary entries for that week and answer the following questions:
4. After a 6-week period, or at the end of the course/program/work, collect the weekly summaries and review them as a guide in planning for the next program.
30 minutes for review of the diary summaries
The physical environment could be a classroom, committee meeting room, staff meeting room, and so forth.
Learners must be open to constructive criticism, seeing it as a way to improve their instruction.
Evidence of effectiveness
Learners will receive increasingly positive reports of learner growth and satisfaction with group work as instructors use the input they receive to improve their interactions with groups and group members.
Notebooks that must be obtained by learners
Chairs may be arranged in classroom style or in whatever style is appropriate for the group activities.
Adapted from Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Unit 1987
2. Introduce alternative approaches to standardized assessment by explaining the focus of these approaches-to obtain a multidimensional profile of potential participants that can be used to direct program planning and guide curriculum. Provide the following information about each approach, offering examples when possible:
3. After this general introduction to alternative approaches, divide learners into four groups and give each group one approach to investigate.
4. Direct each group to relevant resources-those you provide and those that may be obtained at the library. Have the members of each group locate the resources, review them, and take notes on the benefits and drawbacks of using their assigned approaches. Example: Observations are useful for obtaining staff's opinions but those opinions are subjective and subject to change dependent upon the staff member doing the observation.
5. During the next class session, have the members of each group share their notes and make a comprehensive list of benefits and drawbacks.
6. Reassemble staff into the large group and have a representative of each small group report the list of benefits and drawbacks they compiled.
7. Have each staff member select two alternative approaches to assessment he or she would use to obtain information about potential participants and write a paragraph or two explaining why those two methods would be especially useful in program planning and curriculum development or selection.
2 hours-1 hour in class and 1 hour outside of class
The physical environment should be conducive to the assembling of small work groups and, ideally, in close proximity to the library.
Staff will need to take initiative in locating examples of the alternative approaches unless the examples are provided by the facilitator. If they are provided by the facilitator, they will take time to collect.
Evidence of effectiveness
This activity will be effective if staff are able to make informed decisions about the kinds and combinations of alternatives approaches to standardized assessment that will help them in program planning and selecting curriculum.
Examples of standardized instruments and alternative approaches, namely surveys, interview questions, observation items, and performance samples
The room in which the class or session will be held should accommodate large and small group seating.
Adapted from Holt 1994
Begin by asking participants to talk about their definitions of learner-centered and participatory literacy education. Ask them to describe the ways in which they believe their teaching is participatory and learner centered. Can they identify ways they would like to change things to become more learner centered and participatory?
Ask participants to read the two case studies. (See handouts.)
Ask participants to break into groups of three and respond to the following questions for each case study:
Ask each group to share their responses and record them on a flip chart under the categories of traditional and participatory classroom.
Analyze the list of responses and group them, if possible, according to teachers' roles, students' roles, assessment, learning environment, materials, content, and curriculum development.
Process the structured experience in the large group. To what extent is each case study a model of learner-centered literacy work? of participatory literacy work?
Ask teams to share their reactions: How did they feel about the exercise? Do they have any new insights into their own teaching now?
As a follow-up on this staff development activity, participants can keep a personal journal of their progress toward a more participatory approach in their teaching. For example, once a week the teachers might want to take a few minutes to reflect on their teaching during the week, asking themselves the following questions:
Teachers may also want to talk to their students about their experience of the classroom environment in terms of power. They could share a version of the case studies from this activity, they could write their own set of case studies to reflect their situation, or they could ask the students to write their descriptions of the classroom. These descriptions can provide the focus for a continuing conversation about sharing power and decision-making as part of the relationship between the students and teacher.
Instructors willing to implement new approach to teaching
Participants not remaining open minded about a new approach to teaching
Evidence of effectiveness
Instructors become willing to implement new approach into classroom.
Flip chart or chalkboard, markers; the two handouts on "Case Studies of Two Classrooms"
Begin with whole group in large circle; break into small groups to use flip charts, reporting back to larger group.
Adapted from King et al. 1993, pp. II-2 to II-4
CASE STUDIES OF TWO CLASSROOMS
Case study A
Mrs. Davis teaches a GED prep class in a local high school on Tuesday and Thursday nights from six to nine o'clock. During the day, she teaches English in the middle school. The GED class has an average of 18 students attending either night. The class is composed of a diverse group of men and women, most of whom work full time during the day in local manufacturing jobs. Three of the students are recent high school dropouts.
When the students enroll in the class, Mrs. Davis gives the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) in order to determine their skill levels. Based upon these test scores, Mrs. Davis can also determine which workbooks would be appropriate to start the students in.
Mrs. Davis feels it is important to provide as much individual assistance as possible because her students are all on different levels of reading ability. During the class, she has students work independently in their workbooks and she walks around to help anyone who has a question. She also feels it is important that the students are given every opportunity to master the skills necessary to pass the GED test. The variety of workbooks and textbooks she provides for the students are designed to follow a scope and sequence for mastering skills in a specified order. In addition, there are two Apple computers available for the lower-level readers to use on a rotating schedule. Mrs. Davis expects the students to attend the class regularly, ask questions if they need help, and, hopefully, do well on the test.
The students feel it is important to attend the class and work hard to complete the workbook series in order to be ready for the GED test. They hope the teacher will give them help when they need it.
King et al. 1993 1
CASE STUDIES OF TWO CLASSROOMS
Case study B
Mr. Alston also teaches a GED prep class in a local high school on Tuesday and Thursday nights from six to nine o'clock. During the day, he teaches Social Studies in the middle school. His GED class has an average of 12 students attending either night. The class is composed of a diverse group of men and women, most of whom work full time during the day in local manufacturing jobs. Three of the students are recent high school dropouts.
When the students enroll in the class, Mr. Alston ask them in a group format to talk about their goals and how they see this class helping them to reach their goals. In addition, Mr. Alston reads a paragraph about goals written by an adult student in a magazine of student writing. He then asks the students to share what they feel their skills and abilities are and talk about their work experiences. Mr. Alston makes sure that everyone participates in the discussions. paying attention to what students hope to do as a result of participating in the class. After the discussion, Mr. Alston asks everyone to write or dictate a paragraph that competes the following stem sentence: "My goal for coming to this class is . . ." Based upon the discussions and the writing, Mr. Alston should have a better sense of what the learning needs are for each student as well as their strengths and weaknesses.
Mr. Alston feels that he is both a learner and a teacher. He provides materials and facilitates learning experiences that are, hopefully, meaningful and relevant to the students. He helps them gain control of their own learning: Students discover what experiences help them learn best and determine when they know they have learned. Mr. Alston also feels it is important to engage the class in discussions together sharing experiences and raising issues people feel are significant. He encourages students to participate in the discussions, write in journals, share their writing and give each other feedback. Mr. Alston hopes the class meets the students' personal goals, provides support as they learn and change, and helps the students see the value of what they bring to the learning experience and how that relates to new learning.
The students feel they have a place where they can learn skills in ways that build on what they already know, where their ideas are heard and respected, and where the class relates directly to individuals' interests, educational histories and personal goals.
King et al. 1993 2
2. Bring the groups together in a class discussion in which group leaders present their summaries. Write key points on a flip chart as they are presented.
3. Supplement the learner-generated list of ways to monitor student progress and categorize them into traditional, alternative, and informal ways. For example:
|Multiple choice||True or false questions|
|Competency checklists||Small group projects|
|Demonstrations||Short answer essays|
4. Divide the class, once again, into small groups. Ask each group to plan how they would monitor student progress in a given activity. Ask them to brainstorm the combination of ways to monitor that they would use and how they would use the input they received to make decisions.
5. After the brainstorming session, introduce affective ways of monitoring student progress, pointing out that they are as important as instruments and other strategies. For example, introduce the importance of positive feedback and ways to demonstrate such feedback.
6. Finally, ask learners to note in their monitoring plans the instances when they would provide positive feedback.
The physical environment should have sufficient space and movable chairs for small groups.
Adult learners must be able to engage in social learning, recognizing the value of learning from the experiences and opinions of their peers.
Evidence of effectiveness
Learners will improve their instructional methods, including monitoring activities that result in improved student learning.
Chairs will be arranged to accommodate small groups-four to six placed around a table or in a circle.
Adapted from Koehler and Dean 1994, p. 8
2. Ask the learners in each group to select 5-10 adult educators from their respective institutions or communities whom they might like to invite to apply for a position on the staff development planning team.
3. Next, ask each group to design an application form to send to potential candidates. Instruct them to request information that would allow selection of a team whose members reflect cultural diversity, varying degrees of experience, varied educational roles, and various geographic areas.
4. Reassemble groups and have them compare their application forms and select the key items to be on one common form.
5. With the groups reassembled as one, ask the learners to identify the knowledge they believe should guide all other decisions about staff development. Several examples from Drennon (1993) follow:
6. Next, ask learners to envision an ideal staff development system and to identify its characteristics. Some of the characteristics presented by Drennon (1993) include the following:
7. With the ideas for an effective staff development system identified, have each class member share the list of ideas generated in class with colleagues, asking for reaction and further input.
8. After a period of time for gathering this information, have each learner draw upon his/her own perspectives to draft a model of a staff development system that would best meet the learning needs of adult educators.
9. In a concluding session, bring all learners together to share their lists of the key components of an ideal staff development system and reach consensus of what those are. Write on a flip chart the most recurring suggestions and those components that are commonly accepted.
10. Have learners copy the list or copy and reproduce it for them to use for future reference when they are forming and using staff development planning teams in their own work.
Two 40-minutes sessions; out-of-class time for information gathering; and a final 30-minute session. Total amount of in-class time would be approximately 2 hours.
The physical environment should be comfortable, well lit, and have movable chairs suitable for adult learners.
Learners should have staff experience and be motivated to participate on a planning team that will take some of their "extra" time.
Evidence of effectiveness
Learners will be better able to evaluate their staff development systems now and in the future having identified criteria for what is ideal.
Conference style seating for entire class discussions; circle seating for small group interactions.
Adapted from Drennon 1993, p. 6
Select a staff development session that is introducing new approaches, curriculum, or strategies for teachers to implement into their classrooms. Inform the participants that as a means of following up on the information presented at the session, they will need to pair up with a person of their choice. It might be best for teachers to pair with another in their related area (i.e., ESL teachers together, math teachers together, etc.).
After pairs are formed, discuss the concept of using journal writing as a means for reflection on the changes that occur within the classroom, the students, and each teacher. Journal writing about one's experiences, thoughts, and feelings while experiencing something new is a great way to work through the tough spots, analyze the good and bad aspects of lessons, and make necessary adjustments and improvements for the benefit of the students.
Once participants understand the concept and use of journal writing, the next step is to discuss the idea of exchanging the journals with their partners. Being able to read each other's journals will confirm and validate not only any uncomfortable feelings one has about the transition, but also affirm the positive feelings as well. Pairs will be able to share failures and successes of strategies and lessons that do or don't work with their students; they will also be able to share thoughts regarding their students' transition as well.
Teachers should write in their journals within 24 hours after each class has met. Journals should be exchanged every 2-3 weeks so that not too much time elapses without some support or feedback from the other partner. It is not necessary for teachers to meet and discuss their journal entries with their partner (in person, over the phone, or through e-mail); however, any additional contact within teacher pairs is an added benefit. Teachers can decide within their pair if they want to respond to each other's entries, carry on a dialogue with the other in the exchange journals, use two different journals so as to always have a personal one to write in, or not to write in each other's journals.
As a follow-up, administrators of the staff development session where this activity originated may want to reconvene those who actively participated, asking the teachers to share their experiences from this activity.
Approximately 30 minutes for introduction of idea at staff development session; journal writing is ongoing until both feel they have worked through the "newness" of the approach-perhaps several months.
Warm, informal; works well with teachers who use self-reflection as a means to improve their teaching
Teacher pairs need time to meet, share their experiences, and exchange journals.
Evidence of effectiveness
Teachers will implement the new approach into their teaching; will be more willing to try something new again in their classrooms.
Pairs of teachers who are willing to participate; each teacher needs two journals so when journals are exchanged, they will have one to write in.
Adapted from Bergman-Illnik 1994, pp. 106-121.