Calgary Learns - newsletter
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December 17, 2013

Connecting our Adult Learning & Literacy Community


In This Issue

Mark Your Calendar

IFL Conversation Cafe
Feb. 4, 2014, 3pm, FESA

Deadline LOLA nominations
Feb. 14, 2014

Annual General Meeting
April 9, 2014, 3pm, The Elks

Life Of Learning Award
April 9, 2014, 4pm, The Elks

Season's Greetings

One of the real joys of the holiday season is the opportunity to pause in the craziness and reflect on the accomplishments of the past year. First and foremost, on behalf of the Board and staff of Calgary Learns, I would like to thank all of you for your commitment to helping meet the foundational learning needs of adult Calgarians. People’s lives do change when they have the essential skills to move forward. Thank you for helping to give this gift to thousands of learners in 2013.

This year we greatly appreciated the community coming together to share their input for our Adult Foundational Learning Needs Assessment. Our report will be released in January. The Calgary Learns Board has already used the needs assessment to help set our strategic directions moving forward. The input that you shared is also translating into some exciting projects for 2014. Thanks for helping us shape our organization so we can be responsive to the needs of learners.

As I reflect on the year, I know the accomplishments would not have been possible without the support of a small but very hard working staff. The staff will be taking a much deserved break over the holidays and our office will reopen on January 2nd.

Wishing you and all those close to you a joyous holiday season and a new year full of happiness, good health and success.

Nancy Purdy

The Perfect Holiday Gift Idea


Nominate one of your Adult Learners, Community Learning Champion, Group or Program for our Life Of Learning Award

Do you admire someone who excels as an adult learner or adult educator? Is there a learning program or a group of people out there that deserve extra recognition? Consider this opportunity to honour this hardworking and enthusiastic individual or organization and send in our nomination form for the Life Of Learning Award.

The LOLAs celebrate and honour the contributions and accomplishments Calgary's adult learning field. The LOLAs are presented to outstanding educators and learners to recognize their dedication and spirit. They highlight the value of foundational learning and the differences education makes in our community.

Calgary Learns presents awards in the following categories:
  • Adult Learner: for a learner who stands out in his or her efforts to learn, loves learning, and inspires others by example.
  • Community Learning Champion: for an educator, community leader or strategist who has made a great contribution to community-based adult foundational learning.
  • NEW! Learning Communities: for a group or foundational learning program that stands out in innovation, effectiveness, breadth of reach into the adult learning community.
The individual award recipients will receive a unique, hand-carved stone sculpture and a $500 cash prize. The group award recipients will be recognized with a commemorative plaque and indisputable bragging rights for one year!

Anyone may nominate residents of Calgary who are  foundational learners or education innovators. Simply submit a completed nomination for your nominee(s) and include support letters from others to provide further information about your nominee(s)’ character and accomplishments. Let us know what makes them special!

The Life of Learning Awards will be presented at Calgary Learns’ award ceremony on Wednesday April 9, 2014. The nomination form is available on our website at: For more information email us at

Nomination Deadline is February 14, 2014

Membership Renewal Notice

If you haven't renewed your Calgary Learns membership, please do so before the expiry date (December 31, 2013).

Be part of a networking community with strategic connections, funding opportunities and the collective ability to shape the learning landscape for foundational learners. Together we strengthen Calgary's voice for adult foundational learning.
Member Benefits
Calgary Learns supports its members by:
  • Advocating for foundational learners with government, funders and within our community
  • Providing networking opportunities to share best practices and resources
  • Offering shared learning and professional development opportunities
  • Providing funding opportunities
Members will also receive
  • One vote at our Annual General Meeting
  • Complimentary tickets to our Life of Learning Awards (the LOLAs)
  • The opportunity to participate in our Community Consultations
  • Complimentary tickets to our December networking session
  • Our newsletter “The Connector” which links the latest research, resources and information of our adult learning community
Special member pricing for any additional training sessions

Please visit our website to become a member:

IFL Conversation Cafe - continued

Remember the crazy blizzard at the beginning of December? On December 3, almost thirty people braved the weather to learn about our Integrating Foundational Learning (IFL) project. Adult Learning Specialist Terri Peters gave us an orientation to the Essential Skills framework and how it helps facilitators reach adults at basic learning levels.  

Three IFL participants, all instructors from Momentum, showed how they incorporated Terri’s training over the past year to help learners find success in their programs.  Reworking program processes and adding plain language created refreshing new space for adult learners to interact with content – often learning in ways they had never been able to before.

Four other IFL participating agencies were kept away by the blizzard on December 3. If you were snowed under that day, or just want to see what the IFL buzz is about, join us on February 4 when the following IFL agencies will present with Terri Peters: The Drop-In Centre, MS Society, Canadian Mental Health Association and SCOPE's Integrated Community Kitchen. Everyone is welcome – feel free to bring your instructors!

When:  Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Where: Further Education Society, #100, 5421-11th Street NE, Calgary
Time:    3-5 PM
(deadline is January 28)

Honouring our volunteers

We would like to thank our volunteers again for their generous donation of time!! We appreciate all your help this year, including with our casino.

Normally, our memberships expire on December 31 each year, but we are extending the honourary (individual) memberships so the volunteers can enjoy our member benefits for a full year. These honourary memberships will now expire 12 months after they were issued. We hope to see you all at our Life Of Learning Awards event on April 9, 2014.

Literacy, Essential Skills and Foundational Learning: Are They All The Same?

We often hear these three terms used to describe our work in adult learning. Literacy, essential skills and foundational learning are closely related, but they are not the same thing. Here is a quick primer to the show how they are connected.

The Alberta government report, Living Literacy: A framework for Alberta's next generation economy, gives a good definition of literacy in its broadest scope: Literacy is not just about reading and writing. While reading and writing provide the necessary foundation for learning, literacy is fundamentally about an individual's capacity to put his/her skills to work in shaping the course of his or her own life. Literacy involves reading the word and the world in a variety of contexts. Individuals need literacy skills to obtain and use information effectively, to act as informed players and to manage interactions in a variety of contexts (ex. Making decisions about health care, parenting, managing household finances, engaging in the political process or working).

Essential Skills
While the above definition gives us a description of literacy, it doesn't break it down into specific components or skills. That's where the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada Essential Skills Framework comes into play. These nine skills are like Velcro the skills to which all other learning sticks. They are the skills we need for learning all other skills in the workplace, our communities and in life. They enable us to evolve and adapt to a changing world. Here the nine essential skills:
  • Reading
  • Working with others
  • Writing
  • Document use (e.g. forms, maps, tables, graphs)
  • Numeracy
  • Digital technology
  • Oral communication
  • Continuous learning (knowing how to learn)
  • Thinking skills (problem solving, decision making, critical thinking, task planning and organizing, significant use of memory and finding information)
How many of these skills did you use today? How many do you use every day? Each of these skills can be used in many different contexts at different levels of complexity.

Foundational Learning
The term foundational learning refers to the nine essential skills at their lower or foundational levels of complexity. Just as the word foundational suggests, this is where the building of skills begins. Calgary Learns supports foundational learning for adults that is our core work. Calgary Learns works to meet foundational adult learners wherever they appear in our changing learning landscape parenting programs, citizenship education, computer training. We do this through our funding and through building the capacity of community educators to meet learner needs.

Database Survey Results

Thank you to the 108 people (from 81 different agencies) who participated in the database survey, set up for the purpose of creating - with the help of Inform Alberta - an adult learning/literacy program directory with different chapters to make a more effective tool for referrals. Note that we are not re-inventing the wheel. There are a lot of great resources out there and it will be up to your organization to look for (and hopefully find) the directory/resource that works best for you, so you can help your learners find their way.

The results are in and here is a short overview. We listed several resources and asked if you know or use any of them:

We also asked if you had any more resources you use and here are you responses. We hope that this additional list will  help other organizations: We received lots of ideas for "chapters" or subcategories for our Adult Learning Program Directory. We will go through these to create a first draft and we will get back to those who identified they are interested in helping us putting this directory together.

In Case You Missed It

Make sure you follow us on Facebook or Twitter to stay in the loop:
  • Have you heard? CCNA's Barriers Away Project provides computer systems (incl. internet access) to families, seniors and individuals who can't afford it.
  • Want to know what employers want in today’s job market? Manpower’s Opportunities Knock Job Search Services and Workplace Training programs help prepare unemployed, job ready Albertans!
  • RESOURCE ALERT: Thanks to @LiteracyAlberta for creating the Clear Language Driver's Guide. Obtaining a driver's license has been identified as one of the top three barrier to employment for low-literacy learners. This guide will help them.
  • GREAT ARTICLE: Literacy Doesn't Mean What You Think!!
  • PD Opportunity for Learning and Literacy Organizations. Free Webinar: Using Apps in Literacy Learning. February 18th, 2014 Increasingly, iPads and apps are being used in the adult learning environment. iPads and Apps can inspire creativity and hands-on learning among users of all ages. They allow us to engage with digital content, find information in an instant and access resources with simple and intuitive interfaces. This webinar will explore how Apps are used in adult literacy classrooms and which Apps are the most popular. You can register for this webinar, and check out other great resources from AlphaPlus at
  • People who get bullied – called targets – often feel helpless. Research has shown that persons with developmental disabilities are more vulnerable to bullying. Vecova Research has created an easy to read fact sheet to Guard Against Bullying
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