SUMMARY REPORT NORTHEAST LIT-TECH MINI-GRANT “THIS IS YOUR COMMUNITY” PERTH AMBOY ADULT SCHOOL 178 Barracks St. Perth Amboy, NJ 08861 (732) 826-3360, Ext. 350, 351 The Northeast Lit-Tech mini-grant awarded to Perth Amboy Adult School supported an adult ESL literacy project to develop an on-line resource for other similar classes. The project linked classroom literacy activities with actual visits to key community locations. The web page we developed presents students’ original writing about their experiences at these sites, along with photographs of some of the locations. Further development of the web page is planned, with additional community sites to be added. This report is designed to share information with other mini-grant recipients and interested professionals and students about our experience. NEED FOR THE PROJECT: The need for pictures, photos and text to introduce actual neighborhood locations is vitally important for this population of adult learners of English as a Second Language. Many of them are newcomers to our city, Perth Amboy, and to the United States. The incorporation of actual photographs into the ESL curriculum is needed to support the emphasis on authentic materials. The integration of real-life context into the ESL lesson is a successful technique for motivating and involving students. They immediately see the connection between classroom practice and practical use. The technology made possible by the mini-grant is needed to personalize the textbook lessons and make learning functional. PROJECT GOALS and EVALUATION: This project was designed to accomplish five goals. An evaluation is given for each one, based on my personal analysis and observations. Goal 1: Provide information about community resources in Perth Amboy to local residents; Evaluation: Successfully met. The information on the web page gives useful and helpful information about Perth Amboy. Goal 2: Develop adult ESL students’ language skills in the context of each community location; Evaluation: Very successfully met. The project activities were the basis of several weeks of classroom lessons characterized by a high degree of student involvement and enthusiasm. Students developed speaking, listening, reading and writing skills in preparing their materials for publication. Goal 3: Publish adult ESL students’ original writing about experiences and interactions at these community locations; Evaluation: Very successfully met. Writing for an audience was one of the most motivating features of the project. The Web page concept was a new one for most of the students, but they all immediately recognized the significance of the technology. Seeing the finished product was very gratifying and they are all very eager to see their work on-line. Goal 4: Utilize the technological capability to integrate photos, students’ text and links to the websites of the community agencies, where available; Evaluation: Met to a satisfactory degree, but further work needs to be done to accomplish the intended purpose. Digital photos taken of Adult School staff and some community sites were linked to students’ writing, but we have not yet added photos of other community agencies mentioned by the students, for example, the hospital, or the Unemployment Office. In addition, we are continuing to look into the possibility of adding links to websites hosted by some or all of these other agencies. Goal 5: Offer resource information, including lesson plans, to assist adult educators outside of Perth Amboy through publication on the web. Evaluation: Partially met, but further information will be forthcoming. This report contains some information about instructional activities. PROJECT OUTCOMES: The mini-grant from Northeast Lit-Tech was a welcome and much-needed boost to staff morale, student motivation, and skill level in using technology for instruction. The acquisition of the scanner, digital camera and software energized me as a teacher as well as my students to explore and utilize the capabilities of the new technology. The level of enthusiasm was high, especially when students realized that they were writing for a potentially world-wide audience. Students became so involved in writing and sharing their experiences that they volunteered to write much more than was expected for the class assignment. The project exposed a large number of students to the Internet for the first time and helped several others work on their computer skills, including word processing and web page design. The effects of the mini-grant will continue to be felt since students are eager to see the results of their work online and to access other similar web pages. The ESL curriculum will focus on adding other information to the web page if possible. The Perth Amboy Public Schools have recently upgraded the computer center and we are fortunate to have this state-of-the-art facility in our building and accessible to our teachers and students. We are looking forward to accessing our web page for all to see and share. Personal Notes and Reaction: I myself gained a great deal of confidence from learning how to handle the camera and the Adobe software. I was always interested in mastering as many computer skills as possible, and my experience with this project has fueled my interest to find more ways of incorporating technology into my classes. In the first few months of the project, I was very lucky to have the help of a very generous and helpful “techie” in our Computer Center who gave as much technical support as I needed. Without a knowledgeable resource like this, I think it would have been very difficult to wade through the instruction manuals to learn how to connect the camera, the scanner, and find my way around the PageMill and PhotoShop programs. Recently, because of a staffing change, I am more or less on my own again, but feeling much more comfortable about using the technology. INFORMATION FOR TEACHERS AND ESL PROFESSIONALS: Description of Program: The Perth Amboy Adult School offers a comprehensive program of Accredited High School, Adult Basic Education, English as a Second Language, Citizenship, adult literacy and enrichment courses to approximately 3000 adults a year. Classes are available during the day and evening. Students enrolled in the Adult School reflect the diversity of Perth Amboy, a community with a large minority population, including a significant and growing number of Spanish-speaking and other immigrants. The English as a Second Language (ESL) Program consists of a full daily program of classes in Conversation, Reading, Writing, Grammar and Job Skills. There are four levels of ESL: Port of Entry, Level I (Beginner), Level II (Intermediate) and Level III (Advanced). Students are scheduled for classes based on intake interviews and placement tests. Students enrolled in the Alternate Work Experience Program, designed to facilitate transition from welfare to work, attend classes for part of the day and report to work assignments for the remainder of the day. An important goal of the program is to prepare students to enter the job market. Of course, the primary objective of the ESL Program is to develop English language proficiency for general communication in social and vocational contexts. Classroom instruction focuses on the functional use of English in natural and authentic situations. Students also are scheduled for individual assistance in resume development and job search strategies. The One-Stop Career Center, housed in the Adult School, is available to students and to the community at large for this purpose. Instructional Plan: Students in Dr. Villafañe’s Level II and Level III ESL classes participated in the “This is Your Community” Project. The following classroom activities were carried out over a period of about six weeks, in May and June of 1999. 1. Identifying community locations and learning vocabulary related to each, through the use of textbooks, pictures and authentic materials. 2. Identifying and practicing conversations associated with each location, e.g., buying stamps, mailing a package, going to the emergency room. 3. Student survey rating most important sites to be selected for project. Winners were: the Adult School, the Post Office, the Hospital, the Unemployment Office, the Welfare Office. 4. Selecting and scheduling field trips to the Post Office and nearby locations and taking photographs with Digital Camera. 5. Photographing Adult School teachers, administrators and office staff, using the Digital Camera. 6. Captioning of photographs by students and learning names and job functions of Adult School staff. 7. Writing, revising and sharing students’ original paragraphs about their personal experiences at the selected community locations. 8. Wordprocessing the students’ writing. 9. Designing and developing the Web page. 10. Viewing the finished product and planning continuation activities.
1999 Perth Amboy Adult School