If one were to poll a room of adult literacy teachers and tutors to find out who teaches math to their students, few hands would go up unless those educators teach pre-GED or GED students. However, professional development facilitators or teacher trainers would challenge that by declaring everyone teaches math.
The math that all adult literacy educators should include in their lesson planning, particularly at high- and low-beginner levels, is numeracy. There are many definitions of numeracy, but researchers and educationists such as Ellen McDevitt, a founding member of Adult Numeracy Network (ANN), agree that it essentially involves:
The kinds of math skills needed to function in every life people use in their everyday life.”
That means, connecting numeracy to real-life contexts. Teach math in relation to problem solving, using authentic texts and realia. For example, if teaching the concept of measurement, present it to your adult learners as a problem to solve such as baking a layered cake or a building a do-it-yourself bookcase. Bring in measuring cups or spoons, a box of cake mix, measuring tape, or blueprints. Teach problem-solving strategies for practicing numeracy in different contexts, and emphasize that there are different ways of arriving at a right answer.
Adult literacy teachers and tutors can increase their own learning and teaching strategies on math and numeracy by reviewing and familiarizing themselves with the industry standards such as Equipped for the Future (EFF), New York State Adult Education Resource Guide and Learning Standards (NYSED AERG), and Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems (CASAS).
Practitioners should also attend professional development workshops to gain additional training and learning on teach numeracy and math effectively. The Literacy Assistance Center (LAC) Academy in Lower Manhattan offers professional instruction for English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) and adult basic education (ABE) practitioners.