Saturday, March 8, 2014

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to COABE 2014

Why? Because because because because the wonderful things COABE does. We're off to see the Wizard... the wonderful Wizard of... adult education.  Well, that's pretty much how I've felt about it since the first time I went almost ten years ago.  Each COABE conference fueled my imagination of what is possible in adult education for the coming year or longer (since I haven't gone consistently).  My daily experience in adult ed, no matter how trying or frustrating, comes into focus much more easily having benefited from the perspectives of adult educators like me from all over the country. The wizard, you see, is not a fraud hiding behind a curtain. The wizard is us.  And when we come together, there is a lot of heart, brains, and courage to go 'round. 

For a lot of people, there are some detours in the yellow brick road to COABE this year. The field of adult education is under construction. There's no mistaking it. Traffic cones are up everywhere. Signs to slow down or merge together.  Maybe some flying monkeys and poppies that put you to sleep too.  For a field that changes at a glacial pace, the tectonic plates are moving beneath our feet suddenly and unpredictably.  We're not in Kansas anymore. How will we find our way home?

Although the changes largely concern high school equivalency, the impacts reach down to the lower levels and spread out to incorporate technology and media literacy among other learning and thinking styles.  If this year is going to be a grand experiment, it may not be the learners who are the main subjects. Teachers' skills and managers' ability to adapt are being tested in a more rigorous way than any high school equivalency test could ever challenge our learners.

I think publishers of instructional materials are being tested too.  Some are turning in the same drill and practice product that's light on instruction and acting as though it will be sufficient. That's why I'm so excited to be at COABE to help educators chart a new direction, avoid wasting time and money, and help their learners reach higher expectations.  Tests that assess something different than we're used to require material with a different focus and probably different instructional methodologies.  That's a challenge that Essential Education is ready for.

At COABE, I hope you'll find time to visit our exhibit and attend one of the sessions (see below).  I'll be there, because my wife isn't having a baby during the conference like last year.  I'll be giving our evidence-based extended response writing mini-book (email me for an electronic copy: jason at  If you see me there, let me know that you saw this blog. Looking forward to it!    

Sessions by Essential Education
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Riding the Wave of Disruptive Innovation with Blended, Learner-Centered Services (Jason)
Monday, March 17th - 1:45-3:00, Room 306
Innovations in computer-based instruction are challenging adult education programs to individualize services for greater accessibility and retention.  By adopting new blended/hybrid approaches for both distance and classroom services, we can reach more people, personalize the learning experience and improve outcomes.

Hardening Your Steel: How to Deepen the DoK Complexity Level in Your Classroom (Dan)
Tuesday, March 18th - 2:00-3:15, Room 315
Understanding how to adjust and modify activities to deeper levels of DoK complexity will help your students have greater success on high stakes assessments. Session will focus on and provide tools for getting the most out of your teaching.

Constructing a Riveting Response (Stephanie/Dan)
Tuesday, March 18th - 3:45-5:00, Room 315 
One of the most important changes in the new GED Test is the shift from a single essay to constructed response questions. This session will focus on how to help students successfully write responses that are clear and powerful.

Hammering Out the Digital Classroom (Jason/Dan)
Wednesday, March 19th, 11:00-12:15, Room 301
Proven methods for integrating technology into the adult education classroom for maximum results. Session will provide tools, sites, techniques and ideas to implement immediately into the classroom experience for the adult learner.

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