tool for matching student interests to careers

My adult fundamental literacy students are often not sure what kind of work they’d be interested in, but they want to find out so they know what courses to take later on. I found a tool that can help them match their interests with potential careers, and can give them an indication of what kind of training or education they would need to pursue that career: the O*NET Interest Profiler at It’s an American government site, but that shouldn’t matter too much.

I tried it out myself and it said I would prefer a job that’s investigative, artistic, and social. Unsurprisingly, my current job as a college instructor fits that profile. (I suppose that’s a good sign!)

new BC government makes ABE tuition free again

Fantastic news for ABE students in British Columbia! ABE will be tuition free again starting September 1st:

The new NDP government in B.C. is eliminating tuition fees on adult basic education or English language learning programs, reversing a 2015 decision by the B.C. Liberals, Premier John Horgan announced Tuesday.

Horgan said the announcement means the NDP has delivered on a promise made during the election campaign.

“We’ve seen literally thousands of people not participate or not move forward with English language learning and adult basic education as a result of the barriers that costs impose on people,” Horgan said at a media event.

“We wanted to get this out as quickly as possible so that the September school year can see an increase in enrolment.”

In 2015, institutions were allowed to set fees for adult basic education and English language learning programs up to $1,600 per semester per student — and enrolment dropped substantially, according to the NDP.

University of British Columbia professor of education Shauna Butterwick applauded the change in policy and believes it will improve access to education for prospective low-income students.

Some of those students did not graduate from high school; others may have been forced out of old industries by the changing economy, and some of them could be those who did graduate from high school over five years ago but have to retake courses as the curriculum changes.

“The vast majority of them continue to go onto other post-secondary education programs,” she told On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko.

“It’s just helping students get to programs that are career-focused and can get them jobs with a living wage.”

(A note for those people who have been complaining about the potential cost to taxpayers: According to the numbers that colleges were given last year by Ministry officials, the implementation of tuition in 2015 cost the province twice as much to administer as the original tuition free model. This move will actually be saving the province money. Also, as Butterwick notes later in the linked article, people who get an education and go on to better paying jobs are less likely to need the social safety net and likely to contribute more in taxes. But the bottom line is…education is a RIGHT, not a privilege.)

Andy Minter, my favourite Librivox reader

Librivox is an organization devoted to free, volunteer recorded audiobooks of public domain works (where the copyright, if there ever was one, has expired). It is a great source for listening to stories by older authors like Dickens and Jane Austen, and for some newer (20th century) authors as well, like H.G. Wells and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Today I learned that sadly, my favourite Librivox reader, Andy Minter, passed away in April of this year. His reading of The Prisoner of Zenda (by Anthony Hope) was one of the first things I listened to on Librivox, and it is an absolute delight. I feel like Mr. Minter could have been a professional audiobook narrator if he had wanted to; his voice was calm, friendly, and full of warmth and personality that infused the characters he brought to life in his readings.

I was surprised at how modern the writing was in The Prisoner of Zenda, even though it was written in 1894; it is a humorous adventure tale of Rudolf Rassendyll, an ordinary young Englishman who travels to a (fictional) European country named Ruritania. While there, he is persuaded by palace officials to act as a political decoy for the king, who has been abducted by his brother in an attempt to take over the throne. Rassendyll reluctantly accepts the job, and adventures and romance ensue.

So if you are looking for a well-read audiobook, give The Prisoner of Zenda a try. You will have the pleasure of being introduced to a good story and Andy Minter’s wonderful voice.

Using a game to teach students how to evaluate sources



“Truth” by PDPics on Pixabay

I’ve just learned about a web-based game called Factitious that tests your ability to distinguish between real and fake news stories. You are shown a news article and can click to reveal the source. Then you swipe left if you think it’s fake, and swipe right if you think it’s real. The game tells you if you were correct, and then shows you the clues contained in the article that can help you decide on its veracity, and explains things about each source: e.g. The Onion is a satire website and doesn’t publish real news, and The Guardian is a well-known, reliable British news source.

I’m going to get my students to play this game before we talk about how to evaluate sources for research. I think they’ll enjoy it, and they’ll definitely learn a lot and get to practice their BS-detecting skills.

dog walk podcasts #10

It’s been great dog walking weather! And now that I’m on my summer break I am able to take him for plenty of walks during the week as well as on weekends.

dog wearing party hat

I look good in a fascinator, don’t you think?

Here are some of the great podcast episodes I’ve listened to lately:

Reply All:

#99: Black Hole New Jersey–a teenage girl sells her Apple Watch on an eBay-type site, but discovers the “buyer” has actually hacked someone else’s account and she is in danger of losing her Apple Watch AND not getting paid. Alex tracks down the package to a suspicious address that receives hundreds of packages per month from the local post office.

#86: Man of the People–in 1917, a young doctor named John Brinkley decided to expand his business by hawking virility treatments to the local farmers. The procedure was called “the goat gland treatment” and involved implanting goat testicles into the patient’s scrotum. Around the same time, commercial radio began to be a thing. This episode is about what happens when a charlatan gets hold of a seductive new medium…and even though it’s about events from 100 years ago, some of it might be eerily familiar to us living in 2017.


#3: Tara–“Jonathan watched a short experimental video in college in which a little girl sat in silence while her parent sobbed. Now, Jonathan wants to know if that girl is okay.”

This American Life:

#618: Mr. Lie Detector–Meet Douglas Williams, the former polygraph operator who realized that lie detector tests don’t actually work and became an anti-polygraph activist.

Slate Audio Book Club:

Discussion of Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale