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Are you willing to initiate or participate in discussions monthly in our R&W and D&L Communities of Practice?

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In a healthy community, members interact with each other. Each member plays a role to both contribute to and benefit from what other members do. Do you agree?

In this community, or family of educators, I find myself playing a role that more resembles that of a parent, bringing in the resources needed to maintain general health. I would like to share leadership more in our Reading and Writing, and Diversity and Literacy discussions. I would like to learn from you, too, in this vast and exciting field of Adult Education. I know that you joined the group for different reasons, but I assume that your main interest was to share ideas that will help you assist adults in the process of getting ready for college or work. If I'm wrong, please do correct me by expressing your views in our discussions.

Please participate in this poll. If you choose "Yes" or "Maybe," please state your commitment in the area below the poll (Add new comment) to how you will start helping us grow together as a community.

You can become active by asking a question, sharing a resource, complaining about something, telling a story, asking us to fill blanks, praising someone or something, quoting someone or something, criticizing a practice, reflecting on something, on and on. I hope you'll consider diving in and getting our waters churning!

Beach Jumps 


75% (3 votes)
0% (0 votes)
25% (1 vote)
Total votes: 4


Edward Latham's picture

I find it interesting how you phrased the question, "Are you willing ..." and doing a google definition look up of the word I come up with: "ready, eager, or prepared to do something." I suspect many of our LINCS Lurkers feel they are ready, eager or prepared to do something and yet barriers or challenges come up that quell some of the willingness? Some of that may be the nature of the environment, some of it may be fear of putting a thought or emotion out there, some of it may be just finding the time, but for whatever reason, our communities of practice all need more voices, opinions and thoughts from the field. We have some consistent and thoughtful people that frequently post experiences, responses, and questions, but we have many more lurking consumers than we do contributors. Our discussions are only as rich as the diversity of voices we get to hear. Hope our lurkers feel welcome and encouraged to speak up and share your experience and perspectives. Remember, no one else in the country, nor the world, has the combination of experiences and perspectives you have to offer. Hope to hear from you soon on any topic!

Dolores Perin's picture

I wondered what approaches people in this community were using to teach HSE students to draw inferences from text. I am beginning to do some volunteer teaching with a literacy program in New York and have been asked to teach students to make inferences, based on TASC standards. In the past I have done this (with ABE, GED/ HSE and also higher-skilled dyslexic adults) through detailed verbal interactive discussion, in which we dissect the text together. I have only found one study on an intervention for teaching students to make inferences - referenced below, quite interesting - and this is with middle school students. I'd appreciate knowing what people in this community are doing in regard to this "skill" (really the essence reading comprehension). Best regards, Dolores Perin

Reed, D. K., & Lynn, D. (2016). The effects of an inference-making strategy taught with and without goal setting. Learning Disability Quarterly, 39(3), 133-145. doi: 10.1177/0731948715615557

S Jones's picture

I learned to teach making inferences by starting with visuals.   We had a picture of a picnic with the salad dressing cut out.   It was in the shape of a bottle and it was rightnext to the salad.   So we figured out what it was and talked about what the clues were that helped us get to that conclusion. 

I'd look for cartoons and comics-- there was a Garfield one that was great.   The guy comes through the door with his head dragging, arms dangling down, shoulders stooped... and Garfield asks, "So, how did the date go?"   

Then we'd go to the more standard-issue "comprehension practice" paragraph booklets and practice highlighting clues (hey, you neevr just talk about it... you mark it up!!!)   and making those inferences.'s picture

I also use visuals to teach inferencing by having a 15-minute mingle or mixing activity. In my multi-level English language class I begin each class by having a picture posted usually around the theme of the lesson. For example, for a health lesson I have a picture of a crying child with a thermometer in her mouth looking very sad. Next to the picture I write I see......, I think......, because........Students work in pairs to complete the sentences orally. They switch partners until everyone has talked to everyone. Even the very low proficient learner can say sick, girl, not happy. Often I or a volunteer writes vocabulary words next to the picture that students use or have difficult saying. It amazes me how much the students can come up with. As I monitor, I listen for grammar mistakes or vocabulary problems that I can address right after the mingle. This year I have added a 10-15 minute writing activity when the students go back to their tables and groups. Using the sentence frames I saw..., I thought..., because..., students in the intermediate and advanced groups write about the picture in past tense. This idea came from "Reading for Understanding: How reading apprenticeship improves disciplinary learning in secondary and college classrooms." I've tweaked it for my adult classes.


Dolores Perin's picture

These are great suggestions - thanks. Do you have a good source for visuals and cartoons for this purpose?

Kathy_Tracey's picture

I enjoy teaching inferences using both literature and childrens picture books. For example, I used The Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood. Readers and students had to infer feelings and determine who the narrator is. Any of the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Williems are great. The characters are drawn with vivid facial expressions that can be also be used to teach inferences and feelings. Using picture books are spectacular for introducing the concept of inferences. They also make a terrific bridge from pictures to text. Moving into another strategy, teachers read aloud and ask inference questions while reaidng the story. One of my favorites is a quick short story from Spencer Quinn, A Cat Was Involved. The book is told from the perspective of the dog and the reader is making inferences through the entire story. Finally, an additional strategy is to have students work through these brief Two-Minute Mysteries by Donald J. Sobel

Leecy's picture

You said, "Our discussions are only as rich as the diversity of voices we get to hear." Hear, hear! Leecy

Leecy's picture

What innovative and useful, not to mention "fun" ideas you've shared here re inference! I hope we gather more.

Dolores asked about sites that support development of comics/cartooning and related images. I LOVE getting teachers and students onto comic and cartooning sites. Like Dolores, I am hungry for more. If no one posts for awhile, I'll drop in with my list. Chomping at the bit, Leecy

Edward Latham's picture

There are a number of great resources out there and I am sure others will share many of the more popular ones. I will leave the list of readymade tools for others to share for now as I wanted to share a thought about how we may best facilitate comics while building other digital skills. 

In Google Presentation (A Free Slideshow type program in the cloud), we have a collection of tools that quickly and easily allow for everyone to make posters, cards, and even comics. The drawing tools and alignment tools in Presentation make it so easy to layout panels. Having text surrounded by speach bubbles is easily done and learners experience many of the basics of digital layout and design in the process. Getting in graphics from anywhere is easy and the system facilitates learners discovering how to handle graphics of many formats from many locations which is a vital digital skill. Moving images, text, special effects and backgrounds around is super easy as each piece is a layer and can be picked up and moved or resized as needed. 

In addition to the above features, the following points can not be understated as super important when talking about adult learners that might be new to technology options:

  1. Presentation is a tool that is free and available to anyone on any device. Granted, it's current implementation on very small portables is not stellar, but it is there. 
  2. Working in the cloud, learners can not loose their work, nor do they need to drag their work around on flash drives all over the place.
  3. Sharing work with others from the Google Cloud is simple and powerful and no one else in the industry has made a system that is this efficient and intuitive (my opinion of course).
  4. Presentation integrates with all the other Google Tools seamlessly. Want to include your comic in a live stream you are making on YouTube (a Google tool)? No problem. Want one of your panels of your comic to link to a document, sound effect, or even a video? One click and a copy/paste later you are done. The ability to extend the comics learners create in presentation far exceeds the capabilities or extensions available in other tools available. 

Challenges: OK, I know the above sound really over the top positive so I will mention a few "challenges". I suspect many of the challenges listed below would be present in other tools available as well. Some are unique to Presentation and I will put a " * " next to those:

  1. Users should have a gmail or google account. Of course almost any online resource will require some sign in to better be able to save and retrieve work
  2. * Other comic programs may have collections of graphics already available for learners to use. Two thoughts on this: First, the instructor could have a full page of graphics ready to go in a template document others can use to ease people in quickly. Second, I feel it is a vital digital skill that adult learners become comfortable with manipulation of online graphics and be aware of the different formats available. 
  3.  * Printing: as with all Google Cloud tools, if the computer the learner is using does not have an updated browser (Chrome works best), printing problems can easily happen. Part of adopting the Google Tools has to be a diligence to ensuring learners are working with the most updated browsers they have available. 

That's it really. I encourage you all to explore the many tools that will be shared after this post ( have a ton as I know Leecy and others do as well), but please keep in mind that, for many of our learners, Google Presentation may be the most powerful Comic Creation tool you have available to you. 

OK... let the list of comic resources commence!!!! 

David J. Rosen's picture


In some (also free) comics-creating programs one has characters, a range of choices of speech bubbles, and other features to use in building a short comic strip. Can you tell us more about what tools and assists Google Presentation might offer a teacher or student comic strip builder? Can you suggest some links where we might see comics that have been built with Google Presentation? And can you suggest a good video introduction to using Google Presentation specifically to make comics?



David J. Rosen

Edward Latham's picture

David and all, Google Presentation has speach bubbles, thought bubbles and many of the characteristic boxes, symbols and layout items that are included in the "comic" tools. As for links to videos on this, and links to video instructions, I am not aware that anyone has done such materials up. Perhaps that would be a good thing for me to record on a Wednesday night Hangout. 

In doing this example linked here, I used Google Presentation, Google Image Search, and Pixlr (Google's web-based graphic editor). I would suggest that learners that are novices with technology would need to have basic technology skills bolstered before attempting comics like this. There are many comic programs out there that do a great job at getting learners creating comics. Getting learners to create in Presentation would develop skills that could be powerful in the digital workforce. 


David J. Rosen's picture

Thanks Ed. Nice Tortoise and Hare reading promotion comic.  It looks like the Google Present tool could be very useful to teachers. Thanks, too, for mentioning the Google Pixlr graphic editor tool. It's great -- especially since it is versatile, easy-to-use,  and free!

David J. Rosen


rwessel51's picture

“Getting learners to create in Presentation would develop skills that could be powerful in the digital workforce.”

This is true.

I’ve used Apache OpenOffice/Libre Office Impress and SoftMaker Presentations a lot. On occasions when I’ve had to use PowerPoint, my familiarity with these tools enabled me to be fully functional with PowerPoint after taking a few minutes to figure out the interface. I’ve used Google Presentation a little bit too. My impression is that although it is not as full featured as the offline tools, it has the all the functionality most people will ever need without all the bloat. What this means for learners is one year of experience with Google Presentations translates into one year minus less than one week of experience with PowerPoint, the less than one week needed to learn the different interface.

I took a quick look at Pixlr. It has a lot of similarities to office suite drawing tools that are integrated with their presentation software, offline graphics software such as Inkscape, photo editing software, and even desktop publishing software. Again, familiarity with Pixlr also provides a learner familiarity with a number of other tools an employer might be using.

Edward Latham's picture

Thank you, Robert,  for mentioning Inkscape as well. Inkscape is a another one of those free tools that is a "go to" in my toolbox because of how easy it is to use and yet how powerfully robust the options! Are people familiar with Inkscape? Should we have a Wednesday Google Hangout session exploring that tool's options?

One further note on Pixlr. It may be helpful to know the most useful aspect of Pixlr has been for my learners. There are many images online that are in Jpeg format. For those of you not aware of what that format is, think of it as a format that is great for photo quality images and it is a format in which all the many layers of an image are combined together to be one single layer. Although these images are nice to look at, it is often very difficult to get rid of the white backgrounds on many images. For example, the turtle in my example post had a white background as did the balloons used. In both cases I simply loaded the image into Pixlr, I was able to click on one tool and simply "erase" the white background to have a transparent background instead. The learner discovers the difference between jpeg and png formats when they go to save their work. Basically, the transparent background needs to be saved in png format because the jpeg process will flatten all the layers and it does not like transparent layer in that process. The transparent layers allow me to move my image around my scene without a white box surrounding it. I have seen learners using programs like MS Paint to "erase" that background, but that process always seemed to take much more time and not have as good results in the finished product. Do others have a quick and easy way to get rid of white backgrounds from images that have been saved as jpegs? 

rwessel51's picture

For those unfamiliar with the concept of layers, think of a stack of transparencies. Using a comic strip panel as an example, the bottom layer could be the background; the one on top if it, a character; next, another character; and on top, the dialogue bubbles. Each of these layers can be edited separately and their positions switched as needed. For printing or online publication, they can then be compressed into a single layer, as in a photograph.

A caveat on image formats: JPEG is a lossy format, meaning each time you save it, the compression algorithm takes away data and the quality of the image progressively degrades, as in a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy. If you plan to do a lot of editing on an image, try to use a lossless format, such as PNG, TIF, or RAW converted to lossless if you are using a photo taken with a digital camera that has RAW capabilities. The same applies to audio. MP3 is lossy. WAV is lossless.

The one complaint I had about Google Presentations when I used it in the past was that although it allowed you to embed videos, it didn’t allow you to include pure audio files. I don’t think they’ve changed that. With a comic strip, for example, the ability to embed audio would let you provide an audio reading of the dialogue. This would be helpful for ESOL learners and those just learning to read. Embedding a video as a workaround would be too clumsy.

Leecy's picture

Robert, thanks so much for explaining layers and bringing up the audio issue with Google Presentations. That reminds of another very good and super engaging site for adding voice to characters: Students can create their own characters, give them a voice, exchange conversations with other students, express opinions, on and on. The voice can be recorded or spoken from text with a good choice of speakers. The finished product can be emailed, embedded, or shared in other ways.

Another way that I have used Voki is to introduce myself  occasionally to students in my online courses. I also drop into as a Voki here and there, just to add some variety.

The basic Voki is free. That's what I have used. Below are two examples:

1. - Marisela. This is a sample I gave ESL teachers to have their ESL students create similar Vokis.

2. - This is a Voki that I dropped into our Reading and Writing CoP, inviting member to share their Vokis last year.


Leecy's picture

Perfect for a Hangout topic, Ed, once you get moved over to YouTube instead of Google Hangout, which is out of "business." I would love to know how you created that cute strip using Google Presentation (Google's PowerPoint interface?)and Pixir, which I've never used. I'm off to explore more. Thanks! Leecy

Leecy's picture

Below is a list of sites that I've used with teachers and other students. I love the stuff that comes forth, always leading to laughter. When we are laughing, we are learning. Some sites are super, super simple to create; others are more demanding; others are just for enjoyment.

Cartoon and Comic Strip Creators - Super simple to create right off the bat.  - Creates a story board. Easy and fun.  - Very business-like strip. Easy to create.  -Lots of pre-made strips that can be modified. Make sure that the "Obscenity Filter" is turned on at the top right corner of the site.   - Simple and fun.  - This is an Australian site with cartoons in many categories, including several global sections.

Other Fun Sites

Other ideas to the ones others have shared here? Let's share more. Leecy

David J. Rosen's picture

Thanks Leecy.

I just added these great Cartoon Strips and Cartoon Creating websites to the Literacy List's Free Internet Tools page.

David J. Rosen