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Navigating Systems

From the classroom of Heather Turngren, Minneapolis ABE

Skills to Pay the Bills

This resource from the United States Department of Labor was designed to teach “soft” or workforce readiness skills to young adults entering the workplace. The materials are organized according to six key skill areas: communication, enthusiasm and attitude, teamwork, networking, problem solving and critical thinking, and professionalism. The entire curriculum, as well as each individual module, can be downloaded in PDF. The curriculum includes a number of “ready-to-go” activities that could be used in an Adult Education classroom with little to no prep. In one activity from the problem solving and critical thinking module, for example, students practice determining the differences between criticism, praise, and feedback by listening to statements that give examples of each. In addition to the written materials, there are also short, engaging videos to go with each of the six key skill areas. A link to the video series can be found at the top of the resource homepage.

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Digital Citizenship Curriculum from Common Sense Education

The lessons in this digital citizenship curriculum are great resources for teaching learners how to safely navigate online content. Lessons focus on important topics, such as why people publish misleading or false information online, how to interpret an online news article, and how to assess the validity of online information. The entire curriculum is currently being updated, and as of February 2019, new lessons for grades 3-8 are available. The curriculum is free and Common Core aligned.

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Paying for College Guide

From the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

This guide was developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help students make smart decisions about choosing a school and paying for college. According to the website, "For many people, how to pay for a college education is one of the first major financial decisions they'll make. These guides cover some of the big decisions you’ll face and will help you understand your options for financing your college education." 

The website has tools to explain the different types of student loans that are available, to help students compare financial aid offers, and to compare overall costs at different schools. Students can enter information about up to three different schools, and get a solid picture about their debt load at graduation and what their loan payments will be each month. There are also links on the site to other resources, such as the Federal Student Aid website for completing a FAFSA. It's a good resource for learners who are preparing to transition from ABE to college.

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Street Law

Street Law is a global, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization devoted to developing classroom and community resources that educate people about law and government. The Street Law Resource Library contains a vast array of teaching activities, lesson plans, case studies, and articles that are organized according to topic, audience, and type. Within the resource library, users can find lesson plans and activity ideas to support the teaching of a wide variety of high interest topics, such as consumer rights, employment rights and workplace discrimination, civil rights, issues related to family law, and tenant rights. Whether or not you think your students are at risk of running afoul of the law, the lessons and activities in the Street Law Resource Library are worth checking out. They provide excellent opportunities to engage in meaningful dialogue and sharpen critical thinking skills, and they will help our learners avoid pitfalls when navigating a wide variety of systems.

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The Right Question Institute

The resources on this website help teachers learn how to use the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) to turn their students into more expert questioners. Developing these questioning skills will help students get the answers that they need in order to navigate all of the systems in their lives. Through the steps in the QFT, students learn how to evaluate and prioritize their questions and then plan next steps.

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