Document Use Materials

Document Use is an essential skill that relates to the ability to understand documents that combine text with graphs, symbols, numbers, colors and shapes. The materials listed below are for educators, tutors, practitioners and anyone who is interested in the Essential Skill of document use in adult literacy.  Every item on this list is available, either from the library or online.

Building workplace essential skills.  Pts. 1-3.
Paul Anderson et al. Calgary, AB: Bow Valley College, 2000.
» Contains a variety of learning activities which require the learner to read text and use forms, lists, mimetics, and maps. Exercises have been designed so that the learners use authentic workplace documents as source materials to improve their skills.

Canadian forms made easy.
Joan Allaby. Ottawa, Ont.: Laubach Literacy of Canada, 2007.
» This workbook looks at understanding and filling out different types of forms.

Casino document use skills: participant manual: edition 1.0. (online)
Winnipeg, Man.: The Canadian Gaming Centre of Excellence, 2010.
» This resource begins with a facilitator’s guide. The following workbook is organized into two separate parts: foundations and job families. The foundations section is a review of document use skills for work, including: using signs, labels and lists; using forms; using tables; and using graphics. It is organized by topic with each topic including an introduction, examples of the skill in use, and exercises for specific skills. The job family sections contain practice questions organized by level for gaming/casino job families: bank, customer services/administration, food and beverage services, housekeeping and ground, maintenance and facilities, retail, security, slots/electronic gaming/bingo, table games, uniforms and warehouse. Answers are provided.

Developing work-related learning materials.
Lynda Fownes, Vanya Wong. Burnaby, BC: SkillPlan, 2007.
» This guide is for practitioners who want to link instruction with workplace applications. Topics include collecting workplace documents, developing worker focused tasks, developing answer steps as a learning strategy, and obtaining reprint permission.

Document use at work.
Julian Evetts, Lynda Fownes. Burnaby, BC: SkillPlan, 2004. 
» Designed for practitioners in adult basic education, workforce education and training situations, this resource examines the various types of documents used at work and analyzes the skills needed to interpret these documents. Teaching tips and sample documents are included.

Document use indicator: a guide for employers. (online)
Ottawa, Ont.: Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, 2005.  Available at
» This tool can be used to learn more about the document use skill of employees.  It is not an assessment tool but provides an indication of skill levels.

Document use self-assessment. (online)
Ottawa, Ont.: Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, 2009.  Available at
» Individuals can track their strengths and areas for improvement in using documents such as completing forms, checking off items on a list, plotting information on a graph.

Document use tip sheet. (online)
Ottawa, Ont.: Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, 2008.  Available at
» Practical tips for improving document use skills.

Essential Skills for personal success.
Karen Farrar, Sheila Marshall.  Timmins, Ont.: Literacy Network Northeasy, 2010.  Also available online at
» This curriculum applies Essential Skills to life skills outside the work world including food, clothing, shelter, health, money, voting, transportation and community participation.  Includes practice with document use in everyday life.

How do your skills measure up? (online)
Burnaby, BC: SkillPlan. Available at
» This Web resource, designed for instructors and learners, contains links to test and practice the Essential Skills of reading text, document use, and numeracy.  Also, in Explore Careers, there are job descriptions with the skills required for a number of occupations as well as opportunities to try activities typical of each occupation.

Graphs & charts: book 6.  Workwrite.
Marisa Mazzulla and Karen Geraci. Toronto, Ont.: Preparatory Training Programs, 2008. 
» Book 6 of the workwrite series provides learners with opportunities to practice reading, writing, document use and numeracy skills within a workplace context. It contains an overview of many common graph types used in workplaces today, including how they are created, who uses them and how they display information. Each unit covers a different type of graph.

Filling it in: working with forms for Aboriginal students.
Christianna Jones and Kate Thompson. Owen Sound, Ont.: Ningwakwe Press, 2009.
» This book is designed for Aboriginal adults and teens who want to learn about filling out forms. The workbook contains paper-based and internet forms that touch on work, personal and school life. A glossary of terms commonly used on forms is included. A practitioners’ section at the back looks at how the forms in the workbook conform to LBS levels 1-3 and Essential skills.

Forms in your life: a student workbook and guide to everyday forms. 3rd ed.
Thomas F. Elrick.  Toronto: Globe/Modern Curriculum Press, 1991.
» Intended as a practice book, this book contains 26 reproduced forms that people use in everyday life. The contents include forms for school and employment, banking, consumer needs, housing, and provincial and federal applications.

Language for work: CLB and Essential Skills lesson plans for ESL instructors. (online)
Ottawa, Ont.: Canadian Language Benchmarks/Essential Skills in the Workplace, 2009. Available at
» This Web page contains 25 lessons on Essential Skills including lessons on document use.  The document use lessons include: placing orders, ending the workday: a duties checklist, having a medical examination: filling in forms and answering questions, accident reports, reading your pay cheque, refusing dangerous work: reading flowcharts.

Lesson plans for various occupations. (online)
Ottawa, Ont.: Canadian Language Benchmarks/Essential Skills in the workplace, 2010. Available at
» These lesson plans, developed for adult ESL teachers, include document use lessons for specific occupations such as completing a GST return form, completing a client progress report, and identify and explain hazard symbols.

Making choices: teaching writing in the workplace.
Diane Millar. Edmonton, AB: Grassroots Press, 2002.
» This resource is composed of two separate items: a reference manual and an instructional activities manual.  The reference manual explain key concepts while the instructional activities manual shows how authentic texts can be used for teaching in workplace literacy programs.  Many of the writing activities include document use such as visual texts, simple and combined lists, filling out forms, charts and graphs, and reports and logs.

On the job: ESL and Essential Skills for work: document use.  (online)
Ottawa, Ont.: Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks, 2006.  Available at
» Ideas for teaching document use in adult ESL classes.

Organizing information; Schedules; Information forms: Volume 1, Books 1, 2, and 3. Workwrite. 4th ed.
Karen Geraci and Aleksandra Popovic. Toronto, Ont.: Preparatory Training Programs, 2001, 2010.
» The Workwrite series provides learners with opportunities to practice workplace essential skills. This volume is a compilation of Books 1, 2 and 3. Book 1 examines the uses of labels, lists and directories. Book 2 looks at the use of a variety of schedule formats. Book 3 deals with forms to document problems, questionnaires, checklists and third-party forms. Lesson plans include background information, documents for use as learning materials, and learning activities.

Read forward: user guide.
Audrey Gardner. Calgary, AB: Bow Valley College, 2011.
» Based on IALS, this resource contains tests that measure incremental improvement in document and prose reading.  The tests are based on everyday reading and are applicable to diverse audiences. 

Reading at work: workplace reader.
Lynda Fownes, Vanya Wong, Corinne Volpatti. Burnaby, BC: SkillPlan, 2005.
Reading at work: facilitator’s guide: companion to the workplace reader.
Jean Tonski. Burnaby, BC: SkillPlan, 2006.
» Through stories about real workers at different Canadian workplaces, these resources look at the reading tasks needed at work.  Several of these involve reading documents, and many of the learning activities involve document use.

Real life literacy: classroom tools that promote real-world reading and writing.
Kathy Paterson. Markham, Ont.: Pembroke Publishers, 2006.
» Twenty-five reading/writing lessons that feature real world uses – vocabulary, a motivational activity and teaching strategies along with samples of common but often misunderstood forms, notices, data sheets, and messages. Designed for students in Grade 5-12 to build reading and writing skills. Includes reproducible pages to use with learners.

Sample activities using authentic workplace materials: integrating Essential Skills into tutor training. (online)
Robyn Cook-Ritchie. Waterloo, Ont.: Laubach Literacy Ontario, 2010. Available at
» This document contains eight sample activities using authentic workplace materials.  The activities focus on reading text, document use, numeracy and writing.  Each activity has instruction notes.

Thinking strategies for numeracy: a practitioner’s guide.
Vanya Wong, Julia Lew, Claire Lloyd. Burnaby, BC: SkillPlan, 2008.
» This resource looks at teaching the thinking strategies that translate a work problem into a set of mathematical operations needed to complete a task. It is the step that comes before calculations. Specific mathematics skills are not covered. After teaching the problem-solving strategy, practice is given in using lists and tables, entry forms, graphs and maps, mimetic documents and documents with reading material.

Tools for the trade – document use, reading. (online)
Swift Current, SK: Cypress Hills Regional College, 20023.  Available at
» This workbook is a collection of workplace documents with accompanying questions and activities for learners to become familiar with and practice print communication systems in the workplace.

Tools for the trade – numeracy. (online)
Swift Current, SK: Cypress Hills Regional College, 2003.  Available at
» This is a collection of workplace documents developed to help learners practice using numerical calculations to fill in workplace documents.

Workplace communications: book 4. Workwrite.
Karen Geraci. Toronto: Preparatory Training Programs, 2008.
» This book addresses the use of notices/postings, memoranda, agendas, minutes, fax cover sheets, email, work orders, letters, and corporate communication. It contains a wide variety of types and styles and introduces learners to the broad range of documents used to communicate information and ideas.

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