Build Your Own Toolkit with CrowdEd

Welcome to Build Your Own Toolkit for Adult Learning with CrowdEd!  Beginning today and continuing bi-weekly through November 4th, Jeff Goumas will be our guest expert to lead us in this important discussion.

Good Morning Jeff, and thank you for joining us today!  Please tell us about CrowdEd, who it is designed for, how it may be different from online management systems or other online adult learning platforms.


Welcome, I am looking forward to your feed.

We will be getting interactive 65" TVs to replace old smartboards. The smartboards had very little use more than a projection screen over the last few years.

I would like ideas on how to integrate the new interactive TVs into ESL and GED classes.


Thank you,

Lori Sanchez

Valley Regional Adult Education 

Hello Lori,

I recommend that you start with your instructional goals, needs, challenges and/or problems. As teachers and education administrators, you and your colleagues could ask yourselves what you want or need to improve, then ask how digital hardware or software, Interactive 65" TVs in this case, might help in accomplishing these objectives, meeting these needs or challenges, or solving these problems. With Interactive TVs, unless I am missing some new capacity, the answer might be that they are not much more useful for education purposes than traditional TVs. But let me ask, because using interactive TVs for education is new to me, what are the features that led you and your colleagues to be interested in them for teaching GED and ESL? For example, can you easily bring up websites on the TV screen? (If you can, then this discussion thread on CrowdED Learning may offer you some ideas for your GED students.) Do the interactive TVs you are getting have touchscreen capability? Do they have a feature that allows you or your students to highlight, circle, or make visual connections between texts, images, or images and texts? Are there other features that you think have promising potential to improve instruction and student learning? Tell us why you think they will add education value to your classes.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

Hi Lori,

I'd love to learn more about what types of TVs you have and what features are built in. I will say that I've been in workspaces where the TV has an Apple TV, which allows for people to screencast their computer screens to the big screen, as well as their mobile devices (though I'm not sure if only works for iOS devices or if it is device/OS agnostic. My own "Smart" TV also have the ability to mirror my phone to it. I do see ways this could be helpful, so I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on how you intend to use them. 

What comes to mind for me with screen casting is having the ability for any user to show what is on their screen, regardless of the device. This could come in handy as a way for people to model and demonstrate things such as how they personally conducted an internet search for a particular topic, or for the teacher (or savvy students) to model how to use certain apps that might be useful to other students. To me....if this is possible (as I'm simply making an assumption it is), I think it could be very helpful for modeling how to effectively use mobile apps, which as far as I'm aware cannot be done on  most projectors (which only allow for you to show what is on a computer). 

Hi Jeff, Lori and all. I have helped 4 schools get set up with just regular tvs, wall mounted with each one equipped with a Google Chromecast. With this device, all staff and students are able to cast their screen contents to the tvs . As staff started getting used to the setup and how to cast, I find teachers are constantly using this ability in their classes. Additionally, most staff start teaching learners how to cast to be able to share their work with others in the class. This is great during presentations or when guest speakers come in. No matter what machines someone brings in with them, they can cast to our tvs. Just a few notes and observations about the implementation and some things that were challenges:

  • Ensure you use the Google Chromecast. There are many other versions out there and some are cheaper than this $35 Google version, but I have encountered extra challenges with every single one of the off brands we have tried in the last two years. At $35 from Google, it is still a great deal that is reliable. 
  • When you set a Chromecast up, you MUST have a smart phone on you and that smart phone needs to have the Google Home app on it. This app is used to name and set up the device, but once the device is set up, you don't need to use Google Home again unless you want to change the name or for some reason you wish to reset the device.
  • I work in buildings where there are 10-12 chromecast devices hooked up so naming them appropriately is vital. During the first year of any implementation, there is almost always the case of someone casting to someone else's room accidentally. We have a good laugh, teach why it happened and usually it never happens again. 
  • One of the biggest challenges/confusions with using this device has to do with human nature. Teachers get so excited when they click on cast, they see their tv name and they just want to hit it. The problem is that the default means of sharing a screen is sharing a tab in your browser. That means that no matter what you have on your computer screen, people will only see that first tab you were viewing when you started casting. Instead, after teachers hit cast, they have to choose Source and pick full desktop (even if it is a portable device), then they can click on their tv and everything on their screen is shared on the tv. 
  • Many of my learners end up wanting to set these devices up at home. At $35 this device is much cheaper than many of the other options available and it works with any tv that has an HDMI type connector. This is great when they want to watch what their children are doing while the parent is often doing chores. It also makes watching movies from computers or devices much more interesting and available to everyone in the family. 
  • When casting from Youtube, people cast in a slightly different manner than they do with almost any other site on the Internet. YouTube, a Google product, has a built in Cast button right in the videos that one can hit and transfer the video to a Chrome Cast device on a tv. This type of connection can be a very easy way to get teachers started with casting as it only involves 2 steps (click button, choose tv name). It is limited in that after the video is done, you have to stop the cast in order to change what appears on the tv screen and then cast up any other videos you decide to launch. Not a big deal, but it is something staff had to adjust to. 

All and all, after trying most any casting device or service I was aware of, the Google Chromecast really has eliminated our school districts need for any cables or connections for sharing any digital content. When staff go to other schools or places now, they are very disappointed with how many hoops they need to jump through to get their content displayed through wired projectors and such. Just thought I would share our experiences with over 30 classrooms now able to cast, our teachers really enjoy how powerful the ability is and how easy it is . 

Jeff, you can plug a Chromecast into a projector as long as the projector has an HDMI port. All modern projectors have this port but our school system has not bought projectors in almost a decade so many of our projectors don't work this way easily. There is a HDMI to VGA  adapter that can work for those projectors that don't have the HDMI port. Cheaper than a new projector but I have found the quality of the image does suffer on the non HDMI projectors. 


This is all new to me!  I'm not sure if any of our educators are using this technology, so I'm definitely going to encourage them to join in the discussion!

Thank you!

Ed and All, when Lori first mentioned interactive 65" TVs, I thought that maybe that was another term for live-interactive-video instruction, which is used extensively in my very-rural region to reach students who are otherwise isolated.   The programs with which I work use very expensive equipment that is great...when they have connectivity and the distance site matches the technology. Of course, connectivity may or may not exist at different times of the day.    I'm wondering if interactive 65" TVs and Google Chromecast might offer choices for live interaction among people and screens. If so, those might be good alternative to what is here. ZOOM is sometimes used for instruction, too although it doesn't provide the quality, and the bells and whistles of CSISCO, Tandberg, or Polycom equipment.   Thanks for all of the valuable information being shared here! Leecy

Hi Leecy, I have used Zoom and a number of other apps to connect with people and I am not sure that any one app is going to make everyone happy. In our system, we have google accounts so using Google Hangouts is an easy go to for our staff and learners. In fact today, learners were asking a teacher some technical questions that the teacher did not feel comfortable with, so the teacher cast their screen up on the tv in the room (It's a 50" HD TV) and started up a video hangout with me. The class tried to explain the problem to me but I was not able to visualize it so the teacher shared the screens with me so I could see what he was doing on his computer. It was then a very easy task for me to see what the problem was and turn it into a teachable moment where the teacher and the class learned about that part of technology they were not familiar with. I was in another school ten miles away at that time.

Of course Google Hangouts is free and I find Google is always improving on it's tools to make things much easier every time I go to use something. So the TVs (we use the TCL brand often) run around $350, the mount for the wall is about $50 (we like the ones that allow you to pivot), The Chromecast is $35. For less than $450 we have a means to connect any digital device we wish and connect with free communication tools with others on the Internet. With all that being said, if your Internet connection is not good, no amount of expense is going to fix that. 


So true, Ed. Everything depends on connectivity. I thought that Google Hangouts had gone "out of business." Do the tools you use provide reliable interaction with people and desktops for interactive instruction? Thanks. Leecy

No matter what digital video tools one uses, the ability to connect with desktop users is always a bit more problematic. Almost none of the desktops sold have the ability to do video and audio communications built in. The manufacturer or the end user has to buy some device called a webcam to plug into the desktop. Fortunately, most of our desktops today can handle webcams very easily by simply plugging the webcam into an USB port. 

I have a webcam on my desktop at home and I have three of them at the school so that I can move them around to whichever classes may need them. Most of our classrooms have laptops, so they can all do video connections through those devices. The three webcams I have at work get almost no usage other than if someone in the central office (still using archaic desktop machines)needs to connect with someone for a conference. 

Here is a link the webcam I have had the most success with. I have found that even if one has a laptop, a good quality webcam like the one linked provides much better image and sound. Of course having a dedicated microphone plugged in would provide better sound but for must of us that is not necessary. 

As for reliable instruction. The only limiting factor I have found has been Internet access in remote areas. When people are figuratively connecting to the Internet with a tin can and tight string, no communication tool is going to work well with such a weak connection. I have had learners join our class from home when transportation or weather challenges prohibited the student from joining us and it has worked well. The student can hear us, talk with us, see us and we have the same with the learner provided their Internet can support that. Additionally, because Google Hangouts is a Google product that integrates with all the other Google tools available, it is much easier for us to share presentations, documents, links, and most any other resource used in class with a remote user.  In cases where the Internet at their home stinks, we will cut the video portion of the transmission out as much as possible and simply treat it like a conference call as much as we can. Not ideal but at least we can still converse as a class with the stray learner so they feel connected to what we are doing. 

As for Hangouts going out or being shut down. Google did announce that they are retiring Google Hangouts as it exists some time in the near future. They are simply updating the services they are using to better match their more recent technology successes. There will be a Google Hangouts tool, probably with a new name, rolled out before they completely kill the current tool. Google has had success with their own phone service, Google Fi (which I love because it is so good and cheap) and I believe they want to integrate some of their phone service technology into portable devices and laptop/destop video conferencing apps. 



Thank you for sharing.

I have put the purchase of the smart tvs on hold as I look into the Google Chromecast. I had the first Chromecast device at home that came out years ago.  It was a bit complicated and never thought about it again.  Thank you again.

Lori Sanchez


*NOTE: This is a repost of the original post that was placed in a thread that had to be deleted. Please use this event thread moving forward. 

Welcome to our ongoing, 10-week event—Build Your Toolkit for Adult Learning with CrowdED Learning! I’m using this post to serve as the introduction to the event, the topics we will be covering, and the format for exploration and discussions we will follow as we explore various topics. 

Event Overview

During what I hope will be a highly engaging series of topical videos, explorations, and discussions, you will be introduced to a wide range of free and open education resources ideal for use within adult education for Reading, Writing, and Language instruction. As we explore these resources together—all of which have been recommended by adult educators—we will discuss strategies for incorporating them, with a particular focus on integrating free tech and mobile-friendly tools to extend opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.

Event Details

This event will be broken into 5, two-week topical explorations and discussions. 

  • Topic 1 | Explore CrowdED Learning’s Resources (Sep 9–Sep 22)

  • Topic 2 | Resources for Building Comprehension (Sep 23–Oct 6)

  • Topic 3 | Resources for Developing Fluency (Oct 7–Oct 20)

  • Topic 4 | Resources for Building Vocabulary and Grammar (Oct 21 – Nov 3)

  • Topic 5 | Tools and Strategies for Sharing and Assigning Content (Nov 4 – Nov 17)

Each of these topics will follow a consistent, two-week sequence of activities and discussions in order to provide ample time to explore the various resources and maximize participation, engagement, and sharing. 

Week 1 — Resource Exploration

The first week for each topic will be a guided exploration of resources around the particular topic of focus. On the first day, a new post will be released announcing the new topic of focus. Within that post, there will be:

  • a brief 5–7 minute video that provides an overview of the topic and the resources that we will be exploring,

  • a set of questions that are intended to guide your exploration of the resources and form the basis for our community discussion, and

  • a downloadable / shareable notetaking guide you can use to organize your thoughts and ideas as you explore the various resources.

Week 2  Strategies for Integration

The second week for each topic will revolve around strategies for integrating a particular resource(s) of interest with your students. Discussion topics will focus on things such as: 

  • how the resource can be used to support evidence-based reading instruction,

  • features and strategies that allow for leveled options and differentiation, 

  • ideas for using, adapting, and combining the resources with what you currently use to ensure comprehensive standard-aligned instruction, and 

  • suggestions for using the resource(s) to provide increased engagement opportunities for learners.  

In most cases, we have invited adult education practitioners who are currently using—and, in some cases, were involved in the creation of—whichever resources are the focus to support each Week 2 discussion. These practitioners will offer their guidance regarding their own use of the resource(s), as well as share insights and tips to support the discussion as others share their own ideas. 

Let’s Get Started!!!!

Tomorrow—Tuesday, September 10, 2019—will be the official “first” post and discussion prompt for Week 1. In the meantime, please take some time to think about what your favorite resources are for reading, writing, and language instruction with your students, and why :)

I’m greatly looking forward to what I hope will be an incredibly informative series of discussions and ultimately results in the addition of lots of new ideas to your instructional toolkit to provide a wider range of opportunities to support and engage learners in reading, writing, and language learning!

About CrowdED Learning

CrowdED Learning ( is thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this event! We firmly believe that free and open education resources hold the key to providing adult learners increased opportunities to engage with learning both in and out of educational settings while providing instructors with a wide range of much-needed tools and resources to support the needs of all learners. Given this, our mission is to expand use of free and open education resources by increasing awareness of what’s available and experimenting with ways to make resources more readily accessible to adult education learners and instructors.

Jeff, as you know, I have always been a fan of all that you offer and have offered to adult educators over the years.    As a longtime reading/writing/ESL instructor, it is great to find so much help for adult educators, who are often underpaid and overwhelmed in their efforts to meet the many needs of the adults they serve.    In addition to Reading Section listed, I notice that you also have resources for ESL students and their instructors under "Language".    One great resource you list is the BC Reads series, which LINCS also offers in our Resource Collection. (   You describe the "BC Reads: Adult Literacy Fundamental English - Reader 1" as "This reader contains nine original stories about healing, discovery, survival, relationships, justice, and connections to the land explored through the lens of the plant world. These stories, written specifically for adults, are designed to accompany the BC Reads: Adult Literacy Fundamental English - Course Pack 1." Yes! I reviewed some of those materials for our Collection and loved them.   One of the most attractive attributes of CrowdEd, in my view, is the easy access it offers to Open Educational Resources (OER)! For those unfamiliar with OER, those are resources that are not only free but also allow anyone to use and modify  under very generous licenses. As a result, many instructors are now developing open classrooms, where students not only benefit from exploring the growing number of excellent open materials; they also learn by modifying and republishing them! The idea is that if you can modify something, you are very likely to know a lot about it! I love the whole movement to open classrooms, which your site promotes. Thanks! Leecy

NOTE: This is a repost of an original post that was placed in a thread that had to be deleted. Please use this event thread moving forward. 

Welcome to Topic 1—Explore CrowdED Learning’s Resources! During Week 1 of this topic, we will be exploring CrowdED Learning’s website ( to check out the range of resources and tools they have organized to make it easier to find high-quality, free lessons, activities, and more for use with adult education students.  

The following resources will be used for this week’s exploration:

  • Overview Video | Please watch this 12 minute video to get an introduction to this event and how it will be structured, as well as an overview of the portions of CrowdED Learning’s website we will be exploring. (Note: This video long because the first three minutes are dedicated to providing an overview for the format of this ongoing event. We will try to keep this to around 5–10 minutes moving forward!) The video includes closed captioning, and the full transcript can be dowloaded. 

  • Notetaking Tool | If desired, please use this notetaking tool to gather information as you explore the website. Please note—it is a shared Google Doc in “View Only” mode. To get your own editable version of it within Google Drive, you will need to make a copy of the original. If you do not have / do not want to use Google Drive, you do have the ability to download the document in a number of different formats, including Microsoft Word. Directions both for making a copy and downloading a copy are provided at the end of this post. 

Resource Exploration Overview

This week our focus will be simply to explore the various resources made available on CrowdED Learning's website. As is discussed in the video, much of CrowdED Learning’s work to date has been geared toward identifying quality free and open education resources that have been identified by adult educators as being effective with their learners. The purpose of much of the website is to help organize these resources in ways that make it easier to locate quality lessons, activities, readings, and more for use with your students. 

As time goes on, CrowdED Learning is continuously experimenting with ways to make it easier to implement these resources into your instruction and provide increased opportunities for learners to engage with learning both in and out of class. Given this, the CrowdED Learning website is constantly changing as we tinker with ways to make resources more readily available and retrievable for instructors. There are three main areas to focus on for this week’s exploration, all of which can be found in the site’s main navigation. 

  • Explore | This section includes the Skill Directory, which includes listings of resources organized into 11 different subject areas, including academic, employability, and 21st-Century competencies. 

  • Our Work | This section includes links to current webinars and recordings of previous webinars. It also includes a link to the CrowdED Musings blog and an index to all of featured the Resources of the Month. 

  • SkillBlox | Check out the Reading, Math, and Language sections where there are links to various, high-quality free and open education resources. Within each, you will see there are standards alignments for a selection of resources that allow you to find specific lessons, activities, and reading sets that align to College and Career Readiness Standards. 

In addition to exploring and sharing your thoughts on these resources, we also want to hear more about YOU and what free and open resources you use with your students to help develop their skills in reading, writing, and language. 

Week 1 Discussion Questions

Our focus of our discussion this week is on what reading, writing, and language resources you use, what resources from CrowdED Learning’s website seem promising, and why you feel these resources are or might be effective and engaging resources for your students. 

  • What do you hope to learn / take away from this event? 

  • What resources do you currently use to teach, practice, and apply reading, writing, and language skills with your learners? What features make them particularly helpful, engaging, or effective?

  • For what areas of reading, writing, or language instruction do you feel there is a lack of resources?

  • Explore CrowdED Learning’s Skill Directories, particularly for Reading and Writing. Check out some of the resources listed within these directories. What resources seem like they might be particularly effective and easy to implement with your learners? Why? 

Please feel free to answer any or all of the questions by adding a comment to this post. You can use the notetaking tool to gather your thoughts around these questions. 

Your participation might entail any number of actions—posting your answers to each these questions, sharing additional thoughts and considerations related to this topic, asking questions to the moderator or to other participants in general related to this topic, or providing comments, insights or feedback on others’ posts. 

I look forward to this week’s discussion!


How to access a shared Google Doc in “View Only” mode

The notetaking tool for this week’s exploration is a Google Doc that has been shared in “View Only” mode. (This will be the format for all notetaking tools for this event.) Regardless of whether you have or use Google Drive or Google Docs, you can access an editable version of the document to help organize your thinking. 

If you do have Google Drive and want to work within your own version of the Google Doc you have the ability to make a copy of the file that will be saved as a separate version in your Google Drive. To do so:

  1. Open the document by clicking this link.

  2. Go to the “File” menu.

  3. Select “Make a Copy” and you will be prompted to indicate where in your Drive the copy should be saved. 

Once you’ve completed these steps, you will be able to directly edit within the document. 

If you do not have Google Drive or if you don’t want to work in Google Docs, you can still view the file on screen and then download it in a number of formats, including as a Word doc (editable) or a PDF (not editable). To do so:

  1. Open the document by clicking this link.

  2. Go to the “File” menu.

  3. Click “Download” and you will see the list of file formats in which the document can be downloaded and saved. 

Once you’ve completed these steps, you will have your own version of the document—in whatever format you selected—on your computer or device.


Thank you so much for a great introduction to CrowdED!  The overview video really gave me a good understanding of what CrowdED has to offer, and the Notetaking Tool is very helpful.  My take away for this event is to be able to better organize specific lessons for both individual learners, as well as for group lessons.  There are many resources available, and it is difficult to keep track, address multi-level classes, and provide instruction in several content areas.  CrowdEd will be extremely helpful in all areas.

I often have teachers asking for help with alphabetics and fluency lessons and with finding appropriate materials to provide instruction so I'm looking forward to spending more time with CrowdED's resources.


Jeff, We appreciate your work on CrowdEd and structuring this opportunity over the next several weeks for members to explore the resources you've collected and organized on the site. I want to offer an endorsement of as an excellent resource for leveled texts reflecting various genre on a wide range of relevant topics. As noted on your spreadsheet, the readings are standards-based, which is valuable for teachers and learners. Plus, there are many engaging topics for discussion which can serve as a springboard for mini research projects. For instance, there are text sets on the topic of workers' rights. Students can read about Cesar Chavez and his campaign for the rights of farm workers and about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, as well as learn about the history of the labor movement. This could lead to a research project on the work labor unions are doing today. This topic, as well as many others, also features related media. The text-based questions that accompany the readings are also useful.

I've used many of these texts and videos in class as well as for offering extra homework. I like that I can search for texts by reading level, theme, genre, standards, literary devices (i.e.,symbolism, mood, figurative language, etc.), as well as by text sets. Teachers can also set up a class on the site and monitor learners' progress online.

I'm looking forward to exploring many new resources over the next several weeks!

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Teaching & Learning CoP


Great endorsement! CommonLit is in fact one of the resources we will be featuring during Topic 2—Comprehension, starting Monday, Sep 23! Hopefully you'll be available and checking in at that time to offer your insights as to how you use it with your students. We'll be featuring a couple other freely available tools, and asking a LOT of questions about how to effectively organize these resources to support standards-aligned differentiation strategies, so I look forward to that convo!

Thanks for sharing!

Susan, Commonlit is by far one of my favorite reading websites and it keeps getting better and better. Not only do they have the best library (especially for adult ed), but now they offer so many wonderful tools for the students. Students have translate and read aloud options along with the new features of annotating and highlighting text. I also love that you can print it or use it online. Plus it plays nicely with Google Classroom, which always makes me happy.


ESL Literacy Readers is a free resource funded by Bow Valley College, School of Global Access in Canada, so there are some references to Canadian systems and locations.  However, the six levels of readers are available for free download for educational use. Level A  texts contain one sentence per page paired with a picture and uses repeated vocabulary.  Level G texts have longer, continuous texts with less pictures.  They are high-interest, leveled readers that focus on stories particularly relevant to immigrants.


Hi Jeri,

Thanks for pointing that out! I was not aware of that, and will definitely take a look. We actually are in the process of pulling together an ESL Skill Directory and need to make a formal ask of the community to share what they use, but I will add this to the list of resources to evaluate. 

Canada has done some amazing work in the OER actually, Bow Valley has a really interesting Employability Skills course called In the Workplace (it's in our "Essential Skills" skill's a unique, interactive textbook that can be used both off- and online. Again, there's a fair amount of Canadian contexts, but it's built for high intermediate/advanced ESL students, and each chapter has instruction and practice in reading, speaking, listening, and writing, all around whatever the chapter-level workplace focus is.

I wonder if anyone joining has used either of these resources with their learners or, if not, what OER and/or free resources you use with ESL students? 


I have viewed the In the Workplace course, but have not used it.  I do like that, along with the instructor guide, the student book is available both as an e-book and can be downloaded and printed.


Hi Jeff--I know this topic is on Reading, but I was looking through your Social Studies resources and would like to recommend iCivics. It is an excellent low-reading-level resource for government and civics education. It was started by former Justice Sandra Day O'Conner in an effort to increase the level of civics and government knowledge in the country.


Thanks for sharing!!!! I've been looking at iCivics more and more, and I really think it's a hidden gem for all sorts of things, including information/media literacy, which we talked about in this blogpost on that topic

One thing I also really love is they have a lot of standards-aligned lessons, resources, and curriculum available here

I'm hoping either here or within this week's conversation (which I posted a moment ago) you might consider sharing with the group your strategies for integrating iCivics into your reading instruction! It would be great to learn more from your work :)


You indicate, 'As time goes on, CrowdED Learning is continuously experimenting with ways to make it easier to implement these resources into your instruction and provide increased opportunities for learners to engage with learning both in and out of class." What are the common questions or concerns related to implementing the OERs in CrowdED Learning? Do you find teachers have experience with OERs? What is the most common type of PD needed by educators?


Kathy Tracey

Hi Kathy!

Thanks for your question related to PD! As we promote the use of both FREE and OPEN resources, one important area we work to help instructors distinguish is understanding the difference between "free" and "open" education resources. As you know having listened to me ramble on for a few years now :), we truly believe that free and open education resources (OER) are critical for helping instructors ensure full standards coverage while providing increased options for learners; however, we need to be sure we are supporting instructors in understanding the content rights and licensing considerations they must take into account when using these resources. 

One area we've found is pretty critical related to PD is simply helping instructors develop strategies for incorporating these resources—particularly tech-centered resources—in a way that isn't interruptive, while also being mindful of the wide range of technology access learners may or may not have. 

To be clear, our focus to this point has been around simply increasing awareness of the resources that are out there to hopefully inspire instructors to try out new resources that might be effective with their learners. We have yet to do a whole lot around the concept of taking OER and revising and remixing them, although over the course of this event we are going to explore what that looks like, as well as introduce a crowdsourcing experiment we are going attempt during Topic 3—Fluency—that will allow anyone interested to explore the strategies for reusing, remixing, and redistributing existing OER! So, I'll probably be better equipped to answer your question once we do that!!!!!

That all said, I've definitely aligned our webinars around topics that appear to be of interest to instructors. Not sure if you explored it, but the "Our Work" page of our website includes recordings to past webinars, included within which are webinars around the topics of effective integration strategies and distinguishing between free and open. I also know that for folks who are in member states of the IDEAL Consortium, there is an Introduction to OER course within their catalog of available courses. 

Do you have any topics you have found are particularly critical, and/or PD opportunities folks might want to explore related to OER use?

I have used both ReadWorks and CommonLit and like both of them. I think ReadWorks' reading levels are lower than CommonLit's, so I have to take that into consideration when choosing by level for my students. Commonlit seems to be pretty difficult for my lowest level reading students, so I tend to use ReadWorks more.

What's important for me is to be able to print. I work in the North Dakota corrections system, and right now my students don't have access to the internet (though we are inching closer to using very locked-down tablets). Both ReadWorks and CommonLit give me the ability to print out materials and give to my students for classwork or homework. Since our students' institutional job is to come to education, when we cancel classes, we give homework that they can turn in for pay for that day. ReadWorks allows for very accessible homework assignments in any subject area at any grade level. I appreciate that the non-fiction passages in ReadWorks don't feel "dumbed down." My third-grade reading level students can learn about subjects on the level on which they read, so they are not frustrated by difficulty nor feeling spoken down to.

I have found many, many good web-based resources, but if they are not printable, I just pass them by.


Readworks is one of my favorites, too!.  I have also worked in corrections and understand the need for printable resources.  In this digital, online world it is becoming more difficult each year to access print materials and resources.  Especially free ones!  Newsela also has printable reading passages on a variety of topics.  While it does have many free resources, there is a layer that you must subscribe to.  What I like best about newsela is the ability to print a single passage written on several different levels.  So, for a multi-level class, I can prepare a lesson on the same topic that will address the reading instructional levels of all my students.  This resource also provides "text sets" for extended study of a topic.  Passages and associated quizzes are also CCSS aligned.



Thank you so much for your post!!!! It's really helpful to learn how you are using ReadWorks along with your observations about how it compares to other resources and why you feel it is effective for your learners. Your sharing about how you use it with your learners in offline settings, and the affordances ReadWorks makes for doing so (printable stories), is also super helpful!

I'd love to learn more about what other resources you have found and use that are freely available and while providing the flexibility needed to be able to offer to learners who may not have online access. Also, if you are planning on following along over the course of this event, I'm hoping you definitely participate in Topic 2, where we will be discussing resources that support comprehension—included within will be ReadWorks. 

Thank you!


Thank you all for your great posts last week! I need to backtrack to address a few of them, which I will do so momentarily. For now, however, we are ready to begin a new discussion focus....

During Week 1 of this topic, you explored CrowdED Learning’s website to check out the range of free resources and tools they have provided to support teaching and learning. (Here's the overview video if you'd like a refresher.)

During Week 2, our focus now shifts to sharing your strategies for incorporating these and other resources you find effective into everyday reading, writing, and language instruction.

The following resource will be used for this week’s exploration:

Notetaking Tool | If desired, please use this notetaking tool to gather information as you explore the website. This tool has all of the same content that is provided within this post. (Although, a different example is used for the standard-alignment example you'll read about below.) Directions for how to make or download a copy of the tools are provided at the end of this post. 

Using Multiple Resources to Ensure Full Standards Coverage

One of CrowdED Learning’s main goals is to provide a wide range of freely available resources and tools to offer more options for instruction and learning within adult education. A core strategy we have for doing this is to aggregate resources from multiple sources so that, for any particular standard or skill, learners have a variety of options for learning and practice. We believe this can help instructors ensure they provide full standards coverage. 

Consider for example a particular math skill—Properties of Two-Dimensional Figures—which is a Geometry standard at CCRS Level C (4.G.1). Using the standards alignments documents CrowdED Learning has developed and continues to develop for various math resources such as Khan Academy, CK12, and PhET, instructors can find resources that specifically align to this particular standard and pull them together for students to provide a variety of instruction and practice opportunities. I’ve created a theoretical example of how this might be done using this Wakelet

This aggregation of content works great for math and even for language skills, where it is easier to isolate the focus of a lesson or activity on a single standard or related set of standards. Please note—for ANY subject, we are not advocating to focus instruction specifically on a single standard. All standards are interconnected and these connections should be a major focus of instruction. However, it is important for instructors to be able to map their instruction to standards in order to ensure full coverage; and this starts with knowing how resources align.

We have found this type of aggregation is slightly more challenging for reading. Consider, for example, concepts such as “Main Idea and Details” or “Use Context Clues”, for which there are multiple standards at all levels. While there are some resources—particularly publisher resources—that provide distinct, isolated lessons around these particular standards, skills, and concepts, learners must also have opportunities to practice so they learn how to apply these skills to any and all reading they encounter. Typically, however, free, external resources such as leveled libraries that provide extensive, rich opportunities for applied reading aren’t explicit in defining what skills or strategies might be more prominent or applicable for learners.

During your exploration of resources last week I hope you discovered there are lots of great sources for reading at all reading levels that cover a wide range of topics. The ensuing discussion also drew from instructors’ experience, highlighting some great resources to support integration of reading skills into content areas. Given we know instructors typically pull from a variety of different resources to provide comprehensive reading, writing, and language skill development, our focus this week revolves around the question: 

How do you integrate various learning resources from various sources to ensure comprehensive standards-aligned instruction?

Discussion Questions

Use these questions to organize your thoughts before posting your ideas and reflections. 

  • In what ways do you provide direct, explicit instruction related to reading, language, and writing skills and standards. What main resources do you use with your learners? 
  • Describe how you currently provide relevant and/or contextualized practice and application of the reading, writing, and language skills learners need as defined by the standards? What resources do you use—particularly online resources?
  • When using outside resources that don’t explicitly focus on skills (i.e., online leveled libraries, web-based readings), how do you make connections for learners between what they read and the reading skills and strategies they need to develop? (e.g., Key idea and detail, draw inferences, identify cause and effect, compare and contrast, use context clues, etc.)
  • How do you take the various resources you use—publisher textbooks/workbooks, learning software, leveled readings, workplace contextualized resources, etc.—and design units of curriculum that provide full coverage of the standards / skills learners need to develop?

Jeff,  Thank you for continuing this discussion!

Delaware, where I have both taught and trained, is a STAR state.  It is required that at least one teacher in each program is STAR trained.  So, we assess on the four reading components (alphabetics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension), then develop a learning plan for each designated student.  Explicit instruction (explain, model, guided practice, independent practice, with guided, explicit  feedback) is used.  One example of comprehension strategy instruction for main idea is Get the Gist.  We use a variety of  online and hard copy resources from several different publishers.  The most important factor is using the appropriate instructional level materials with each learner.

For writing, we have developed a Transition to Employment or Post-Secondary/Training Manual.  It is aligned to the CCR for each NRS level and includes explicit instructions for both teachers and students to produce narrative, expository and argument writing pieces, as well as completing resumes and employment or college applications.  Each level is presented with example writings and graphic organizers to aide students in the writing process.

I have used, among others, and icivics Drafting Board for instruction.

I am anxious to hear what others are using!


Hi Jeri!!

Thanks for this info. Out of curiosity, for things like "Get the Gist", do you have a set of tools (references, graphic organizers, templates, etc.) that allow for students to apply that strategy for any passage? For example, is there a world where you model for students how to use a GO for something like Main Idea/"Get the Gist", then give them blank copies of that same GO for a reading of their choice?

Along the lines of graphic organizers, do you (or anyone reading this) have recommendations for folks as to good, free printable/downloadable and or interactive graphic organizer libraries that you have found easy to use and effective? 



Definitely the goal for any strategy instruction is for students to be able to apply the strategy to almost any reading.  It is better to equip students with a few strategies that are universal than to teach ten strategies for ten different purposes.  Also, explicit instruction must take place:  explain the strategy and its purpose, model the strategy, allow for short guided practice opportunities with constructive feedback, then independent practice, again with feedback.  I like Get the Gist because it is easily used with a variety of texts.  I don’t have a specific graphic organizer, but it is easily developed.  After the teacher explains what getting the gist means and explains and models the strategy, a GO with prompts such as “What is the gist?” and “How do you know?”  can be used.  Depending upon the text the GO can include prompts for the “wh” words.  There are many versions of Get the Gist online, although most have a small fee.  Again, its just as easy to make your own.  Teacherspayteachers  does have some free downloads.

I'm looking forward to our next topic of discussion!


Hello Jeff and all, I'm eager to hear what online resources teachers are using to teach the reading skills you've outlined "(e.g., Key idea and detail, draw inferences, identify cause and effect, compare and contrast, use context clues, etc.)" A resource I draw from is Reading for Understanding:: How Reading Apprenticeship Improves Disciplinary Learning in Secondary and College Classrooms by Greenleaf, Schoenbach and Murphy.  Of course, this book is not free; however, the WestEd site features a great number of downloadable tools from the book, for example:

  • Interests and Reading Survey
  • Fix-up Steps
  • Metacognitive Bookmark
  • Think Aloud Inquiry
  • Talking to the Text Inquiry
  • Exploring Argumentation Inquiry
  • And many more!

Another online tool I use regularly to identify Tier 2 academic vocabulary is Tom Cobb's Vocabulary Profiler. At this site, teachers can copy and paste text into a text box, and the site immediately categorizes words by color-coding. Words in blue and green are the most common words in English, Tier 1. Tihe yellow words are on the Academic Word List (Tier 2). Red words are Tier 3, which are either content specific words or less commonly used words. Having this information ensures that I am prioritizing the vocabulary I teach explicitly.

This is such a valuable discussion! 

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Teaching & Leanring CoP



I have never seen that profiler!! That is a really really cool tool! Next month (topic 4) we will dive deep into vocabulary, and I'm going to tuck this away to be sure we bring it up again then. 

In the meantime....I've got lots of ideas....but could you provide some examples of how you use it?



Hi Jeff and all, I use the Vocabulary Profiler every time I choose a text to use with a class. My goal is to quickly identify Tier 2 words in order to prioritize which words to teach explicitly. I often choose 10-12 of the academic words and create a Knowledge Rating Scale for students to indicate how well they know the words. The categories on the Knowledge Rating Scale can include the following.

  • I don't know this word.
  • I have seen this word, but I'm not sure what it means.
  • I know the word has something to do with ...
  • I know the word well. 

I then plan vocabulary lessons focused on the words that most of the students don't know. I use a "Vocabulary Workout" as a routine in each class. The workout engages learners in using the new vocabulary in conversation and in writing in personally meaningful ways. I am happy to share the Vocabulary Workouts that I've developed for all 60 words in sublist 1 of the Academic Word List. Contact me at I still need to get these Vocabulary Workouts into the OER collection!

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Teaching & Learning CoP

Hi everyone,

Thanks for your participation thus far! I hope that the info has been informative. I personally have learned about a few great new resources I can't wait to explore, and there have been some great sharing of ideas around use of technology. 

Next week we will be moving on to a new topic—Comprehension! During this two-week segment of the event, we will first be introduced to a few great, freely available leveled reading resources we know to be effective with adult education. The resources we focus on for this two-week topic specifically lend themselves to comprehension. Again, week 1 of this topic will focus on a guided resource exploration, and week 2 will focus on strategies for implementation. 

NOTE: We will start a new thread for each, when we launch Topic 2, be sure to add your comments to that thread. You of course can continue to respond to specific comments within this thread, but comments, questions, and ideas related to Topic 2 should be made within that thread. So, be on the lookout!

I look forward to continuing the great sharing! Thanks, everyone :)

Have a great weekend!