Skip to main content

Rhode Island Adult Education Professional Development Center

About Us
Contact Us
Agency Links
PDC Calendar of Events
PD Planning
GED® 2014
CCSS/ Content Standards
Workforce Development
Intake & Assessment Guide
Learner Persistence
Other Resources
Online Resources
Webinars (archived)

Click here to download OVAE's College and Career Ready Standards for Adult Education

and watch for upcoming CCR Standards-based trainings on the PDCenter Calendar


The report on the International Assessment of Adult Literacy 

has just been released!

and a NY Times article explains its relevance to the US Workforce is here



APRIL 24, 2014

Pre-Registration deadline is Aprill 11th

Conference Schedule


Room 1

Room 2

Room 3

Room 4

Room 5

Room 6

Room 7

Room 8


                                                                                     Breakfast  and Opening Remarks



9 – 10:30 explore these free learning resources for your students and you


Shane Sher

The new NEDP web based program


Sandy Smith,  Bonnie Taylor, Andjela Kaur & Sherry Lehane

Research-based Strategies for Digital Literacy Learning and Teaching


Elizabeth Dalton & Don Gregory

STAND’s Menu of Activities and Workshops                  


Wes Garvin & Alemy Mondestin


Rubrics: Measuring Student Success


Jean Marrapodi


What is a Contextualized Curriculum?


Al Alba

Learning Paths: what practitioners can learn about adult engagement in education


Brady Dunklee and Janet Isserlis

What All Practitioners Should Know About Workforce Development

Robin Adams



10:45 – 12:15

The RI Lifelong Learning (LL) Portal


Jill Holloway, Karisa Tashjian, Mary Jo Feeney & Sherry Lehane

21st Century Digital Skills for the new GED®


Angela Salvadore & Don Gregory

The Impact of Leadership Experiences    


Wes Garvin & STAND Board members

Popular Education in ESOL, GED & NEDP


Cristina Cabrera & Dania Flores

The Change Agent:


Cynthia Peters

Exploring the IT Industry; Career Pathways and bridging the Skills Gap


Cheryl DaCosta & Chris Selwyn Job Seeker's Resource


Terri S. Avila




1:30 – 3:00

Using Motivational Interviewing in Adult Education and Workforce Development Programs

  Andjela Kaur

Learning to Achieve: Definition of Learning


Bonnie Taylor

Cultivating a Growth Mindset in the Adult Education Classroom


Jessica Wildman

What I Wish I Had Known When I Started This Job


Panel of Adult Education Program Directors

Multilevel learning in the ESOL classroom


Janet Isserlis


Update on RI Workforce Development Activities


Elizabeth Jardine & others

Adult Common Core: Teaching Differently & Learning More

Barbara Bowen



Q & A with RIDE staff

Workshop Descriptions


Session One:  9-10:30 am            Shane Sher

Do you know the ins and outs of AskRI?  See all the amazing tools that Rhode Islanders can access. Learn about the different databases supported by AskRI, from tutoring services to finding published articles and books digitally to learning another language and more. This class will cover the eight databases hosted through AskRI so that you can be prepared to access these services for both yourself and the public.


Shane Sher is an avid computer user, an awful comedian, and a teacher for the last 10 years. Currently, he is the Coordinator for


Using Motivational Interviewing in Adult Education and Workforce Development Programs        Andjela Kaur

Motivational Interviewing strategies as a motivation enhancement model and how it can be effective in adult education programs.  The workshop is not intended to teach MI but rather to introduce participants to its principles through engaging dialogue and a structure role play activity.  The presenter will introduce the MI model via a power point, demonstrate one specific technique from the model, and allow participants the opportunity to practice the technique.  The workshop will conclude with a brief overview of how RIRAL has implemented the MI, information regarding training requirements and possible ways to utilize this technique in workforce development programs.  


Andjela Kaurhas completed advanced training in Motivational Interviewing and serves as a trainer and implementation coach at RIRAL. Andjela has offered Basic Motivational Interviewing to agencies in RI, and has assisted at national trainings held at the Health Education and Training Institute in Portland, ME.


The new NEDP web based program      Sandy Smith, Bonnie Taylor, Andjela Kaur & Sherry Lehane

The National External Diploma Program (“NEDP”) is now web based.  Come and learn the requirements for NEDP. This presentation is designed for agency directors, facilitators, and teachers who may are familiar with  the old “paper and pencil” version as well as for  those agencies that are considering offering a high school diploma program for adult learners.    You will learn about the:

  • Entrance Requirements
  • Cost
  • Technology Challenges for learner and agencies
  • New look
  • Office Check
  • Length of time to complete
  • Opportunities for candidates to use ORS or Worker’s Compensation to pay for assessment

This panel discussion will walk adult education administrators, teachers, and facilitators through the requirements to enter NEDP. We will review the enrollment process, technology checklist and fundamental knowledge required to enter this competency based alternative to the high school equivalency standardized test.

Finally, attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions of agencies that are currently using the new NEDP.


Sandra Smith is the NEDP coordinator. Since 2005, Sandy has worked in adult education as a teacher, facilitator, and assessor.

Bonnie Taylor has a master’s degree in special education and has been working with the NEDP for over 2 years.

Andjela Kaur is an NEDP assessor and program liaison to the Office of Rehabilitation Services and the Donley Center (RI's Workers' Compensation Center). 

Sherry Lehane has been in adult education 19 years.  She has taught in a variety of contexts and is an Assessor for the National External Diploma Program. 


Research-based Strategies for Digital Literacy Learning and Teaching               Betsy Dalton & Don Gregory

Let’s look together at what researchers in the field of adult education have identified as “Best Practices” for digital literacy learning and teaching.  In this session, your hosts will share what they have found in the literature and in their own practice, and they invite you to bring information and materials to share with other participants in this round table discussion.  This session will take place in three parts:

  1. Your hosts will share many of the current research-based best practices they have found for digital literacy learning and teaching.  These days, we are all asked to base our work in “research-based practices”, but it’s not always easy to know what these practices are – or how robust the research is that is used that supports these practices.  We will briefly discuss what “robust research” is, and will connect this to digital literacy research.
  2. We will open the floor to you, the round table participants, to share your own experiences, your favorite research-based practices, and your questions.  Feel free to bring your own lists of links and/or resources to share with others (we can also share them online by posting them after the session is finished).
  3. Finally, your hosts will share an annotated bibliography handout containing the information and links to the various best practices that were introduced.


Dr. Dalton is Director of Development and Research for TechACCESS of RI and independent consultant in curriculum diversity & technology.  She holds a PhD in Education (URI/RIC) and Post-doc in UDL (Boston College/CAST).

Donald Gregory is Coordinator of the Digital Literacy Program for Broadband RI, RI Office of Digital Excellence.  He instructs a wide range of adult digital literacy classes throughout RI.


STAND’s Menu of Activities and Workshops                    Wesley Garvin & Alemy Mondestin

Have you wondered what workshops and activities STAND has been developing and delivering? Would you like the opportunity to discuss the Student Satisfaction Survey’s results and implications? The Members of STAND’s Learner Advisory Board will present their work and discuss what they are learning as they work with Adult Learners across the state.


Wes Garvin has been the Director of STAND since 2009. 

Alemy Mondestin has been involved in RI Adult Student Leadership since 2007, and is the President of the Board of Directors.  


Rubrics: Measuring Student Success                  Jean Marrapodi  

According to Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), “Rubrics make assessing student work quick and efficient, and they help teachers justify [the] grades that they assign to students. At their very best, rubrics are also teaching tools that support student learning and the development of sophisticated thinking skills. When used correctly, they serve the purposes of learning as well as of evaluation and accountability[1].”

Rubrics have gained popularity across higher education and have been used in K12 since the 1980s. How can we leverage them in Adult Education with our students? In this participatory workshop, we will learn what rubrics are, how to construct effective ones, and look at some standardized rubrics available in Adult Ed, including the REEP, and the rubrics used in the new 2014 GED. Rubrics can not only be used by teachers in the formative assessment process, but can be leveraged in peer-review activities to provide objective analysis among students at any level. You’ll leave with ideas on how to create and use rubrics with your students, and ways to help them better understand how they are assessed using them


Jean Marrapodi is the Director of eLearning at New England College of Business and in her free time, volunteers with RI’s lowest literacy adult learners.


What is a contextualized lesson?   A model contextualized lesson in an exploration of education and employment opportunities   Dr. Al Alba

The workshop will present a contextualized lesson that incorporates reading, writing, communication skills, mathematics, and reasoning skills to help students find a career that will be rewarding to them upon their release from prison (and its GED program).

The lesson will require students to read a simulated Myers – Briggs Interest Survey to explore which careers may match their interests and skills and will require them to explore education / training or startup costs required for the occupation or career. Students will be asked to engage in public speaking to discuss prior job experiences and will be asked to discuss likes and dislikes of prior jobs. Writing skills will be developed through writing an essay addressing a learner’s ideal career, and asking her/him to explain strengths or talents necessary to achieving that career. A mathematics component will address anticipated costs for education, as well as salary and living cost calculations.  Computer, research and reasoning skills will also be developed.

The presentation will give teachers the resources they can provide to their students to help them obtain employment upon their completion of their GED.   Online resources, resource books, and contact resources for colleges, apprenticeship programs, and starting small businesses will be discussed.


Dr. Albert Alba  has been an educator, for 25 years: holding a lifetime certification in secondary mathematics, and certification in School Administration.  His interests are in reform minded instructional practices and meaningful constructivist instructional practices. 


Learning Paths: what practitioners can learn about adult engagement in education                 Brady Dunklee and Janet Isserlis

This workshop is a brief presentation of an ESOL lesson plan focused on learners’ educational attainment and the factors that influence it, followed by a structured conversation and methods share among workshop participants.  Essential questions  include: How much formal schooling have our learners completed?  How much have adult education practitioners completed?  How can we discuss the diverse levels of formal education in our classes in a way that is supportive, nonjudgmental and centers learners’ strengths and knowledge?  How can we build understanding and analysis of the structural, familial and personal factors that influence educational attainment?  Can these analyses be used to support learner persistence in our programs, and if so how?  What methods can ESOL and ABE/ASE practitioners use to gather relevant, engaging data, create usable infographics, and support the development of quantitative reasoning among learners to learn more about these and other contexts?  What else can we be doing in the field to support, value and advance learners with lower levels of educational attainment?

Brady Dunklee is an ESOL instructor and co-coordinator of the Workplace Adult Education Program at the Institute for Labor Studies and Research (ILSR).  This program serves 200+ learners annually, including his beginners' class at Pawtucket Library.  He has worked in a variety of adult literacy positions in Rhode Island since 2003.  He is also a co-founder and outgoing executive director of ATRAVES, a nonprofit that worked in health, education and community development in Managua, Nicaragua. 

Janet Isserlis has worked with adult learners and educators since 1980


 What ALL Practitioners Should Know About Workforce Development             Robin Adams

This overview of the critical components of workforce Development will provide an opportunity for agencies to self-assess their internal capacity and current strategies to determine in what areas they are most effective and where there may be opportunities to introduce new strategies for better outcomes.  Directors encouraged to attend.  This is not just for case managers and job development staff!


Robin Adams is the workforce development specialist at the PDCenter providing instruction and guidance to practitioners working to achieve workforce development goals and objectives.  




Session Two:  10:45 am-12:15 pm


The RI Lifelong Learning (LL) Portal: it’s here!                   Jill Holloway, Karisa Tashjian, Mary Jo Feeney & Sherry Lehane

This session will be part presentation and part brainstorming on how to improve, publicize and use the LL Portal.  The presenters have been the lead team for several years on creating an accessible and sustainable resource for both the public and the workforce development and adult education field.   Participants will get the latest on how this RI resource can be used by educators and by other providers for marketing their programs and for working with learners.  WaytoGoRI is one of the resources used in the LL Portal and participants will see how to use the Educator features of the site.  They will also participate in several activities that will assist in shaping the future developments of this powerful resource.


Jill Holloway has been the Director of the RI Adult Education Professional Development Center for 7 years.

Karisa Tashjian is the Director of RIFLI and Adult Literacy Services at the Providence Public Library. She is also co-chair of the Adult Education Technology Advisory Committee. 

Mary Jo Feeney

Sherry Lehane is an ESL and EDP Instructor at RIFLI.  She is an avid user of and is responsible for managing the LL portal’s learning resources.



21st Century Digital Skills for the new GED®                                                              Angela Salvadore and Don Gregory

By now you’ve most likely heard that the GED® 2014 will be a computer-based test with an online registration component. This means that students will need digital literacy skills to succeed. But what, exactly, are the specific skills that will be required of them? Join us for this lively, informative, interactive session to find out exactly what are the specific digital literacy skills you’ll need to know about the 2014 test.

CCRI, Broadband RI, TechACCESS and RIDE have partnered to develop, pilot and update a curriculum that will empower you to teach the new 2014 GED.


Angela-Ann Salvadore is Transition Pathways Coordinator for the Community College of Rhode Island.

Don Gregory is the Digital Literacy Coordinator for Broadband RI within the RI Office of Digital Excellence. He instructs a wide range of adult digital literacy classes throughout RI.

Dr. Elizabeth M. Dalton is the Director of Development & Research, TechACCESS of RI and Consultant to BBRI Digital Literacy Program 

The Impact of Leadership Experiences                                 Wes Garvin, Alemy Mondestin and STAND Advisory Board Members

A panel of new members of STAND will speak of their leadership experiences, and their personal and professional impact.  Practitioners are encouraged to attend who wish to know more of why it is important to support adult learner leadership activities, and how to either begin or expand these options for their students.


Wes Garvin has been the Director of STAND since 2009. 

Alemy Mondestin has been involved in RI Adult Student Leadership since 2007, and is the President of STAND’s Board of Directors.  

STAND’s Learner Advisory Board have presented at conferences in RI, California, and West Virginia and work to build the Adult Learner Voice in the state.



Popular Education in ESOL, GED & NEDP                   Cristina Cabrera & Dania Flores

At the end of this session, we should be able to answer the following question: why learners exposed to popular education have greater possibilities of success in obtaining a high school diploma, in getting a job and/or in moving on to higher education. Workshop participants will be able to learn about Brazilian educator Paulo Freire and his popular education teaching methodology. Participants will be able to leave this workshop with concrete tools and methods -like critical thinking methods, codes, problem-posing, theater of the oppressed- to help them bring popular education into their own GED & NEDP classrooms, as well as into their ESOL lessons.

Popular education is a learning process by which learners acquire a new language and develop thinking skills in the context of their lived experiences around issues that they face in their own communities. Popular education incorporates non-traditional tools and methods of learning (visual arts, music, theatre, poetry etc) and is inclusive of all learners with a variety of backgrounds and educational levels


Cristina Cabrera, a Latina from Uruguay with 25 years of language teaching experience, has been applying Freirian methodology for the past 7 years to create meaningful change.

Dania Flores, a Latina from Guatemala and EFA Board member, is a community activist working for social, economic and environmental change in MA and RI


Using Socially Relevant Content to Teach Basic Skills                                       Cynthia Peters

Come learn about how to use high interest, relevant stories from The Change Agent to promote reading, writing, and math skills. See how these skills align with College and Career Readiness (CCR) standards, such as read with understanding, make logical inferences, convey ideas in writing, use evidence to support claims, analyze multiple sources, observe critically, read charts and graphs, and interpret and analyze data. Find out about online resources available to Rhode Island programs for free – including PDFs of highly engaging, multi-level, student-written articles on a wide variety of themes; leveled texts; and audio versions of articles that allow students to hear the article read out loud while they read along. Whether you are teaching ESOL, ABE, GED, or college transitions, you will leave this workshop with classroom activities that your students will find engaging and that will support them to gain the basic skills they need to achieve their goals.


Cynthia Peters is the editor of The Change Agent and has many years of experience as an ABE, ESOL, GED, and transitions teacher.


Exploring the IT Industry; Career Pathways and bridging the Skills Gap       Cheryl DaCosta and Chris Selwyn       

As technology has become increasingly central to our lives, so has the role of the workforce which supports it.  The number of IT professionals employed in Rhode Island is at an all-time high and continues to grow.  Yet, employers continue to find it challenging to hire professionals with the right combination of technology, business, and professional skills.  With the right guidance and training individuals can bring all these skills together and create immense value for business competitiveness and growth.

In this session, educators will get an IT Industry overview which will include Rhode Island’s IT skills gap, occupational outlook, compensation trends, and the hard-to-find combination of skills employers are looking for.  We will also describe how an individual can enter the IT workforce by providing career pathways tools as well as specific information and requirements regarding the training programs Tech Collective has designed to meet the hiring needs of employers.


Cheryl DaCosta; Senior Manager of Workforce Developmentmanages Tech Collective ISDI and Industry Partnership grants for the IT industry, and Industry Partnership grant for the Bioscience industry.

Chris Selwyn; Manager of Training and Career Development delivers workforce training program services through Tech Collective in order to build a more congruent workforce pipeline and to meet industry talent needs. Job Seeker's Resource         Terri S. Avila, the State of RI's job board, is so much more than a job board! Attend this hands-on workshop (please bring a laptop or tablet) to learn about the registration process, posting a resume, searching for jobs, setting up a Virtual Recruiter, creating a Skill profile, and more.


Terri S. Avila is a Business Services Specialist for the RI Dept. of Labor and Training. She assists employers with all of their hiring and lay-off needs, including posting jobs in employri and searching for qualified candidates.


Lunch: 12:15- 1:30 pm in the Cafeteria

Session Three:  1:30-3pm


Using Motivational Interviewing in an Adult Education Program      Andjela Kaur

This workshop will offer an overview of the Motivational Interviewing as a motivation enhancement model and its applicability in the adult education programs. Participants will have an opportunity to experience one technique used in this model. Rhode Island Regional Adult Learning (RIRAL) is in its first year of implementing this model into its programs.  This workshop does not intend to teach Motivational Interviewing, but to introduce the participants to its principles and the experience that RIRAL has had with it so far.  Methodology: This workshop will be a combination of information sharing , information giving and a structured role play. First, the group will share their views on importance of motivation in the workforce development programs. The presenter will then introduce the MI model via a power point, will demonstrate one specific technique from the model, and the participants will practice it. We will wrap up with the presenter giving information on training requirements and implementation of MI in workforce development programs.  There will be no handouts.


Andjela Kaur (formerly Cupic) has completed advanced training in  Motivational Interviewing and serves as a trainer and implementation coach for the Motivational Interviewing at RIRAL. 


Learning to Achieve: Definition of Learning                             Bonnie Taylor

This is the first of 8 modules developed by OVAE and LINCS.  Bonnie was trained/nationally certified two summers ago to facilitate these modules, and has presented them at the PD center and LD designee meetings.  This module is an interactive workshop designed to inform attendees of the legal definition of a learning disability and explore the implications of such a definition.  It also introduces the concept of RtI and the emphasis on intervention vs. diagnosis.   Hopefully, attendees will walk away with a clearer understanding of learning disabilities and new ideas of how to approach struggling learners in their programs.  A brief synopsis of the next 8 modules will be handed out  to build interest in signing up at the PD Center for more in the future, encourage organizations to bring modules to their area, and/or gauge interest in another module being offered next year.


Bonnie Taylor has a master’s in special education and was trained by OVAE to be a nationally certified trainer for the “Learning to Achieve” modules, a program which helps prepare educators working with adults with learning disabilities


Cultivating a Growth Mindset in the Adult Education Classroom       Jessica Wildman

Enrolling in an adult education program can be a frightening process for many prospective adult learners. To reenter an environment where they once experienced failure takes a tremendous amount of courage. Many of these prospective learners begin this process with a blend of anticipation, anxiety, and a fear of public failure/humiliation. More often than not, the string that ties this nervous bundle of a learner together is a fixed mindset – the deeply rooted belief that intelligence level is fixed and cannot be changed. Per the research of Dr. Carol S. Dweck, the learner with the fixed mindset avoids challenges, gives up easily, views feedback as meaningless, and is threatened by the success of others. Consequently, the fixed mindset learner often doesn’t realize his/her full potential. While the learner with a growth mindset – the learner who embraces challenges, perseveres through difficult times, views feedback as a key component to becoming better, and is inspired by the success of others – is often able to realize significantly higher levels of achievement. With the desire to cultivate a growth mindset amongst the learners in the Amos House Literacy Program, Jessica Wildman designed and implemented a 12-hour learner prep course titled “The Smart Start Course.” In this presentation, Jessica seeks to share The Smart Start Course content, how the course is carried out, and what the results of the course have (thus far) been. This presentation will be participant-centered and, therefore, interactive. Please come with an open mind and the willingness to share.


Jessica Wildman is the Literacy Coordinator for the Amos House Literacy Program. Having been a disengaged learner herself, Jessica is eternally mindful of the power that lies in guiding a learner to find his/her internal motivation and belief in him/herself.


What I wish I had known When I Started This Job    Melanie LaMountain, Prue Prentice, Elizabeth Weinstein, Nazneen Rahman and Jennifer Giroux  (moderator Jill Holloway)

As research has shown, Adult Education Practitioners come to the field from every career direction: and almost never because they majored in it in college!  Program Directors have the added challenge of needing to hit the ground knowing multiple aspects of the entire system as well as how to best support and ‘grow’ their staff and learners. If you have always wanted to know more about what Directors are responsible for, hear some best practices and real stories of Avoiding Pitfalls, come hear the panel share their journeys, ask questions, and join in a lively discussion that will attempt to identify what every Adult Education Director needs to know and be able to do!


Jill Holloway is the Director of the RI Adult Education Professional Development Center.

Melanie LaMountain is the Director of West Bay CAP’s Adult Education Academy.

Prue Prentice is the Adult Education Manager at Community Action Partnerships of Providence

Elizabeth Weinstein is the Director of Literacy Volunteers of East Bay

Nazneen Rahman is the Education & Training Director at Dorcas International Institute of RI

Jennifer Giroux is the Interim VP of Continuing Education and Professional Studies at Rhode Island College.


Multilevel learning in the ESOL classroom                  Janet Isserlis

Practitioners accept the fact that every adult ESOL classroom is inevitably a multilevel class - learners have varying degrees of comfort and fluency with speaking, listening, reading and writing, and have had varying background and interaction with formal and informal education.

This interactive workshop invites participants to share their own best ideas and challenges.  The facilitator will offer strategies and materials to support learning within one room and across multiple levels.


Janet Isserlis has worked with adult learners and educators since 1980.


Update on RI Workforce Development Activities                 Elizabeth Jardine and other GWB/DLT Staff

 Come and learn more about workforce development in RI, how it is funded and ways in which it connects with Adult Education.  Specific information on targeted initiatives to improve the skills of entry level workers such as Back to Work RI, Workforce On Ramps, Career Pathways, Innovative Partnership Grants and Work Immersion will be presented.  Opportunities for subsidies for internships will also be described.  Time will also be left open to ask and answer any questions you might have about workforce development in RI, state and local workforce investment boards, and unemployment. 


Elizabeth Jardine is the Chief of Program Development for the RI Governor’s Workforce Board


Adult Common Core Standards: Teaching Differently and Learning More                                 Barbara Bowen

The College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) is the adult educator’s abbreviated and adapted version of K-12’s Common Core State Standards (CCSS).   This session will briefly address the layout of the standards, and then move on to show specific language in the core standards that imply or indicate that instruction and learning will have to progress  beyond “business as usual”:  (1) more rigorous technical strategies and advanced use of technology for instruction and learning will challenge both educator and student; (2)  acquiring core content information will become more the student’s responsibility as the educator creates and facilitates learning labs that address information synthesis and critical problem-solution tasks;  (3) blended instruction, collaborative learning, and project explorations are but a few methods that begin to address the standards’ implications for student preparation for college and readiness for the workforce.   This session will outline the paradigm shifts that must be considered for core standards implementation.


Barbara Bowen holds a Master of Science degree in Reading Education, and has more than 30 years of experience in instruction and curriculum development for K-12, community college, and adult education. She continues to pursue her interests in learning and education through her work as professional development and literacy specialist at the RIAEPDC. 

[1] Andrade, H.G. (2000). Using rubrics to promote thinking and learning. Educational Leadership, 57(5). p. 13-18


Updated listings of Initiatives, Events and Registration Information are on "PDC Calendar of Events" tab at left.


Contact the PDC to learn more about ongoing opportunities, as well as to design support to meet your program's particular needs and interests.


To receive the newsletter of upcoming PDCenter Offerings, click here.


We also disseminate a Bulletin via email to announce PD events, student opportunities, research, and employment opportunities.

To receive the Bulletin directly, contact