Learning from Strengthening Literacy Practices

Learning from Strengthening Literacy Practices

Rebecca Still, Community Learning Network

0 0 7 May 2024

This fall will start the sixth year for Strengthening Literacy Practices being offered to CALP staff. Over the six years, 41 CALP staff have taken the training of which 31 are still working with a CALP. Strengthening Literacy Practices is an opportunity for CALP staff to build their knowledge and skills in delivering adult literacy programming, and increase their capacity to better serve adult literacy learners. This eight-month training delves into various concepts related to working with adult literacy learners.

One participant wanted to expand her knowledge on a variety of topics covered in Strengthening Literacy Practices. She enrolled in a few other short courses and read a wide variety of articles. She credits her participation in Strengthening Literacy Practices as the reason for her further learning. She said the experience in reading articles and digging deeper into various concepts and topics gave her the confidence to explore other learning opportunities.

One concept explored in Strengthening Literacy Practices is power. Understanding the power we have supports us in how to share power with learners and others in our organization. We explored the power wheel to understand what type of power we have.

Power Wheel

Participants discovered they didn’t always recognize the power they had but, they also realized they do share power with learners. As participants dug deeper into the concept of power, they recognized different ways to share their power.

As facilitators, teachers, coordinators and practitioners we need to realize that there is a perceived power in the relationship.  It’s our job to understand our privilege and power and make conscious efforts to correct this power imbalance.  Something as simple as holding space for our learners and giving them choices about how much they want to share with us and when they want to share.  Giving them time to process information, and information requests, as well as frequent check-ins with how they are feeling with their learning journey is essential. 

Gathering to Learn

Another concept explored is growth and fixed mindsets. The Gathering to Learn resource explains more about how to foster a growth mindset.  Participants especially liked using the term "Yet" whenever a learner would say “I can’t”. For example, instead of saying “I can’t read that”, change to “I can’t read that YET”.  It’s surprising how this simple change in language changes one’s way of thinking. 

We spent time learning about strategies to encourage learners to read and write. One strategy we discussed is the language experience approach. This is a process of writing down an experience the learner shares. In this way the learner creates the material for future lessons. One participant noted she had a learner who was not engaging in the learning. She tried the language experience approach and discovered “it has been working beautifully with her. She takes initiative now and is eager to share.”

Another participant shared this value of using the language experience approach: “I have used language experience stories in my lessons. I think they have been instrumental in helping build relationship between myself and my learners. From my perspective I think my lessons are more interesting and learner centered.”

 If you were intrigued by the concepts shared here, consider joining us for the 2024-2025 year by completing the Expression of Interest form (link to form is at the bottom of the Strengthening Literacy Practice Expression of Interest attachment). 

New!! We feel that Strengthening Literacy Practices should be available to everyone who is working with adult literacy learners. This year we are opening the training to volunteer tutors. If you have a volunteer tutor who would be interested in being part of the training, please share this information with them.

For more information about Strengthening Literacy Practices please contact Rebecca Still, CLN Literacy Specialist literacy@calp.ca 


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