January 2002


         Vol. 20                                                                  No. 1


Center for Alternative Learning
6 E. Eagle Road
Havertown, PA 19083


Serving Adults and Children Who Learn Differently

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Vol. 20 

No. 1

The Center for Alternative LearningWe have added a Saturday class for students who would like to learn to speak English. This class is scheduled from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Center. The teacher also teaches our evening class. Individuals who would like to participate in this class are encouraged to call and register.

The staff at the Center has begun a new research project working with individuals with significant reading difficulties. This project will document the progress the students make using techniques that  have been developed by Dr. Richard Cooper, the Director of the Center. We are looking for adults and children with reading disabilities who would like to participate in this project. Participants will be tested using in the Cooper Screening of Information Processing and other standardized tests to determine their reading levels.  They will receive instruction based on an educational plan that will be developed for them and periodically tested to measure their progress. We would like to encourage teachers, other professionals, parents, and friends of individuals with significant reading problems to contact us to discuss the possibility of having individuals participate in this project. For more information please contact Kathy at 610-446-6126.


The Center for Alternative Learning
6 E. Eagle Rd., Havertown, PA 19083

Newsletter:  This newsletter has been out of circulation for about 11 months because of the heavy speaking schedule that Dr. Cooper had during this past year.  He made presentations at more than 10 adult education conferences, taught two courses at Louisiana State University, conducted more than 70 presentations in Pennsylvania and attended four professional meetings. We apologize for the interruption in this newsletter circulation and are working on ways to have it published again on a more regular basis.  Subscribers can feel confident that they will receive their full subscription, not counting this issue.  If there are any questions about the newsletter or its content, please feel free to contact us.  Thank you for your patience.


  Dr. Cooper is presented with a certificate for being a true Cajan at LSU Distance Education studio where he broadcasted his course to students at five locations throughout  the state.  

Dr. Cooper’s National Speaking Schedule

South Carolina Adult Education, Instructional Strategies, Columbia, SC, Feb. 1.

 Pennsylvania Adult Education Conference, 1) Research on the Cooper Screening, 2)  The New GED and Learning Differences, 3) Using Patterns for Instruction,  Hershey, PA,  Feb. 13– 15.

 Indiana Adult Education, Bridges to Practice:
Book Four
, Indianapolis, IN, Feb. 20 & 21.

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Even Start and Family Literacy Pre-Conference, Teaching Adults Who Learn Differently, Saratoga Springs, NY, March 11.

 NAASLN (National Association for Adults with Special Learning Needs), 3 Sessions:  Instructional Techniques, Milwaukee, WI, April 13-15.

 Mountain/Plains Adult Education Conference

Phoenix, AZ, May 1-3, Topics to be announced.

 Pre-Conference Commission of Adult Basic Education (COABE) 1) Study and Organizational Skills and 2) Using Mnemonics , Charleston, SC, May  7.

COABE Conference 1) Teaching Writing Skills and 2) Alternative Math Techniques, Charleston, SC, May 8 –10.

 1) Teaching Reading to Children with Learning Problems and 2) Teaching Math to Children with Learning Problems,  Michigan,  July 8 – 9.

 Kansas Adult Education Summer Institute Topics to be announced, Manhattan, KS, July 17 –19.

 Utah Adult Education Summer Institute, Topics to be announced,  Salt Lake City, UT, August 5 –7.

 Arkansas Adult Education Conference, Keynote Address:  Thinking and Learning Differently.  Sessions on Instructional Techniques.  Little Rock, AR, September, 26 –27.


Professional Development Kit

Through a grant from the US Department of Education, the staff at NCAL (The National Center for Adult Literacy) has developed a web based professional development kit that uses video clips on CD disks accessible by the Internet.  One of the segments of the training is Dr. Cooper assessing an adult learner and demonstrating instruction of basic reading skills.   More information about the Kit and how to access it will be in the next newsletter

Learning disAbilities Resources Catalog


 LDR New Products:  The Tutoring Aid is a notebook of carbonless duplicating paper.  The 20 double page notebook is designed for tutors who work in locations where they do not have access to


copying equipment.  The Double Take notepaper makes a copy as one writes.  So if a tutor is writing an example for a learner, it will be available for the student to take and review and will remain in the notebook for the tutor to review the next time they meet.    

Community Connection Initiatives


 The Center for Alternative Learning was awarded one of the Community Connection Initiatives grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare.   These grants were awarded to faith and community based organizations to assist welfare recipients who are nearing the end of their five-year limit of cash assistance under welfare reform.  The Center’s staff will screen 50 clients who are suspected of having barriers for self-sufficiency.  Dr. Cooper’s screening is being used to assess the client’s information processing in order to determine if learning and attention problems are interfering with their success in training or employment situations. 


C-SIP On-line:  Through the efforts of Dr. Richard Gacka, the Director of the Learning Differences Center in Erie, PA, the Public Television Station in Erie video taped Dr. Cooper assessing an adult learner suspected of having a learning disability.  This video will soon be available on the Internet.   

Web Course:  Dr. Richard Cooper has converted one of his training sessions, Writing Techniques for Individuals With Weak Writing Skills, into an on-line course.  This training will be available through the Learning Differences Center at the Northwest Professional Development Center and on our Web site  We do not yet know when the course will be available on–line, but anyone who is interested in this course can contact Dr. Cooper by e-mail and he will provide up-dated information as it becomes available.  


Training:  For all the adult education programs in Pennsylvania, Dr. Cooper is available to provide training about learning differences and how to teach adults who have those differences.  A list of training topics can be found on our website.   To schedule training contact:  Lorraine at 814-878-2010.



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Fraction Confusion

 Fractions cause a lot of problems for individuals who have weak math skills.  For many individuals who have learning differences, fractions do not make sense mathematically but make perfect sense in everyday life.  Such a person would say, “I need to get half of a tank of gas because I only have a half of a tank left in my car.”  But this same person might add ½ + ½ and answer 2/4 seeing no relationship between the two quantitative concepts. 

Part of the problem with fractions involves learning at a very early age that the numbers we count represent larger quantities (1, 2, 3 etc.).  However, fractions do not follow this pattern, the quantities represented by the denominator get smaller as the numbers get larger   (½, ¼, 1/3).   To add to the confusion, the number on the top (the numerator) follows the original pattern as the numerator gets larger the quantities get larger as they increase.  (1/8, 3/8, 5/8).   To further add to this confusion is the ordinary math concept that 2/8, 4/8 and 6/8 are missing in the sequence of eighths.  Instead of following a predictable pattern of increasing numbers on the top, the quantities that are represented by numbers on the bottom get smaller, (1/4, ½).  For some individuals who think and learn differently, this is so confusing that they become frustrated and turn off and avoid any numbers that are written as fractions. 

One way to assist individuals who are confused by the numbers of fractions is to teach them that fractions, decimals and percentages are different ways of expressing the same quantity and that they can learn to easily change fractions into decimals and decimals into percentages.  When a person, who is confused by fractions, is able to see a quantity represented as a decimal (relating it to money) or a percentage (relating it to 1 to 100 parts of a whole), the person is better able to understand the quantity of a fraction.  One way to assist a person to see a fraction as a decimal is to use the mnemonic of the swimming pool and the other way is to have the person learn the patterns in decimal equivalents of fractions.  The following is the swimming pool mnemonic.  The pattern of eighths and sixteenths take up too much space so I have placed it on our web site:  If you do not have access to the Internet, contact us and we will send you a paper copy. 


Swimming Pool   The number on top (numerator) is on the diving board so it jumps into the swimming pool.  This sets up a division calculation that results in the decimal equivalent of the fraction


    2  (into)         1.0

    If you understand fractions and found this explanation confusing, imagine the confusion of the individuals who do not understand fractions