9/11-17 DISCUSSION 1: Getting to Know Each Other

Welcome to the PIAAC Literacy Circle! We’re asking you to share some information with all of us to help us start building this little community around your interests and experiences. Please take a few minutes to answer the following questions. Add additional comments as you see fit.

  1. What is your role or interest in Adult Education?
  2. Why are you interested in this Literacy Circle?
  3. What level learner (NRS level) will you be focused on during your work with this PIAAC Literacy Circle? (It will be helpful to focus on one in particular, even though many of us work in multi-level settings.) 

After you have read pages 1-12 of the our Guide, return here and respond to the next two questions.

  1. What broad instructional context (work, personal, society, educational) would you like to target? 
  2. What specific topic are you considering building a unit around?


We have five professionals leading this mircro group in the next four weeks, as follows. Please take the time to click on our profiles and to also to complete your own profiles so that we can get to know you better!

  • Amy Trawick, author of the resource which we will be using to guide all activities in this group.
  • Di Baycich, principal moderator for the PIAAC Literacy Circle group.
  • Susan Finn Miller, co-moderator for the PIAAC Literacy Circle group and moderator for CoPs on LINCS.
  • Kathy Tracey, co-moderator for the PIAAC Literacy Circle group and moderator for CoPs on LINCS.
  • Leecy Wise, co-moderator for the PIAAC Literacy Circle group and moderator for the Reading and Writing CoP on LINCS.

Hi all, 

I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone through our conversations. Take time to check out my profile. I'm an adult education professional, parent of adult children, wife, daughter, pet parent, and student. During this discussion, I hope to become more familiar with the PIACC results and learn from our group as we discuss and create learning opportunities for our students. 



I have worked for 3 years at Northwest Iowa Community College as an ESL and HSED ELA and math teacher.  Before that I taught High School English for 6 years.

I've been struggling with finding relevant and interesting content for my reading and writing classes. I feel pulled in two directions: teaching to the test or teaching real life reading. The test seems fairly disconnected from how people actually read, and yet, passing is our goal. I want my students to be successful in life and work, and I'm very interested in learning more about how to do that and prepare them for the test at the same time.

We don't really use NRS levels, though I'm sure my supervisor would know them. I'd like to focus on students who are at a 230 to 240 CASAS level.

I'd like to target the social context and have students read, research, and present about current events. We have an exciting opportunity this week to attend a QA session from our local legislators, and that will be a fun kick off point. I had already planned on focusing on Civil Rights literature in this session, and I'll be excited to make the topic richer with a deeper understanding of literacy.

I've taught ABE and ESOL in a variety of situations since 1999. I am currently coordinating and teaching in a library-based literacy (primarily ESOL) program. I'm interested in this literacy circle because I want to be as current as I can in my teaching. The class I will focus on for our purposes is a group of learners who speak English at an intermediate or advanced level, but do not read or write very much in English (and usually their first language).  We don't use standardized tests with this group, but they would fall into a Beginning Literacy category.

The broad target is society/community-based as I'd like the learners to be more comfortable using the library and attending other programs. I will build the unit around using the library and information resources, filling out a library card application, reading schedules, etc.

Navigating systems is a huge challenge--both for learners and lesson planners. I'll be looking out for your responses in future discussions, as there is definitely some overlap between our groups.

Hello all,

I work at Wyoming Community Education. I am currently an ABE teacher. I have been involved with adult education for 12 years. 

I am interested in working on reading materials and helping my ABE students raise their CASAS scores to reach the 236 level. I also know that most of my students do not read. I would like to help them develop an enjoyment of reading. We know that the more they read the more their scores go up and the easier it will be for them to pass the GED tests. I am hoping to create or find some interesting readings and questions that would be able to work with different levels.

I am looking forward working with everyone. We often times feel like an island in this field since we are not a part of a larger school that have departments to meet with. It will be so nice to share ideas and get to know people who are also working with adults and face the same classroom challenges :)

Karinne, Lisa, and Kim, Welcome to the Circle! Thanks for getting us started! Given your interests and learner population, the CASAS will work just as well to establish levels. It sounds like you are also interested in the social context. As we get to know one another, keep an eye out to others with whom you might like to collaborate in developing activities. Karinne, the challenge you mention of being pulled in two directions is one constantly voiced by instructors everywhere. How might those two purposes be brought into one direction? Hmmmmm... Leecy


1. My name is Jamie Kreil. I have been in the field of ABE for about 10 years, with the majority of my time working in multi-level English language classrooms. However, the past 3 years have been devoted to teaching pre-beginning learners.  I am also adjunct faculty in the ABE licensure program at the University of Minnesota where I teach the methods courses as a PhD candidate in adult education.  Invariably, I've ended up wearing many hats: classroom instructor, professional development coordinator, and teacher educator.

2.  I'm interested in this literacy circle because as a lifelong learner, I am always looking for ways in which to improve my practice. I've started trying to create pre-lit curricula to share with other facilities in our consortium due to lack of resources for learners at this level.  One of the main challenges we face now is lack of programming for learners seeking 'transitions'-type services.  I'm currently participating in an adult career pathway cohort to assist in this, but discussion with others around the country will definitely supplement what I learn in Minnesota. In addition to this, I hope to be able to share what I learn here with other instructors at the community-based organization where I teach.  We are currently mapping our curricula to the CCR standards as well as the new ELP standards.  As this is a fairly informal organization, much of the standardization of the field that has occurred within the past 5 years is still a bit much to grapple with as instructors as administrators.

3. As I mentioned, I teach pre-beginning learners.  Their CASAS scores range from 153-181, with the majority falling toward the low end of the spectrum.  Moreover, it is critical that I note that our organization serves primarily East African students with similar backgrounds in formal education, socio-economic constraints as a refugee in the US, and experiences with trauma.


1. For the purposes of this literacy circle, it may be best to target a social instructional context since I am focusing on work context in my local cohort.  Some of my students are seeking employment, but I do have some elders who are there to learn how to interact with others in the community.   All of my learners have immediate social needs revolving around how to navigate systems.

2. I'm considering a unit on transportation, housing, or some kind of context where learners need to interact with texts from various agencies.  I know of units that have already been developed around these topics, so suggestions are welcome.  I am looking forward to learning more from everyone.

A big welcome to everyone! I am excited to be able to help moderate this group. I don't work directly with students anymore but I do provide professional development to ABE teachers in Ohio. I read Amy's publication that will be the focus of our group but I'm looking forward to taking a deeper dive and hearing different perspectives about the content. 


There are about 40 of us in this group. If you are prone to lurk, please at least introduce yourself and let us know your thoughts on the questions we've asked in this thread. 

Hello, everyone! I am Amy Trawick, the author of the guide we're using for the literacy circle. I have been in adult literacy/education for 24 years--and I can be so precise pretty easily just by keeping up with the age of my daughter. I entered adult ed soon after she was born, after a handful of years as an eighth-grade language arts teacher. I started at New River Community College and Literacy Volunteers of America in Virginia and have since worked in ABE/GED, workplace, ESOL, family literacy, correctional, and developmental education settings. I have been a volunteer, teacher, administrator, researcher, and professional/curriculum developer, as well as a faculty member and director for a graduate-level master's program (at Appalachian State University in North Carolina). I currently live in the DC area, where I do consulting and adjunct teaching for Penn State's certificate in Adult Basic Education.

As you can tell, I've done a little bit of everything! The main thread that has run through my career, though, is my interest in reading. And I love thinking about how to best support adults in becoming the kinds of readers they need/want to be in order to become the kind of *people* they want to be. Over my adult ed career I have been part of different kinds of projects that have helped develop my thinking--Equipped for the Future, STAR, Standards in Action, College and Career Readiness Standards to name a few. This PIAAC project is the latest and builds on this prior work. I enjoyed working on the Guide and was thrilled when Leecy and Dianne asked if I would be willing to participate in the group. Of course, I would! I look forward to collaborating with you over the next few weeks and am eager to engage with your questions and observations. Thank you for joining this learning community!


Amy R. Trawick


I am a Regional Literacy Consultant with Wisconsin Literacy. I support adult and family literacy programs in the Northeast part of the state. Except for occasional substitute teaching at the local technical college, I no longer work with learners directly. I will explore how the PIACC Literacy Framework can support volunteer tutoring efforts across the state. I am most interested in focusing on learners with an NRS level 3 or below. 

I would like to target personal context and focus specifically on leisure or recreational reading. Helping emerging adult readers read "for fun" is a challenging concept for me because we focus so much on survival skills.

Anna and All, at this point, we appear to be leaning heavily toward low-level learners and ESOL, centering around personal and society contexts. I know you will learn a lot from developing and sharing ideas for those students. I suspect that we might have others here who have not introduced themselves who might have other interests. We'll see... Thanks for the intros! Leecy

Hello all - sorry I am late this week, but the full moon has been doing very strange things to my work this week!!  I am the manager of the Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center (VALRC) - we provide professional development for instructors and program managers throughout the state of Virginia.  I attended a PIAAC conference a couple of years ago and there was a session at the end about professional development - but it was in infant stage.  WIOA calls for us to use "research-based practices," yet there is little research in the field of adult education.  We work with instructors who teach all levels, and Virginia has a very large ESOL population.  I would like to focus on low-level literacy learners, as this is a population that is the "hardest to serve," particularly under WIOA where job attainment trumps educational functioning gains.

Hello friends, I'm pleased to be part of the facilitation team for this literacy circle. As most of you probably know, I am the moderator for the English Language Acquisition and Teaching and Learning Communities of Practice here on LINCS.

I have worked in the field of adult literacy education since 1991 and have taught ABE, GED and ESL at all levels. This fall I'm teaching English learners at the low beginning and high beginning levels. It's great to see that several of you are also working with English learners currently and want to focus on that group during the literacy circle.

I'm looking forward to an engaging learning experience with each of you!

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller


What is your role or interest in Adult Education?

I apologize for the late introduction. My name is Mary Babcock. I have an interest in adult education because I am a GED instructor. I teach science, reading (writing),  and social studies.

Why are you interested in this Literacy Circle?

I am interested in this literacy circle because I feel I will benefit immensely from the collaborative process and the development of a reading/writing outline for a unit.

What level learner (NRS level) will you be focused on during your work with this PIAAC Literacy Circle?

Identifying a specific level is difficult because my class is truly multilevel.  It would be so beneficial to have multiple units. I decided I would like to focus on the “High Adult Secondary Education” level (CASAS – 246 and above) with the hope that I’ll be able to see the work of others that fit the other NRS levels. 



You've come to the right place, Mary. Jump right in and let's start something great. Once you complete a Unit Outline, you can just keep going and going! :) Welcome! Leecy

Hi, I'm an adult ELL teacher at a community college's free  high school equivalency program serving immigrants and refugees.  We have managed enrollment with a continuing series of 8 week classes serving students with CASAS levels from beginners to advanced.  We use the Cambridge Ventures series while trying also to meet the needs of a population of learners seeking to improve their access to better jobs through career pathways. I'm considering expanding a unit related to health for my advanced class which is composed half of well-educated foreign spouses of university students and half immigrants and refugees with educational backgrounds from 6th through 12th grade.


Perfect, Sharon. You'll find others here who also work among ELLs. Your thoughts around health as an occupational context for your advanced students will be very useful to many. You might drop into Kathy's LINCS group, Science, and participate in that discussion around successful programs that are prompting health and health literacy among adults. You'll find much to take from there as you develop your unit! Welcome! Leecy

After you have read pages 1-12 of our Guide, return here and respond to the next two questions.

What broad instructional context (work, personal, society, educational) would you like to target? 

After reading the sections in the PIAAC Literacy Framework, targeting an educational context seems easiest or more natural for my first use of this framework.

What specific topic are you considering building a unit around?

I began the planning process with a focus on skill development. To move my thinking toward a topic of interest, I'll focus on an educational context.  A topic that might fall under educational context while meeting assessment targets and student interest is political propaganda messages.