Welcome to the Illinois Transitions Blog

This blog provides a platform for resources to be shared and discussions to be engaged in by anyone providing transitioning services. The content of the blog is especially applicable to those involved in the Illinois Transitions Academy.

The Transitions Academy is designed to assist colleges and partnerships working on developing Bridge and ICAPS (Integrated Career and Academic Preparation System) programs by increasing awareness of the expanding partnership between Adult Education and Career and Technical Education as it relates to the ICAPS model, Accelerating Opportunity, Illinois Bridge programs, and Illinois Programs of Study. The Transitions Academy is designed to assist colleges and partnerships working on developing Bridge and ICAPS (Integrated Career and Academic Preparation System) programs.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Transitioning: Beginning with the Future in Mind

Thanks to all who participated in the two online trainings on transitioning! We’d love to hear what you’ve tried with your students. Please click on the “comments” link below to post.


  1. This week I tried something new with my students. I picked a lesson from the Skills to Pay the Bills U.S. Department of Labor. In particular, I chose Activity #1 (What’s Your Point). The activity helps students understand the importance of being specific when offering and receiving communication. The idea is that sometimes our meanings get lost or misunderstood because we have not been specific enough in our communication or have not asked enough clarifying questions. It's all about proper communication. The activity has students perform two role playing skits that are designed to demonstrate the value of being specific in communication. Each role-playing event required two students, and I would recommend using a few props to make it seem more realistic. I had no issues getting students to volunteer, and we actually did each role play twice as I had so many volunteers. The first role play involves a job mowing lawns, and the other takes place in a dentist office. I did encourage students to go off script if they wanted to, but most did not do this. After each skit, I asked a series of questions and had a good discussion moment with the class. I also followed up with changing the situations slightly to include possible ways the conversation between the two actors could have gone differently. This also allowed for more discussion between students in the class. After we were finished, I did have the students pick one of the two role playing events and relate it to their own experiences. There was the possibility for students to do an Extension Activity with this lesson and create their own situation from their journals, but I chose not to do this. But, given more time in the future, I will try to incorporate this part as well. Overall, I believe the lesson worked well with my level of students, and I would recommend that other teachers try to use the activity.

    Christine O’Brien
    GED/English Teacher
    Joliet Jr. College

  2. I used #2 – Flipping the Switch (Activity #2) pages 23 – 25 from Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/youth/softskills/softskills.pdf

    We role-played the activity and actually had them dialogue the different scenarios. They noted how their actions, body language, and language changed between friends, family, and employer -- most markedly, the difference between friends/family and employer, as their behavior with friends and family tended to be pretty similar. They each had to write scenario #3 out and turn it into me as if they were writing a text to a friend or family member about running late for something, and then one to an employer about running late for work. For scenario #5, the one we created is that they had someone who had an annoying habit that they had to address - friend/family and at work. The activity worked well and I would definitely do it again.

    Becky Wittmer
    ABE Teacher
    Illinois Department of Corrections

  3. I teach ESL at Joliet Junior College in the Department of Adult Education and Literacy. I attended the on-line transitioning seminar on Feb. 8. These are my results:

    In January, my class studied Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 'Dream' speech and the students wrote their own Dream paragraphs. Now the class is reading the novel, Something Noble, by William Kowalski. The story line involves a single mother, Linda, who is struggling with under employment while she cares for her sick child. I linked the story line to the idea of improving Linda's employment opportunities. In her situation, what would be her dream job? What education or preparation would she need to be qualified for that job? What would she earn? Where would she work? What is the job outlook? I gave the students a worksheet for the www.bls.gov web site. They imagined a dream job for themselves, recalling the paragraph they had written for the MLK unit. We went to the computer lab where I demonstrated how to find the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The students spent an hour reading about their dream job and summarizing the information on the worksheet. It was good reading and summarizing practice. The students who finished quickly looked at careers that interest their children. It was a very successful hour. Thank you for the seminar and inspiration for how to use the resources you gave us to integrate the student's dreams of future possibilities into my regular lesson.

  4. Shannon Hatcher and Jane OgunmokunFebruary 19, 2016 at 3:00 PM

    Pick a lesson or idea of anything that will increase career awareness with your students. Try it out and then give a brief reflection of what you did, how it worked, or if it didn't - how could it be improved.

    On February 19, 2016, Both I (Shannon Hatcher) and Mrs. Jane Ogunmokun presented lessons in two parts that covered The World of Work booklet for Job Finders for incarcerated offenders in Advanced ABE/ABE and GED classes. This lesson was preparation for the world of work after paroling from the Illinois Department of Corrections.
    Students read handouts pertaining to three basic types of skills. They identified their strengths and weaknesses in each category. Students reviewed the action/functional skills checklist and matched these skills to their own skill set as a comparative with their achievements.
    Students completed a self-evaluation identifying strengths and weakness as they relate to employment.
    Student developed a plan of action that will assist them in identifying a career goal and job prospects. Students also reviewed a list of organizations and businesses that hire ex-offenders.
    What worked?:
    Students were really interested in this topic as they all anticipate paroling in the near future and finding employment.
    What did not work?:
    We did not have the opportunity to draft and type a resume and cover letter due to time constraints for the class period and lack of technology.

  5. My Name is Greg Pawlowski. I teach at Joliet Junior College in the Department of Adult Education and Literacy. I have a multilevel class (001-003) of ESL students. On February 22th we finished a lesson on "Occupations" in the "Top Notch" series. On February 24th we used two handouts from "Integrating Career awareness into the ABE & ESOL Classroom." "How people get jobs" and "Who did which jobs" are teacher handouts which framed the lesson and gave it structure. A short vocabulary lesson for my 001 and 002 students helped to include everyone in the lesson. Phrases and words such as "word of mouth" and "referral" needed to be explained. In addition, I used a picture dictionary with more occupations and names. Students who had jobs were eager to give advice to those who were looking for employment. The "Wh" questions were perfectly suited and adaptable to all three levels. The lesson worked very well. There were no negatives

  6. I pursued “Skills to Pay the Bills” at the US Department of Labor. What a fabulous “goldmine” for teacher lesson ideas! Our orientation dates were March 1 and 2. My co-teacher and I were assigned to returning students. We felt the students needed encouragement, especially since they wanted to have their GED Test passed…last Christmas. One activity under “Never Underestimate the Power of a PMA” we had to use! Students in groups of 3-5 each had to roll a die and then share. For example, if they rolled a 2, they had to answer “Other people compliment me on my ability to….” Each number had a different statement to answer. This allowed them to practice communication skills and begin thinking about/revisit their strengths. I recommend strategically placing students in groups, rather that numbering off. For strong groups, I would place one upbeat/outspoken student per group to keep a continuing dialogue and separate close friends to keep the group focused.

    We also used a role play act from “What’s Your Point?”. Two students presented a dialogue between Mr. Z and Jade who were in a challenging workplace situation. This modeled the correct way to communicate when a problem arises. Then, a student and I modeled the “wrong way” to handle the situation. My students enjoyed seeing me “being a bit sassy,” which is against my nature. I reminded them, as I always do, that there will always be challenging situations, but how they handle them changes everything!

    Stephanie Reynolds
    Marion site

  7. Kaskaskia College's Adult Education program is still suspended due to no budget, but I found an activity I'd like to try if we start up again. It was from a complete careers curriculum listed on the sources. Three particular lessons sparked my interest because they can be overlapped as a follow up. The lessons were What I Have Done, What I Can Do, and What I Would Like to Do. After students fill out the forms and do a brief writing with each, we can summarize and make Venn diagrams to see where their past experiences and future job goals align or areas of study they must pursue to meet job goals.

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  9. Jan Hunt, RN May 4,2016 4th entry Hope I am not rejected this time.

    I am an instructor in our Introduction to Health Care program at the Decatur Area Technical Academy, Adult Education through Decatur Public Schools, District #61. I have a speaker talk with my students in the areas of Dietary, Laundry, Housekeeping, and Activities. Our program prepares students for entry level positions in those four areas of healthcare. Through our program soft skills are emphasized as they apply in the classroom and the workplace. On the other hand, we talk about how that is more professional than the interaction between their friends and family. After the speakers talk to them about their areas students role play in each area and discuss how it varies when applied to each department. Then when students go to clinical in each area it makes them more aware of their professional behavior and communication. Then that is discussed in our get together before we disband for the day, also any questions that have arisen that day of clinical in each of their departments. I also am available to them if there are questions that arise in each of their departments. This experience promotes a positive learning environment for them. Some of these students are then able to transition to our Nursing Assistant program and I get feedback saying how it has helped their communication and behaviors in that class. This shows me that the results of this have a positive impact on both communication and behaviors. Mrs. Wilkerson has the book that we have access to that came from your office. It has been very useful. Thank you.