Project Access for adult English–language learners
First Monday

Project Access for adult English-language learners by Anne Henderson and Elyse Adler


Abstract
Project Access, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, is a collaborative two–year program between the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and the Nashville Public Library. The goal of Project Access is to help increase adult English Language learners’ (ELL) skills in language, visual art, and computer literacy. The eight–visit program offers participants from local community service institutions the opportunity to engage in art making, computer–based learning, museum and library visits. This article and the project Web site, http://www.projectaccess.org, give the visitor an overview of the project, lesson plans, and interactive features.

Contents

Introduction
Goals and curriculum
Program product: Web site development and best practices
Project evaluation
Sustainability

 


 

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Introduction

In his book Making Museums Matter, Stephen E. Weil, one of the museum community’s most insightful commentators, states, "the ultimate goal of museums and fellow not–for–profit organizations is to improve the quality of peopleís lives." Since urban communities throughout the country are experiencing significant changes in the demographic composition of their population — in particular, a dramatic increase in non–English speaking residents — art centers and libraries are challenged to develop new methods of accessing and serving an increasingly diverse audience base.

The ultimate goal of museums and fellow not-for-profit organizations is to improve the quality of people's lives.

Nationally, community–based service organizations that cater to large English language learner (ELL) populations are found in many settings. By developing innovative outreach programs that partner art centers and libraries with community–based service organizations, target audiences are reached through trusted community "gatekeepers," thereby establishing cooperation with English language learners (ELLs) often wary of outsiders. After completing this research and assessing the community need, the Frist Center and Nashville Public Library staff determined that this type of partnership and program was applicable for the Nashville community.

Through a collaborative program, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Frist Center and Nashville Public Library created Project Access that has a beneficial, far–reaching impact since all project design, implementation, and outcome–based assessment materials are available for review on the Project Access Web site, http://www.projectaccess.org. This site serves not only as a way to disseminate project information, but also as another channel capable of enhancing accessibility and outreach efforts targeted not only to secondary ELL populations, primarily consisting of participants’ friends and family, but also to the largest possible audience of site visitors.

In the development of Project Access, the Frist Center and the Library identified an evaluation expert from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute’s Director of the Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certification Program, and the Frist Center’s Educator for Outreach (an ELL instructor), to collaboratively structure the content of Project Access with experienced personnel from the Library and the community–based centers.

The project’s design and its related products, including lesson plans, interactive quizzes, word bank, and art galleries, are available on the Project Access Web site, enabling new audiences to use these resources as a model to support their programs. Evaluation materials, which measure the successful design and implementation of the program, are available so peer institutions — both museums and libraries — are aware of the challenges and successes of the program.

Community introduction and needs assessment
In recent years, Nashville/Davidson County has experienced the largest and most diverse change in population composition in its history [1]. According to a 1998 report published by the Metro Social Services Office, which considered Census numbers, international community estimates, and other published information, Davidson County’s total immigrant population stood at 95,600 — a number that far surpasses information provided by the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2000 statistics [2]. Echoing these numbers, Metro Nashville Public Schools’ ELL Coordinator reported 82 different languages were spoken by students during the 2004–2005 school year, and noted that these figures change weekly.

Latin Americans, who represent nearly one half of the 95,600 foreign–born persons living in Davidson County, are the single largest and best–documented immigrant group. According to Encuentro Latino, a report developed by the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Mental Health Association to summarize the assets and needs of Nashville’s Latino population, the total increase in this population has been dramatic. From some 8,000 Latinos reported in Davidson County in 1990, current estimates by Metro Social Services place the county’s Latino population at approximately 45,000. That is a nearly 500 percent increase in less than 10 years [3].

Identifying the audience
As many museums and libraries wrestle with issues surrounding the design and promotion of exhibitions or programs that are relevant to immigrant constituencies, this model delivers art center and library resources in an efficient and effective manner, which is capable of causing systemic change. The Frist Center and the Library believe that when cultural institutions partner with social service organizations, everyone benefits. Social service organizations want to work with fellow community institutions, enabling them to provide a myriad of services capable of improving the quality of their constituents’ lives, while cultural organizations seek to gain access to nontraditional museum and library audiences through trusted "gatekeepers" who provide service to the immigrant community.

As many museums and libraries wrestle with issues surrounding the design and promotion of exhibitions or programs that are relevant to immigrant constituencies, this model delivers art center and library resources in an efficient and effective manner, which is capable of causing systemic change.

To assist the Frist Center and the Nashville Public Library in becoming more responsive to the needs of immigrant populations, the Project Access Advisory Committee was convened. Composed of key area service providers such as directors of community–based resource centers, representatives from charitable foundations, and government program specialists, the Advisory Committee reviewed the Project Access design. This group includes: United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools — Adult Education, Tennessee Foreign Language Institute, Salvation Army, Vanderbilt University — English Language Center, and Little Planet Learning.

These experts concluded that a multiple–visit approach (consisting of eight visits) and its related components would be welcomed additions to community–based service organizationsí course offerings for adult, intermediate, and advanced level ELLs. Therefore, the primary audience for Project Access was identified as adult ELLs who typically live in public housing or low–income neighborhoods with limited resources and few opportunities to visit cultural institutions. The secondary audience for this project would be participants’ family and friends, as well as thousands of individuals from the general public who could view program products and information on the Project Access Web site, as well as museum and library professionals.

To date, Project Access has served over 120 participants from 42 countries that include:
Argentina, Angola, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Chile, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Ivory Cost, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Kurdistan, Laos, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Romania, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, and Viet Nam.

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Goals and curriculum

The goals of Project Access are to increase participantsí knowledge of institutional resources and programs, demonstrate basic computer literacy, and demonstrate an understanding and general awareness of art.

Project Access schedules all eight visits for a group on dates and at times that best accommodate the availability of the program participants. The courses may meet weekly or bi–weekly, in the evenings or on the weekends, as requested by the community service organizationís audience, and the bulk of the programs occur at their community center and in their neighborhood. ELL populations often seek opportunities to increase their computer skills and access free community resources, making the program more attractive.

The Project Access curriculum includes institutional visits, incorporating art, library resources, and computer classes. This is enriched with a Web site that supports the curriculum. Classes are taught by an ELL instructor from the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute.

The current curriculum for the eight visits is:

Visit 1
Location: Community Organization
Title: Introduction to Project Access and Narrative Art
ESL Instructor & Art Instructor & Class teacher
Teachers & students meet. Introduction to course. Group discussion of narrative art. Students start to learn about self–portraits. Students do an activity in which they reproduce a self–portrait. Wrap–up Handouts for this lesson:
Discover the story
Self–portrait take home

 

Visit 2
Location: Community Organization
Title: Developing Narrative Art
ESL Instructor & Art Instructor & Class teacher
Students will tell a story about two narrative works of art. Students will begin their own narrative artwork and include principles of design and elements of art. Painting demonstration by art teacher. Students start to create their own narrative artwork with instructors’ assistance. Clean up Handouts for this lesson:
Uncover the story
Develop your ideas

 

Visit 3
Location: Community Organization
Title: Completion and Evaluation of Personal Narrative Paintings
ESL Instructor & Art Instructor
Teacher will review painting techniques learned in the last visit. Students will complete their paintings. Students write about narrative pieces and give a title to their artwork. Students clean up and hang artwork for viewing. Students tell about the artwork as a class. Teacher will make comments and ask questions. Handouts for this lesson:
My story
Title handout

 

Visit 4
Location: Frist Center
Title: Frist Center Exploration
Museum Guide & ESL Instructor & Class teacher
Take a tour of the Frist Center. Students learn basic computer skills in computer classroom. Students become a member of the Frist Center. Students will explore the Project Access Web site. Students will begin personal narratives. Handouts for this lesson:
Intro to computer skills
Web site scavenger hunt

 

Visit 5
Location: Branch Library
Title: Explore your Branch Library
Library Staff & ESL Instructor & Class teacher
Students apply for their own library card. Students that already have a card will assist those that do not. Find out what students already know about their branch library. Students learn and practice new words about the library. Students will role–play a Q & A activity. Students map the branch library. Students will be encouraged to check out a book. Handouts for this lesson:
Inside the library
Map your library

 

Visit 6
Location: Main Library
Title: Tour of Main Library/Revise Personal Narratives
Library Staff & ESL Instructor & Class teacher
Take a tour and explore the Main Library. Review & practice computer skills in computer classroom. Type/revise personal narrative from Visit 3. Students send an e–mail to teacher or a friend.    

 

Visit 7
Location: Main Library
Location: Main Library
ESL Instructor & Class teacher
Warm–up. Students identify author, title, subject, and call number in a stack of pre–selected library books. Explore by Scene. Students learn about using the online catalog. Students will go on an "online library catalog computer scavenger hunt." Students will take the online quizzes to evaluate their knowledge of the library. Students will use the online catalog to find resources of interest to them.  

 

Visit 8
Location: Frist Center
Title: Exploring ArtQuest
Museum Staff (ArtQuest Facilitator) & ESL Instructor & Class teacher
Students will take a short tour of ArtQuest and watch a demonstration of the digital portfolio station. Students will go on the Project Access Web site to review the final comments made by their instructors about the students’ personal narratives. Students will take the online survey about the Project Access Course on the Project Access Web site. Students will receive their certificates of completion.    

The Project Access Web site (http://www.projectaccess.org) is an effective tool for both the ELL teachers and participants by providing an opportunity for teacher feedback to the participants about their written work. The final written products created during the program are published in the Project Access Web Gallery and can be viewed by all site visitors. The site provides families and friends of Project Access participants an opportunity to view their work, while gaining information about the Frist Center and the Public Library and increasing access to a larger audience base. Project Access encourages Internet use and development of Internet skills by members of immigrant communities and knowledge of free Internet access at the libraries.

Project–based learning is highly successful with ELL populations because it "contextualizes learning by presenting learners with problems to solve or products to develop," according to Donna Moss and Carol Van Duzer [4]. All materials, including lesson plans, participant survey forms, and program outcomes are provided so interested institutions can use the Project Access as a blueprint for developing outreach programs that serve ELL constituencies. Hyperlinks exist to the Project Access Web site from the Frist Center and Nashville Public Library sites.

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Program product: Web site development and best practices

The Project Access Web site is designed for ELLs, peer cultural institutions, and the general public to increase access to the specialized resources developed for this program, as well as gaining awareness of the diversity within the community. The site introduces the Frist Center and the Nashville Public Library, while teaching concepts related to the outreach visits, and providing opportunities for visitors to practice visual art and writing skills through the creation of personal narratives.

Project Access worked with Little Planet Learning, a recognized developers of technology–based learning products designed to engage users of all ages through interactive narrative techniques. In addition to their accessible design, Little Planet’s products have a significant educational impact, incorporating cognitive studies and educational technology research developed through Vanderbilt University’s Learning Sciences Institute and the Learning Technology Center. Little Planet received a Codie Award for the Little Planet Literacy Series, which teaches children effective visualizing, reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Little Planet has also developed adult literacy programs, such as Smart Radio, which was funded through the U. S. Department of Education and Nashville READ. Currently, Little Planet is working on a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Education and China’s Ministry of Education to develop Internet–based language instruction to students in China and the United States.

The Project Access Web site captures images of participants’ artwork through the Frist Center’s Digital Portfolio ArtStation, which is located in the Frist Center’s Interactive Gallery, ArtQuest. The Digital Portfolio ArtStation allows Frist Center visitors to store up to six works of art in their Digital Portfolio, encouraging visitors to add or replace images over the course of many visits. Project Access participants digitize their personal narrative artworks at the Digital Portfolio ArtStation during site visits to the Frist Center. These images are available on the Project Access Web site through the Galleries.

Contents of the Web site
Red Grooms, an internationally recognized artist originally from Nashville, is the host of the site and his artwork is the inspiration for the graphics. This gives the site a uniquely Nashville theme and high graphic quality. Through the use of animation, sound, accessible word banks, art making, and writing activities, the interactive site has broad appeal to ELLs, general audiences, and peer cultural constituencies.

The Project Access site includes:

  • The Project Access Home page: Red Grooms’ as the host, site navigation tools, a site map, links to Frist Center, Nashville Public Library, City of Nashville, art portfolio, and a word bank.
  • Project Access Gallery page includes images and personal narratives, which highlight the ELLs’ personal experiences. Prior to the public launch of this page, each ELL participant creates a password, enabling them to access their image and personal narrative portfolio from any Internet workstation. In doing this, ELLs can develop text, and ELL instructors can provide guidance on an individual. The design of the completed Project Access Gallery looks like an actual museum gallery with the ELLs’ images and accompanying text hanging in a virtual gallery environment.
  • The Learning about Project Access page provides information on Project Access’ goals, as well as a slide show, lessons plans, contact information, evaluation tools, and outcomes.
  • Sign–In for ArtQuest and Student allows participants to enter their narrative and receive feedback from the ELL teacher. Web site visitors who are able to actually visit the Frist Center in Nashville may digitize their artwork in ArtQuest and place it in their Digital Portfolio, which is linked to the personal journal page, creating an entry that looks similar to those viewed in the Project Access Gallery. Through a Sign–In ArtQuest and Student navigation button, visitors may also develop a user name and password, enabling them to view their journal entry and artwork from any Internet workstation. Both ELL participants and ArtQuest users are able to e–mail their digital portfolio to friends and family.

The Project Access Web site Gallery is an important part of the site because it highlights the accomplishments of the ELLs as Web users, language learners, artists, and community members, while celebrating diversity in Nashville’s community. Moreover, it provides access to secondary audiences, as well as the general public, while removing traditional barriers that may limit access to Frist Center and library resources (such as lack of transportation).

At the end of 2004, site usage statistics were:

Number of Visits in 2004
  • 200 per month
  • 2,391 total
Number of Pages Accessed in 2004
  • 11,486 per month
  • 137,835 total

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Project evaluation

Working with a doctoral student and a supervising faculty member from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, goals and a series of evaluation tools were developed to measure programmatic outcomes.

Specific goals for Project Access are that participants will at the end of eight visits:
  • Use and demonstrate knowledge of the programs and resources at the Frist Center and Public Library
  • Gain basic computer literacy skills
  • Gain an understanding of narrative art
  • Have a greater appreciation of the relevance of art museum and the library to life of the participant.

To date, the following results have been achieved for the six outcomes with 57 percent of participants completed eight–class program:

Evaluation

Outcome #1 — Participants will use or continue to use institutional programs & resources
  • 67 percent use Project Access Web site
  • 73 percent visited the Frist Center
  • 75 percent visited the Public Library
Outcome #2 — Participants demonstrate a knowledge of institutional resources & programs
  • 59 percent demonstrated good knowledge of the Frist Center
  • 62 percent demonstrated good knowledge of the Nashville Public Library
Outcome #3 — Participants demonstrate basic computer literacy skills
  • 53 percent attended at least three classes where they learned basic computer literacy skills
  • 25 percent more attended at least one class where they learned basic computer literacy skills
Outcomes #4 — Participants demonstrate an understanding of the meaning or identify the elements of narrative art.
  • 45 percent demonstrated a proficient understanding of the elements of narrative art
Outcome #5 — Participants demonstrate a greater appreciation of the relevance of art & art museums
  • 98 percent articulated a greater appreciation for the relevance of art & art museums in their lives
Outcome #6 — Participants demonstrate a greater appreciation of the relevance of the library to participant’s life
  • 98 percent articulated a greater appreciation for the relevance of the library in their lives

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Sustainability

Project benefits will continue long beyond the period of the grant. The Frist Center and Public Library will maintain relationships with community–based service organizations and continue to serve new ELL audiences through their ongoing outreach program. The Frist Center’s Information Technology Manager will maintain the Project Access Web site, which contains interactive journal modules and program information. With the developed lesson plans and Web site, Project Access will be sustained through the regular operating budgets of the Frist Center and the Public Library or with assistance from outside granting agencies. In addition, the broad state and national dissemination of the project will also sustain project benefits beyond the period of the grant. End of article

 

About the authors

Anne Henderson currently serves as the Director of Education at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and is the Museum Division Director Elect for the National Art Education Association. A museum educator for the past twenty years, Ms. Henderson has managed multi–million dollar budgets, overseen a docent staff of more than 100 educators, and successfully launched the Frist Center’s Education Department in April, 2001.

In her twenty years with the Nashville Public Library, Elyse Adler has worked in a variety of roles. Ms. Adler has overseen the allocation of human and institutional resources in all of the Library’s 20 branches and continues to develop and implement new programs in her current role.

 

Acknowledgements

Project Access has been an amazing collaboration between many various organizations in Nashville that are all noted in the article. Special thanks to go to the individuals that made this program happen, especially Susie Elder, Educator for Outreach at the Frist Center. She managed two years of multiple details and the development of the curriculum. Other key individuals in the development and implementation of the program are: Rebecca Ganick, Contract Teacher; Ann Gillespie, ELL Educator; Angela Harris, Director of English As A Second Language, Tennessee Foreign Language Institute; Michele Herbert, Contract Teacher; M. Ellen Hock, ELL Educator; John Pratt, Manager of Information Technology, Frist Center; Sammye Woods, Program Manager, Little Planet Learning; and Tim Zeidner, project evaluator from Vanderbilt University.

 

Notes

1. Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee, 2000. Encuentro Latino. Nashville: Commissioned and published by the Saint Thomas Health Services and the Frist Foundation, p. 1.

2. United States Census Bureau. 2002. "Census Data for the State of Tennessee," http://www.census.gov/census2000/states/tn.html, accessed 30 May 2005.

3. Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee, 2000. Encuentro Latino. Nashville: Commissioned and published by the Saint Thomas Health Services and the Frist Foundation, p. 1.

4. Donna Moss and Carol Van Duzer, 1998. "Project–based learning for adult English language learners," ERIC Digest, at http://www.cal.org/caela/digests/ProjBase.htm, accessed 30 May 2005.

 

References

Tom Bello, 1997. "Improving ESL learners’ writing skills," ERIC Digest, at http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digest/ed409746.html.

Shirley Brod, 1995. "Outreach and retention in adult ESL literacy programs," ERIC Digest, at http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digest/ed383241.html.

Anthony P. Carnevale and Leila J. Gainer, 1990. The learning enterprise. Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.

Diane B. Frankel, 1996. True needs, true partners: Museums and schools transforming education. Washington D.C.: Institute of Museum and Library Services, p. 49, at , accessed 30 May 2005.

S. Huss, M. Lane, and K. Willetts, 1990. "Using computers with adult ESL learners," ERIC Digest, at http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digest/ed343462.html.

Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee, 2000. Encuentro Latino. Nashville: Commissioned and published by the Saint Thomas Health Services and the Frist Foundation, p. 1.

Metro Nashville Public Schools. "Metro Nashville Public Schools Web site," at http://www.mnps.org/instruction/MNPS-Instruction.html, accessed 30 May 2005.

Donna Moss and Carol Van Duzer, 1998. "Project–based learning for adult English language learners," ERIC Digest, at http://www.cal.org/caela/digests/ProjBase.htm, accessed 30 May 2005.

Betty Ansin Smallwood, 1992. "Children’s literature for adult ESL literacy," ERIC Digest, at http//www.ed.gov.databases/ERIC_Digest/ed353864.html.

United States Census Bureau. 2002. "Census Data for the State of Tennessee," http://www.census.gov/census2000/states/tn.html, accessed 30 May 2005.

Stephen E. Weil, 2002. Making museums matter. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Heide Wrigley, 1998. "Adult ESL literacy: Findings from a national study," Eric Clearinghouse for ESL Literacy Education, at http://www.ed.gov/databases/Eric_Digest/ed358748.html.

Heide Wrigley, 1993. "Innovative programs and promising practices in adult ESL literacy," ERIC Digest (ERIC Access number ED358748), at http://www.ed.gov/databases/Eric_Digest/ed358748.html.


Editorial history

Paper received 4 April 2005; revised 25 April 2005; accepted 6 May 2005.HTML markup: Susan Bochenski and Edward J. Valauskas; Editor: Edward J. Valauskas.


Copyright ©2005, First Monday

Copyright ©2005, Anne Henderson and Elyse Adler

Project Access for adult English–language learners by Anne Henderson and Elyse Adler
First Monday, Volume 10, Number 6 - 6 June 2005
http://www.firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/1249/1169





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