Sunday, October 6, 2013

Work Logs:

Monitoring and Facilitating Change

Literacy Action Center is learner-centered as well as learner-directed.  Some of the best ideas often come from our learners.  During the summer of 2012, as part of the reading of Goals! How to get everything you want—faster than you ever thought possible by Brian Tracy, our learners tackled the question: “How do we raise each person’s test score by 1 grade level for every 60 hours of instruction?”  The result of this exploration was the creation of work logs—3-ring binders containing visible evidence of what each learner needs to study and the results of what has been studied.

“I’ve never set goals before. Now I know where I’m going and what I have to do to get there. And, I’m in charge!” -- Karl, a new learner, expressed this revelation today after setting up the first pages of his work log.  

Page 1 contains his overall goal—become a lawyer.  We then projected how many months he’d need to bring his reading score up to 12th grade—possibly December 2015.  He set short-term celebrations—buy a new reading book every time his retesting yields another full grade level increase.  When he reaches 12th grade, his final celebration is to bring us lunch.  The learners are encouraged to look at their goal pages every time they open their notebooks to re-focus their attention and remind themselves about why they are here.

Page 2 is the printout of a learner’s Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) score history.  Each time the person retests, a new sheet is printed.  The learning specialist and the learner examine the scores and review the learner’s current literacy tasks.  Some activities or materials are changed at this point to best facilitate the next phase in the learner’s journey.  The purpose of this form is to make visible to the learner and assigned volunteers the range of specific materials, strategies, and/or activities the adult should be using.

Page 3 is an actual log, written by the learner (perhaps with help from a volunteer), listing the actual work done on any given day and the concerns the learner may be having with the work.  This log captures the essence of what is being learned as well as monitors the quality of the learning.  The center emphasizes that learning is not about plowing through a stack of materials, but understanding and applying the concepts contained in these materials.

The content of these binders helps learners and volunteers understand where learners are headed…what needs to be done next.  Recently, Andy, another learner, successfully moved from 6.6 to 8.2 in reading on the TABE.  He was stunned by the change in his score.  Once his disbelief dissipated, he took off to call his brother with his news -- he left to put into action his "short-term" reading celebration.

(This story is adapted with permission from Literacy Action Center News (Spring 2013), Volume 28, Issue 1, page 3.)

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