Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Winter Magic

It's beginning to look like winter here in the Northland. We had another dusting of snow on the sidewalk this morning, but I'm anxiously waiting for enough to build a snowman!

In honor of the season, I thought I would share my Winter Magic photo slide show from Slide makes it easy to create short digital 'stories' like this one, incorporating music, text, and images. Adult learners and their teachers can use tools like Slide to tell their own stories, using free images from Flickr Creative Commons like I have here. I'm going to be leading a workshop on free online digital storytelling tools on Monday, December 15th from 6:30-8:30 pm at the Minnesota Literacy Council in St. Paul. Come join me if you would like to try this out for yourself!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Teaching Resources

Yep, the big turkey day approaches! If you will be sharing information about the holiday with your learners, you might enjoy browsing these resources for teachers and students.

Larry Ferlazzo has already put together a comprehensive list of ESL resources on his "Best Sites to Learn and Teach About Thanksgiving". Thanks to Larry, who always does a great job sifting the wheat from the chaff on the web, I have very little to add.

Although not particularly fancy, here is a straightforward Power Point slideshow telling the story of the first Thanksgiving that you might like (click the image of the Mayflower to load it).

Also, I don't remember seeing Plimoth Plantation's "You are the Historian" site listed on Larry's page, so I'll recommend that one as well, then wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving. See you in December!

Wild Turkeys by teddy llovet used under Creative Commons license.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

News For You Online--Now with Audio!

If you work with adult learners (native or non-native English speakers) with limited literacy or language skills, you should know about News For You. News For You is a weekly newspaper written specifically for adult learners. It features real news stories written with easier vocabulary and sentence structure than you find in typical newspapers. You can subscribe to the paper to have it delivered to your classroom.

Now, the online version of News For You also has audio options. You can listen to entire stories, or click on any sentence in the story to hear just that sentence. This is a great fluency reading exercise, and helpful to learners who want practice with English pronunciation.

For teachers, there are classroom ideas and teachers' guides to accompany every issue. Enjoy!

Friday, November 14, 2008

YouTube more mainstream than ever, when (and how?) will schools get on board?

The newest sign that YouTube has gone mainstream: President-Elect Obama will now be using YouTube videos to communicate with the American public. The first in this series is already available--Valerie Jarrett of his transition team "provides a web-exclusive update on recent personnel decisions and the latest steps taken on ethics reform". Click here to read more from the Associated Press about Obama's YouTube initiative. The video is embedded below.

Still, many school districts block YouTube, fearful both of its uncensored content and the bandwidth consumed by watching videos online.

But if YouTube is the serious media of the future, at some point, educational institutions are going to need to come to grips with it. Students, especially the adult students we serve, should have access to view messages from the Presidents' office. If that's not an "appropriate use of technology", I'm not sure what is. How then can we provide access to educationally-appropriate content on YouTube while preventing the waste of tax-payer resources on the sea of garbage which is also available on YouTube? I don't have any answers, but I'd sure like to hear your comments.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hey! Where can I get one of these?

Seriously, friends, I love Flickr Creative Commons! It's all about share and share alike, just like you learned in Kindergarden. Get out there, take pictures, and upload them to Flickr with a Creative Commons license. Together we can build the greatest collection of free-to-use photos in history.
Photo "Computer Geek Award" by Flickr user eecue.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembering Veteran's Day

On Veteran's Day, November 11th, the anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I (then called "the Great War") I would like to take a moment to remember a couple of veterans in my life: my father, who served in Korea, and my cousin, who is now in Iraq and has already served two tours of duty in Afganistan. For them and for all who serve and have served this country, thank you.

And thank you to Flickr user Cliff1066 for this lovely photo of the Korean War Memorial in Washington D.C., which I somehow missed on my speed-walk tour of the capital last month. I'm sorry I accidentally bypassed the Memorial but I'm glad I can at least get a pedestrian's eye view through the magic of Web 2.0 and photo sharing.

For those of you who are new to Flickr and want to find great images to illustrate your work, sign up for a free account and then search the Flickr Creative Commons. For more about Creative Commons licenses, check out:

Also, check out the History Channel's website on Veteran's Day. They've put together some resources that could be really useful for social studies and history teachers.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thoughts on Voting... and Voting Technology

I went to vote this morning before coming to work. I arrived at 8:30 a.m. to find a line out the door, around the corner, and a quarter of the way down the block. Wow! I thought that the morning rush would have been over by that time. But everyone seemed to be taking the wait pretty well and be excited to exercise their right to vote. In the end the wait wasn't that bad; although the line was long it kept moving along at a good clip and I was able to vote about 50 minutes after arriving at my polling place.

Inside I was surprised to see a number of people gathered around the same-day voter registration table. I was surprised since my precinct always has high turnout (in 2004 I believe it was 90% or better) so I didn't expect to see so many people in my precinct who weren't already registered! I'm so proud to live in Minnesota where we have such a clean, efficient, and inclusive voting system. I'm particularly pleased with the technology that we use here--the optical scan paper ballots. They're great for a number of reasons:

1) As a voter, you get a real paper ballot to hold in your hand and mark with a pen (rather than relying on a punch-card system or some such to mark it for you). There should be no question that you really voted for the people you wanted to vote for.
2) The optical scanner reads and records votes quickly and accurately.
3) If there is a question about the accuracy of the voting results, a hand-count can be done because voters have completed real paper ballots.

Combining this accurate, reliable and efficient technology with progressive policies (e.g. same-day voter registration) is the reason that Minnesota consistently has among the country's highest voter turnout rates (check out results from the Secretary of State's office here!) and yet lowest incidence of irregularities and complaints. Hoorah for Minnesota! How fabulous is it to live in the United States and the great state of Minnesota, where voting rights and responsibilities are taken seriously and exercised with care!

Friday, September 26, 2008

YouTube Volunteer Recruitment Video

The Minnesota Literacy Council volunteer outreach staff have collaborated with technology and training staff to produce a fun new video for YouTube. It features adult literacy volunteers and learners discussing the importance of volunteer tutors in their programs.

It's part of a new strategy at MLC to leverage the power of Internet technologies to advance the organization's mission, communicate with new audiences, and raise awareness of literacy issues in the wider community. You'll find the video below; I hope you'll check it out and pass it along! If you have feedback on the video or ideas about how you could use YouTube in your adult literacy program, please share them in a comment.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Custom Search Engine

Thanks to a tip from CogDogBlog I found myself exploring the possibility of customized search engines from Google. Basically, a CSE allows you to make your own search tool that will focus on the topics or keywords you mark as important, and limit (or focus) the search to websites that you designate. You could create a CSE for your website, wiki, blog, or for a set of websites that you regularly use.

Here is an example that I created: an ESL exercises search. (Warning: I slapped this together very quickly, so it's far from perfect, but I hope you can get the general idea.)

Google CSEs are free for non-profits and universities!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Political Personality Quiz from PBS

PBS has developed an extensive website of curricular materials (including complete lesson plans and Web 2.0 resources) for teaching civic engagement and the use of social media at

In browsing through the resources on this page, I found this interactive quiz "Let's Get Political". Although it's designed for K-12 students, it could be used successfully with adult learners.

Take the quiz and find your own "political personality". Then check out the PBS website for more great teaching resources.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Celebrate Your Colleagues (and use Web 2.0 to do it)!

This morning at our monthly staff meeting we honored an employee who has served in our organization for 20 years. It's a great accomplishment and many kind, heart-felt, inspiring things were said about him and his impact on literacy education in Minnesota. It got me thinking about how statements of this kind are absolutely invaluable for sustaining organizational morale, and also how difficult it can be to get everyone together in one place to honor the contributions of special individuals and teams.

Could we use Web 2.0 tools to say "thank you" and "great job!" even though we're not face-to-face? Could this help build community among colleagues who work at a growing number of sites throughout the state? Here are a few ideas:

  • Have a blog, wiki site, or Twitter feed set up (that everyone in the organization can post to and subscribe to via RSS) specifically for sharing "Thank Yous" and similar announcements.
  • Build a Social Network on Ning and use it to maintain connections with far-flung members and members who've left the organization
  • Use a wiki or social network to plan happy hours, potlucks, and other real-world social gatherings.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Blogs and Wikis and Podcasts, Oh My!

Thanks to everyone who came to one of my technology workshops at Summer Institute last week! I had a great time facilitating and I hope you got some useful ideas to take back to your programs for the new school year.

To make it really "stick" remember that follow-through is key! Things you can do:

1) Request "writer" access to the Adult Ed Tech wiki where you can share your teaching ideas and links to your work.
2) Tell a colleague about what you learned. Direct them to the Adult Ed Tech wiki site so they can get resources too.
3) Create something right away! The tools you learned about are at your fingertips. Try them out again now before they get lost in the back-to-school rush.

Take care and keep on plugging away!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

5 Great Web Sites for ABE/ESL Teachers

One of my favorite random work-related activities is collecting web sites of interest to ABE/ESL teachers and staff. Here are a few of my recent discoveries (presented in no particular order):

1) Inspiration Lane a blog constructed as an online, classroom magazine for English learners. The content updates daily, and there are suggested activities for teachers and learners.

2) My Great World is a socially-built database of photos of places around the world. You can search for places and see pictures that others have uploaded, or you can upload your own photos to share with others. (Minnesotans, take note: pictures of Minnesota are few! Let's show off the beauty of our state by uploading some great pics!)

3) Why Reading is Hard explains the difficulty that children who don't speak English as a first language have when they are learning to read in English. Yes, it's about kids, but many of the same principles apply to adult readers. This is a great site to share with people who aren't familiar with literacy development.

4) Adult Ed Online is an online self-assessment tool that adult educators can use to chart their personal professional development needs in the area of technology. The tool allows you to indicate what your priorities are as well as assess your strengths and weaknesses.

5) Curriki is a wiki web site where teachers can share curriculum materials and teaching ideas. Although most of the resources here were originally created by and for K-12 teachers, many could be adapted for use with adult learners.

Have you used any of these sites? Or do you have others that you'd like to share? Let me know!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Is reading on the .net "real reading"?

My colleague Emily sent me a message on Twitter yesterday, asking for my opinion on an article in the New York Times titled "Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?" It's a big, deep, and broad question with many more aspects than I'll be able to discuss here, but I'll give it my best shot, Emily!

In the concluding chapter of a book I read recently* (and yes, despite the fact that I am a netaholilc, I also read books), the author discussed this very issue. One of her conclusions is that the Internet age is bringing us into a "Secondary Orality", which is to say that communication and interaction with 'text' on the Internet is bringing us back to aspects of the oral culture which preceded our current literate culture. As one of the people interviewed in the Times article said, the 'net is more about conversation than it is about reading. It's just that, in many cases, the conversation takes place in print.

Reading on the 'net is sometimes real reading (I sat down and read a 4 page article from the Times on the 'net, didn't I?) but in many cases it's really more of a discussion. In a discussion, ideas flow quickly in a stream. We don't rest our mind on any of them for long, but rather we allow ourselves to be swept along in the give and take, point and counter-point, tangent and return, fluid experience of words and ideas.

This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Discussions are wonderful! I thrive on them--both the online and the face-to-face kind--and love the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation with people from many places and perspectives. But it's a bad thing if it completely replaces the quiet, reflective, self-to-text introspection that can only come when one individual sits down to read. As Maryanne Wolf explains in her excellent book, the most important thing that literacy gave us is time to think. Reading is thinking. Discussion is also thinking, but it's not the same kind of thinking. Discussion, in my experience, is usually thinking broadly (many ideas touched on lightly) while reading is thinking deeply (one idea explored thoroughly).

Ultimately, I believe that we need to be able to do both things well to succeed in the modern world. Reading on the 'net is not a substitute for reading books, but it is an important complement to it. I wouldn't give up either for a fist full of greenbacks.


*The book in question is: Proust and the Squid: the Story and Science of the Reading Brain, by Maryanne Wolf, Harper: 2007. Learn more about this book on LibraryThing!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wasting Energy

Right up front I'm going to admit that this post has very little to do with technology literacy. But bear with me.

Why is it that as demand for energy grows, prices go up, and the planet suffers from our endless consumption, our country is still fundamentally incompetent when it comes to conservation? On my way to a meeting across town (a sort of one-on-one training about wikis for a colleague) at 9:15 this morning, with the sun blazing down in glorious brilliance, I noticed that all the street lights along this particular stretch of busy city street were also on. What the heck is going on here? How is it that the city of St. Paul cannot time its street lights (or make them light sensitive) such that they turn off during daylight hours? Was this just a random error, or are they on every morning? How much energy is being wasted lighting up streets in broad daylight?

(In case you're wondering, it's not as though the sun had just come up, either. We're in the northern latitudes here. In the summer, sunrise is really early. According to the Weather Channel, sunrise this morning was at 5:50 a.m.)

For all my infatuation with 21st century technology, I believe that technology needs to serve people well, not just look flashy. What good is all our information technology if we can't consistently accomplish even basic tasks, such as turning off the lights in the morning?

Alright, I'm getting down off my soapbox now. Thanks for bearing with me. And turn off the lights when you leave the room, please.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Is McCain out of step with tech savvy senior peers?

Thanks to my ever-so-helpful husband for referring me to this interesting article from about how Senator McCain (presumed Republican presidential candidate) compares to other seniors in his Internet use (or lack thereof). To sum up: the Senator admits to being technologically "illiterate" and relying on his wife to help him navigate the Web. The CNN article sites statistics that only 35% of seniors use the Internet, but that 75% of white, college-educated men 65 and over do. If you look at those numbers, McCain looks a little out of step with his peers.

But perhaps things are not quite what they appear. The Senator's aides have clarified that he is capable of getting on the Internet himself and does so several times a week. It seems to me that these statements (1-he's "illiterate" and 2-he accesses the Internet at least once a week) can't both be 100% accurate. Probably Senator McCain feels tech illiterate compared to his tech savvy family and staff, but probably isn't actually so out of touch as the phrase "computer illiterate" would lead people to believe.

Which leads me to think about other senior citizens in our tech saturated world. How many actually know a lot more than they think they know? How many are intimidated by computer technology and feel stupid when comparing themselves to peers they believe are more sophisticated and tech savvy then they? How many lack the confidence to even try to get on the Internet?

It seems to me that Senator McCain has stumbled upon a great teachable moment. He has now, with the media focused on this issue, the opportunity to speak to other American seniors and say, "Look, I didn't grow up with this technology either. It's new and intimidating for me, too. But I'm learning, I'm benefiting from it, and you can too." He has the chance to inspire seniors to learn and grow and take the plunge into the Internet world.

Senator? The class is yours....

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wordle for Fun

The enigmatic title "wordsmith" popped up in my Google reader page today, and intrigued I popped in at Litearcies Cafe to see what they were blogging about. Turns out they were highlighting this fun little tool called Wordle that creates a word cloud from any text you enter.

I pasted the link to my blog and was treated to this "visual interpretation" of my blogging. I have no idea how this might apply to adult literacy programs, but it was fun and took about 3 minutes... so why not?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Will Wikis Take Hold in Adult Literacy Programs?

I, for one, sure hope so. I admit that I'm a geek, but honestly, I love wikis.

My infatuation with wikis is a relatively young love, however. The first time I tried out a wiki, to be honest I really didn't get it. I had no idea how I could apply the technology. I understood the idea of Wikipedia (an encylopedia that anyone can contribute to), but I didn't feel that I had any particular area of expertise to use as the basis of building my own wiki. This line of thinking shows that I had failed to grasp the true essence of wikis: that they are collaborative documents. My problem with understanding wikis was that I kept thinking of starting my wiki. But a wiki is not the product of any one person. It belongs to a group. Of course I had trouble thinking of how to apply the technology--wikis come about because they are useful tools for groups, and I didn't have a group.

But the seed idea of wikis was planted, and it lay dormant in my brain until groups came along that could make use of wikis. Here's a good example: a group of people working on a volunteer outreach project who needed to brainstorm a list of questions for conducting interviews. The group members had trouble getting together in one time and place, but the questions were needed pronto. Solution: a wiki! Each group member could edit the list of questions on the wiki, building on, improving/revising, and adding to the ideas of others. Rather than each person working in isolation, creating a list and emailing it to someone to compile, the group worked collaboratively to create a single product. This system eliminated redundancy, saved time, and ultimately produced a better result than would have been created by people working in isolation.

How do I see wikis working in adult literacy programs? First off, they are a great tool for committees of any kind that need to produce a collaborative work (a curriculum development project, a set of standards, an evaluation rubric, a policy draft, etc.). Secondly, they could be used for teachers to collaborate on lesson planning. As community Web spaces, wikis could be created for teachers working at the same level, where they could upload worksheets and share activity ideas. Lastly, wikis could be created by teachers for their classes, where students could share their ideas and creative work. Do you want your class to create a group project, such as a cookbook or program brochure? Why not use a wiki? Do you want students to read and respond to each other's writing? Build a student writing wiki.

It's important to note that wikis can be either public or private. You might want your students' work to be public, but you might not. Your curriculum development project might need to be private, but perhaps your worksheet/activity sharing space could go public.

How can you get started with wikis? Here are several wiki hosting services that are easy to use, free or low-cost, and produce an attractive, functional site with a minimal amount of effort:

Why not start a wiki with your group and see where it leads you!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

25 Ways to Blog?

Are there really that many different ways to blog? I was unconvinced until I viewed an excellent slide show on called "The 25 Basic Styles of Blogging... and When to Use Each One." Suddenly, my own blogging efforts seem, well... kind of lacking in inspiration. I've got an idea but I'm not sure if I can pull it off: to blog once in each of the 25 styles between now and September 1st. That's 25 posts in about 6 weeks (about 4-5 posts a week). Right now I'm not blogging anywhere near that much. It seems like a good challenge to set for myself, though, so I'm going to give it a shot.

For those of you interested in learning more about different ways to use your blog, take a peek at the slide show!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Learn English with YouTube?

Now I know that many large ABE/ESL programs are part of school districts that block YouTube and other streaming video sites, but what if--bear with me a second here--what if YouTube could actually be educationally useful? I know, I know, schools have all sorts of issues with YouTube--mainly that it eats up bandwidth and contains inappropriate content--but are those issues holding teachers and students back from accessing a potentially powerful learning tool?

The reason I bring this subject up is that I was recently introduced to a website called which uses YouTube videos to teach English as a Second Language. Teachers who use the site can choose videos and embed them in interactive quizzes that test students on their comprehension of the video.

Here's an example from the ESLVideos website:

So... YouTube videos for English learners... pretty powerful stuff, no?

But many ABE/ESL teachers won't be able to use this in their classrooms or computer labs, because of school district policies that block streaming video.

As more and more audio, video and photographic media are distributed via the Web, is it possible that ABE/ESL programs are contributing to, rather than working to erode, the digital divide between middle-class mainstream society and more marginalized ABE/ESL students? When we block Facebook, YouTube, chatrooms, etc. (and yes, I know they are blocked for good reasons) in our schools, are we in effect saying "these new technologies are not for you"... since many students only have Web access at school?

It's not a question I have an answer for, but it's one that I think deserves discussion. "Open access" vs. "educational use only" issues have haunted the field of educational technology as long as there has been an educational technology field! But the stakes get higher and higher as our society becomes ever more reliant on technology for meeting everyday needs. Give it some thought and post your answer in a comment!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Digital Storytelling

Someday, I will find the time to explore all the digital storytelling tools on CogDog's excellent wiki site For now, I must simply accept the fact that there's a lot more going on out there on the Web than I can keep up with. And who's to say that any one person needs to develop expertise with every tool imaginable, anyway? I don't want to fall into the folly of "toolishness" where I adopt new technology tools just because there are new technology tools (see Jamie McKenzie's website for more about toolishness).

New tools need to present some usefulness, meet some need, fill a purpose. As I explore new Web 2.0 tools, I try to keep that firmly in mind, looking for the application for educators before sharing what I've learned. It's that usefulness that I'm thinking about with one of those new digital storytelling tools, ANIMOTO.

Wait, wait! Back up a second! What do you mean by "digital storytelling" anyway? According to the Center for Digital Storytelling, it is "using the tools of digital media to craft, record, share, and value the stories of individuals and communities". It's the timeless tradition of telling stories, using today's digital media (pictures, videos, audio) to do it.

So, back to ANIMOTO. Animoto allows you to upload a series of images, choose a music soundtrack, and then set their artificial intelligence loose on your content to mix a digital video for you. It's free, it's easy, and it's fun. But what's the educational application? Well, for anyone thinking of using a blog to inspire student writing, it could be really powerful. Instead of one static image for a writing prompt, you can have a dynamic video slideshow. Here's my attempt, aimed at a job theme unit:

It took about 30 minutes to create, including signing up for an Animoto account, searching for images on Flickr Creative Commons, uploading the images, choosing music, and waiting for Animoto to do its thing.

A couple other application ideas for adult education: students could take photos using the school digital camera and create video slideshows that tell the story of their learning. Volunteer recruiters could make slideshows to post on the school web page to build excitement about the program. (This could also apply to student recruitment and outreach, too, especially for out-of-school youth.) If you have a blog or web site, give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Images in the "mechanics" video from Flickr Creative Commons users: soldiersmediacenter, chicagoeye, sylvar, iMorpheus, absolutwade, Jennie R. F., Simon Langford, Memotions, ocean_yamaha, and furryscaly.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What is "Web 2.0"?

I'm working on a new interactive quiz that will help educators learn about the world of Web 2.0. This is a first draft of the quiz I made at Check it out and let me know what you think!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hamline ESL Workshop

This week Hamline University hosted their 15th annual ESL Workshop for teachers who work with adult English learners. As usual, the turnout, presentations, and energy were great! Of all the conferences that I attend, this one always shines through as a real winner.

This year was especially exciting for me as I changed roles from participant-only to session leader! I led two educational technology sessions on Tuesday; one on using RealeBooks with adult learners ( and one on using authentic Internet sites with learners. Both had 30+ participants who were engaged and excited to use the software and resources provided.

I was particularly honored to lead--and somewhat nervous about--these sessions because I was presenting alongside three wonderful professors from Hamline: Betsy Parrish, Kimberly Johnson, and Julia Reimer. Yes, that's right, your teachers are three university PhDs... and me! But I'm happy to report that I held my own and created quite a bit of buzz from my sessions. I'm looking forward to getting the session evaluations... because I think they're going to be quite a satisfying read!

On a similar note, I was also slightly imtimidated when I realized that Diane Pecoraro (who in the Minnesota ABE/ESL field is almost legendary) was attending my morning session. Diane has recently retired from her leadership position at the state Department of Education, but it was she who first started the Hamline ESL workshop back in the early 90's. She sat in the back row (uh-oh!) but she stayed very engaged and asked lots of questions... and at the end, this self-described technology novice raved about my session to anyone who would listen! That, I have to say, made me feel pretty dog-gone good!

Here are a couple pictures of me leading the afternoon session:

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sharing the Power!

The Minnesota Literacy Council's annual Sharing the Power conference last Saturday was a resounding success!

My workshop on RealeBooks was well received and I hope that the teachers, tutors, and learners who attended the session went back to their learning centers ready to make lots and lots of books.

Thanks to everyone who came and made this such a great event! I look forward to seeing you there again next year.

Here's a pic of me leading the RealeBooks workshop (note the wild hand gestures!), and another one of session participants:

Friday, April 11, 2008

Reflections on the CEA Conference

For the past two days I've been attending the 2008 Region III and Region IV Corrections Education Association conference in Bloomington, MN. I don't work (and haven't worked) in corrections education myself, but MLC supports literacy educators at all levels throughout the state, including in corrections. So I went to make myself more familiar with the particulars of this area of adult education that has been, up to now, completely unknown to me. It was an interesting experience for me, an "outsider", to attend. I got a chance to speak with vocational, ABE/GED, and ESL teachers who work with offenders in the corrections system throughout the Midwest, and those conversations gave me a real insight into the special needs, challenges, and rewards of that particular line of adult education work. Every time I'm in a gathering of adult educators, I'm struck by the passion and committment that they have for their work and their learners. In this group of teachers, who work with some of the hardest to reach adult learners, I sensed and even greater depth of committment and love for their work than in almost any other group I've had the privilege to work with. Powerful stuff. Keep up the good work, CEA teachers! You've inspired me to dig deeper into my own work and find renewed energy for my most difficult projects. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


This Saturday I will be presenting "Become the Author of Your Own Real e-Book" at the Minnesota Literacy Council's annual Sharing the Power conference. RealeBooks are picture books that you can share by email (to read as e-books) or print to read the old-fashioned way. You upload your own pictures (from a digital camera, scanner, or Internet site) and write your own text. RealeBooks are a great tool for adult and family literacy educators, because they allow you to:
  • control the reading level and word choice in your text
  • create books that have adult-appropriate topics
  • work with your learners to help them write their own books

RealeBooks are great for adult English and basic literacy learners because they allow you to:

  • write bi-lingual books to share with your children
  • write books that tell your stories
  • practice reading and writing English in a fun and meaningful way

RealeBooks are made with RealeWriter software. The basic version is free, and the pro version is available for a $30 upgrade (for a single user license). Check it out at:

Technology and Literacy... big issues

...derserve discussion.

I hope that this blog will be a place that discussion can take place.