Welcome to Part 4 of our Series: What are People Doing? Examples of Successful Projects

Hi Everyone!

This discussion series started in October, 2013. There are 4 parts to the series, and they continue to grow even after the advertised dates. We have laid down the basics of each topic, and here's what I hope will happen now: You will explore the ideas, resources and examples that we have talked about and then weigh in with your comments, questions and ideas. It doesn't matter if it's months or years after the discussion began. I hope that this discussion series will keep growing and evolving into something that will continue to be more useful as time goes by!

Please read and add to whichever part you like:


This is the beginning of Part 4:


Hi Everyone,

As you can see, these 4 parts to the discussion series are overlapping, and continue to grow even after the advertised dates. What I hope will happen is that after we have laid down the basics of each topic, many of you will explore the ideas, resources and examples that we have talked about and then weigh in with your comments, questions and ideas. I hope that this discussion series will keep growing and evolving into something that will continue to be more useful as time goes by!

Although it overlaps in time, it is still separated into topics that will keep it organized as we add to it.

Part 1 is introductory information about how health literacy and ABE fit together, and what skills we are hoping to address.

Part 2 is for any resources you want to add or comment on.

Part 3 is for the “how to’s” of integrating health literacy into an existing class or program. This includes annotated examples of curricula and lesson plans that demonstrate teaching health literacy skills and literacy or language skills simultaneously.

Part 4, here, is where I’d like to hear from anyone who is integrating health literacy into an ABE or ESOL program. It could be a small example of adding some health literacy to your class, or a big project where your program has partnered with a health agency or health literacy coalition. 

We can all learn so much from examples of what you are doing, so I hope many of you will share your experiences!

I will start with three articles from the last issue of Focus on Basics: Health & Literacy Partnerships. They describe some different ways that ABE programs are addressing health literacy.

  • Literacy Students as Health Advisors – p. 10
  • Partners in Training – p. 21
  • Collaborating for the Health of San Diego /county – p. 30


The Sarasota Y is helping parents of pre-school youngsters through HIPPY (Home Instruction of Preschool Youngsters) by expanding its curriculum-based program to include health literacy and ESOL supports.  Non-English speaking parents were supported in the past through small class offerings; however, staff recognized the need for enhanced offerings.  To improve our support for these families, staff have developed a partnership, via a Memorandum of Understanding, with the Literacy Council of Sarasota.  The Council provides comprehensive English classes for parents whose second language is English.  Since most of our parents are low income and have limited access to transportation, these classes are held at a location easy for our parents to access, and the Sarasota Y pays the class registration fee for participants.  The following is an example of how HIPPY has benefited one mother through its collaborative efforts.

Manuela participated in HIPPY with her daughter and son, ages seven and six.  Although she spoke very little English, with the help of HIPPY, Manuela learned how to be engaged in her children’s education.  Manuela was struggling to teach herself English and had purchased an English dictionary to help her with words she encountered when assisting her children with homework.

HIPPY offered ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes for our Spanish speaking families, which Manuela attended twice each week.  She says that the teacher really helped her learn new words and how to form sentences.  Manuela says she is now much better prepared to teach her children.  She helps them with homework daily and has become actively involved at their school.

HIPPY has not only helped Manuela develop her language skills and provided her an avenue to assist her children on academic assignments, but also has empowered her to take control of her health issues through the HIPPY Health Literacy program.  She attended every health and parenting group meeting, sometimes walking 2 to 3 miles from her home to the HIPPY office to attend.  Manuela had not been to the doctor in years.  With assisting her, she acted on the knowledge she gained during the health literacy component of the program to identify resources and find a doctor.  The health consultant worked with her on planning healthy meals, and she loved the cooking demonstration classes.  She and her family are eating healthier, and she is dedicated to continuing these healthy habits.  Manuela lost over 40 pounds and continues to maintain her healthier weight and exercise routine.  She says she is thankful for all the programs we provide through HIPPY.  They have enabled her to be healthy, be her children’s first teacher and be involved in the school and community, and more importantly, HIPPY has helped her make sure her children are ready to succeed in school.

The Florida Literacy Coalition has developed three different health literacy books: Staying Healthy, Coping with Stress, and Women's Health. All of the books come with a student or teacher's guide. The goal of each of these books is to enhance students' understanding of health information, while at the same time improving their English language and literacy skills. As an ESOL or ABE teacher, you do not need to be a health expert or even a health educator to incorporate health into your class. Your role as an instructor is to give students the language, literacy, and communication skills they need to find information aabout their health. The Teacher's Guides to this series include ideas for lessons, activities, and other suggestions for presenting the information in ways that will help in the learning process. 

For the past five years, FLC has been fortunate to partner with Florida Blue to sponsor the Florida Health Literacy Initiative. Through this Initiative, 15-18 grantees are selected each year to engage in different health literacy activities. While it is not a requirement to use Staying Healthy, the majority of the grant recipients choose to use it with their students and we are able to see how it is used in different programs. Grantees integrate health literacy into existing ESOL and family literacy classes or host it as a stand alone course. The curriculum itself fits better with a high-beginning, low-intermediate ESOL population, but it has been used with ABE students as well. On average teachers spend one class period per week on a chapter in the book. 

Teachers have remarked on how easy it is to incorporate project-based learning activities into the chapters of the book. Here are a few examples of activities teachers have done with their students as they complete the curriculum. Literacy programs in Florida can receive Staying Healthy for free, but all other programs are able to order copies of the book with this form

Chapter 1: Health Care

  • Practicing conversations to have with doctors
  • Creating a list of questions to bring to the doctor's office
  • Researching local offices that will provide free or reduced cost care
  • Bringing in a health insurance navigator or go on a field trip to their office. 

Chapter 2: Your Doctor

  • Creating a health history form
  • Bringing in a health care provider to ask questions that they are nervous about asking when they are in the office
  • Taking blood pressure and identifying if it is normal or if the students are at risk of hypertension

Chapter 3: Medicines

  • Field trip to the local pharmacy to understand OTC and prescription labels
  • Practicing conversation on questions to ask the pharmacist
  • Bringing in teaspoons to measure liquid medicine. 

Chapter 4: Nutrition

  • Taking a field trip to the grocery store and practice eating health on a budget
  • Having students bring in nutrition labels from their favorite foods to compare which ones are healthier
  • Making a recipe book with your students based on family or cultural favorites
  • Planting a community garden

Chapter 5: Chronic Diseases

  • Having students create posters and health information brochures on asthma, diabetes, and heart disease. 
  • Testing blood sugar levels in class
  • Participating and hosting different fitness activities to show that preventative measures can be cheap and easy. 

Chapter 6: Staying Healthy

  • Hosting a health fair and have students present on what is healthy vs unhealthy
  • Practicing stress relief activities

Summary from Mid-Year Report November 2013-14

From ECHO of Brandon

Staying Healthy Classes

Submitted by Pat Ogden RN, Instructor


1.)    Describe any observations, anecdotes, challenges, or other information that you would like to share. 

A.      The majority of the students (28 of 32) at the ECHO location are fluent in English as their primary language.  However, 2 students listed Spanish as their preferred language and two students listed French/Creole. Although we do not offer ESOL training, we support the students who are still learning English and here are some of their comments:

 “I really enjoy and appreciate the healthy class.  The book used for this class was clear and the teacher was clear … to explain everything. … Now I can … go to the doctor because (the teacher showed) us what kind of questions and how you can ask for help. … not only how to ask questions when you go to the doctor but how to use all the information.” 

Another student wrote: 

“I have enjoyed the class very much and found it interesting and informational….Our questions were answered and explained fully to all our understanding, considering we all have different nationalities and different backgrounds and levels of schooling.  …We all connected and enjoyed each other’s company and learning about our customs and similarities…”

B.     All of student surveys from the ECHO location indicated that they had made some positive lifestyle changes, shared information that they learned in class with family and friends, and stated that they would recommend the class to others.  One student commented:

“These classes have been very helpful for me.  It has taught me a lot on how to maintain my habits of how to control my way of being healthy.  …I am Diabetic Type 2 patient and I have to report to my Dr. every 3 or 4 months and she is so proud of my progress, thanks to these wonderful classes that I have learned … to keep up with being a strong and healthy person.


Class Projects - The students enjoyed making posters related to Healthy Eating and Staying Active.



Ann and Annie,

Thank you both for sharing some details and stories from your programs! I would love to hear from more people.

Here are some questions about what you've done that may helps others:

  • How did you decide to include health literacy?
  • How was this received and/or supported by your program administration?
  • How did the students react to this topic?
  • What resources/curricula did you use?
  • How did it fit in with your existing curriculum plan?
  • Can you share any challenges and lessons learned about the whole process?

Thank you,


Here is a short (8-min.) video that shows a health literacy project done several years ago at the Mid-Manhatten
Adult Learning Center.

Building bridges: A Health Literacy Partnership


Teachers took a group of ESOL students on tours of Harlem Hospital after doing some health literacy preparation in class. Each department in the hospital gave them a short talk about what they do, and then the students walked around to see each department. The students then prepared presentations, which they gave to other students to show what they had learned from the experience.

Through the common denominator of health literacy, ESOL students and instructors have worked together to reach health-related goals. Unique to each campus, students have chosen various aspects on which to place to focus, such as doing presentations on (avoiding) long-term illnesses, devising a multi-ethnic nutritional cookbook, and sharing and discovering yoga, meditation and various other stress-release strategies. Additionally, DSC staff members have been partnering with the Mexican and Colombian Consulates in Orlando in a community collaborative effort for a health awareness week (turned month). Health fairs were housed in various counties, including one at the Farmworker’s Association in Pierson. Overall, students, teachers and staff have stepped up their health and wellbeing awareness, greatly due to the springboard of Staying Healthy’s curriculum and through the support of the Florida Literacy Coalition and Florida Blue.

Thanks so much to everyone who shared what you have done in your programs. Please keep the stories coming!

One thing that strikes me is that there is so much project-based learning going on in the HL projects. This is great to see because project-based teaching is a best practice, and is a particularly effective way to teach health literacy skills. In my experience, teachers feel pressured to not take too much time away from teaching the required competencies, and sometimes a heavy project load is seen as taking away from this. But I have heard from many teachers that this kind of work makes students more engaged and more likely to work harder at the required skills.

So I want to ask you:

  • Did you get pushback from your administrators about this, and how did you handle it?
  • How do you think this project-based health literacy focus affected the students' progress in improving their literacy and language skills?

Hi Julie,

I thought maybe some in the group might want to take a look at the Project Care website, since its focus is on PBL and some particalur health-related topics. As you might recall --you advised on some aspects of it-- the website provides audio and video for listening practice, vocabulary development, project ideas and links to related-health information. It is primarily geared toward upper-level ELLs. 


Steve Quann

World Education, Inc.


Hi Julie,

Ideally teachers lead learners through a caregiver’s dilemma. First students listen to or read a brief case study. Then they try, ideally as a class, to solve the problem presented in the case study. After reflecting on their own they can then view a video of a professional giving advice on the case study and read further on the topic via the links to resources.  There is also a listening comprehension quiz.

I know that some teachers have just gone to the class project pages to download lessons for projects for their class. And students and tutors have sometimes dug right into vocabulary section with words that were pulled from each of the videos.

If anyone on the list tries the site, let us know how it goes.


Steve Quann

World Education