Posted in Articles, Higher Education

FAFSA for Adult Students

The rapidly changing workforce has increased the need for workers with post-secondary training. Family sustaining jobs for people with a high school diploma or GED are growing more difficult to find and all indications are that this trend will continue for years to come.  It is projected that between 2008 and 2018 new jobs in Florida requiring postsecondary education and training will grow by 679,000.

Of course there are a wide range of post-secondary educational options ranging from pursuing an associate’s or bachelor’s degrees to shorter term certificate and industry credentialing programs. Post-secondary schools can include a variety of institutions including career and technical schools, community and state colleges, and universities, all of which students can be eligible for federal or state financial aid.

With many students starting post-secondary education in the autumn, now is an opportune time for teachers and tutors to talk with students about financial aid. The Florida Literacy Coalition has three Career Pathways Modules  that address the transitional process, including financial aid, and are available for teachers and tutors who are interested in integrating Career Pathways in their curriculum.


Teachers and tutors are not expected to be authorities on financial aid, but they certainly can help students understand that financial aid is available, the basics of how to apply and where to go if they have questions or need assistance.  Applying for federal financial aid requires a bit of time, effort, and organization.  The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form is required in order to be eligible for federal aid.

Teachers can help students prepare for the process by sharing with them the documents that they may need to complete the FAFSA.  These include a driver’s license/government ID, income tax returns, Social Security number, bank statements, investment records, and alien registration or permanent resident card if the student is not an American citizen. Students should apply for a Federal Student Aid Personal Identification Number (PIN). This number takes the paper out of paperwork by allowing applicants to complete the federal aid application process electronically, make any corrections, and view your aid records online.

The FAFSA can be submitted either online or by downloading a paper application and mailing it in. Typically, the online application may be more efficient since it processes quicker, allows the applicant to submit to more schools, and information can be saved for the next year. There are three categories of federal student aid:

  • Grants: Funds that do not have to be repaid. Most federal grants are based on financial need. Grants and scholarships are often called “gift aid” because they are free money—financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Grants are often need-based, while scholarships are usually merit-based.
  • Work-study: Money earned through a job on or near campus while attending school. Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses.
  • Loans: Borrowed money that must be repaid with interest. The U.S. Department of Education has two federal student loan programs: The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program and The Federal Perkins Loan Program.

FAFSA applications are open on January 1st, but deadline to submit vary between post-secondary institutions.  Visiting the financial aid office of a prospective institution with your student may be a good opportunity to learn more about the financial aid process, deadlines, and institution specific scholarships. Another resource students can use for help with filling out the FAFSA is Florida College Goal Sunday, an annual event that provides free assistance with the financial aid process.

State Financial Aid Programs

Students with GEDs in Florida can also be eligible for the Bright Futures Scholarship Program. Currently, the GED can serve as an equivalent to the standard diploma.  In addition, students must meet the general requirements for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program. To be determined eligible for the scholarship, GED students must meet the scholarship curriculum and grade point average requirements before taking the GED exam.  The minimum test score must be achieved by June 30th of the year in which the GED is earned.  Eligibility for a scholarship will be determined in the year in which the GED is earned. Other financial aid programs in Florida include the First Generation Matching Grant Program and the Florida Public Postsecondary Career Education Student Assistance Grant Program. Here are some additional resources about state financial aid programs and the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program.

Florida Office of Student Financial Assistance

Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program GED Applicants

Florida Bright Futures Eligible Institutions

Here are some additional resources that can provide more information for teachers, tutors, and students on the FAFSA process:



Posted in LIS

Thinking About Becoming an Instructional Designer?

With the development and growth of online/e-learning, creating effective methods of learning through an online medium has become increasingly significant in higher education.  If you have experience or interest in curriculum, teaching, or learning theory in addition to your librarian and information sciences background, can lead to a career as an Instructional Designer.  An Instructional Designer’s objective is to assist people in learning by creating courses that engage the learner.  The  job can involve learning, relearning and unlearning design methods and technologies. Many of the skills that are valued in librarians can easily be translated to instructional design.  In fact, many instructional designers work in conjunction with librarians (or is a librarian) and faculty to create innovative lessons for their audiences. Instructional designers will need a combination of skills and aptitudes that include being technically savvy, writing, creativity, and understanding how learners learn.

So what is instructional design? Berger (1996) lists several adapted definitions looking the lens of science, reality, and discipline. As a process, Instructional Design is defined as:

Instructional Design is the systematic development of instructional specifications using learning and instructional theory to ensure the quality of instruction. It is the entire process of analysis of learning needs and goals and the development of a delivery system to meet those needs. It includes development of instructional materials and activities; and tryout and evaluation of all instruction and learner activities.

In addition to the traditional competencies, a noticeable trend in searching for articles for instructional designers is collaboration.  Being able to work successfully with others is a highly regarded aptitude to become an instructional designer. Collaborating with others on course development has both benefits and challenges, but according to Duckett & Nelson (2008), there are some traits that can lead to successful collaboration including commitment to the highest quality of teaching and learning, recognition of individual expertise, trust and willingness to learn, and a sense of humor. Instructional designers are highly valuable members of a team that supports the center of higher education organizations: the students.  Collaboration between the library and faculty and instructional designers can strengthen student learning and build effective teaching practices (Hill, 2010). Below is a model created by Duckett & Nelson (2008) for instructional designers, instructors, and librarians on collaborative course design that keeps the focus on student learning:

A career in instructional design may be ideal if you ever considered contributing your skills to an academic or corporate learning environment.  Looking at various articles, there is no one clear path to become an instructional designer, but creativity, the ability to collaborate, resourcefulness, writing and technology skills were qualifications that were sought after by employers.

Short video on What does a Instructional Designer Do? by Joel Gardner, PhD

While there are many resources to get you started on your path to instructional design, here are few that you may find useful:

Additional Resources

Posted in Health Literacy

Health Literacy Resources: Professional Healthcare Organizations and Associations

Health Care Workers

Consumer health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

According to the National Adult Assessment of Literacy (2003), 14% of American cannot comprehend basic health information. The study indicates that health illiteracy is especially prevalent among:

  1.  Adults who did not complete high school, with 49% having below basic health literacy
  2.  Hispanic adults, who have lower health literacy than any other ethnic/racial group, with 41% having below basic health literacy

Low consumer health literacy costs between $106 to $236 billion a year in the form of longer hospital stays; emergency room visits, increased doctor visits, and increased medication, according to a recent report from the University of Connecticut.  Consumers with low literacy levels often fail to engage in early detection and preventive health care.  They also have significant difficulties navigating the health care system and following their doctor’s treatment plans.

As consumers are encouraged to take a more active role in healthcare, another source of information can come from professional organizations and associations involved in the medicine and health services fields.  Professional organizations are often the standard-bearers of the field and provide some of the most updated information and development for healthcare professionals and their clients. Organizations and associations not only publish journals, periodicals, continuing education for members, but also relevant resources for consumers.  Not all healthcare professional organizations provide access to information to the public (non-members), but here are a few organizations that offer information to improve consumer health literacy.

  • The American Medical Association includes a page on its site dedicated health and medical resources, patient rights advocacy, parental packages, and health lifestyle maintenance.

  • The American College of Physicians and Consumer Reports collaborated to introduce a series of High Value Care resources intended to help patients understand the benefits, harms and costs of tests and treatments for common clinical issues. The ACP website also includes a page for Patients and Families focusing on healthcare issues for adults including specific diseases and conditions and specialty topics. Watch the brief video below to learn more about the collaboration between ACP and Consumer Reports.

  • The American Physical Therapy Association  has created a website devoted to patients, Move Forward, that provides information on the purposes and benefits of physical therapy for health and videos for injury prevention. Another feature includes the “Ask a PT” section that provides consumers with the opportunity to send their questions to a panel of APTA physical therapists. For consumers who are interested in accessing information through social media, Move Forward has presence on Twitter .

  • The American Dental Association’s new website for consumers, Mouth Healthy, has information regarding oral health.  The website is organized by life stages and discusses healthy habits, top concerns, nutrition and fact or fiction information.

  • The Case Management Society of America’s has a consumer page that  describes Case Management as a collaborative process of assessment, planning, facilitation and advocacy for options and services to meet an individual’s health needs through communication and available resources to promote quality cost-effective outcomes. This resource can be useful for older healthcare consumers. The National Assessment of Adult Literacy (2003) study found that only 3% of older adults were determined to be proficient in health literacy.  Older adults suffering from chronic conditions are more likely to need to navigate the health care system and understand complex health care information.




  • The public page for the  Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is a resource for food, nutrition, and health information.  Consumers can find tip sheets, videos, brochures, and health & nutrition guides for women, men,  and children.

Click here for an alphabetical list of healthcare societies, academies, professional organizations and associations.

Posted in Lessons and Activities

Summer ESL Lessons and Activities

Beach Chairs Watching Ocean

Summer is here! This season is a great time to introduce ESL students to various summertime activities, lessons, and vocabulary.  Below are some ideas you can use with your student this season.

Tutor Preparedness

The One Stop English Teacher Survival Kit provides a top ten list of budget items that teachers (or tutors) should carry with them. The article also gives some ideas and example on how to use these aids for effective tutoring.

Independence Day Activities

The 4th of July is an excellent opportunity to teach about American history, celebrations, and the meaning of the holiday. EL Civics provides a 4th of July Lesson Plan with ideas that can be used for groups or individual students.

ESL Holiday Lessons has several reading and writing worksheet activities focused on Independence Day. Additional activities can include watching this brief VOA- Celebrating 4th of July in America video and reviewing the meaning of the U.S. Flag.

Travel Activities

Travel is another common activity that takes place in the summer months.  A fun activity can be to help your student plan real or virtual summer vacations using travel websites. Students can create a personal itinerary and discuss or write about their plans. Larry Ferlazzo’s blog provides a list of The Best Sites Where Students Can Plan Virtual Trips. Here is a list of Travel Conversation Questions and some Conversation Questions for after a Vacation.

Summertime Vocabulary

Vocabulary building is an important step in the language development process. Using digital flashcards like Study Blue, introduce your student to common Summer Vocabulary and Water and Weather Idioms.

Museum Activities

Museum visits can be a unique tutoring opportunity.  If you are unable to go to a museum in person, several museums offer virtual visits. The Getty Museum has Adult ESL lesson plans and activities that can be completed online. Other museums that have virtual tours include the Smithsonian Museum of Natural HistoryRingling Museum of Art , and The Metropolitan Museum. Once your student has taken a tour, they can practice writing about it in a Postcard Activity.

Summertime Food

The summer is also a popular season for picnics and barbeques.  Discuss with your student about how they would plan and organize a (real or imaginary) picnic or barbeque. The student can create a Mind Map about the best location, weather, food, and beverages for the event.  Practice conversations about verbal invitations and review writing invitations with your student. Help your student discover some in-season dishes they would like to make and try these ESL Activities with recipes.

Enjoy your Summer!