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Integrating/Contextualizing Academic Skills

Hi, Community! Welcome back from COABE, those of you who attended or followed sessions from afar!

One of the six topics listed for us to address in our R&W community is "Learning in context." That topic matches WIOA's IET definitions perfectly in many respects. What do you think? (IET=Integrated Education and Training)

Would you like to dialogue with pros who are contextualizing/integrating reading, writing and other academic or work-prep skills into instruction? Would you like to dialogue about best practices for matching instruction to high-demand occupations or special needs that appeal to your students? How about integrating academics and work prep into health occupations or STEM occupations? Transitioning back from incarceration? Family literacy? Job entry?

If you are interested in accessing the PowerPoint presentation with numerous links that I offered at COABE on IET, I'm glad to send you that link IF you promise to contribute to this thread and its development. Drop me a note at

Let's talk context! Leecy

Leecy WIse


KConrad's picture

For a while, I have been trying to find what would be a commonly agreed upon and identified list of those employability skills that we need to integrate. I was directed by our state office to look at the "Employability Skills Framework" - - developed by OCTAE.  This has served as a decent guide to familiarize our staff with general skills as they look to integrate them into their lesson plans. Is this framework the best basis for this work?  Do you have any better suggestions for the identification of skills to identify and integrate for teaching?

Leecy's picture
One hundred

Kristie,  the Penn Adult Ed Resources site provides a wonderful image to add another dimension to the great link you offered. "The Foundation Skills Framework, developed by Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy at Penn State in coordination with workforce development partners and stakeholders, provides a common language  and understanding of workforce preparation—or foundation—skills." 

According to WIOA, workforce preparation activities, which probably relate to your question, include programs, or services designed to help an individual acquire a combination of (1) basic academic skills, (2) critical thinking skills, (3) digital literacy skills, and (4) self-management skills, including competencies in the following: (a) Utilizing resources, (b) Using information, (c) Working with others, (d) Understanding systems, (e) Skills necessary for successful transition into and completion of postsecondary education or training, or employment, AND (f) Other employability skills that increase an individual’s preparation for the workforce.

As you can readily see, in order to meet WIOA job prep requirements, programs are invited to implement a variety of activities prior to workforce training. The whole idea, of course, is integration of those with academic skills in the process: (a) Adult education, (b) Literacy, (c) Workplace adult education and literacy, (d) Family literacy, (e) English language acquisition, and (f) Integrated English literacy and civics education.

What do you and others here think of those activities? How might you integrate them among your students? Leecy

Ann L's picture

Hi Leecy, 

I was unable to attend COABE so thanks for this opportunity to extend the learning.

As an ABE Reading instructor, I am in a position to provide some support to CTE instructors when their students experience reading barriers. Early stages, and learning where I can provide the best value to as many instructors as possible as I learn more and more about reading assessment and instruction.  Does this sound like I am a candidate for this thread? I will stay engaged here as I strive to be a resource to others.

Best, Ann

Leecy's picture
One hundred

Hi, Ann. You are, indeed, not only a candidate but now a participant in this thread! Thank you! 

I'm sure that many CTE instructors and others here, including me, would love to dialogue with you about best practices to support students who experience reading barriers in the process of preparing for work. What is your favorite approach? How might you integrate basic literacy instruction, for example, with work prep? 

What ideas or other questions might others have related to this process? Let's talk! Leecy

Leecy's picture
One hundred

 I am enjoying catching up with your comments in this thread, along with interacting with some of you through email. Why do I have to catch up rather than keep up? 

I am surviving a computer crash following the best advice provided by technicians on how to solve a very simple issue! Auuuuughhhhhh! Why not restore everything from my backups? Good idea. However, the backup drive was corrupted and unable to restore critical data.

Writing Assignment: Using a Word document, if your Word app is working, describe your frustration following a traumatic, work-related event in your life that had you consider death as an alternative to facing life thereafter. Begin by describing the event itself and the work your were involved in accomplishing. Follow that introduction with paragraphs providing details on at least three different emotions you experienced in recovering from the trauma. Conclude your writing with a paragraph that offers hope and suggestions to those who are likely to experience similar workplace trauma and hope to survive it. Follow the rubric criteria.

:))))) Leecy

Leecy's picture
One hundred

From our LINCS Resource Collection: Foundational Skills in The Service Sector, by Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, February 2017)

"Across the United States, millions of men and women with limited reading, math, or digital problem-solving skills are holding down jobs across the service sector. Employed in retail shops and restaurants, hotels and hospitals, these workers not only help fuel the country’s economy — they keep daily life in America humming smoothly along.

"In the course of their jobs, these workers often need to read vital directions, follow safety protocols, calculate prices, supervise colleagues, and oversee budgets. All of these tasks are made dramatically more challenging for workers who don’t have strong literacy or numeracy skills.”

This article reviews a number of findings relating to the topic, adding suggestions for improving the preparation of adults to succeed in training and work in service occupations. However, it does not specifically list details on how to implement the integrated instruction that they recommend. 


What ideas can you share on how to integrate instruction for adults hoping to become employed in service occupations? What strategies might you implement to integrate academic skills among those students? Leecy