by Melissa Braaten
In the academic sphere, statistics can sometimes seem like the odd one out. Most of us associate statistics with math, although it is far more dependent on context for meaning than other domains of math.
For example, a graph of population data with the context removed is just a meaningless squiggle.
Now consider the same graph with its intended labels.
(For even more information, view the original chart.)
Different fields of study have different ways of collecting and interpreting data. Physicists may run controlled experiments in a lab; climate scientists may compare historical and present day measurements; social scientists may collect surveys. These context-specific applications of statistics can be taught in content classes to enrich students understanding of statistics, as well as the content matter.
For example, while teaching a unit about the U.S. Civil Rights movement, my class looked at voter registration data before and after the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The dramatic (sometimes up to tenfold) increase in the rates of black registered voters in Southern states after this legislation helps to tell part of this country’s history. In addition, it demonstrates how data can be used to support inferences about historical realities, such as the effectiveness of voter suppression against African Americans before the Voting Rights Act.
In adult education, we want our students to be able to engage in their personal, professional, and civic lives in a deep and meaningful way. We want students to grapple with the big issues of the day and contributing to the conversation. This is one of the reasons for the instructional shifts in the College & Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education (CCRSAE) across content areas. When it comes to ELA, the shifts emphasize the use of textual evidence in reading, writing and speaking. Our adult students need to be able to analyze textual and academic arguments, and to cite evidence from those arguments to form their own. In the “content-rich nonfiction” texts that we are using to build knowledge, arguments based on data and statistics are common, and statistical literacy is a must.
Keep an eye out for Part 2: Integrating Statistics in the Content Areas, where we will look at some examples in the adult education classroom.
Melissa Braaten is an adult education instructor at Catholic Charities Haitian Multi-Services Center in Dorchester, MA. Melissa has taught ASE and pre-ASE math and reading, as well as ABE writing, computer skills, and health classes. Melissa also is a training and curriculum development specialist for the SABES PD Center for Mathematics and Adult Numeracy at TERC. She has written several articles for Math Musings, the Adult Numeracy blog.
by Marie LeBlanc
It is hard enough to offer multimedia in a typical adult education setting. It is even tougher to offer multimedia to adult learners in a medium-security state prison, where I teach now.
photo collage from the DOC FaceBook page
Perhaps similar to yours, many of my students left school between the 7th and 9th grades due to learning disabilities, immigration issues, poor family support and complicated environments. Their lack of background knowledge is very apparent in many subjects. Add to that the prison restrictions on device and internet use within the classroom, and the general challenges of teaching inside the wall.
Still, it is possible. I would like to share how I have taught U.S. History in a memorable and easy-to-understand way, while addressing the College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education (CCRSAE).
I presented the evolution of our country through a multimedia timeline. This approach allowed me to show pertinent events, people, and documents through a variety of primary and secondary sources.
I tried to incorporate the strategies for Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences and Webb’s Depth of Knowledge into my activity questions and used reading, writing, math, and science texts to expand the scope of learning. I incorporated technology by including video and audio files containing music, speeches, podcasts, documentaries, and more.
I found that presenting formative and cumulative assessment activities individually and as a group allowed me to effectively evaluate the needs and progress of my students, and that I could use a variety of assessment activities such as cloze reading, matching terms, and games presented through PowerPoint, PDFs, Word documents, and websites. The hardware I used included SMART Boards, LCD projectors, laptops, and an Elmo document projector.
Many of the activities I created from scratch, but there are hundreds of shared online educational resources. When teaching outside of prison, I’ve also used smartphones and QR codes.
Following is an example of how multimedia may be incorporated into teaching the Declaration of Independence.
(2) Discuss vocabulary as a group
(3) Ask "reporter questions":
(4) Explore the main ideas from each part of the document
(5) Listen to this podcast and discuss the relevance of the Declaration then and today
Podcast with transcript and links at https://shapingopinion.com/writing-the-declaration-of-independence-episode-17/
(6) Analyze the Declaration as a primary source
The National Archives has a trove of resources for primary sources. I use the document worksheet pictured here.
I have also presented this U.S. History lesson online through a webinar to my adult educator peers in order to stress the usefulness of multimedia, and to show how it:
There are numerous ways to incorporate multimedia in any subject, and yes, it may take a little more work, but I can assure you that it will create an engaging and memorable lesson!
graphic by Starline at Flaticon
Being an educator today is a struggle for many of us, day in and day out. When I worked in a middle school, I felt like I had to wear many hats and not just be the teacher. I sometimes filled the role of a parent, a friend, a nurse, or just a shoulder to cry on. Then, of course, middle school brings its own challenges of bullying and puberty. I decided last year to make the switch to adult education. I found out that adult education is its own unique niche with its own set of issues and struggles.
To start, I don’t have a real curriculum geared to adult education, and the materials I do have seem really childish. I have to find and create materials that are appropriate not only for my students’ education level, but also their age, lifestyle, and background.
I can’t print phonics worksheets that have little hearts and teddy bears all over the page. These materials would make my students feel uneducated or stupid, and what I want is to empower them to change their lives and educate themselves.
To add to the challenges many of us adult educators face, I also work in a jail.
Working in a jail, prison, or corrections facility brings its own unique issues to this already challenging job. Our schedule is based around when inmates are allowed movement. From 11:30 to 1:00, inmates have to go back to their living units for count and lunch. Therefore, we cannot have classes during this time.
Then there are the day-to-day challenges of students not coming to school because they are in court, or they did something and ended up in segregation, or they just didn’t want to come. Students are given “good time” if they come to school, and they can earn five days off their sentence for being in school for the month. However, some max out their good time because they are in other mandatory programs, and many of our non-sentenced population don’t care, because they haven’t been sentenced and cannot earn good time yet, and are really hoping they can make bail and go home. They do face disciplinary consequences if they miss too many days; however, some students still do not care.
Read our first post.
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