What's New in the GED 2002?
There aren't many things that are certain, but one thing we do know is the GED 2002 is coming right down the pike at all of us - educators and students. Everything about the new format says it is going to require a different type of learner, one who is motivated, inspired and challenged, and a different kind of teacher, one who is able to look at this new format without referring to the old guidelines. It is a time of excitement as we push ourselves out of the box, so our students can truly spread their wings as aspiring graduates.
The GED 2002 will measure students' skills in a variety of ways so they will be successful in diverse settings. Probably the biggest change is that the students will have to become active in their own learning. It is an awakening of sorts in that the student will realize he is part of a thriving world, no longer isolated by lack of knowledge or restricted to what is in the book. As for teachers, we will have to become creative, dynamic, interactive, and almost entertaining. We will have to look at everything around us as a teachable moment.
- There will be fewer questions, due to increased graphs and visuals (the actual length of the test remains the same - 7 hours, 45 minutes).
- The names of two tests have changed to Language Arts/Writing and Language Arts/Reading; the other three content areas remain the same. Communication skills are highlighted across the content areas.
- The Reading section will include information that is historical, political, and sociocultural, as well as a variety of literary texts.
- The written section will include "how to" documents, workplace documents and executive summaries.
- Major events in U.S. and World History will be covered in the Social Studies section.
- Students will be questioned on The Constitution, The Declaration of Independence, and landmark Supreme Court cases.
- Science will become more relevant.
- Mathematics will be split into two sections, one of which will include the Casio FX-260 calculator.
So, how do we communicate all this to our students without scaring them off the first day of class?
One of the things that can assist you in making your classes vibrant and successful is a "Reality Binder." This will become a standard "tool" for teachers. The binder consists of a large 3-ring notebook with plastic sheet-covers, filled up with almost everything that comes your way in terms of documents, food labels, employee handbooks, weather maps, graphs, instructional manuals, charts, brochures, warranties, owner registration forms, maps, application forms, voter registration cards, sections of the newspapers, various government forms such as INS and IRS documents, etc. These can be used in a multidisciplinary manner by using crossover instruction. For example, in Writing/Language Arts, you could use the "Help Wanted" classified section of the newspaper. Have students look for a position and fill out an application form (from your binder). Then teach a lesson on writing a cover letter for the position they chose. This will cover punctuation, format, and appropriate language usage. Extend the activity by having students alternate playing the roles of employer and applicant in a mock interview. You could cover such areas as appropriate dress and behaviour and how to respond to questions in an interview.
Activities included in Reading/Language Arts are Sentence Strips. From a "how-to" or other type of article, split the paragraphs or instructions into individual strips of paper and place them in an envelope. (You will have the original article in your binder). In small groups, students organize the sentence strips into the correct order. This focuses on timed reading, reading comprehension, and organizational skills.
One very successful activity I have used to incorporate Social Studies, Science, and Math is the "Travel Agent" project. I had them choose a city they would be interested in visiting and they created a travel folder for that location. I gave them a time limit of six weeks. I wanted them to be as creative as possible, but they had to meet certain requirements such as finding a map of the country with grid coordinates. They had to include a brief historical account of the country, as well as the name of the person who "discovered" it. I required them to show climatic information of the country as well as demographics by means of maps. I asked for political information; state of the economy, including type of economic system; GNP; import/export, as well as the type of currency used and the exchange rate of the day. Then I had them plan a trip to that city. They could use whatever means they could think of, but I made sure to tell them not to book anything on the Internet!
What resulted was a plethora of information on just about every country in the world! Students put together binders and folders that were so impressive that I was ready for vacation! They had brochures from travel agents; some included actual money and coins; others included actual photographs of the last time they had visited their city of choice. My students agreed that while it was a lot of work and some of the information was difficult to get, they all had fun, and they learned so much about everything - how to use the Internet, the library, encyclopedias, and how to conduct research in general. It also incorporated budgeting and finances, since they were using math skills without the "math" label. I felt very gratified since this activity covered so many areas of learning and proved to be rewarding for the students.
GED 2002 is drawing near. As educators, we must lead our students into their future, by teaching them to embrace that which is new, and have them look at things in new ways. But we must be able to do the same. This is not difficult, it is different. Let's take time to discover that different is good, and that we are a part of the new and exciting change that will create ca-pable, informed, and dynamic citizens.
About the Author
Janice Strohmeier has been a part-time Adult Educator at Harris County Department of Education for four years. She currently teaches GED and Language Arts at the Irvington Learning Center. Janice holds a B.A. in Political Science, International Relations, from the University of Calgary. For the last two years, she has been involved in a national adult literacy study (What Works) through the Pelavin Research Center based in Washington, D.C. She is a current participant in the GED 2002 Florida Curriculum pilot program, and is also a member of the professional development and training team through North Harris Montgomery Community College. Janice is originally from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. During 1978 - 1993, Janice traveled extensively throughout Mexico, learning the language and customs, and teaching English as a Second Language. She currently lives in Houston with her husband, Paul, of seven years and their two cats, Molly and Joshua.