Adult Literacy


Opportunities for Professional Development in Adult Literacy:
Finding Useful Resources on the Internet


People who want to improve their skills in helping adults to achieve literacy and other basic competencies need often look no further than the Internet. Recent years have witnessed an amazing explosion of high quality on-line learning experiences and materials for adult educators, some at remarkably low prices, or even free.
The Internet now also provides a convenient gateway to more traditional, on-site, local and regional professional development opportunities, enabling tutors and teachers to search from the comfort of their homes for the right conferences, summer institutes, weekend courses and other in-service experiences. The following “webessay” has been prepared as a convenient connecting rod to some of the best on-line learning resources we have been able to uncover, as well as to some of the best local and regional providers of professional development opportunities on or near the Central Coast of California.

Although we prepared this webessay with the adult educators of Monterey County, California, foremost in mind (see the last section on the Monterey County professional development reimbursement program), we have also tried to create a useful guide for other adult educators in California and, indeed throughout the country. Contributions to this effort have come from Deborah Jones, an adult education teacher for the Monterey Unified School District, Ciquia Martin, and Karen Janes and Ena Yasuhara of the Central Coast Children’s Foundation staff.

Harvey Pressman, President
Central Coast Children’s Foundation, Inc.

Where to start?

One drawback of the Internet “information tsunami” is the potential for drowning in a sea of information, with no compass to help lead to the high ground where the most valuable resources lie. We have therefore tried to be highly selective in what’s included here, and to suggest some sensible starting points.

Basic Information on Adult Education

Implementing Adult Basic Education (ABE) and Workplace Readiness Programs: Florida Technet has compiled an array of free online training courses that give you a “Roadmap to Implementing Adult Basic Education Programs. This free training provides information about (1) staff development; (2)  the history of Adult Basic Education, (3) the adult learner, (4) teaching and learning styles, (5) student eligibility, assessment, and accountability, (6) student services, including recruitment, intake, orientation, retention, and follow-up, and (7) curriculum frameworks and course progression.

Applying Research in Reading Instruction for Adults: First Steps for Teachers. A book that seeks to build an instructors’ knowledge of scientifically based reading research and provide basic guidance on how to use this research in classrooms teaching literacy skills to adult learners. Available free for download from the National Institute for Literacy’s Partnership for reading website.

Professional Development Opportunities in California
The California Adult Education Professional Development website ( offers professional development opportunities under the direction of the California Department of Education.  You simply enter your zip code, and then can find upcoming events or workshops near you.
Chartwell Workshops: The Chartwell Outreach Program is pleased to offer a series of FREE educational workshops about best practices in learning and reading instruction. Workshops will be held in Monterey and are recommended for parents and educators. ( Chartwell can also offer these workshops in other locations. Please contact Kristen Atkins for information: 831.394.3468 x1012

Conferences in California

2009 TRLD Conference, San Francisco, January 22-24:  TRLD (Technology, Reading & Learning Diversity) brings together educators, experienced literacy leaders, and technology experts to share, discuss, and work toward a solution to the nationwide concern of bringing literacy success to ALL students. Educators explore how to provide equitable and flexible access to learning concepts and ideas to empower students in the digital age to become active learners. (For more information, visit

Learning and the Brain, Feb 19-21, 2009: This San Francisco conference focuses on using social brain research to enhance cognition and achievement. You will learn how to build social-emotional skills, implement brain-based instruction, and increase academic performance in children, teens and adults.

2009 California Council for Adult Education State Conference, April 30-May 2, 2009, Pasadena: Expect excellent workshops, a wide-range of vendors displaying their wares, great speakers and special events, recognition of State Award recipients, and of interest to everyone, the opportunity to visit and exchange ideas with fellow adult educators.

2009 Health Literacy Conference May 7-8, 2009, Irvine, California: “Health Literacy: Bridging Research and Practice” This conference will provide you with information, clinical tips, and skill-building sessions on recognizing and communicating effectively with people with low literacy skills.

Conferences Outside of California (Up to $600. of expenses for conferences like these is reimbursable to Monterey County applicants.)

Nevada Adult Educators MPAEA 2009 Conference and pre-conference sessions March 1, 2009: Learn about the dramatic connection between low literacy and poor health status and the groundbreaking, research-based curriculum designed to simultaneously improve both literacy and health literacy outcomes in low literate populations. Learn how to implement this exciting, free curriculum.

Read Right’s Sixth Annual Conference May 14-16, 2009, Seattle: This conference will provide an excellent opportunity to learn about Read Right’s theoretical constructs and the implementation and success of Read Right in schools and colleges across the country. There will be opportunity for school visitations to observe Read Right in action and talk to students, tutors, and administrators. Attend this 2½ day conference and learn more about how this innovative program can empower your students by quickly and permanently eliminating their reading problems.

Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE) June 3-5, 2009, Kansas City, Missouri: This conference will cover a variety of topics—Adult Education, Community Education, Continuing Ed, Higher Ed, Distance Learning, and more. Categories include Adult Education & Literacy (AEL), Community Education (CE), and Higher Education (HE). Contact Tina Liston, Presentations Chair, at 314-709-5570 or for more information

Landmark School Summer Professional Development Institute, 2009: Each summer Landmark School Outreach offers a series of seminars, graduate courses and nationally recognized speakers on language-based learning disabilities. Learn practical teaching strategies that are readily applicable to any teaching environment.  The Institute is held at the Landmark School’s High School Campus in Prides Crossing (Beverly),

Online Courses (Costs associated with these courses can be reimbursed through the special professional development fund set up by the Community Foundation of Monterey County, see last section.)

Comprehensive list of online courses: Go to California Adult Literacy Professional Development Project ( The website has immediate and important information about teaching literacy in California. CALPRO online courses are led by a facilitator. Teacher Training Online courses contain self-directed, self-paced modules. In addition, CALPRO has ten professional development centers that offer workshops, conduct needs assessments, host focus groups and collaborative meetings, and maintain resource collections for educators of adult learners.

National Adult Education Professional Development Network: AE Pro ( provides online courses and course modules for adult education professional development. AE Pro offers six week courses for up to 25 participants at around $1200 per group. (Reimbursement available for Monterey groups.)

Keeping the interest of your students: ProLiteracy World Wide ( offers self-paced online courses that help tutors learn how to engage and hold the interest of their students and sustain student participation. The training skills link includes videos and books that pull together many of the best practices and ideas in this field. All courses take from between 25 and 90 minutes to complete.  Most offer a certificate of completion. Few require prerequisites.

60 – 90 minute online courses: Verizon Literacy Campus ( offers free, online courses to support adult and family literacy programs in recruiting and training volunteers and professional staff and in managing programs. Courses can easily be integrated into existing professional development programs. For a complete listing, go to the Course Catalog on the Free Online Courses page.

Teaching Adults with Disabilities: The Virginia Adult Learning Resources Center offers online training courses to teach adults with disabilities and ESOL:

Professional Development for teachers and administrators: The National Institute for Literacy ( is a comprehensive adult literacy site that allows users to ask questions of experts in the field. It also offers guides and training materials on a variety of topics. You can search literacy, research, practice, and policy areas.

Other Resources

Teacher Tools

Documenting learner progress and program effectiveness: Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems (CASAS) @ has developed more than 180 standardized assessment instruments. Instructors can use the curriculum to place learners into programs, diagnose learners’ instructional needs, monitor progress, and certify mastery of functional basic skills. The online schedule includes regional training dates for twelve different locations in California, and over 50 Web-based workshops with more specific areas of focus in CASAS Implementation, California Accountability, and TOPSpro Special Topics.

Adult English Language Learners: “The Practitioner Toolkit: Working with Adult English Language Learners,” from the Center for Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA) at This site offers background information on adult ESL learners, activity packets for use in the classroom, information on issues such as family literacy, and additional resources for teachers.

Multiple Intelligences:  You can tap into a few of your own intelligences while learning about this important theory on multiple intelligences. Learn about the nine multiple intelligences and how you can apply them to your teaching.

Teaching Adult Native English Speakers: Understanding What Reading is all about addresses how to teach reading to adult native English speakers. It can be adapted for use with adult ESL students. (

Virtual Classroom: Literacy Link ( is an online “virtual classroom” with messaging and resources for workplace skills.

Downloadable resources: Skillswise is the BBC’s highly interactive online resource for adult literacy and numeracy. It provides information for learners and for basic skills teachers, tutors, trainers and advisers on strategies relating to basic skills. Resources can be downloaded @

Best Practices for Tutor Trainings and Tutor Workshops: As a part of an LSTA grant, Project Read, North San Mateo County, was asked by Carla Lehn and Valerie Reinke at the State Library to “vet” training materials, resources, and manuals for volunteer literacy tutors.  They put together materials for tutors, available at this website:

Technology in the Classroom

Technology in your classroom: The website maintained by OTAN (the Outreach and Technical Assistance Network) @ provides lesson plans contributed by California teachers, web-based classroom activities, and multimedia and software resources.  It also leads to many external sites regarding professional development, connection of literacy teaching practices, research and policies.

Educational technology in your GED classroom: The web-based training program developed by the Florida Adult Basic Education Committee (GED2002, The Fifth Connection:  Technology in the Classroom ( will enable you to: (1) complete an Internet search; (2) research lesson plan sites on the web; (3) identify the components needed to implement technology in the classroom; and (4) develop a technology proposal for the GED classroom.

Microsoft Word 2007 Tutorial: If you’re new to using computers, this tutorial may help. A free and online tutorial by Denise Etheridge on how to use Microsoft Word 2007 is available at You can become familiar with how to type Word documents and format them.

Successful examples of technology use in the classroom: Captured Wisdom is an interactive resource that is designed to help inform educators of successful practices of integrating technology into adult education instruction. Innovative, replicable activities are shown, described, and discussed by front-line classroom educators and learners so that other teachers feel that they have had an opportunity to actually visit the class and chat directly with the learners and teacher about their work together

Family Literacy

Introduction to Family Literacy: A training module on introducing family literacy to adult learners. Available through the CALPRO Web site (

Webcast on Adult Education: The National Center for Family Literacy (   on “Scientifically Based Reading Research in Adult Education” (July and September 2005) is archived for immediate viewing.

A Calendar of Adult and Family Literacy Conferences available through the Colorado Department of Education: (

Online Resources

Read Right is a reading program that focuses on teaching adult workers basic reading skills through a unique and apparently very successful approach. To learn more about their ideas, go to

Webcasts on topics related to adult education: (1) The National Centers for Career and Technical Education ( webcast, now archived, was entitled “Serving Adults and Non-Traditional Students” (October 2005). California Distance Learning Project ( is a multimedia activity site with story lists in all subject matter.

The Student Coalition for Action in Literacy Education. A resource geared toward college students who serve as literacy tutors (

For adult education EST/ESOL teachers who teach civics:

California Adult Education Administrators’ Association (CAEAA):

California Council for Adult Education (CCAE):

Chartwell Teacher Training Institute:

Evey Renner’s Great Start 5 program for adult tutors:

Special Opportunities in Monterey County.

Adult educators and tutors working with young adults, ages 18-35, in Monterey County, California can avail themselves of a special professional development fund set up by the Community Foundation of Monterey County, as part of its county-wide Literacy Campaign to improve basic literacy skills for young adults. Primary goals include assisting young adults (18-35) to (1) attain literacy through the high school level, (2) become employed, (3) advance in local workplaces, and (4) read to children to improve their own literacy.
Local practitioners in this field are now eligible to receive support to participate in activities of the following kind:
•    Stipends to support participant attendance at literacy conferences and symposia.
•    Reimbursements for on-line learning experiences.
•    Subsidies for released time and travel expenses for individuals to shadow an effective literacy educator.
•    Reimbursements for the purchase and use of new teacher/tutor training materials.
A description of the fund guidelines (Professional Development Reimbursement Guidelines (MS Word)) and the application for support form (Professional Development Reimbursement Pre-application Form (MS Word) can be found on the Campaign’s web site (, along with further information about the literacy initiative, the local projects it supports in the county, and related topics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *