Low Level Literacy in ABE During COVID

Low Level Literacy in ABE During COVID

The “Low Level Literacy EL Learners” Networking Coffee Break during the Language & Literacy 2021 Institute was very popular! We had many good questions and suggestions; we could have kept going for another hour! Here is a brief summary of the discussion.

What’s going well?

Low level literacy learners are coming to online classes; they’re figuring out how to manage the technology! Some locations have 15-20 students in a class, and classes are achieving their class goals, for example, completing over 70 hours of Moby Max time for the term. Students are mastering breakout rooms and using Google docs to practice writing.

Teachers are happy to maintain contact through other means as well, such as packet or PPE distribution. Those who experience technology problems are thrilled that low level ELs can and do help each other. Students are getting to know the online routine well enough to speak up and remind the teacher when they forget to share their screen. Teachers are seeing students coming a long way in phonics and decoding despite the pandemic and in volunteer-led classes.

Suggestions and resources

  • Baamboozle was suggested during the session, and suddenly the Chat came alive with several teachers asking questions or sharing experiences. Baamboozle is an interactive game website offering learners practice with vocabulary. There is a free version; teachers can create their own games or use already made games. Teachers and students alike love this fun activity.
  • Jamboard was suggested by the presenters. Jamboard is part of the Google Apps, a place to create online manipulatives such as matching activities. Each Jamboard is a whiteboard with “post-it notes” on which you can add images (Google search or upload) or text. These virtual “post-it notes” can be moved around the whiteboard, creating opportunities to match image to word. Jamboards are interactive during class;  both the teacher and the students can move the images and words.
  • Padlet is used for low level learners. Teacher shares the link and students go in and write a sentence. A summary can be written about what was covered in class that day for those who could not attend, and the Padlet link can be shared. Pictures can also be shared in Padlet, offering opportunities for “conversations” about the picture.

What else would you recommend?

Online classes can be challenging but they do offer some unique opportunities that are otherwise not practical or possible. For example, one program invited the city mayor to their Zoom meetings for their “Around the Town” unit. The Mayor spoke about his favorite places in town.

Motivators and incentives can continue during COVID. One program gives a prize each month to the student who uses a DL platform for 10 or more hours. For that program in January, it was a gift certificate to a local coffee shop.

Clearly this is an area of need, but our virtual coffee break time also proved to be a source of success stories and resource suggestions. Thank you to everyone who participated in our rich discussion!

Elizabeth Muellerleile, Instructor WEST ABE