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DAY 1 - KYAE Skills U Lesson Bank Three-Day Discussion!

DAY 1 PROMPT for Monday, July 9th, 2018

A.  Introductions

Welcome, Bethany VanHoose Rudd and Susan Roberts, content developers for Kentucky Adult Education Skills (KYAE) U Lesson Bank. Welcome, Sharon Johnston, Director of College and Career Prep for Kentucky Skills U. And a hearty welcome to all participants as well who will be dialoguing about the topics that we will cover in the next three days! 

  • Bethany VanHoose Rudd is a National Board-Certified Teacher and a regular contributor to the Kentucky Adult Education Skills U Lesson Bank. A Paintsville native, Bethany earned a Bachelor’s in secondary English teaching and a Masters in English from Eastern Kentucky University. She taught high school English at Johnson Central and Montgomery County High Schools before deciding to stay home with her young children. Bethany says, “I like writing lessons because, although I am not teaching, I am still impacting student learning.”  In addition, Bethany especially enjoys creating writing lessons that help students go through each step of the writing process.
  • Susan Roberts of SCR Consulting  is also a regular contributor to the Kentucky Adult Education Skills U Lesson Bank. She is a trainer, teacher, author, and lifelong learner with 10+ years of adult education instructional leadership and curriculum experience. She works with programs across the country to help make standards-based, contextualized instruction a seamless and, most importantly, fun process. While she is often seen talking to large audiences, her favorite part of her work is helping make teachers’ jobs easier.  Susan is also a LINCS trainer in Career Pathways.
  • Sharon Johnston is the Director of College and Career Prep at Kentucky Skills U, a position she has held for a little over a year. For four years prior to that appointment, Sharon served as a Senior Associate for Skills U, focusing on integrated education and training models and supporting instructors in contextualizing instruction for both workforce preparation and occupation training and education.

We are very fortunate to have all three of you join us here for three days of learning and exploration

B. Questions to Guests

  1. The KY Skills U Lesson Bank provides a number of items that include helpful details for instructors, depending on the goals of the students they serve. Each lesson follows a template  adapted from the Standards-in-Action guidance for high-quality instruction that is relevant and engaging for adult learners.  How do you approach starting the process of planning each lesson to fit different templates and learner needs?
  2. What do you find most challenging about creating plans designed to engage current populations of adult learners?
  3. All lesson plans in the Lesson Bank integrate instruction to address both academic and workforce readiness skills relevant to the lives of adult learners. How do you approach that integration or contextualization?
  4. What aspects do you consider to be missing from most other lesson plans that you read?

Please add other comments as you consider today’s discussion.

C. Invitation for Day 1 Participation –Dear participants, select a lesson from the Bank that you might use with adult learners.

  1. Please join the Lesson Plan Bank and follow instructions to get started. If you haven’t done so before, please visit the following resources on the KYAE Lesson Bank site and explore the following content:
  2. Review the criteria listed for a top-rated lesson plan. Reflect on what aspects would serve you in developing a plan for your students.
  3. Select a lesson from “Reasoning through Language Arts Lessons: Reading and Writing Lessons.” - (Chose another area if you prefer.) Select One level and one lesson that you have used or might use with adult learners. You will notice a box to the right of the screen, which provides you a link to download the complete lesson in PDF or Word; you can also download a “streamlined” version that includes all of the same information in a condensed format. The full versions provide more structure for the purpose of each section and are helpful for those who are new to adult education.
  4. Post your selection below and comment on your choice. Include ideas on what you might add should you implement the lesson. Comment on what others have posted if you find comments relevant to your practice.

You are invited to also ask questions and respond to comments posted by our guest experts in this forum. Let's get this dialogue started!!!

Leecy Wise, Moderator
Reading and Writing Community


Bethany Rudd's picture

Hello, everyone! I'm happy to be here to discuss the KY Skills U Lesson Bank. Almost every lesson in the bank focuses on teaching necessary academic and employability skills within the context of exploring a possible career. I begin with the CCR standard that is the lesson's focus and the career pathway for that particular unit of lessons (ex. Health Science Careers or Construction and Trades). For instance, it could be evaluating the sufficiency of evidence, which is important for the RLA extended response on the GED, and the Construction and Trades career pathway.

Then I ask, how should I teach this?

What activities would be best to achieve this learning goal?

Next, I search for a text or texts that is on the right reading level for my selected group of learners. For example, NRS Level 4 would be 6th-8th grade reading level. I use a free online resource, the ATOS Text Analyzer, to evaluate the texts if they are not already labeled by Lexile Score or grade level. I often use my free accounts at Newsela or Readworks because Newsela always gives you the same text on 3 different reading levels and Readworks sometimes does the same. This allows the instructor to change to text for students who are reading on a higher or lower level. Once I've found a text, I complete the qualitative analysis, which helps me evaluate the text's complexity by analyzing features such as language and background knowledge necessary for comprehension. I begin to write text-based questions to emphasize key points and to help teach adult learners main ideas, details, and inferences.

Next, I focus on the instructional delivery. I write this out like a script as I imagine myself teaching the lesson to actual students. Any time a teacher is able to go over a reading passage carefully with students, I believe those students can learn what to look for--how to quickly circle a main idea or underline a key list or find the definition of a word by searching for context clues. This process will make them better readers at that moment and in the future. I feel that the detailed instructional delivery and the fact that each lesson educates students about possible careers elevates the usefulness of the KY Skills U Lesson Bank above other lesson plans.  Here is a link for a lesson called Comparing Arguments Between Texts: To Build or Not to Build? in a unit on Trade Jobs:

susiebeth's picture

Hello, everyone!  I'm Susan Roberts, a consultant and trainer who has been fortunate enough to contract with Kentucky Skills U for over 4 years now, with much of my efforts focusing on creating lessons/curriculum for them and coaching instructors statewide in their creation of standards-based, contextualized lessons.  I hope you glean some good ideas from examining the great materials in the Lesson Bank.

1.  I had the benefit of being part of the early development of both the Bank and all its components, such as the templates.  Being familiar with the templates and their different components depending on content area, for ELA, I usually begin with specific standards or a specific text in mind.  In math, I always begin with the standards I wish to cover, usually in light of coherence with prior lessons I or other authors have written.  Since I am contracted as a lesson developer, I have an idea of where more content might be added and which standards still need lessons, so that’s often a content starting point.

2.  While there is a plethora of articles and content for adults, there’s not necessarily a plethora of articles and content for adults with lower literacy levels.  It can be really challenging to find both engaging and complexly-appropriate texts for adults.  That’s where quantitative and qualitative analysis of texts really becomes important and has helped to evolve lesson planning in the adult education realm.

3.  Actually, the KY Skills U lesson bank all began from a small pilot program in 2014 that crescendo with participating counties creating contextualized lessons—something brand new at the time.  These 11 counties wanted a way to share their lessons with each other, and a very crude docusharing platform was used.  But that platform was the predecessor to the full blown Bank as it’s known today.  Skills U’s lessons have been contextualized from Day 1, and instructors in Kentucky are very well versed in contextualized instruction.  I also wrote the Employability Standards KY Skills U uses in all their instruction, so these soft skills give basis for expectation as well, allowing career pathway-specific information to be added in as well.

4.  As a coach and trainer all over the country, the one thing I see lacking initially from most lessons is alignment among standards, activities, and assessments.  Making sure that the few standards you say you’re covering are reflected in the skills students are learning and using in the lesson’s activities and assessments.  I sometimes don’t even see this in publications for adult education.  It can also be difficult to include lots of detail in lessons.  I always compare writing a “public” lesson to a recipe: You can’t just list ingredients.  You must have amounts, supplies, timeframes, step-by-step instructions, etc. It can be difficult at first, but it becomes second nature after a while.


Sharon Johnston's picture

Hello Everyone and welcome to the KY Skills U Lesson Bank,

As both Beth and Susie have shared, Kentucky has devoted considerable time and resources to support instructors in equipping adult learners with the skills and knowledge needed to get a job, and keep a job in today's workplace. As you will see in the lesson bank, we are fortunate to have many highly qualified, and dedicated professionals across the Commonwealth who have contributed to the lessons and units posted in the bank. For your convenience, you can search by NRS level, specific CCRS, KY Skills U Employability Skills, career clusters, or simply by typing in a word of interest. Recently, we added a section for STUDENT RETENTION and PERSISTENCE, which offers lessons that encourage students to set and attain goals and overcome potential barriers. All lessons undergo a rigorous vetting process, conducted by subject matter experts before posting. Those subject matter experts are also available to provide coaching if a lesson requires revision.

When you visit the bank, be sure to click on "Get Started/ At-a-Glance" at the top of the screen to find alignment charts to assist in your search.

Please share your experience with us, we welcome your input for any improvements we can make to the bank:


Sharon Johnston Director, College and Career Prep Kentucky Skills U 


S Jones's picture  is the page to register if we haven't done that yet.     I hope to get back to it this afternoon!   

Sharon Johnston's picture

Would love to hear your thoughts once you have a chance to explore.


Maryam Ayazi's picture

Per your request, I chose the lesson plan titled "Determine the Main Idea" from the RLA lessons because it is the type of lesson that I have used with my adult learners or NRS Level 2-3. (I do not have the authorization to post the lesson in this discussion.) "Determine the Main Idea" is meant for NRS Levels 3-4. The lesson is designed to be student-centered so the employable standards include, among other things, cooperation, accurately analyzing information, and interacting with others in a professional manner. There are no time limits given for this lesson, which makes me think that the lesson is for a class that meets at least 4x a week for 4 hours a day. This lesson, in my opinion, has some very good aspects. Specifically, it allows for students' input. I love the idea of focusing on text features (such as newspaper headlines) to use as a tool for finding the main idea in a text. In fact, this is something I would improve on by comparing an article with and without text features to show different ways that authors convey the main ideas. I would also improve on this lesson by providing specific language used in the classroom in the "Instructional Delivery" portion of the Lesson Template. I would also focus on how this lesson allows students to learn cooperation in a team and how to interact in a professional manner. Because I work with NRS Levels 2-3, I would use Direct Instruction in showing how to find the main idea using portions from a variety of media such as photos,YouTube, advertisements, etc. This can be very interactive and can get the students involved in discussing what tools authors use to convey their ideas. 

As to the other questions, my challenge is finding meaningful activities that draw students' attention to the world around them using text, text features, images, and media. As far as integrating academic and workforce readiness, I would need to really analyze the lessons in your Lesson Bank. At the moment, I am interested in assisting my students to gain academic skills while becoming computer literate. Most lesson plans that I read do not show how the lesson relates to students needs. That is why I like the lesson posted by, Susan Roberts, I believe, which stated why the activities used were important to the students and what language they needed to hear in order to make the lesson important. I felt like I was a member of the jury at trial being given the necessary instruction in order to perform my federal duty. Very good.

Leecy's picture
Thanks for contributing so much to this discussion, Maryam! I believe that the link to the lesson you selected is
Your reflection on different items in this lesson touch on several good points, among them...
  1. Student Centered: Yes! I don't think any of us wants to become sage on the stage any longer! Not in our right minds!
  2. ...allows students to learn cooperation in a team and how to interact in a professional manner." Yes, employers everywhere beg us to teach students to work on teams and to learn businesslike communication and behavioral patterns that match our US dominant business culture
You said, "As far as integrating academic and workforce readiness, I would need to really analyze the lessons in your Lesson Bank."
Let me suggest that learning "cooperation in a team and how to interact in a professional manner" represent workforce-readiness skills." Other workforce readiness skills vary, depending on the occupation targeted."  Surely, "Determining the Main Idea," is in high demand in academic settings. Do it also relate to workplace settings? What do others here think? 
Everyone is invited to continue this discussion in the next two days while considering the prompts for Days 2 and 3. Let the dialogue continue and thrive!
Thanks, one and all. Leecy
Leecy's picture
Thank you Susan, Beth, and Sharon for introducing this discussion. You have shared very useful tips for lesson development, site navigation, and other helpful resources, 
  • Beth, thanks for sharing so many great tips and resources related to your planning process! How do other participants feel about Beth's process? Does it resemble yours in any way? 
  • Susan, you said, " the one thing I see lacking initially from most lessons is alignment among standards, activities, and assessments." I wonder why that is. Do most instructors not feel confident enough with standards to match them to activities? I wonder why assessment tools, such as rubrics, are not included more in lesson planning. For the same reason? What do others here believe? 
  • Sharon, thanks for sharing so many tips for using the bank's resources. What have participants here experienced while exploring the sites' tools? Have you found something new that you love?
susiebeth's picture

I do think there's still an anxiety among standards understanding, which is unfortunate, but it usually just requires a bit of awareness. Once the skills of the standard are understood, it's more clear how to link what students are to learn to what they're practicing.

Ginette Chandler's picture

Hello everyone,

My name is Ginette Chandler.  I am the new Statewide Staff Development Coordinator in New Hampshire.  My position started July 1, 2018.  I joined this group to learn more about how to develop a lesson bank/ toolkit to help adult education administrators, educators, and volunteers become more comfortable grappling with and incorporating the new initiatives into every lesson plan.   

Prior to the start of my position, the state had offered to pay a stipend to individuals for developing lesson plans that incorporated all of the initiatives listed on the state developed lesson plan template which included:

  • Planning for desired results
  • CCRS level specific standards that support and align with lesson objective
  • Employability Skills
  • Integration of Technology
  • SPI, Sector Partnership Initiative (Manufacturing, Health Care, IT, Hospitality)
  • Contextualized Instruction
  • Essential Components of Reading
  • Other Notes

The list above was in addition to standard lesson information (lesson title, EFL level, Length of lesson, Unit title if applicable, # of classes, learner outcomes/ objectives, Assessment, Materials and Preparation Activities, Step by Step Instructions, Closure, and Independent Practice).

Very few people took the state up on this offer.  The feedback I received (from a handful of people) was that they could incorporate a few of the above-listed initiatives, but did not feel comfortable/ confident enough to incorporate every initiative into the lesson plan.


As I mentioned above, my goal is to learn as much as I can from this group.  The top priority is to help AE administrators, teachers, and volunteers delve deeper to better understand how to use and incorporate each initiative while building lesson plans/ curriculums.  A second goal is to determine how best to create a professional development team (experts in the field) to help build a library of resources, lesson plans/ foundational toolkit that can be accessed by all and shared.   

The lesson I chose is for literacy level: Reading Foundational Skills.  The lesson name is Community Signage:

I deliberately chose this lesson because it is very hard to find literacy level, CCRS aligned lesson plans.  As one of several NH CCRS Train the Trainers, we often received push back from ESL teachers; especially literacy level ESL teachers.  They were often dismissive and did not believe that their learners were anywhere near the level of being ready to work on any CCRS standards. 

While giving trainings and workshops, I loved being able to show teachers that a person working on their signature was not required to have mastered the skill until (If I remember correctly) Level B.  It was the one detail I used to get teachers to recognize the standards as being valid for their learners.

However I digress.  Getting back to the lesson I chose, if I were to add anything, I would add specific activities that involve using the computer.  I would also provide a few options for the differentiated portion of the lesson, as many classes are multi-level.  Teachers would need ideas/ help to keep everyone in the classroom engaged.  Perhaps different stations could be set up to help learners practice using the signage in different ways.  Similar to a rotation station setup, so that the teacher or volunteer(s) can work directly with learners who need extra practice.


My questions to the team:

  1. How did you develop your team of experts?  (The team used to examine the lesson plans before they were approved for the lesson bank)
  2. Do you feel that the AE employees in your state are comfortable with the initiatives and can explain how their lesson plans relate to CCRS standards and Workforce skills?  If so, how were the initiatives disseminated to the field?
  3. How much resistance have you received from the field in regards to CCRS and literacy level ESL learners?  I ask because I have heard educators say they want to dismiss CCRS and only concentrate on using the English Language Proficiency Standards (ELP)?  I’ve done the research and understand that the ELP are meant to compliment, not supersede the CCRS standards.  This is definitely an area that NH needs to help people understand.


Sorry for all the questions, but I am truly interested in hearing about what has worked, what is still a work in progress, and what different states feel they are still struggling to understand.


I look forward to your responses,


Ginette Chandler

Sharon Johnston's picture

Good morning Ginnette,

My responses to your questions are below. I would also be happy to chat by phone in more detail if you would like.


  1. How did you develop your team of experts?  (The team used to examine the lesson plans before they were approved for the lesson bank) Actually Susie and Beth are two of those experts (they review, coach and also develop lessons for us). We have also contracted with individuals with deep content knowledge (extensive background teaching in math or R/LA) some are current or former K-12 teachers, others have former AE background). 
  2. Do you feel that the AE employees in your state are comfortable with the initiatives and can explain how their lesson plans relate to CCRS standards and Workforce skills?  Kentucky was the first state to adopt the CCRS, and participated in the Standards-In -Action initiative. Instructors received extensive PD around the standards with assistance from OCTAE. There was a strong foundation to begin implementing the contextualization of soft skills (which we refer to as Employability Skills to more accurately define the scope of skills needed in the current and future workplace); You can find our 10 Employability Standards on the website. We require inclusion of those standards in every lesson in the bank. You will also find on our webpage the Implementation Guide, which offers examples for integrating each standard in classroom instruction.. So, students have multiple opportunities to recognize, define, and practice those skills in a risk free environment. If so, how were the initiatives disseminated to the field? There are several ways we have (and continue) to disseminate to the field. Initially we conducted an 18-month pilot with 11 programs during which we introduced the concept of soft skill integration through meetings, monthly webinars and by providing coaching. As Susie shared above, that pilot was the impetus for the creation of the lesson bank. One year we held a contest for the top 10 lessons (with monetary incentives), and have held "weekend blitzes" in state parks where we convened a team of AE instructors with strong curriculum background to build units aimed at Kentucky's top 5 sectors.
  3. How much resistance have you received from the field in regards to CCRS and literacy level ESL learners?  I ask because I have heard educators say they want to dismiss CCRS and only concentrate on using the English Language Proficiency Standards (ELP)?  I’ve done the research and understand that the ELP are meant to compliment, not supersede the CCRS standards. We utilize the ELP standards for non-English speaking students, with an emphasis on the importance of planning for transition to ABE and IET if that is that is one of the student's goals.  This is definitely an area that NH needs to help people understand.