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What online resources are adult basic skills educators using?

Hello colleagues,

In a July 24th CrowdEd Musings blog post, "The Results Are In! Here's What Adult Educators are Using," there is a list of 19  free content websites, online tools, or other online resources that adult basic skills educators who responded to the survey said they are using. You will find a list of these free online resources here.

Are you using any of these resources? Which one ones? Why?

What education goal, objective, need, or purpose does the resource help you address?

If you recommend one of these resources to other adult basic skills education teachers, why, and for what kinds and levels of adult learners?

What resources do you use that you think should be on this list but are not?


David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups



sleduke's picture

Hi David.

I've been on the LINCS list for some time, but I haven't participated before now.

This topic is one that I could spend the rest of the day writing about!

I use online resources as often as I can. I think understanding tech is critical for our students, and using tech is a perfect fit for my organization (or lack thereof) style and ADD. As a matter of fact, yesterday a former student contacted me and asked if I had their resume from 2012. I found it in about one minute because I use Google Docs for all student resumes and it was still there.

From the SkillBloxSurvey list, I use the following sites:

  • Math Antics - Limited free resources but those are perfect for people who have no idea why there are letters in math. Perfect intro to algebra videos, even if they are somewhat goofy.
  • Newsela - Great for differentiation ABE/GED and ESL. Tons of topics, articles indexed in multiple ways. You can set up classes.
  • Khan Academy - Videos, problem sets, all levels of math and other subjects. Gamified. I'm growing my little red dragon!
  • GCFLearnFree - Clean, refreshing interface. Many subjects including tech, math, workplace prep. All free and formatted for online or for printing. If I had to leave my current employer, I would try to work for them. Only con is they don't have self-correcting assessments, but it is designed for personal use and is, instead, product-based.
  • YouTube - You can learn anything on YouTube. My ESL students use it with captions on and speed slowed to .75 or even .5 (does not lower pitch).
  • Common Core Sheets. Drill and kill math, with keys.

Here are some of my other favorites.

GED, ESL, Tech, Customer Service. Good for vocab. Creates and self-corrects quizzes. I pay the $25/year to be able to upload my own images but that's not necessary. Waiting to get 6 students at once to try Quizlet Live.
Above plus all PD presentations LMS. I use this for EVERYTHING.
Google Docs
All student groups, collaboration with co-workers, document storage/organization. Great for live collaboration on student resumes, backchannel chat
Math sense-making as opposed to answer-getting. one problem took 45 min.
GED writing, Science ready-made arguments to evaluate for GED extended response instruction
science and math (potential for all subjects) I belong to an awesome science group, and a math and adult ed group, too. Instant connections with and help from other practitioners.
all subjects, writing. Access to practitioners, organizations, and opportunities for students to publish writing
Google Voice
Student communication and documentation thereof. I use this to conceal my personal phone number when texting students. It's wifi/app, so I can use it where I have no service. It will also transcribe voice messages, allowing ESL students to practice pronunciation.
Five-0 Delux
iPad app
Scrabble with numbers! math game. math facts, problem-solving, computation
iPad app
ESL, writing. audio recorder
PowerPoint (or Google Slides)
all subjects. student-created presentations
Google Forms
all subjects. student- and teacher-created surveys, questionnaires, or assessments. now formatted for printing
US Geological Survey
science, math, social studies. live data, maps, diagrams, articles
Google maps (mapquest, etc.)
social studies, ESL, math. Maps! street views


These are many of the resources that I use every week in the classroom. I love tech!

Leecy's picture

Shelly, thanks for taking the time to share these wonderful resources! I hope that you are now inspired to drop in more often so that we may all benefit from your love of using technology in learning. I'm a fan as well.

Your profile states that you are an instructor with an interest in writing, technology, and photography. Those join so well for teaching!. Have you used resources that might help ABE teachers engage students in writing activities at pretty basic levels? There is a lot out there on academic writing practices, but I'm looking for fun stuff to get ABE learners hooked on writing that isn't threatening and super rule oriented.  I like comics, but their writing demands are very brief. Any ideas? Leecy

Alecia Ohm's picture

Hi Leecy, your response to Shelly's post reminded me of a fun writing activity used by two of our instructors. They are experimenting with a class newsletter. Students pick a topic and then write a brief article. Some of the students are lower level ESL, so the first step is a handwritten version of the newsletter that the instructor then compiles into a digital version. It's a nice way to publish and showcase student work as well as build up their digital literacy skills. We are working on a lesson plan that describes the newsletter process. I hope to share it out soon--it will be posted on our website under "Resources" >> Illinois Digital Learning Lab

Leecy's picture

I love newsletters for all of the reasons you mentioned, Alecia. As a collaborative activity, newsletters use the strengths of so many different types of learners. Students can organize, illustrate, edit, digitize, distribute, and on and on. They can then switch roles and work with peer mentors to play other parts. You mentioned Newsela as a resource. Might that site play a role?

BTW, sometime ago, I published several LINCS Reading and Writing CoP newsletters, which I published for members to use and contribute to. Unfortunately, I didn't get enough feedback after the first issue to motivate me to continue. Maybe others here might want to work on a community newsletter for a single or joint forums. Any takers? Leecy


Kathy_Tracey's picture

David and all, 
I am interested in adding one more question to your list. How do you integrate these resources into your lessons? One question/concern I often hear from teachers is that there is so much out there, the teacher doesn't have time to find a resource and connect it to their specific instruction. 

I love, and have used many of these resources, but I often bookmark many of them with the intent of going back and exploring and then, I never do... Is that the experience of others? 

Do you use these resources to introduce concepts, in a lab environment where students work on different content based on their needs, or are these resources embedded in a lesson plan? 

I'd love to see how teachers are creating instruction and examples of lesson ideas using these resources. 



S Jones's picture

Of late I've actually resisted checking out "the latest thing"  because I can go down too many rabbit holes.  I think tools like Schoology can really help with the integration.   I'm wondering, too, how things integrate?   

Leecy's picture

Kathy, Susan, and All, I can't help but jump in here to address several passions! 

The old term for "integration" is "contextualization." I integrate instruction goin in two directions: (1) integrating occupational or other goals and interests into academic instruction  or (2) integrating  academics into occupational or related skills instruction.
(1) If a teacher is teaching academic skills (reading, writing, math) for example, I suggest that she select reading/writing samples with language that matches the interests or goals of students. Those resources are all over the Web, at different levels, of course, usually rather high. (Very often the instructor will have to reword content to match reading levels. Simplifying is very easy with practice: short sentences, words, and paragraphs, action verbs, direct language. Less is better.)
Discovering student preferences doesn't mean that the teacher has to conduct a whole interest or goal inventory. Sometimes just asking folks what appeals to them or simply giving them a menu of topics from which to choose can be very revealing. Finding content that matches student interests/goals takes a few minutes, but if content is referenced in folders, teachers will soon have a great toolkit from which to choose - a fishing box with great bait so to speak.
For example, in math instruction, problems can easily be posed for many occupational areas. Fractions apply in construction, health, marketing, on and on. Math skills also apply to satisfy student personal interests in cooking, car maintenance, child care and so forth. The same would apply to reading, writing, science and other academic instruction. In other words, the context in which thy practice academic skills is relevant to students. That way, writing, reading and math would engage student interests!  
One online source for fantastic content on occupations is I must warn you (!!!), however, that this is a very old site that I've used for over twenty years. It hasn't been maintained  since 2012. That means that you'll often find many broken links. On the other hand, if instructors take the time, there are still hidden treasures to be found among the vast resources shared on the site relating to occupational interests. Leecy
(2) If a teacher is teaching occupational skills, I suggest taking the skill that is targeted and having students practice academic skills that are specifically related to that target. Again, it may take a bit of time to adapt resources to student levels. Open Educational Resources (OER) allow full use and adaptation of materials in most cases. Go to one of the most popular sites for OER is OERCommons. (Our LINCS Resource Centers has a great resource "OER STEM Training," with great ideas for integration.)
For example, if students are learning how to take blood pressure, they can practice related fractions, decimals and percentages. They can develop flashcards with definitions for new terms. They can follow written instructions and write instructions for others to follow.
Differentiated/Integrated/Contextualized instruction invites varitey, and variety is what the Web is all about. With some tweaking and adaptation, both students and instructors can reach ideal states of getting lost in learning!