How others are using essential skills

HRDC's Essential Skills Research has been used in a variety of ways in many different program contexts. Click on an area of interest to you to see examples of applications others have developed.

K-12 Education sphere (Grades 7-12)

Counselling and career services

With funding from ESDC, the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board has integrated Essential Skills Research in many areas of their curriculum, from Special Needs to School to Work programming.

The Co-operative Education program in this district has adopted Essential Skills to aid students with Special needs in identifying placements and in goal setting, as well as developing a Co-operative Education Personalized Placement Learning Plan – in which all co-op students and supervisors address the Essential Skills displayed on the job.

Guest speakers, career fairs, and career panels are a part of the student experience, and students and teachers alike make use of the "Clipboard" and Essential Skills Assignment that were developed by the school board in partnership with the Georgian Bay Career Centre a couple of years ago. This tool is now a part of programming for grades 7/8 through to grade 12. Additionally, a team of teachers has been working to roll out the REAL GAME and the BE REAL GAME for students to participate in as of January 2002.

Other current activities surrounding Essential Skills Research include the development of an Academic and Career Portfolio in partnership with TRACKS in the Collingwood area, where Essential Skills will play a critical role as School to Work planning for students continues.

For more information, please contact :

Judith Gatt

Secondary Program Coordinator

Bus: (705) 722-3559

Professional development for teachers

Professional Development for Teachers (K-12 Sphere) Applications of Working and Learning (AWAL)

Do you want some new ideas for classroom activities that get your students involved in the learning process? Do you ever wish you knew more about how what you teach is applied outside school when students ask, "Why should I learn this?" Then perhaps it's time to go AWAL!

AWAL assists educators to connect the curriculum they teach in the classroom with how that content is applied in the workplace. It takes them "Behind the scenes" in a business or industry of their choice to learn how what they teach is used there. From this experience, they get ideas for hands-on learning activities to bring the curriculum to life in their classroom, as well as answers to that recurrent student question, "When and where will I ever have to use what I'm learning?" Additionally, AWAL also provides educators with the opportunity to learn more about the labour market conditions their students will face.

When teachers go AWAL, they have an opportunity to visit a workplace in an industry of their choosing. There, they interview both management and a frontline employee, using an interview approach based on ESDC's Essential Skills research methodology, and tour the work site in a one-day professional development activity. The educators complete the day by reflecting on the use of the Essential Skills in that workplace and then creating two hands-on classroom activities that they can use with their students.

AWAL was conceptualized and developed in British Columbia with funding from ESDC and the BC Ministry of Education. ESDC is now funding BC's Centre for Curriculum, Transfer and Technology to promote AWAL nation-wide. With this funding, the Centre can provide assistance to those in other provinces and territories that are interested in adopting AWAL.

AWAL days have been held in several provinces. Participants include middle and secondary school teachers from a broad array of disciplines, pre-service (student) teachers and teachers from the adult education sector.

For more information, please contact:

Wendy Magahay

AWAL Project Manager

Bus: (250) 370-4775

Skills assessment and recording/portfolio development

Skills Assessment and Recording/ Portfolio Development (K-12 Sphere) Ontario Skills Passport

The Ontario Skills Passport program provides each student in Ontario with a record of the skills they have demonstrated in their various co-op and other work placements. It records which Essential Skills have been demonstrated, the level of complexity of the tasks in which those skills were demonstrated, and the student's level of competency in performing the tasks. The Ontario Skills Passport is currently being piloted in various locations across Ontario. Its objective is to facilitate successful school to work transitions for students.

For more information, please contact:

Chantal Locatelli

Ontario Ministry of Education, Secondary School Project

Bus: (416) 325-7886

ESPORT - Essential skills portfolio

ESPORT is an Essential Skills assessment and planning tool developed with funding from ESDC's Office of Learning Technologies. ESPORT uses Essential Skills information to help learners assess their skills, analyze what skills they need to strengthen in order to perform particular kinds of jobs and develop resumes tailored to the skill requirements of those jobs. Users can record personal information such as their education and job history, identify occupations that interest them, compare their self-assessment results to the skills used in those occupations, prepare a record of their skills and experience and locate additional learning resources to aid in skills improvement. ESPORT was designed for use by learners in adult basic education literacy classes, but may also be used in K-12 classrooms. The ESPORT Project is a pan-Canadian demonstration.

Essential skills self-evaluation tool

The “Measure Up” self-assessment tool was developed by SkillPlan with funding from ESDC. It consists of a set of activities that may be used by an individual to test their skills in Reading, Document Use and Numeracy. The activities are based on real workplace tasks and involve the use of Authentic Workplace Materials. Full step-by-step solutions are also provided for those who want to turn this into a learning tool.

Two parts of this site may be of particular interest to secondary school students. "Test Your Skills" is an informal test that allows test takers to get an idea of their level of ability in these three skills. Each test activity illustrates one of the skills (Reading, Document Use or Numeracy) at a particular level of complexity. The site also provides the correct answer for each activity. Thus, test takers can get an idea of the level of task complexity they can handle well. They can use this information about their abilities when reviewing ESDC's Essential Skills profiles, to reflect on whether they have the skills they will need to do what they want to do.

The other part of the site of particular interest to secondary school students is "Explore Careers". Here, individuals can try their hand at typical workplace tasks in any one of 25 occupations, to test their skills using tasks from a particular occupation of interest to them. Again, each activity illustrates a particular complexity level of one of the three skills (Reading, Document Use or Numeracy), and answers, including full step-by-step solutions, are provided.

School to work transition

School to Work Transition (K-12 Sphere) Ontario Skills Passport for School to Work Transitions

The Ontario Skills Passport is being developed to facilitate successful school to work transitions for students. Please see the above section on the OSP for further detail.

Resources for teachers

Resources for teachers workplace numeracy workbook

Currently under development by SkillPlan, with funding from ESDC, the Workplace Numeracy Workbook will contain contextualized learning materials for use in developing learners' skills in Numeracy. This resource will utilize Authentic Workplace materials and Tasks (problem sets). Problem sets contained in the workbook will illustrate the use of numeracy in the workplace within the four types of math identified in the Essential Skills Research: Money Math, Budgeting, Scheduling and Accounting Math, Measurement and Calculation Math and Data Analysis Math.

For more information, please contact:

Lynda Fownes

BC Construction Industry Skills Improvement Council (SkillPlan)

Bus: (604) 436-1126

Writing: An essential skill at work

Currently under development by SkillPlan, with funding from ESDC, the publication Writing: An Essential Skill at Work will be a reference for use by educators and workplace trainers in developing in learners the skills associated with writing in the workplace. It will utilize Authentic Workplace documents and Tasks that progress in complexity, and reflect the complexity levels of the Essential Skills Writing Complexity Scale. It will include "notes" explaining the thinking required to complete each task. Additionally, this resource will outline instructional techniques that help learners acquire and transfer their writing skills.

For more information, please contact:

Lynda Fownes

BC Construction Industry Skills Improvement Council (SkillPlan)

Bus: (604) 436-1126

Adult education sphere

Test of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES)

The Test of Workplace Essential Skills, developed with funding from ESDC's National Literacy Secretariat, is an assessment tool used to test the Essential Skills of Reading Text, Document Use and Numeracy. Test questions use authentic workplace materials and tasks in order to assess these skills in a way that reflects how they are used in the workplace. TOWES enables employers to assess the skills of their workforce. By comparing the overall test results to the skills required, employers can clarify their training needs. TOWES also allows them to address their concerns around the return on investment for training. Finally, TOWES enables employers to assess the skills of job applicants in terms of their employment readiness. The methodology and scales developed for the Essential Skills Research Project allow the skill content of jobs to be rated uniformly, thus enabling workplace practitioners to give employers useful information about how the skill set of their workforce fits with job requirements. TOWES test results are delivered in a framework that is IALS compatible, and are consistent from one practitioner to another. The test itself fits well with national standards and performance based assessments.

For more information, please contact:

Lynda Fownes

BC Construction Industry Skills Improvement Council (SkillPlan)

Bus: (604) 436-1126

Or

Conrad Murphy

Bow Valley College

Bus: (403) 297-4929

Assessment (Formal)

Essential skills self-evaluation tool

Developed by SkillPlan with funding from ESDC, this self-assessment tool is available through the "How Do You Measure Up?" section of the TOWES web site. It consists of a set of activities that may be used by an individual to test their skills in Reading, Document Use and Numeracy. The activities are based on real workplace tasks and involve the use of Authentic Workplace Materials. Full step-by-step solutions are also provided for those who want to turn this into a learning tool.

There are three parts to this site. "Test Your Skills" is an informal test that allows test takers to get an idea of their level of ability in these three skills. Each test activity illustrates one of the skills (Reading, Document Use or Numeracy) at a particular level of complexity. The site also provides the correct answer for each activity. Thus, test takers can get an idea of the level of task complexity they can handle well. They can use this information about their abilities when reviewing ESDC's Essential Skills profiles, to reflect on whether they have the skills they will need to do what they want to do.

In "Explore Careers", individuals can try their hand at typical workplace tasks in any one of 25 occupations, to test their skills using tasks from a particular occupation of interest to them. Again, each activity illustrates a particular complexity level of one of the three skills (Reading, Document Use or Numeracy), and answers, including full step-by-step solutions, are provided.

Finally, "Practice" provides an opportunity to prepare for writing an actual TOWES test, providing practice in different kinds of questions that could be on a TOWES. Visitors to this part of the site can gain experience in filling in forms, reading regulations, making calculations and performing other workplace tasks.

ESPORT - Essential skills portfolio

ESPORT is an Essential Skills assessment and planning tool developed with funding from ESDC's Office of Learning Technologies. ESPORT uses Essential Skills information to help learners assess their skills, analyze what skills they need to strengthen in order to perform particular kinds of jobs and develop resumes tailored to the skill requirements of those jobs. Users can record personal information such as their education and job history, identify occupations that interest them, compare their self-assessment results to the skills used in those occupations, prepare a record of their skills and experience and locate additional learning resources to aid in skills improvement. ESPORT was designed for use by learners in adult basic education literacy classes, but may also be used in K-12 classrooms. The ESPORT Project is a pan-Canadian demonstration.

Assessment (Self-assessment, setting goals)

Resources for teachers

Workplace numeracy workbook

Currently under development by SkillPlan, with funding from ESDC, the Workplace Numeracy Workbook will contain contextualized learning materials for use in developing learners' skills in Numeracy. This resource will utilize Authentic Workplace materials and Tasks (problem sets). Problem sets contained in the workbook will illustrate the use of Numeracy within the workplace within the four types of math identified in the Essential Skills Research: Money Math, Budgeting, Scheduling and Accounting Math, Measurement and Calculation Math and Data Analysis Math.

For more information, please contact:

Lynda Fownes

BC Construction Industry Skills Improvement Council (SkillPlan)

Bus: (604) 436-1126

Workwrite

Do you know which documents appear most frequently in the workplace? How would you complete a non-conformity report? What does an employee shift schedule look like? If you're not sure of the answers to these questions, and the learners you work with have employment goals, then a new series of resources from Preparatory Training Programs may be for you and your learners.

PTP has designed their new workwrite materials to help literacy learners build reading, writing and math skills using workplace documents. Ideal for learners, whose goal is employment upon completion of upgrading, each book in the workwrite series introduces learners and instructors to dozens of authentic workplace documents. Documents are accompanied by lesson plans for instructor use and by activities for learners working at even the most basic level. Both lessons and activities help the learner discover features of individual documents, as well as those elements common across many workplace documents.

Workwrite helps take the guesswork out of preparing students for the workplace. The set of workbooks is based on Employment and Skills Development Canada's Essential Skills Profiles research, as well as interviews and document collection from employers across the manufacturing, retail and service sectors. All lessons and activities are organized along Ontario's Literacy and Basic Skills levels, making it easy to begin using in any classroom. Plus, each book in the series includes an introduction to workforce literacy programming and easy to follow guidelines so you can use workwrite as both a starting point and a building block for your own programming ideas.

For more information, or to order workwrite, contact:

Monika Jankowska

Marketing and Distribution Co-ordinator

Centre AlphaPlus Centre

Bus: (416) 322-1012 ext. 117

Fax: (416) 322-0780 TTY: (416) 322-5751

Writing: An essential skill at work

Currently under development by SkillPlan, with funding from ESDC, the publication Writing: An Essential Skill at Work will be a reference for use by educators and workplace trainers in developing in learners the skills associated with writing in the workplace. It will utilize Authentic Workplace documents and Tasks that progress in complexity, and reflect the complexity levels of the Essential Skills Writing Complexity Scale. It will include "notes" explaining the thinking required to complete each task. Additionally, this resource will outline instructional techniques that help learners acquire and transfer their writing skills.

For more information, please contact:

Lynda Fownes

BC Construction Industry Skills Improvement Council (SkillPlan)

Bus: (604) 436-1126

Professional development for teachers

AWAL for adult education

Do you want some new ideas for practical learning activities that you can use in your classroom? Do you want to know more about the jobs and workplaces that your learners will be entering? Then perhaps it's time to go AWAL!

When teachers go AWAL, they have an opportunity to visit a workplace in and industry of their choosing. There, they interview both management and a frontline employee, using an interview approach based on ESDC's Essential Skills research methodology, and tour the work site in a one-day professional development activity. The educators complete the day by reflecting on the use of the Essential Skills in that workplace and then creating two hands-on classroom activities that they can use with their students.

AWAL was conceptualized and developed in British Columbia with funding from ESDC and the BC Ministry of Education. ESDC is now funding BC's Centre for Curriculum, Transfer and Technology to promote AWAL nation-wide. With this funding, the Centre can provide assistance to those in other provinces and territories that are interested in adopting AWAL.

AWAL days have been held in several provinces. Participants include middle and secondary school teachers from a broad array of disciplines, pre-service (student) teachers and teachers from the adult education sector.

For more information, please contact:

Wendy Magahay

AWAL Project Manager

Bus: (250) 370-4775

Curriculum

Manitoba community literacy program curriculum review

The Essential Skills methodology was used in Manitoba in a review of the adult community literacy program curriculum, conducted with funding from ESDC's National Literacy Secretariat. The review identified a shortage of content related to document use; this gap is currently being addressed through revision of the curriculum. The objective of the Manitoba Community Literacy Program is to examine and align the Manitoba Stages of Adult Learning and Literacy according to the measures of literacy skills outlined in IALS, ESDC's Essential Skills Research Project and TOWES.

For more information, please contact:

Cheryl Campbell

Pembina Valley Learning Centre Project

Bus: (204) 325-4997

Workplace Education Development (WED)

WED explores tailoring GED preparation courses using the Essential Skills Profiles. The project looks to generate a matrix that correlates the Essential Skills that are addressed by a generic academic accreditation such as the GED, and those used in a wide range of entry-level jobs, as described by the Essential Skills profiles. Both systems deal with the Essential Skills of reading text, using documents, writing, numeracy and problem solving. By developing curricula that integrate some of the varied work-related contexts of the Essential Skills profiles, instructors could help to make the concepts and tasks of an academic program more immediately meaningful and useful to workers.

For more information, or to order the WED Practitioner's Guide: Customizing Accreditation Curricula in Workplace Education Programs (cost $32.00 + taxes), please contact:

Sheila Swan

Administrative/Copyright Assistant

Learning Resource Services

Bow Valley College

332-6th Avenue SE

Calgary, Alberta

T2G 4S6

Bus: (403) 410-1648

Fax: (403) 297-4801

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