Highlighting Workplace Connections When Teaching ABE/GED Academic Courses
- As a general literacy activity, learners use interviewing skills for an academic project, e.g., reading about several national heroes and then interviewing a respected community member and writing an essay on that person. To make the workplace tie, teacher and learners discuss how what they learned from developing interview questions as well as preparing for and conducting interviews might be useful when preparing themselves for a job interview.
- As a general literacy activity, learners use the segments of the "Knowledge Guide" (Ogle, 1986;Thistlethwaite, 1997) to help themselves engage with and learn from a reading selection (one with a workplace focus or any other type of reading selection). The various components of the "Knowledge Guide" include answering the following questions:
To make the workplace tie, teacher and learners discuss how this same process has application to reading job manuals and problem-solving on the job.
As a general literacy activity, learners search the Internet to find information about a project, perhaps finding out information about a social studies issue or an author. To make the workplace tie, teacher and students also search the Internet to discover types of employment information available.
- What do I already know?
- What did I discover that I already knew but originally didn�t remember or didn�t see the relevance of?
- What do I want to find out?
- What did I learn � what questions did I find answers for?
- What didn�t I understand?
- What did I learn that was relevant and important but not directly related to any of my questions?
- Which of my questions did I not find answers to?
- What additional questions do I have?
- As a general literacy activity, learners develop a "Personal Survival Notebook" (Glasby & Hornberger, 1981) as a basic literacy activity. Along with general information, e.g., correct spelling of days of the week and the months of the year and a variety of personal information, e.g., medical record information, this notebook might include information that might be asked for by an employer, e.g., past educational and employment history. To make the workplace tie stronger, teacher and learners discuss the many ways this notebook could be a good resource during the interview process, including demonstrating to a potential employer something about the person�s organizational abilities.
- When teaching clarity and organization, correct spelling, and correct grammar in written expression, teachers encourage writing that has work-related content. Teacher and learners discuss the types of writing common in the workplace, e.g., memos, suggestions, and responses to complaints, and the importance of employees being able to clearly state their ideas as they write. Learners develop short pieces of writing with a business orientation.
- As a general literacy activity, learners organize their thoughts for an essay, using a variety of brainstorming techniques as well as a process for developing their essay. To make the workplace tie, teacher and students brainstorm workplace writing situations that require longer pieces of writing, e.g., reports and summaries of meetings. Being able to demonstrate one�s ability to use a word processing program for this writing might be a skill good to include on one�s resume.
- As a general literacy activity, learners enhance an essay or a report they�ve written with desktop publishing. For example, they might develop an invitation to an adult literacy function as an authentic demonstration of their writing skills. To make the workplace tie, teacher and learners discuss how these same applications enhance a workplace report or newsletter.
- As a general literacy activity, learners develop math concepts with word problems. To make the workplace tie, the teacher develops word problems that have a workplace focus, rather than relying on the examples given the book and encourages learners to develop similar workplace word problems.
- Learners practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with actual money rather than units.
- A good site for sample problems in everyday math is Webmath (www.webmath.com). The problems are also available on CD-ROM.
Problem Solving and Group Dynamics
- As a general literacy activity, learners work through Decisions, Decisions! Prejudice (Snyder, 1999), available on CD-ROM. To solve the key problem, learners work in teams, making decisions that lead to yet more decisions and reading supplementary materials to help them make their decisions. To make the workplace tie, the teacher highlights how this process is similar to a work team problem-solving an employment or business issue (both in terms of problem solving and group dynamics).
- As a general literacy activity, learners take roles in a cooperative learning activity, perhaps with one participant being the leader, one being the recorder, one being the arbitrator, and one being the devil�s advocate. To make the workplace tie, the teacher discusses the necessity of cooperative groups in the work place and discusses how these various roles might play out in a workplace setting. The teacher should remind adult learners that many people lose their jobs because they can�t get along with people not because they can�t do the work.
- As a general literacy activity, learners share perspectives after reading a literature selection. To make the workplace tie, teacher and learners discuss the importance of objectively listening to the views of fellow employees and employers, recognizing that with some workplace issues, employers and employees will have different perspectives.
Self-Awareness and Self-Evaluation
- As a general literacy activity, learners keep a portfolio of their work and evaluate this portfolio periodically. They look at what they�ve included in their portfolio says about them as a learner. To make the workplace tie, teacher and students discuss what they�ve learned about themselves that could be incorporated into their resume. They also discuss self-evaluation as an important workplace skill.
- As a general literacy activity, learners keep journals of how they learn, perhaps writing in them at the end of every other session. In these journals they record what they�ve understood or have tried to understand, questions they have, points they�re confused about, how they feel about various of the classroom learning experiences, what they need to learn next, etc (Ross, 1996). One entry might focus on a personal response to something read; another might focus on summarizing a math process in the learner�s own words. Sometimes learners find that as they write, they write their way into understanding. The purpose of these journals is to encourage learners to be in charge of their own learning. To make the workplace tie, teacher and learners discuss how keeping a journal while on the job might be beneficial.
- As a general literacy activity, learners develop a repertoire of personal study skills, including how to listen effectively, how to remember information read or heard, how to take notes, and how to study for a test. To make the workplace tie, teacher and learners discuss how some of these same study skills could be beneficial to an employee.
- As a general literacy activity, learners are encouraged to develop a risk-taking stance with respect to hypothesizing about unknown words, solving a math problem, or experimenting with different kinds of writing. To make the workplace tie, teacher and learners discuss the importance of risk-taking in the workplace: making suggestions to supervisors, showing initiative, being willing to learn something new, etc.