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USF SLIS students attend “Fast Track” adult literacy workshop


Gina Bingham-McIntyre

Gina Bingham-McIntyre and Arlen Bensen (current USF SLIS students) made the trek to Lake County on Friday, October 23, 2009 to learn about a new adult literacy teaching technique developed at Jacksonville Public Library.

Things looking up

Graduate Assistant Arlen Bensen

Fast Track Reading System

Exploring the Relationship Between Sounds & Syllables

The program is called Fast Track Reading System and it was developed at JPL with help from a grant through the Florida Department of State and the State Library and Archives of Florida. This system is aimed primarily at basic reading students, although parts of it appear to have useful applicability in ESOL courses, too. Fast Track II is currently in development to take successful Fast Track students well beyond the basic reading level.

Instruction is designed to take place over 26 weeks with about 3 hours per week of face-to-face class time. It centers on syllable division and helps students find patterns in the English language to pierce the randomness that confronts most adults who are learning to read. Syllable division is certainly not anything new, but the way the principles are described is extremely accessible (as opposed to the bewildering consonant-vowel-vowel-consonant-c-v-v-c-c previously employed). The success of Fast Track is measured by the high (80%) retention rate achieved in Jacksonville.

The October 23rd workshop was led by Sharon Jaskula, Literacy Program Manager at the Center for Adult Learning in Jacksonville Public Library. She also spearheaded the development of the program and sits on the board of the workshop’s sponsor VALF (Volunteers for Adult Literacy in Florida).  The session was held, primarily, so that literacy volunteers teaching in the Lake County Library System might learn this technique. The session was put together by Erika Greene, who coordinates literacy efforts for that system. Not only was she extremely gracious to encourage outside attendees, but she also did a fantastic job managing and supporting the day’s activities.

VALF logo

One warning flag for libraries raised by Ms. Jaskula on the 23rd concerns Florida community colleges converting to 4 year schools.  As they do so, they relinquish the part of their mission to provide remedial help to students seeking to pass standardized minimum achievement level exams required by the state for studying in higher education.  As a result, many of these adults who were formerly served by community colleges are now turning to public libraries as their only source of remedial instruction to make the grade needed on these standardized tests.  This encumbers sorely pressed public libraries even further during this economic downturn.  Ms. Jaskula says JPL is able to serve about 1,000 students per year in their Center for Adult Learning but that the demand is much greater. She has a significant backlog of students wishing to participate.  [Posted by AB]

Sharon Jaskula: Sharon@coj.net (904) 630-0353

Erika Greene: 352-253-6183 or egreene@lakeline.lib.fl.us


Visit the wiki for more details… http://literacyflorida.wikispaces.com/

Florida Literacy Hotline
(800) – 237 – 5113


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