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COABE’s Share the Love of Learning Contest!

Hello everyone!

Thanks to all who have shared their stories of teacher change. By way of reminder, the contest closes at Noon ET tomorrow (Valentine’s). If you haven’t yet, please post your story in the COABE App (free for download) to be eligible to win a free COABE conference registration and other prizes (listed here).

And in the spirit of sharing the love of learning, we hope that you will also share your story in reply to this LINCS Community post.

Happy Valentine’s!

Sharon Bonney, COABE Manager

Comments

Connie Rivera's picture
One hundred

I grew up seeing math as a list of disconnected topics and memorizing rules and mnemonics for those rules.

My ah-ha moment as an adult educator came from attending a presentation by Lynda Ginsburg. We began by writing our favorite gelato flavor on a sticky note and posting it to chart paper. She asked questions, causing us to organize our flavors into a frequency chart. From there, we changed the frequency chart into a bar graph representing the class’ preferences. We each created our own bar graph and explored some things about it. Up until this point, I thought ‘this is a fun way to talk about bar graphs.’ 

Next, Lynda asked us to cut apart each one of those bars and tape them end to end. I could not see where this activity was going. We took that line of bars and looped it back into a circle, then traced it on a piece of paper. She asked us to put a dot in the center of the circle. I was blown away when we marked where each bar had been taped to another, then connected the divisions of the bar around the outside of the circle to the center dots – a circle graph! I had never realized that both bar graphs and circle graphs represent a whole where the wedges or bars are the parts.

This was the beginning of my journey to make sense of math… the direction my career has taken ever since.

JackieTaylor's picture
One hundred

Hi Connie,

Thanks so much for sharing and I'm happy to see that you've also posted to the COABE App. I enjoyed reading your story. Math, and even science, can feel frustrating until these 'ah ha' moments happen! What a great example Lynda provided by forming the bars into a circle to represent the wedges or portions of the whole. I will have to try that next time we teach charts and graphs.

Thanks again,

Jackie Taylor

Susan K. Cowles's picture
One hundred

Hello, everyone!  My most influential and important event, is, like Connie's, related to math.  In 1994 I attended the first Conference on Adult Mathematical Literacy.  This group of adult education practitioners and researchers decided to develop a mission statement, an organization, and initiatives to reform the ways in which math was taught to adult learners (away with total reliance on the de-contextualized workbook!!).  I was fortunate to meet Lynda Ginsburg, Myrna Manly, Mary Jane Schmitt, Esther Leonelli, Iddo Gal, Donna Curry, Pam Meader, Sally Waldron, and many other leaders in the field.  The Adult Numeracy Network (ANN) was established as a result of that collaboration.  ANN will be holding its 21st annual meeting on April 21, 2015, in Denver as a pre-conference event before the COABE conference.  Check out the website at http://www.adultnumeracynetwork.org

Cheers, Susan Cowles

 

 

JackieTaylor's picture
One hundred

Hi Susan,

Thanks for sharing -- I had no idea the ANN had been in operation for so long. How exciting it must have been to be a part of a new endeavor that became a movement! I wonder, would you or another from ANN share some of ANN's key accomplishments with us here?

PS -- And don't forget to post your comment above in COABE's App -- you could win a free COABE Conference registration. And if you do win the registration but don't plan on going, you could give it to someone else. That's the spirit of the contest, after all!

Jackie Taylor

Pam Meader's picture
Ten

Susan, thanks so much for remembering ANN. It is hard to believe that 20 years ago our organization held its first annual meeting in Cambridge, Massachusetts in April 1995.It is there we elected officers and drafted our constitution. We were officially named ANPN, Adult Numeracy Practitioners Network .It all began with Mary Jane Schmitt's vision that adult numeracy needed a voice in the adult education arena. In March 1994 she organized with the help of Lynda Ginsburg and Iddo Gal and with the support of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the National Center on Adult Literacy (NCAL), and the US Department of Education (OVAE) to co-sponsor “The Working Conference on Adult Mathematical Literacy”.  A practitioner from every state plus several congressmen were invited to dialogue and discuss numeracy issues. At the conference, ABE teachers formed a network, the Adult Numeracy Practitioners Network (ANPN), and established two mechanisms for communication: A quarterly newsletter, The Math Practitioner and an electronic listserv, NUMERACY.

When ANPN first began, we used to hold our annual conferences off site during the NCTM annual conference. In January, 1998 ANPN changed their name to the Adult Numeracy Network (ANN) and became affiliates of NCTM. However, we began to realize that our audience, adult educators, were attending COABE more than NCTM. It was decided to approach COABE and in 2004 we presented a few math workshops in what, at that time, was all literacy workshops.  Demand for math workshops grew and soon ANN was sponsoring a numeracy strand for  the annual COABE conferences and continues to do so today.

It is bittersweet as we approach this 20 year milestone that we have just lost the founder of this organization, Mary Jane Schmitt, who worked tirelessly for math practitioners in the field, to improve our practice and to focus policy on numeracy ( see: https://community.lincs.ed.gov/discussion/worth-noting-field-adult-numeracy-lost-champion-january-25th-when-mary-jane-schmitt). As we look back over 20 years so much has been accomplished but so much more needs to continue to move forward.  Mary Jane Schmitt and the late Myrna Manly both advocated for Literacy and Numeracy as separate but equal entities in national policy. As high stake tests and the Career and College Readiness Standards are in the forefront , the need for numeracy is ever greater. Fortunately initiatives like the Adult Numeracy Instruction (ANI) developed by Mary Jane Schmitt and Donna Curry have received the support of OCTAE and have reached practitioners in 18 states. Initiatives like this must continue. We owe it to Mary Jane's legacy and vision to carry the work forward.

 

 

Susan K. Cowles's picture
One hundred

Dear Pam,

Thank you so much for this history of ANN (formerly ANPN)!  You are right…it doesn't seem like it was twenty years ago when we met to discuss new ways of defining and talking about numeracy and its vital importance to our field.  Thank you, also, for your recognition and appreciation of Mary Jane Schmitt…she was our lodestar.  For examples of her ideas (and the ideas of other initial members of ANN), the website for Adult Numeracy Network has a great number of resources: http://www.adultnumeracynetwork.org/resources.html

 

 

 

Margaret Johnston's picture
First

VALUE THEIR REASON

Learning doesn't have to be dramatic. Reasons for gaining an education can be simple, yet valued by all involved in the process. Such was the case of a student named Gerald, who came to our center at the school known as Quapaw Technical Institute, adjacent to a community college named Garland County Community College. These two entities are now known as National Park Community College in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The time frame was the 1980's. Gerald, very quietly, entered the building that evening and asked for help with his reading skills. We advised him that we had to see what he could read and that a "little" exam would have to be taken. It was obvious that he did not identify many words, much less phrases. He was at O reading level . He had some word recognition, but very limited. We asked all the questions about his reasons for coming to our center. In a very quiet voice, but with a sense of sincerity that was so pure, he told us that his son would be starting school in the next 2 years and that he wanted to help him with his education, specifically reading. Our hearts just stopped. Here was a grown man, a father, who had the desire to work all day in a saw mill, sweating his life away, and he wanted to better himself so that he could be a better father. My lesson in this as an educator: Each student has a reason for being in our sights, our centers and our lives. We must value their reasons for allowing us to help them.

JackieTaylor's picture
One hundred

Hi Margaret, and welcome! I see you're a new or returning member to the LINCS Communities of Practice. We're happy to have you join us in this conversation.

I had goosebumps when I read your takeaway from your learning experience. As a teacher, I am always amazed (and humbled) by the reasons why adults come to adult education programs. As we already know, they overcome obstacles such as multiple jobs, or long work hours, or personal issues, or transportation, or legal status, or fear, or shame -- and it's usually any combination thereof. These obstacles (and others) are out-weighed by their determination to make a change. For me, teaching is a privilege that allows me to be a part of that change. I wonder how many of us have similar stories to yours, Margaret, and would be willing to share? We honor our students by doing that, and share not only our love of learning, but theirs.

Jackie Taylor

WendyQ's picture
Ten

A student taught me the most important lesson about teaching that I have ever had. The class was using a GED reading prep booklet and came to the e.e. cummings poem, “Spring is like a perhaps hand.” I read it aloud, as always with poetry, and a young man in the front row was so bursting with a response that he could hardly sit still.  When the poem finished, he practically shrieked, “That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard!”

I was not prepared for this reaction.  I was offended! I responded to what I saw as his disrespect, lecturing about cummings as a major poet, about how the work represented in the GED would be anything but stupid. Now, this young man was a court-mandated student with anger issues, so I was impressed that, but for a few bulging muscles in his jaw, he tolerated my put-down.

The incident stuck with me for days, until I realized that I had wasted that student’s deep and emotional response to this poem. I imagined the scene going differently:

“That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard!”

“Why makes you say that?”

“It doesn’t make any sense!”

“Why not?”

“Welll, what is a perhaps hand? And the words are all backwards.”

“Why do you think the poet would write it that way?”

I don’t know what he would have answered, or how the conversation would have ended. What I do know is that there would have been a conversation, likely with other students chiming in. But because I took that student’s  response as an insult rather than a sign of engagement, we all missed a deep learning opportunity.  

This incident has stayed with me for many years, reminding me to value and build on student engagement, whatever form it may take.  I have been a better teacher since that day.   I don’t know what became of that young man, but I sure wish I could apologize for my arrogance and thank him for the gift he gave me and all the students who followed him.

shepardjma's picture
Ten

Thank you for sharing!  I think that we teachers all have many of those moments that we look back on and wish we could have done differently.  The important thing is how we reflect/learn/grow on each of those opportunities, which it certainly sounds as if you've done.  Teachers need "aha!" moments just as much as students.  I hope that for any instance in which I realize I've done it wrong (taught it wrong, responded wrong, etc.), that I remember it so that I can fix it in the future, but that the student will not remember it, or at least it will not affect him/her to the degree that it affects me.

Margaret Johnston's picture
First

Wendy,

Thank you for realizing what you did and what could have been done. This means that you are evaluating each situation with the learning experience. This is commendable!

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