Monthly Archives: February 2012

PD Opportunity: Preparing for Work Curriculum Training May 8-9, 2012 – Knoxville, TN


Equipped for the Future is hosting an open-registration training for the Preparing for Work curriculum May 8-9, 2012 at the University of Tennessee Conference Center in Knoxville, TN.  This 2-day training is designed for instructors interested in implementing the curriculum in adult education or workforce development settings.  Training Agenda

This skills-based curriculum is designed to model authentic, work related experiences and activities. Activities are designed to provide opportunities for learners to apply the skills that are being presented.    About the Curriculum

Register online today at:

Training Topic: Preparing for Work: The EFF Work Readiness Course

Audience:  Instructors in Adult Education and Workforce Development

Date: May 8-9, 2012

Location:  University of Tennessee Conference Center, Knoxville, TN    Directions & Maps

Training fee: $750 per person
with lunch and a light breakfast included both days
Accommodations, travel and all other meals are the responsibility of the participant.  Hotel & Travel info

Materials:  Each participant will receive a copy of the newly REVISED teacher’s guide and student manual
and a master copy of student materials on CD.  Preview PfW manual contents

Space is limited and registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please contact Aaron Kohring with any questions at


Attendance Issues in Adult Education: How do You Adjust Instruction “On the Fly”?

Has this ever happened to you? You plan a learning activity for your group of students, and when you arrive at class you find that a large number of students are absent. You think, “What I planned will never work with such a small group! What are we gonna do?

Of course it has!  Quality instruction that meets our students’ needs often requires teachers to be highly flexible in their approach to what and how we teach – to be able to “think on our feet” when the unexpected (like fluctuations in attendance numbers) gets in the way of our careful planning.  Being flexible in this way is particularly challenging if we are using a published curriculum to guide teaching. And this seems especially true in the context of Adult Education, where attendance is voluntary and the lives of the adults we teach can sometimes be quite chaotic. Few of us can assume that all of our students who start a class will be able to attend regularly, or that a stable group of students will persist from the beginning to the end of an instructional program.

This leads us to an important and interesting question:
How do we develop the capacity to be flexible with the instructional plans we make, so that we can adapt when something – like class attendance numbers – suddenly changes?

Since almost ALL adult education teachers face these issues, please share with us:

  1. Your thoughts about how to successfully adapt your instruction when class attendance makes it hard to teach in the way you have planned to teach. What have you put in place to help your students learn what they need to learn even when class attendance fluctuates?
  2. How you help students learn what they need to learn while “tweaking” the instructional approach you THOUGHT you were going to take when you arrived in class, any particular strategies you use, any ‘ah-has’ you’ve had, etc.  What instructional strategies do you use when faced with the need to quickly change the plans you have already made for a class session?

To get you started, below are some strategies that one teacher successfully employed in these situations – do her experiences sound at all familiar to you? Have you tried out anything similar to the strategies she used?

Meet Elizabeth Gardner –  a Workforce Preparation Instructor at Suits for Success in Jersey City, NJ. For the past 2 years she has been teaching her adult clients using the EFF Preparing for Work curriculum.  Below are 3 examples of “adjusting on the fly” she has done as her class attendance has fluctuated.

Example #1:  Elizabeth reports that there are several times when she had only 3 students in the room when the Preparing for Work curriculum indicated a partner discussion activity. To adapt the activity to the realities of her context, she simply combined the partner discussions and class discussions indicated, and had all three students discuss the topic – with some instructor “nudging” of the conversation as needed.

Example #2:  One time, Elizabeth had planned to facilitate a problem-solving activity in the curriculum that included role-playing in groups of 3, and then groups discussing the role play with each other. But at class time, there were just four people in class that day. So she turned the role play into a four person scenario, had students do self-assessments at the end of the scenario, and then asked them to get together to discuss how their self-assessments compared with how others thought they did.

Example #3:  For another planned 3-person role-playing activity with only 5 students in attendance, Elizabeth decided on a different approach. The activity focused on reading text to find information in order to address a situation with a client or supervisor at work. Instead of asking them to role play in groups, Elizabeth asked students to individually read over all the role-play scenarios and look to the texts for the relevant information. Then for each scenario they went around the room, and one by one all the students demonstrated what they would say to their client or supervisor in that situation. This seemed the best way to make sure everyone had a chance to practice what they were learning and for students to hear many different approaches to work-related situations.  It also provided a great opportunity to assess individuals’ skill use.

We look forward to your ideas and strategies for adjusting instruction “on the fly”!

Click to learn more about  the EFF Preparing for Work curriculum or contact us via

Post Contributors:
Peggy McGuire, EFF Trainer & Content Expert, Center for Literacy Studies
Elizabeth Gardner, Instructor,  Suits for Success in Jersey City, NJ

Estimation – What Strategies Do You Teach? How?

Research indicates that the vast majority of all calculations performed by adults in everyday life involve mental math…and that estimates are sufficient for around 60% of all our daily calculations.2  Yet further research repeatedly reveals that a majority of both K-12 students and college-educated adults have difficulty using estimation.1

This leads us to several interesting questions:

1)      How do we use estimation and mental math each day?
Consider yesterday – when, how, and how often did you use estimation?

2)      How do we think the adults/older youth we teach use estimation each day?

3)      What are some solid strategies for strengthening our learners’ estimation skills?

Please share with us your thoughts on estimation – its importance both in and outside the classroom, how you address it, any ‘ah-has’ you’ve had, etc.  Below are some comments from our Math Content expert, Donna Curry, to get you started:  Are you familiar with the estimation strategies she mentions? Do you teach them to your learners? How?

“Many folks are not aware that there are different strategies for estimation depending on your purpose or the situation. These different strategies, as well as how/when to use them, should be explicitly addressed with our adult learners.

Rounding is one strategy commonly presented in textbooks, but you can also do front end estimating (just looking at the digits furthest to the left – such as looking at 23 + 45 + 31 and changing them to 20 + 40 + 30 for an estimate).  Or, you could clump numbers to get similar clumps (such as 1.24 + 2.38 + 4.70 + 8.64 and clump 1.24 & 4.70 together to make about 6 since .24  + .70 is about 1, and then clump 2.38 & 8.64 to make about 11 since .38 and .64 is about 1).  In fact, even with rounding there is no “law” that requires that you round up or down – for example, when shopping I always round up to make sure I have enough money. When estimating, you always need to decide what makes sense for the situation (or your purpose)!

We need to help our learners realize that an estimate is used to get a sense for the number. In this way estimation is key to number sense. (It is not simply another chapter in the book!)” – Donna Curry

We look forward to your thoughts on Estimation and Estimation Strategies!

Learn more about teaching estimation strategies in the EFF online mini-course, How Close is Close Enough?: Improving Estimation Skills, or via other EFF professional development materials/services!

 Research on the Use of Estimation:

1Adding It Up: Helping Children Learn Mathematics, (2001) Jeremy Kilpatrick, Jane Swafford, Bradford Findell, National Academy Press Washington, DC.

2 Northcote, M., & McIntosh, M. (1999) What mathematics do adults really do in everyday life? Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, 4(1), (pp19-21)

EFFTIPS Launched!

We’re Launched! – Welcome to EFFTIPS!*

As adult education practitioners, we all want to see the adults and older youth we work with succeed.

Hosted by the Equipped for the Future (EFF) Project, this site provides short, readily applicable teaching and learning strategies instructors can both try out immediately and further explore. Posts are designed to facilitate an exchange of ideas among adult education teachers implementing standards-based instruction and/or quality instructional principles.

Adult/older youth populations addressed by our posts include those seeking basic literacy skills, GED test preparation, skills for success in first or new careers, English Language improvement, support for post-secondary transition, and more.

Our Contributors: while EFF Content Experts craft most of the posts on this site, we also draw from practitioners’ actual classroom experiences. We encourage you, as participants and practitioners, to feel free to submit ideas, questions and anecdotes for possible posting. Simply e-mail us at

This Site is YOUR community! The content on this site depends on you to not only read, but also to post comments, ideas, and/or questions frequently.

Your experiences and thoughts will help to support and enrich
other teachers and learners in the field of adult education!

While anyone is welcome to read and comment on this site, it is fully moderated in order to prevent spam, hackers, and abusive comments.

*EFFTIPS stands for Equipped for the Future: Teachers’ Instructional Practices and Strategies.

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