Community focused activities for Initial CGEA learners

The Centacare Employment and Training course “Skills for Education and Employment” (SEE) caters for adult learners from a wide range of ages and diverse backgrounds. Currently many of our clients include people with limited schooling who may be learning to read or write for the first time.

Clients attend classes seeking to improve their English and obtain the skills and language necessary to find a job. Their learning is often affected by factors such as:

  • dealing with trauma and loss due to fleeing from war
  • limited literacy in their own language
  • anxiety and depression
  • separation from family members
Many students, despite having perhaps lived in Australia for some time, do not interact with those from outside their own   language groups other than during their time in class. Our trainers often develop learning programmes that aim to enhance learners’ community involvement and help them to interact with a wider range of cultures. Centacare Init 1


Centacare Init 2Centacare Init 3
One of these programmes enabled students to work alongside Samaritan’s Purse, a community organisation that is responsible for “Operation Christmas Child”. Operation Christmas Child delivers shoeboxes full of essential items and gifts to children living in impoverished conditions. Centacare Init 4

The programme consisted of a number of activities and stages. The teacher created tasks to cover aspects of the Initial and Introductory CGEA curriculum. The activities included:

  • Reading about what to pack in the boxes: VU21286 Engage with short simple texts to participate in the community
  • Shopping for items using a donated budget: VU21291 Recognise numbers and money in simple, highly familiar situations
  • Reading a class book about the shopping excursion: VU21286 Engage with short simple texts to participate in the community
  • Graphing amounts of money spent in each store: VU21312 Work with and interpret statistical information in simple, familiar texts
  • Volunteering at the Operation Christmas Child processing centre
  • Writing a recount about the volunteering experience: VU21290 Create short simple texts to participate in the community
  • Writing a thank you email to the Processing Centre Supervisor: VU21290 Create short simple texts to participate in the community

Students’ recounts were then compiled and displayed in the lunch-room. This gave the students the opportunity to have their work ‘published’ for other classes to view and provided a conversation point around the coffee table at lunch time.

The project was a great success as it enabled students to contribute something towards the community, interact with new people and work together as a team. The supervisor at the processing plant was kind enough to respond to each student’s email, giving them a sense of pride in their efforts.

Other classes have participated in a variety of community projects which I am happy to write about in the future.

If you wish to know further details about this or other projects we have done, feel free to ask questions through the Google Groups CGEA Network.


Claire Willis


CAVSS in the digital age

Technology has become an important component of adult education and training.

When I first started delivering the Course in Applied Vocational Study Skills (CAVSS) there was no computer in sight. Over the past decade I have seen an increase in use and need for technology. I teach with a number of lecturers in a variety of industries (Trades, Aged Care, Disability). Much of my work is with Cert III in Engineering (Fabrication). Many apprentices have unrealistic expectations of Engineering. They expect it to be a practical subject and are unprepared for the amount of theory and mathematics involved. And increasingly, we use technology as part of training and in the workplace. Technology has become an important component of their training.

Students access course information and assignments from Blackboard which also has web links, presentations and videos. They use the internet to research and access information and watch videos from web sites such as Miller’s welding video library and YouTube. Some of their assessments are online. They create workplace journals on the computer and upload photos from their mobile phones.

There are learning guides, charts, tables, manuals and drawings to read and interpret. A huge demand for literacy and numeracy skills.


FabricationToolbox 300px A good resource is theTotal Fabrication flexible learning toolbox

Each day, the apprentices use maths skills in their jobs in order to complete projects and other job duties. Maths is used to determine material requirements and costs, interpret drawings and specifications, draw using measurements, and read codes.

There are countless resources on the internet for maths. I will illustrate just one here.

Apprentices learn to draw using only a compass, straightedge and pencil (Construction in geometry). These construction techniques give tools to draw things when direct measurement is not appropriate.

These skills are transferred to marking out on sheet metal using, dividers, steel rule and scribe.

Many of the apprentices cannot understand the written instructions and find a demonstration of the steps easier to follow.

A useful site is: step by step instructions and animations.Example: constructing a 90° angle 90deg angle 300px

The apprentices are required to interpret technical drawings and sketch isometric projections. Many students find instructions in a book are difficult to follow. Students have found the following video useful and inspiring.


Apprentices use a number of Computer Assisted Drawing (CAD) programs. Autosketch is used to create precision drawings. See the simple example to the right. Autosketch eg 250px

Apprentices learn to construct templates using geometric development. They develop the templates on paper or on sheet metal. Lots of maths skills and knowledge required. Reading and following instructions on geometric development is quite daunting for many of the apprentices. The Total Fabrication Toolbox has a section on template making.

Constructing shapes using triangulation is particularly difficult for apprentices to learn. They find a demonstration useful.  I assist with each step, drawing, measuring and calculating. Another strategy is to watch an Animation. Follow link for demonstration on constructing transitional shapes.

 square to round 250px The apprentices use a program, Plate ‘n’ Sheet Development, to generate templates and check their layout and measurements.I needed to learn how to operate this program so that I would be of use to the students.There are a number of mathematical concepts, including geometry and measurement, which students need to know to be able to complete this task.


In addition to providing traditional literacy and numeracy support I am increasingly providing more digital literacy support.

Technology may provide the motivation to learn the theory and mathematics adults need for their training and in the workplace and it may facilitate more meaningful learning for them.

Lina Zampichelli

CAVSS Lecturer

C Y O’Connor Institute




Joining the conversation!


Our newsletter, like the ALaN Network GoogleGroup, is a way of starting conversations. The conversation may continue through other media but often the most useful way to join that conversation is to comment on the initiating post. Please! Please! Join our ALaN conversations – add comments to posts in the newsletter and in the GoogleGroup.

About commenting

Many very well known and experienced writers of online articles/bloggers say that the discussion that happens through the comments is the most important part for them, so being able to join in through commenting is a great way of sharing your own ideas as well as giving feedback to the writer. If someone has already made a similar comment to what you have in mind don’t be put off! You can still add your comment in support of an opinion already expressed – maybe expand on it a little, add further thoughts  or put your own slant. Also don’t be put off if you disagree – you can still comment – expressing disagreement is fine as long as it is done with respect and in an appropriate tone. Personally, I always think of the “feedback sandwich” and (especially if I disagree) try always to begin and end my comments on a positive note.

Commenting online in a public (eg the newsletter which is a blog) or semi-public (eg the GoogleGroup) discussion forum is a little bit different from providing feedback privately or within a very small closed group. Comments are an important part of both discussion forums and blogs. However remember that commenting is public feedback and so it is important to bear in mind your own security/safety as well as the tone and potential impact of your comments.


“Good” commenting

Good commenting is very much about:

  • Adding value to the conversation. You don’t have to say something totally new to do that, reinforcing someone else’s idea/opinion is fine.
  • Being respectful of others’ ideas and opinions even if you disagree. There is nothing wrong in disagreeing with someone through a comment it is how you do this that matters.

This Lifehacker post although several years old makes great points about good commenting that you may find useful for your students and for yourself.

Ideally when I am introducing students to commenting I give them these links:

or similar ones and then ask them to make their own list. I do also have “Guidelines for commenting” that I can share with colleagues for use with their students who may be commenting on blogs or taking part in discussion forums. Some of the points overlap with those made in made in the Lifehacker post mentioned above but I also raise issues of safety for the commenter and others.


Just as with face-to-face interaction respect is important! Making respect explicit is especially significant in asynchronous online interaction because we lack the body language and audio cues that can soften a possibly hurtful comment. This is one reason why using “emoticons” is so much part of online conversation.

Commenting in forums and on posts is the “life blood” of online interaction. So PLEASE join our conversations here in the Newsletter and also (if you are an ALaN GoogleGroup member) in the group. You could start with a comment on this post!

Training rangers in the Kimberley: a WELL project

Over the past four years, Kimberley Training Institute (KTI) has delivered an innovative Conservation and Land Management (CLM) training program to Aboriginal rangers in remote areas of the Kimberley.

Over the past 18 months KTI has successfully used Workplace English Language and Literacy (WELL) funding to assist rangers in developing their literacy and numeracy skills,

resulting in improved completions of Traineeships, progressions to higher level qualifications, and increased employment opportunities.

Further one-on-one tutoring support is provided by KTI lecturers under the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme (ITAS).

This program is a great example of co-delivery between LLN specialist and vocational lecturers. KTI is currently in the running for the Premiers Award.

Good luck!


Do you (or your students) Toon?


my students are all off-campus and so are using their own computers with widely varying software. Many of my students are also not particularly computer literate so expecting them to use sophisticated features of word processing or presentation packages is not an option. The strategy I adopt for a lot of work with my online students is to use mostly (though not always) online tools. This post is about using one of them – ToonDoo – an online cartoon making tool.

How do we use ToonDoo?

I have been using ToonDoo myself for several years to create occasional texts to engage student attention and to break up heavily text based resources.

Then about 3 years ago I first used it with online students when we created a cartoon together via virtual classroom (Elluminate). Each student was given control of my desktop in turn to add their own “bit” to the cartoon. These students then signed up to ToonDoo and made their own cartoons. I have also shared my use of ToonDoo fairly widely through webinars and associated blog posts.

Recently I have extended the use of ToonDoo with my students as part of my National Vocational E-Learning Strategy project Extraordinary Learning For A Digital Age (ELFADA) funded under the Partnerships for Participation initiative. This was part of a mini-project on digital safety. The students learnt about ToonDoo in a virtual class session through an Application Share demo and together we created a Toon. This was shared through the course blog in a post on visual texts.

The next step was for the students to visit a series of links to cartoons each addressing an aspect of digital safety. They chose some of these to review and evaluate.

Finally the students created their own cartoon choosing a topic from those they had learned about through our work on staying safe online, they then published a blog post with links to their cartoon, or with the cartoon embedded. These are two of the student posts,  Jordan’s looking at scams and some consequences and Meg’s with a warning to take care what you share.


I have found using ToonDoo to be a great engagement tool for students and will continue to use it with my own online students. I also find that ToonDoo is used easily by students across all three levels that I currently teach online. In common with many other online tools it is relatively simple to use – this is a huge bonus for online students who don’t always have a lecturer available for immediate help.

Please use the comments to share your own and your student experiences with ToonDoo or other cartoon making tools. Or if it is new to you let us know if you think you might try this with your own students.

Jo Hart

25 years helping with driving licences

Rachael Marriette is now back on the road after completing Karrayili Adult Education Centre’s Driver Education programme. Rachael enrolled in the programme over a year ago to help her pass her theory test, acquire a Learner’s Permit, get professional driving lessons and pass her driving test.

The Driver Education course was delivered under the Certificates in General Education for Adults (Introductory) and gave Rachael the opportunity to slowly work through all the licensing requirements getting the literacy support she needed.

“This course really helped me to work on my licence,” Rachael said. “If I didn’t get help from Karrayili it would’ve taken me longer to do it. It was really good and the teachers made sure I kept going and didn’t give up. I’m happy now that I’ve got my licence back so that I can drive my kids around and use it for my new job.”

Fiztroy Crossing AustraliaKarrayili has been delivering Driver Education for the last 25 years supporting Fitzroy Crossing, town communities and communities of the Fitzroy Valley. For more information contact General Education Coordinator, Emilia Biemmi Beurteaux on 08 9191 5333.


First published in ACAL eNews