BC Reads: Adult Literacy Fundamental English Course Pack 5
Shantel Ivits, Vancouver Community College
Copyright Year: 2015
Conditions of Use
The Contents makes everything from the introduction to the instructor, to the readings/exercises, and to the appendices very accessible. There are 9 readings, each between 500-800 words aimed at grades 6-7.5 in the Canadian K-12 system. Each... read more
The Contents makes everything from the introduction to the instructor, to the readings/exercises, and to the appendices very accessible. There are 9 readings, each between 500-800 words aimed at grades 6-7.5 in the Canadian K-12 system. Each begins by offering reading strategies prior to the reading then post reading activities that cover main idea, comprehension, guessing meaning from context, related grammar, spelling and even punctuation. Each unit offers the student a chance to demonstrate comprehension by expanding thought beyond the text and connecting it to their own background knowledge (in their L1) to the reading. In short, very comprehensive.
Course Pack -5 has nine readings all related to the brain. I didn't notice anything biased but only reading presented in an interesting and objective way.
I can see these reading being easily used for a decade, if not longer. Instructors can choose the readings and expand beyond the packet by asking students to do research to augment and update the information offered. I see much potential to carry the material beyond the packet.
Yes! It's appropriate for the targeted reading level.
Yes. Each chapter follows the same pedagogically sound framework. The only element I noted missing was strategies for guessing the meaning of unknown vocabulary from context. Students are given exercises to do so, but I didn't notice any chapters offering, for example, punctuation clues that indicate synonyms, explanation of unfamiliar words.
The readings are short (500-800 words) so this isn't really applicable to this packet.
Yes. Prior to reading, students' background knowledge is elicited and predictions made then a particular strategy is given for attacking the text. Finally, a series of exercises are given (as described prior) to test comprehension and to develop additional reading skills/strataegies.
This readings and exercises have been carefully proofread.
All the readings are related to the brain in a universal way.
I loved this! I wish I had known about the packet prior to teaching my first remote class to upper level ESOL students in Spring 2020. It would have been interesting for them, and it would have saved me a lot of time creating materials. Very well done!
Overall this is a very comprehensive literacy text for adult basic ed . The index and scope and sequence are clear and provide enough details for navigation of content. The graphic organizers for writing are excellent, but it would be helpful to... read more
Overall this is a very comprehensive literacy text for adult basic ed . The index and scope and sequence are clear and provide enough details for navigation of content. The graphic organizers for writing are excellent, but it would be helpful to have one for each writing assignment to provide more visual support for learners.
The level of accuracy is excellent and care clearly went into designing this to be as unbiased as possible.
The reading material (neuroscience focused), exercises, examples, and writing assignments are up to date and not likely to need updates in the future.
The text is written very clearly and is definitely accessible to literacy students. This would also be appropriate for intermediate level English language learners.
The layout and sequence of each chapter is consistent, predictable, and easy to follow.
The text can be viewed in a number of formats, which is helpful depending on how the instructor plans to use it. Readings can be viewed/assigned separately, and content is modular in that sections/units can be assigned in any order without disruption.
The text is very clear with a logical level of organization that makes it easy to follow along.
All links seem to work and images display correctly.
I did not see any grammatical errors.
Examples in the text represent a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Diversity is celebrated and supported through examples within the neuroscience focus of this text.
This is an appropriate text for ESL / English language learners as well as adult basic literacy students.
Overall, the scope of the course pack is very good. There are a few areas of content that seem incomplete, however. While the author generally explains reading skills very well, the course pack does not always directly allow students to check... read more
Overall, the scope of the course pack is very good.
There are a few areas of content that seem incomplete, however. While the author generally explains reading skills very well, the course pack does not always directly allow students to check their use of these skills. For instance, on page 90, the write provides a definition of tone and asks students to describe the tone of the text “Put to the Test” as they read it. However, there is never any follow-up of possible words that would best describe the tone of the text. Perhaps the answer key could have included some suggested answers. Also, on page 42, which is about spelling homonyms, the author gave example sentences using "affect" and "effect" to illustrate the difference between these words. However, for the next three sets of homonyms, the author only gave one example per set of homonyms, leaving the differences in meaning more ambiguous for students (e.g., the author provided an example sentence for "whether" but not "weather").
The nine readings that correspond to the course pack are listed in the “Contents” page, which gives only a very broad view of the structure of the course pack. The reader must look at the “Level 5 Scope and Sequence” in the appendix to read more details (e.g., specific reading strategies and writing genres).
There is no glossary of target words or index.
While most of the course pack is accurate, there are a few inaccuracies.
There are a few minor errors in the answer key. For example, in the Exercise 4 for the first reading “The Most Amazing Structure on Earth,” students are prompted to complete this sentence: “The world’s best supercomputer is only about as fast as a ____ brain” (p. 5). The correct answer from the reading is “half of a mouse,” but the answer key indicates only “mouse.” On page 13, about a grammar point in the first reading unit, the answer to item 8 is not given in the answer key. On page 92, the first item prompts students to write the main idea of paragraph 3; however, in the answer key, the main idea is given for paragraph 4. Moreover, some additional correct answers could have been included in the answer key. For instance, on page 106, students are asked to find three synonyms of intuition used in the text; while “gut feeling,” “instinct,” and “sixth sense” were given in the answer key, another correct answer students could write is “quick-thinking mind.”
On page 80, there is an explanation of run-on sentences. One type of run-on sentence is described as a compound sentence in which a comma is not placed before the coordinating conjunction that is followed by a new sentence: “The words Roy G. Biv can help you remember the colours of the rainbow for each word stands for the first letter of a colour.” Forgetting the comma in this example would typically be considered a punctuation mistake rather than a “run-on” sentence.
On page 95, the definition for a complex sentence seems too ambiguous: “On the other hand, a complex sentence is made by joining one complete sentence with a sentence fragment.” Instead of “sentence fragment,” a more standard definition would include “dependent/subordinate clause.” In this same section, an example of a complex sentence on page 96 is “Until 1920[,] people in British Columbia drove their cars on the left side of the road.” However, since this sentence only has one clause (verb phrase), most would consider it to be a simple sentence starting with a prepositional phrase rather than a complex sentence.
Another small inaccuracy is that the paragraphs in the nine reading passages and in the model paragraphs before the student writing prompts are not indented. I would prefer that my students indent paragraphs that they write and wish the course pack and corresponding readings indented paragraphs in a conventional way.
The content of the readings about the brain and mind seems like it will continue to be relevant for years to come.
The text is mostly very clear and level-appropriate, but the directions on page 63 could have been clearer. The directions state, “Add commas to the sentences below.” However, two of the sentences in the exercise (items 7 and 9) do not require commas. To be more straightforward with students, the directions could indicate that students should only add commas to the sentences that need them.
The course pack is very consistent overall with a few exceptions, noted below.
In terms of formatting, there are a few inconsistencies. For example, on page 44, the first target structure in the “Grammar Rule” box, "aren’t," is underlined, but the other target contractions are not underlined in the next two examples.
Regarding content, there is also a bit of inconsistency. On page 67, students are prompted to write a descriptive paragraph about their “perfect classroom,” using prepositions of place like “under” and “beside,” requiring spatial organization. However, the model paragraph is not organized spatially; instead, it lists the features of a dog named Huckleberry. If the writing model were spatially organized using prepositions of place, it would probably be more useful to students. Another inconsistency occurred on pages 82-83. Students are prompted to write a “story about a smell that really stands out in your memory,” and to consider the following simple past questions: “Think of who the story involved, what happened, where it happened, and why it happened.” However, the model narrative paragraph on page 82 uses the habitual past example with “would.” This structure may be too advanced for students at this level, and it does not match the writing task as closely as possible and would not be as useful to students as one using simple past. Finally, many of the writing tasks at the end of each reading unit include models. However, the task on page 98 does not. Students are asked to find four quotations that give “a word of wisdom.” It would have been helpful if the author had provided a sample quotation of a "word of wisdom," either in the main portion of the course pack or the worksheet in the appendix.
The text is divided logically overall. I would have preferred, however, if the nine readings had been numbered, making navigation easier. Also, if the “Contents” were more detailed (e.g., including reading skills and writing skills) it would have been more convenient.
The organization of the course pack is very good overall. While I understood the purpose of and enjoyed most of the images provided in the course pack, I was a bit confused about the use of the image of the teenager on page 124 since the text “The Big Five: Personality” did not mention teenagers.
Overall interface and formatting of the course pack is very easy to use. However, if the nine reading passages were numbered, it would be easier to refer to them. Additionally, some of the reading comprehension questions ask students to write the main idea of a particular paragraph from the reading passage. If the paragraphs were numbered in the reading passages, it would be easier for students to answer these questions.
Also, I printed the PDF of the course pack, and I wish the answer key were at the end of the course pack because I would have not printed it (since I used a device to check the answers I had written on the PDF version); it would be easier to skip printing the answer key if it were one large chunk at the end of the course pack instead of in small chunks at the end of each reading.
The grammar is accurate.
The course pack is inclusive of different cultures and appropriately sensitive.
The readings, comprehension questions, and the writing tasks progress well in the course pack, and the content of the readings seems relevant and interesting to students.
The writing prompts look like they would be enjoyable for students to write about and for instructors to read. I also appreciate that there are two choices to write about for “The Sixth Sense: Intuition” unit, and there are writing checklists for students to use after each writing task.
The book covers literacy issues normally addressed in freshman year of high school. However, I can attest that addressing an issue is not the same as resolving it, witness my own classes of college freshmen. I certainly have had students who need... read more
The book covers literacy issues normally addressed in freshman year of high school. However, I can attest that addressing an issue is not the same as resolving it, witness my own classes of college freshmen. I certainly have had students who need help on this level. The book is comprehensive in its coverage of the more widespread issues arising in usage and composition.
I was also struck that all of the readings used for illustration are based on neuroscience. The book almost begs to be considered for writing across the curriculum assignments.
I see nothing inaccurate in the presentation of the material. The author seems culturally impartial; standard English is standard English and errors are errors. It is not in any way belittling or condescending, but it is firm in its insistence that errors must vanish before a draft essay is considered finalized.
Since standard English had no defined expiration date, I expect the book will have considerable longevity. If we subject verb agreement ever becomes optional, I suspect we are facing larger concerns than an individual textbook could resolve.
The book is clear. The price of being clear, of course, is to streamline and simplify. The material and presentation are perfectly suited to the target population of high school students; I fear it may be a little babyish for college students. Still, the clarity of the book is indisputable; anyone reading it who is unable to understand it has much more severe issues than are addressed here.
I do note that the text employs the British spelling of -our endings. This may confuse a few American students, but this is a minor difficulty. I appreciate the step by step guidance in structuring an essay (TOWER) and the paragraph planner is helpful for any student.
I noticed no anomalies in terminology or structure. Each chapter/unit contains the same subtopics in the same sequence.
As stated above, the book's modular structure makes it convenient to teach and easy to follow. Of course, this very compartmentalization works against an in-depth examination of some topics. I counted one lesson of sentence fragments and a spelling unit listing only three homophones. Some supplementation by the instructor seems essential.
The organization is consistent and lucid. I have no complaints about its organization.
I found no problems with the navigation or interface.
The book has no issues whatsoever with grammar or usage. It would be almost poignant if it did, no?
I don't think readings about neuroscience have any possibility of being culturally insensitive. We all have brains, right? As to the examples/exercises I found nothing even remotely offensive there.
For a college course, this is clearly a remedial text. I would not assign it to the class as a whole because of its simplicity, but I would definitely import sections on specific grammar topics and paragraph structure into my freshman composition classes.
Table of Contents
- The Most Amazing Structure on Earth
- The Many Faces of Genius
- The Many Pathways to Knowledge
- Boost Your Brainpower
- Memory Magic
- Put to the Test
- The Sixth Sense: Intuition
- The Big Five: Personality
- Secrets of a Happy Brain
About the Book
This course pack is designed to meet the learning outcomes for Adult Literacy Fundamental English Level 5 (roughly equivalent to grades 6 to 7.5 in the K-12 system). Every chapter includes a level-appropriate, high-interest reading of between 500 and 800 words. The readings are freely available in a separate reader with convenient links to the readings in each chapter of this course pack. Font size and line spacing can be adjusted in the online view, and have been enhanced for the print and PDF versions for easier reading. This course pack has been reviewed by subject experts from colleges and universities.
About the Contributors
Shantel Ivits is an instructor in the Basic Education Department at Vancouver Community College, on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.
Shantel has designed curricula for the National Film Board of Canada, the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation, and many community-based projects.
Over the past decade, they have taught in literacy programs, university bridging programs, an ESL academy, and K-12 public schools.
They hold a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Trent University, as well as a Bachelor of Education and a Master of Arts in Educational Studies from the University of British Columbia.
Shantel identifies as a queer and trans person with white settler privilege. Their goal as an educator is to help people build their capacity to reach their goals and create more socially just communities.
Shantel also enjoys raising awareness that “they” can be used as a singular pronoun!