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MN ABE News

A place to get ABE news from across Minnesota.


Apply by December 15 and Promote Learner Success: Career-Focused Contextualized Instruction - By Stephanie Sommers, CCI Cohort Facilitator

The deadline to apply for the Career-focused Contextualized Basic Skills Instruction (CCI) Cohort has been extended to Friday, December 15. Don't miss this great opportunity!

What is career-focused contextualized basic skills instruction?

Career-focused contextualized basic skills instruction is an integrated approach to curriculum design that combines basic skills instruction with exposure to career content. It recognizes that the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) requires ABE programs to be more intentional about focusing on career pathways and helping learners find jobs in in-demand industries. Under the federally funded Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education (IELCE) grant program, workforce preparation activities are an essential component, and they are best included using a contextualized approach.

How does a contextualized lesson work?

To plan a contextualized lesson, teachers focus on all of the skills that they would normally include, such as identifying the main idea and supporting details or understanding linear equations, but they create opportunities for the learners to practice these skills in a more meaningful way by putting them within a specific context. 

The context can vary depending on the specific focus of the course or the interests of the learners. If the course had a health care focus, for example, then the learners might read articles or watch videos about controlling infection or patient privacy laws and then summarize the main idea. 

The value comes from learners being able to very clearly understand how what they are doing in class will benefit them in the real-world. When learners recognize what they are doing in class as being directly related to their goals, it often increases retention rates and leads to better overall outcomes.

CCI Cohort opportunity

Because of the many benefits to contextualized instruction, ATLAS and the MN Department of Education are continuing to provide training for adult education teachers who want to learn more about it. The Career-focused Contextualized Basic Skills Instruction (CCI) Cohort is a job-embedded professional development opportunity that is being offered again this winter and spring as a way for adult education teachers to learn more about the process and receive resources and support for developing contextualized lesson and unit plans. 

The newly extended application deadline is December 15, 2017, and the cohort kicks off in January 2018. More information, including an informational flyer and the application form, is available on the ATLAS website.

You can also download the application here >>

Keep reading for an account of how one participant from last year described her cohort experience:

Welcoming Refugees into the Workforce with Career Contextualized Basic Skills Instruction
By Julia Wilber, Academic & Employment Navigator, MOC, International Institute of Minnesota

Work? Or School? At International Institute of Minnesota (IIM), we navigate this question with our students regularly. As a refugee resettlement center with Medical and Hospitality Career Pathways that emphasize workforce development, we are faced with the challenge of supporting our students in work and school simultaneously.

However, we believe that this is a false dichotomy—that it is not only possible to combine student professional advancement and academic scholarship, but that coursework combining the two amplifies students’ success in the American workplace. 

When I joined Minnesota’s first Career-Based Contextualized Basic Skills Instruction Cohort (CCI Cohort) in January, I was excited to meet many others who believe the same. In this five-month cohort, I learned how to make my lesson plans standards compliant, but even more importantly, how to craft a careful balance between academic and career skills when presenting material to my students.

Continue reading >>

Originally published 11/6/17