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BC Reads: Adult Literacy Fundamental English - Course Pack 5

textbook cover image
Brain lobes (https://www.flickr.com/photos/125992663@N02/14599057004) by Allan Ajifo (https://www.flickr.com/photos/125992663@N02/) is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).

Description: This course pack is designed to meet the learning outcomes for Adult Literacy Fundamental English Level 5 (roughly equivalent to grades 6 to 7.5 in the K-12 system). Every chapter includes a level-appropriate, high-interest reading of between 500 and 800 words. The readings are freely available in a separate reader with convenient links to the readings in each chapter of this course pack. Font size and line spacing can be adjusted in the online view, and have been enhanced for the print and PDF versions for easier reading. This course pack has been reviewed by subject experts from colleges and universities.

Author: Shantel Ivits, Vancouver Community College

Adoption (faculty): Contact us if you are using this textbook in your course

Adaptations: Support for adapting an open textbook

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1. Reviewed by: Andrew Candela
  • Institution: Vancouver Community College
  • Title/Position: Instructor of Adult Basic Education
  • Overall Rating: 4.6 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

Each chapter includes a breadth of activities that align and engage in the Adult Literacy Fundamental articulated goals,
including pre-reading questions that can be used for individual reflection, journaling, or class discussion, vocabulary-building exercises, comprehension questions, spelling lists and exercises, grammar lessons and exercises, and writing tasks.

There isn't a glossary at the beginning of the entire text, but each chapter has a list of the skills/goals that can easily be accessed to determine what chapter to work on or what skills to review.

A great thing about this book is the way in which it reviews previously learned skills later on in the book. This could be
further developed with accompanying materials by an instructor, if a student is really struggling with a writing or reading challenge.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased


The content in this book really stands out among the many literacy based materials available to an instructor. It's objective, according to the author, is to " celebrate human brains in all their diversity (and) explore brain-based tools for empowering
ourselves to reach our goals."

It accomplishes this, providing stories, reading, writing and grammar activities that are based in real life, following narratives found in psychology, science, religion and other practices of self. It is never didactic, but exploratory, and provides both student and instructor with plenty of interesting tidbits brain and psychological science, and how you can tap into healthy and transformative practices.

The content of the course-pack, the exercises, is accurate, error free and unbiased. The activities are many, and the graphic organizers assist in the planning and development of writing for the student.

Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement


There are many opportunities for supplemental activities, follow ups, and re-writes in this text. It would be difficult to change the relationship between the course-pack and the readings, as many of the readings' structural components are examined and reflected upon within the course-pack. However, using the form and style of the course-pack in relation to another text would
be realizable.

Unless the ALF Level 5 outcomes change suddenly, the content will remain applicable for a long while to come.
Additionally, the online component moves towards computer literacy skills becoming a more integral part of the ALFE L5 articulated goals.

Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used


New vocabulary words are well introduced and opportunities are given to review and use them in new contexts. The text strikes a nice balance between challenging vocabulary and familiar vocabulary. Nothing seems outside the ability of a L 5 student.

Clarity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

The themes, diversity of the brain and tools for self empowerment, facilitate a wide framework for activities on science, religion, psychology and other disciplines. Particularly relevant for Adult Upgrading students may be the section on learning disabilities.

The course-packs themselves follow a very structured learning process, and direct the teacher and/or learner each step of the way. The skills used in the early parts of the text are scaffolded into later parts, allowing for many opportunities to self reference, and a sense of consistency for the student.

The entire L1-5 (I haven't delved into L6) has this consistency, so it's a great series for a student who may be starting from L1- and moving along through the levels.

Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

Each course-pack has a reading assigned to it, and both can operate independently of the text. Everything can be broken up, including the grammar, reading, and writing activities, into smaller separate ones. If a teacher is teaching a group class, it would be ideal to break the chapters into sections, and teach based on class needs per section. For a self paced class, a teacher can also assign one chapter at a time, and use supplemental follow up activities based on student need.

Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

The topics are presented as follows:

Notes to the Instructor
The Most Amazing Structure on Earth
The Many Faces of Genius
The Many Pathways to Knowledge
Boost Your Brainpower
Memory Magic
Put to the Test
The Sixth Sense: Intuition
The Big Five: Personality
Secrets of a Happy Brain.

Because of the modular nature of the course-pack and readings, the chapters can be mixed around depending on instructor discretion. The organization within the text is strong, as it moves from science, active learning strategies, and psychology in a well thought out fashion. Furthermore, the exercises and activities in the first chapters are built upon in later chapters, so if you were to pick and choose different sections, you may need to review earlier chapters for directions with graphic organizers or exercises.

Organization Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader


The text is free of significant interface issues, and the font can be adjusted online through a browser. However, one less significant issue is the size of the directions in the subheadings. If they were slightly larger, students would be less likely to skip over the sections they didn't immediately understand. Generally, if all the directions were larger, I think the text would flow better.

For some students, constantly referring between the readings and the course-pack can become a bit challenging. There are advantages to combining the readings with the course-packs, as well as having them separate. I prefer having the stories and course-packs together, because it is easier to access and photocopy. Separating them provides an opportunity for extended pre-reading activities. Both work.

Interface Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

None that I was able to find.

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

The text makes use of inclusive examples of people with learning disabilities, people who are deaf and hard of hearing, First Nations, and Western Cultural Practices. It has content and imagery relating to people of colour, caucasian people, and a picture of a Buddhist Monk. It is diverse, inclusive, and a great resource for a person from any background.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

This book is written from a progressive, Canadian perspective. The only suggestion I have is to change the numbering on page 82. There are moments where numbered points ( ie. 5. ) shift to alphabetized points (ie. a) and this causes some confusion for using the answer key and following directions.

A great resource for teachers in post-secondary literacy and even k-12. Thank you!