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Here are a few things you may want to check out if you are interested in some of the successful practices at our school.
Watch Videos of Grace Tanaka, Karen Dennis, Stewart Case, Sue Mendizza, Jennifer Feeney, Rob Jenkins and Nilo Lipiz being interviewed about basic skills in the ESL classroom
Several representatives from Santa Ana College School of Continuing Education went to the Basic Skills Summer Institute August 10-13. This institute was offered by the California State Academic Senate. Just under 300 instructors, 4 of 5 adjunct, participated in general sessions and several very productive breakout sessions. Our team consisting of Rob Jenkins, Malena Copeland, Carlos Perez, Dorothy Hoyt, and John Tashima are all very excited about what we learned and the implications to our program.
I-Best Washington State
Isreal David Mendoza and a team representing schools and instructors from Washington discussed the Career Technical Education plan of the state. I was very impressed with the statistical data about the improvement in the programs that are incorporating this model. The state saw the very low literacy needs and poor performance of graduates in their programs and the fact that many vocational positions in the state were not being filled because of the lack of qualified applicants. They designed i-Best programs in different pilot schools
Perhaps in an oversimplification, the program is “team teaching”. The state pays i-Best courses at 1.75 times the regular FTE rate to help pay for the additional instructor in the room. It is designed with the assumption that you don’t need to wait to put students on a career path. You have one teacher in the class that is a content teacher for a career path like say accounting. Then your other teacher in the room is an ESL teacher. This isn’t tutoring or supplemental instruction and the second instructor shares the lime light. They team teach. Statistically, they showed how CASAS scores and all benchmarks were remarkably improved in all basic skills with these classes when compared to others. I spoke to John Lindem who is the BSI coordinator for continiung education in San Diego. They have sent many people to see the Washington program and they have done something similar in their program. This team teaching can take many different forms. I will invite others to describe the different types of team teaching styles.
I see great potentential for courses like this in our school. We have been struggling to figure out how we might include Vocational Ed, Office Prep, Parenting Ed, Older Adult, etc. in basic skills. This would be a great way to include more instructors and students and add additional support to our students. Another thought would be to offer college courses at CEC when we get our new facilities and create a team teaching circumstance with our instructors. Or we could supply the second instructor for courses at SAC. We have a lot of additional information on this program and we need to investigate its merits.
Barbara Illowsky and Anniqua Rana walked us through learning communities. To synthesize several ideas from several workshops, I see three different ways to support instruction:
Team Teaching (See discussion)
All of these have benefits. The learning communities are two or more classes that have the same students in all of them forming a community of learners. The different courses can be very related or slightly related. The obvious connection would be any content course combined with an ESL or Basic Skills course. For us, I think that forming communities taking BSI reading, writing, and math would be an easy thing to arrange. However, we could form communities with Business Skills, Vocational classes, Older Adult, and/or Parenting Ed with BSI courses. The BSI courses would carry some of the content of the content course and share some of the curriculum. This is harder than the team teaching idea in some ways because the instructors have to coordinate more to make sure they know what each of them are doing. Julia, I spoke to Shelley from LA Valley for doing this with noncredit. Since you know so much about htis already, you might ant to talk to her personally.
After running into John Lindem of San Diego Community College Continuing Education, Shelly Baseri of LA Valley College, and Candace Lynch-Thompson of North Orange County Non Credit, we all agreed that there should be some kind of communication with non-credit on our unique issues and BSI. I spoke with Mark Lieu who will be sending me all the non-credit programs who are participating and we will attempt to put together a non-credit BSI consortiuum. I am excited by the response of those non-credit people I talked to at the conference.
SLO and Rubrics
Bob Pacheco really clarified a lot about SLO’s for me. I am happy to report that I finally understand what I never quite understood before. I feel very comfortable (finally) in discussing it although I still have a few questions that he has promised to help me with. What was very important from his workshop and our 45 minute discussion afterward is the purpose of SLO’s. The WASC concern before 2002 was that grades were becoming meaningless because people were graduating and still not achieving the basic skills necessary to function in many jobs they supposedly qualified for. Grades are often inflated or don’t really reflect proficiency. Some teachers have gotten into the habit of giving extra points for a variety of things like attending a school football game or doing some task that isn’t directly related to the objectives of the course. Hence the establishment of SLO’s.
SLO’s or Student Learning Outcomes are NOT evaluations and SHOULD NOT be used to help give a grade to a student or identify the skill or ability of the teacher. It is NOT an assessment. SLO’s are to help us become better teachers. We have a rubric. We help students know what the rubric is. We establish a baseline or benchmark based on a 15 minute task at the beginning of the course. We do “intervention” (instruction) and near the middle of the course, we do another sample and check the task with the rubric. Then we do a final one. We don’t do this with all of our SLO’s every semester. We do it with one or maybe two as a sample. We take what we learn from it and change instruction. The students also participate in completing a rubric for themselves and then meet with the instructor to compare notes. This is how the instructor learns. The objective is not to have all perfect points on the rubric. There is no pressure from management to “cook” the books or to “teach to the test”. This is not used to generate a grade. It seems that it should be removed from the “assessment” realm and placed in the “professional development” and the “program improvement” realm because its purpose is to initiate change, not issue grades.
I also learned there are three layers to SLO’s. 1) Course SLO’s. There are only 2-4 per course. These are not objectives. They are overreaching outcomes. I am thinking they relate more to the CASAS Performance Indicators type language. 2) Program SLO’s. These are SLO’s that relate to all courses in the program and 3) Institution SLO’s. These are SLO’s that go across the curriculum no mattrer the discipline. These are more like SCANS or EFF standards like working on a team or using technology. I still have trouble understanding the clear difference between an SLO and course objectives. Bob is sending me various examples and activities to help me better understand this. I will share what he sends to me.
An idea came to me while participating in the coordinator meeting on Monday. I think it would be a great idea in fall to concentrate on a BSI Mentor Certification which would be a series of workshops (maybe like On Course) that instructors complete over September, October, and November. When they complete all the trainings (as many as 6) they qualify to be trainers in the spring for all faculty. Some schools have this type of certificate but it isn’t to qualify mentors. They pay anywhere form $1000-$1500 or give step salary credit, or give flex credit. I love this idea. We could train 20 in spring who in turn would be available to train all disciplines and also do special modules or series of modules for instructors.
What resources do you use in your classroom other than your textbooks? What are some of the best materials that you have used to supplement your curriculum? Talk about specific activities you have done with your class.
The purpose of this blog is to facilitate the implementation of a program that prepares students to matriculate successfully to ABE, GED, HSS and credit courses by emphasizing basic skills (reading, writing and math). This will be realized through the discussion and explanation of research and study of best practices. For more about the blog click here.