Tips for GED Teachers
Writing | Mathematics
| Reading in the Content Areas |
Test Taking Strategies
Our goal as GED instructors is to provide students with opportunities
to become active, critical thinkers who move beyond learning
as merely memorization of facts to learning that is knowledge-building.
Whether we are teaching a GED course in writing, mathematics,
science, social studies or language arts, we must involve
learners in synthesizing, evaluating and accommodating new
information into their field of knowledge. There are
numerous effective teaching strategies to use in the GED classroom.
Tips for Writing
It is important to provide opportunities for your students
to write. Writing should occur during each classroom
session and should be integrated into the learning process.
Students can be writing on topics dealing with the entire
GED curricula. The following is a simple step-by-step approach
to the writing process. Teach students to:
Planning is the first step in the writing process.
Have your students respond to these three planning questions:
Teachers can help adults get started through such pre-writing
- What is the topic of our writing?
- Who is our audience? What will be interesting to
- What do we want to accomplish by writing about this topic
(e.g., convey information, persuade policy makers, etc.)?
- Memory searches
- Graphic organizers, listing, charting, webbing or clustering
- Group brainstorming
- Large and small group discussion and partner interviews
- Reading and research on questions generated through class
Drafting is the process of writing down ideas, organizing
them into a sequence and providing the reader with a frame
for understanding these ideas. The end result is a composition
or "first draft" of the ideas. The following questions
might be helpful to students as they compose their first drafts:
- What ideas or thoughts will we include?
- How will we organize the material?
- How will we introduce, develop and conclude our first
- What will the title of our paper be?
Polishing refers to the process of editing and revising based
on an evaluation of the writing. It is the hard work
that a writer devotes to a piece of writing that is likely
to reach a wide audience and serves as a reflection of oneself.
Response or feedback on students' writing can significantly
improve the quality of their work.
The questions that students should ask themselves as they
proceed through the polishing stage are:
- How can the responses from others improve my paper?
- What new ideas do I have for the paper?
- What information should I add or delete?
- Have I corrected all spelling and grammatical errors?
As the GED Tests are timed, students should experience longer
timed writings as they near the skill level required to successfully
complete the tests. Instructors should provide lined
paper similar to that used on the exam as well as a pencil
for writing. Initially, timed writings should be short.
Provide topics that are easily handled by the student.
Remember that all writings do not need to be "graded."
As the studentís writing proficiency increases, increase both
the time provided and the length of the writing sample.
Prior to taking the GED Tests the student should be able to
write a five paragraph essay on any given topic in a 45 minute
Students should be encouraged to keep journals to document
and enhance their understanding of materials that are read
for class. Teach students to write entries that reflect
the main idea, major points or questions that they may have
after reading a selection. To increase critical thinking
skills, instructors may request that students write about
possible applications of ideas. Journals can also assist
students to better understand what has been taught.
Instructors can ask students to write a brief summary of
the major points of a reading assignment. This summary
can be as brief as 25 words or extend to several paragraphs
based on student writing performance level. This not
only checks reading comprehension but can also be graded quickly.
Summarizing is a very important skill for students to learn.
Tips for Mathematics
Most GED teachers would say that the Mathematics Test is
the hardest for their students to pass. Students enrolling
in a GED Math course generally have basic computation skills
such as operations with whole numbers, fractions, decimals
and percentages. However, most students also do not have the
application or critical thinking skills required in the mathematics
area. They are unable to identify what computation skills
or steps are required to solve the problems presented.
The teaching of mathematical problem solving skills requires
a different approach than that of teaching calculation skills.
Address and evaluate attitudes and beliefs regarding both
learning math and using math.
Students are often fearful regarding mathematics. Prior
to any true learning taking place, the instructor must discuss
with students how traditional methods of teaching math may
have caused them to develop a negative attitude.
Develop understanding by providing opportunities to explore
mathematical ideas with concrete or visual representations
and hands-on activities.
Students in GED programs will learn more effectively if they
can visualize concretely an abstract concept.
Use manipulatives such as cuisennaire rods, fraction circles,
geoboards or everyday objects such as coins, toothpicks, etc.
to help students explain how mathematical rules and concepts
Encourage the development and practice of estimation skills.
During everyday life, one does not always use "exact" math.
Teach students how to estimate. Strategies to use can
include rounding to whole numbers, multiplying by 10 rather
than 9 or dividing by whole numbers rather than multiplying
by fractions. Use test examples to show students that
good estimation can result in correct answers. Have
the students work out the problem using computation skills
to support their estimations.
Develop students' calculator skills and foster familiarity
with computer technology.
Calculators will be used on the GED 2002 Series Tests for
certain segments of the math subtest. It is important
for students to know what a math procedure does and why it
works. They should also be able to evaluate the results.
The usage of computers allows students to use simulations
not easily provided in written form. Since most jobs
in the workplace require familiarity with technology, the
usage of computers helps students to become computer literate
and develop necessary workforce skills. Since calculators
will be used on the new GED exam, set aside time to teach
students how to correctly use calculators to perform single
and multi-tasked problems. Calculators can be used by
students to check their work, to solve tedious computations
and as a problem-solving tool.
Provide problem-solving tasks within a meaningful, realistic
context in order to facilitate transfer of learning.
Students need to view math as a necessary skill in their
lives. Students can assist transference of mathematical
skills to real life experiences through the sharing of experiences.
These experiences can be used as problem solving projects
for the class. Projects can be as simple as comparing
the price of cereals to as complex as finding the best mortgage
deal. Discuss how students use math in their daily lives
and set up problems based upon these scenarios.
Develop students' skills in interpreting numerical or
graphical information appearing within documents and text.
Math does not always take the form of computation.
Graphs, tables, text, payment schedules, and contracts are
just a few of the ways in which text is filled with mathematical
concepts. Strategies to use in teaching students how
to accurately interpret such documents can include having
students graph information from their lives for the last 24
hours. Pictorial, circle, line or any type of graph
can be used to visually document numerical information.
Another activity would be to have students critique and discuss
an article filled with numerical information such as an employee
Tips for Reading in the Content
Engaging learners in a greater variety of experiences combining
reading and writing instruction leads to a higher level of
thinking. Research has begun to show that writing leads to
improved reading achievement and reading leads to better writing
performance. Combined instruction in reading and writing
leads to improvement in both areas.
- End every lecture or discussion with questions that have
been left unanswered.
- Ask "why" something should be accepted.
- Use a think, solve and explain method so that students
analyze the problem presented, determine a way to solve
the problem and write an answer in their own words.
Techniques for using the think-solve-explain method are:
Strategies for Timed Readings
- Think -- Read the question carefully. Think about
and analyze what you are being asked to do. Make
sure you understand what you are supposed to do before
you begin answering the question.
- Solve -- Begin solving the question using the strategy
you know best. Ensure that you use all of the information
provided to determine what information is necessary to
the problem and what information is irrelevant.
- Explain -- Follow the directions for solving the problem
and writing the solution.
The fluent reader is able to quickly review an article with
understanding. Many GED students read in a slow and
methodical fashion decreasing their ability to comprehend.
Use timed readings to increase a student's reading speed and
comprehension. There are many commercial materials for
timed reading; however, any type of fiction or non-fiction
reading material can be used.
Students need to develop the ability to work with problems
and various levels of knowledge. Generally, teaching
problem solving consists of three steps. Getting started
is the most difficult step. Students must learn to comprehend
the problem and then state it in more formal terms.
Whether the discipline is Writing Skills, Mathematics, Science,
Social Studies or Literature, the problem solver must go through
the same basic steps:
1. State the problem
2. Devise a strategy for solution
- Ask the student to restate the problem in his or her
- Analyze what the student has told you and quiz the student
about the thought process used. e.g. What were they
being asked to find?
- Ask the student to organize the facts or assumptions
and categorize them.
- Help students separate relevant and irrelevant information.
- Assist students to represent the problem in another form.
3. Implement the strategy to produce an answer
- Set mini-goals. (What information do you need to
answer this question?)
- Identify necessary operations. (What steps do you
need to take to solve this problem?)
- Describe the steps and draw conclusions. (If a
bell curve represents a way of graphing grades, what does
this graph tell you?)
Test Taking Strategies
- Outline the steps required to obtain a solution.
- Implement the solution.
- Evaluate how the solution fits the original problem.
- Use questions that require students to explain their
- Use open-ended question formats in classroom activities
and in your assessment instruments that are similar to the
- Use and develop questions for class discussions and tests
that are on the same academic level as those on the GED
- Prepare students for the GED Tests; familiarize them
with the testing format, usage of bubble sheets, gridded
sheets, essay formats and GED-type questions.
- Encourage teaching that requires students to explain
their thinking and describe their procedures both orally
and in writing.
- Provide practice for students in judging the "reasonableness"
of their answers.