Dedicated Student Assessment Specialist of the Month: Laurie Hayden

March 31, 2010 at 6:44 PM | Posted in ESOL, Testing, Volunteers | Comments Off on Dedicated Student Assessment Specialist of the Month: Laurie Hayden

Our student assessment specialists volunteer their time to administer a conversational test to assess our students’ listening, language complexity, and communication abilities.  To become a student assessment specialist, volunteers must attend a 6 hour training to obtain their BEST Plus administrator certification.  We test our students at the beginning and end of each session in each of our 13 classes, something we could not achieve without the hard work and dedication of our volunteers.

Laurie Hayden recently retired from her career as a teacher and has wasted no time giving back to her community.  Laurie has been testing for LCNV since September 2009, and says she enjoys testing because, “seeing the motivation and desire of these folks to learn is inspirational.”  She, like most testers, enjoys the one-on-one time with the students.  The BEST Plus test asks questions that allow testers a brief glimpse into the lives of our students, and it’s always interesting to hear their stories.  Laurie is also a class aide at Woodrow Wilson and she tutors three women.  She loves teaching and through her interaction with her students, she realized how important testing is to our program.  “It’s such a small time commitment and it really is fun.  I know how desperately LCNV needs testers.  It’s got to be done and I feel useful.”

Recruiting testers can sometimes be a challenge, but Laurie is always ready and willing to travel and test at as many class sites as she possibly can.  We appreciate her positive attitude, her friendly face, and her dedication to our students!

~Courtney Pergal, AmeriCorps Instructor

You’re Part of the Family

March 30, 2010 at 9:00 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on You’re Part of the Family

Patti, our Executive Director, has a saying, “Nobody leaves, nobody can ever leave us!” She says this with a little laughter and slight sadness whenever she’s talking about a volunteer or staff member moving on from positions here at LCNV.  By this she means, staff and volunteers become part of a network of people, a loving family deeply connected to each other, so it hurts a little to see them go.  But then they come back!   This past weekend’s Reading: A Family Affair is just the sort of event that shows just how our family works.  Just take a look at the Flickr pool and you’ll see, mixed into the sea of smiling children and their parents, there are long time volunteers and staff, catching up, volunteering and donating their time and talent.  There were current and past students, AmeriCorps, staff, board members and volunteers there for the joy, celebration and community their own networks of family and friends.  If they are still in the area few people really leave LCNV.

There are many wonderful examples of students and volunteers giving back, but I’d love to note a really stellar volunteer, Chris Stromme.  She’s been with LCNV for 5 years.  I have gotten to see her as a facilitator for Board-Staff retreat, volunteering at special events like RAFA, and training new tutors for the Basic Adult Literacy program.  She’s taken on all these duties because of her love of the students she helps and the community of volunteers she works with.  Chris has the sort of drive and energy that makes you feel part of the group and welcome.  When I first joined the BAL training team, this was just the sort of encouragement I needed to feel confident in front of a room of new tutors.  Her flexibility, patience, and commitment inspire me and those she works with.

I hope in sharing Chris’s story and the countless other volunteers who share their gifts, you challenge us to offer you new opportunities to showcase your talents and support our community of volunteers and students.  Thank you all so much for your hard work!

~Katie Beckman, Program Assistant

My Pre-Birthday Surprise Party

March 29, 2010 at 2:15 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

It all started the first day of class.  We were practicing dates – “When is your birthday, Marta? When is your birthday, Yowhanes? Oh, remember the ‘thhh’ sound. Everybody try that: 28thhhhh.”  The impeccable note-takers in the class quickly jotted down everyone’s birthday. Nearly two months later, on March 24th, I stood in my classroom holding a dozen roses in one hand and a box of chocolates in the other, looking at the four month class calendar where my student had written all the class birthdays: March 25th – Minta’s birthday. I was utterly stunned.

My lesson plan for class on March 24th was difficult to plan. I couldn’t come up with a project for their spring break, and attendance for the class had been a challenge to predict.  As I drove to class, I couldn’t shake the mild apprehension that had been weighing on me that afternoon.  But, of course, my worrying was for naught.

The first student arrived with chrysanthemums, a small gift from her country, and a card, my first birthday presents this year. We chatted until the next student walked in with a homemade cake. At that point, I realized that I had not planned this class, the students had.

Everyone brought their cameras and proceeded to take countless pictures. After the students took a sufficient number of photos, we brought all of the kids and the day care staff into the room to join us for cake. They proceeded to sing the Happy Birthday song to me – in 5 languages. This was, by far, the best birthday present I received this year.

The people involved in this plot spoke three different languages – there was no way they planned this event without speaking English. I even remembered a moment in one of the previous classes when the students had their heads together, whispering (in English) things they didn’t want me to know about. If throwing me a surprise pre-birthday party is what it takes to get them to speak English, we should have a birthday party for everyone in the class!

~Minta Trivette, AmeriCorps Instructor


March 25, 2010 at 9:00 AM | Posted in ESOL, Tutoring | 1 Comment

On March 12, I hosted one of my students, and the wife and
daughter of another student at my house (I know we’re not allowed to
tutor in homes – this was strictly an extra-curricular activity) for a
cookie cooking lesson.  The three of them had sampled my cookies and
wanted to know how to make them. I showed them how to make a butter
cookie with peanut butter and chocolate frosting, as well as an oatmeal
fudge bar.  The three students were all Korean, but they followed my rule of
only speaking English while we made the cookies.  I demonstrated what to
do, but they did all the work, including cleaning up!  I gave them
copies of the recipes to take home so they could make cookies at home.
They also took home all the cookies! The three hour “class” was a great
deal of fun–so much so that I am inviting them back on March 24 to
learn to make two different types of cookies.

~Jan Auerbach, ESOL tutor


March 24, 2010 at 4:00 PM | Posted in RAFA | Comments Off on RAFA!

Last Saturday, our annual fundraising event took place:   Reading a Family Affair, otherwise known as RAFA.  We had some serious competition with the gorgeous weekend weather.  It was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the low 70s.  However, for those of us who did show up, we were treated to marvelous entertainment, delicious goodies, and a free book!

My assignment was to seat people in the theater and to introduce the performers before each show.   “The Great Zucchini”, our first act, was very entertaining for children with age-appropriate magic and comedy.  It was thrilling to see kids hopping on one foot, standing up and dancing, and doing everything that he told them not to do.  “Whatever you do, don’t stand on one foot and hop up and down” gave way to peals of laughter and a bobbing audience.

The next act was an international storyteller, Jeanne Wall, of the Good Life Puppet Theater.  Her stories took place on various continents and were accompanied by authentic vocabulary phrases, colorful props, music, and audience participation.  I was entranced by the stories, and the kids seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely.  The final act, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, encouraged kids to read during their sing-a-long act.  The kids were singing and clapping along to Cathy and Marcy’s banjo and guitar rhythmus.

There were other talented storytellers performing in the classrooms, and a chance for kids to take home a free book.  I saw children pulling on their parents’ arms and racing to get to the next activity, not wanting to miss a thing.  I loved seeing the younger generation so excited about reading.

For those of you who were able to join us on Saturday, I’m sure you experienced a similar rush of excitement.  For all of you who couldn’t make it, now you know what you missed, and there’s always next year!

~Randi Littman, Director of Operations

Useful Lesson Plan Template

March 23, 2010 at 9:00 AM | Posted in Class, Family Learning, Lesson Plans, Teaching | 1 Comment

The VALRC sponsors many classes for ESOL Teachers.  I have taken several, some in person and some online.  The most recent one was an online class called:  “Beyond Basics:  Multilevel”, and it didn’t disappoint.  In fact, it may be been the best one yet!  We learned a lot about needs assessments and had to do a project with our class implimenting one of these.  We learned several different ways to form groups within the class.  We also learned what to put into a resource box for the class’s use.  The box is a kind of library of books, worksheets, old lessons, games, etc. for the students to take home or use in class.  Many of the best ideas from the class came from classmates.

By far the most useful tool from the class was a terrific Lesson Plan template for use with my multilevel class.  It was adapted by VALRC from the REEP Lesson Plan.  I have used this planning tool for every class since, and I have tweaked it a little.  Since I have an assistant teacher now, we’ve been splitting the class in two, so it makes planning even more important.  When do we split up?  What do we do altogether?  What do we do in each group?  What will each group do for homework?  It keeps me focused on what we’re studying and why, and it gives instructions to the other teacher as well.  I hope you find it useful.

Lesson Plan Template

Lesson Basics

Class level: Multilevel Topic:

Length: 2 hours Date:


Enabling skills:

Language skill focus:

__X__ Listening _X__ Speaking _X__ Reading  _X__ Writing




Stages of the Lesson Plan

Warm Up/Review (wordsearch, crossword puzzle, “draw a line”, or ?)

Introduction/Presentation  (Everyone) (a video, a demonstration, or ?)

Guided Practice  (usually a worksheet)  (This is where we split in 2.)



Communicative Practice (a game, pairs work, or ?)





We will come back together as a class at this point.  (about 7:30)

Talking time with questions/answers/etc.

~Sheila Weiss, lead teacher at Woodlawn Elementary

FLP Bids Farewell to Alice Barrow

March 22, 2010 at 3:00 PM | Posted in Family Learning, Teaching, Volunteers | Comments Off on FLP Bids Farewell to Alice Barrow

After two years of volunteering in LCNV’s Family Learning Program at Crestwood Elementary School, Alice Barrow will be starting a new adventure as she moves to North Carolina this spring. While this is an exciting time for Alice, and we are happy for this new stage in her life, it is with regret that we say goodbye to such a lovely and committed volunteer. Alice joined LCNV as a class aide for Elizabeth Magee’s beginning level class in 2008. From the start, Elizabeth and Alice had a great work dynamic, and Elizabeth was constantly grateful for having received a volunteer of Alice’s caliber. For the fall term of 2009, Karen Murphy, the level two teacher at the site decided to take a break from teaching with LCNV to pursue continuing education courses. While Karen was greatly missed (and we’re hoping she’ll rejoin the LCNV family in the future), we were thrilled that Alice stepped up and took on the role of level two volunteer teacher.

At her last class, on March 11, both groups gathered at the end of class to wish her well. It was clear that the students will miss her as they hugged and thanked her. Even though she is looking forward to her new home, it is evident that it has also been hard for her to say goodbye to her students and fellow teachers. The Crestwood FLP class, without a doubt, owes a strong thanks to good students, a great teacher and especially thanks to volunteers like Alice who dedicated hundreds of hours to the class over the last two years. Although Alice cannot be replaced, we know that Crestwood’s class will continue to be strong with Elizabeth’s leadership and with newer volunteer Eliza Diliberti’s involvement.

Good Luck Alice! We will miss you!

~ Carisa Pineda, Family Learning Specialist

RAFA is this Saturday, March 20th!

March 19, 2010 at 8:39 AM | Posted in Development, Donors, RAFA | Comments Off on RAFA is this Saturday, March 20th!

Check out the artists who are performing at this huge event!

Verizon’s See a Book Room

The Great Zucchini’s show is full of magic, comedy, and audience interaction.   The Great Zucchini has been performing his magic act for children all over Washington, including the White House, for 12 years.  He even teaches children their own magic trick that they can perform later for their friends.

Good Life Theater: A husband and wife team with over 30 years of experience teaching and entertaining children.  The duo will use puppets to present Going Buggy, a collection of insect tales from African, Mexican, and Native American cultures.

Cathy and Marcy: These talented musicians, who play over a dozen instruments apiece, will be hosting a sing-a-long for children.

Hear a Book Room

Glenna Ohlms: Miss Glenna’s interactive storytelling is sure to keep children engaged and participating.  Glenna’s programs are always interactive and often include songs, instruments from around the world, “scissor and string stories” and puppets, as well as traditional, original and multicultural tales.

Margaret Chatham: A top-notch story teller, Margaret Chatham brings to life many favorite stories so old that they may be new to many people.  Along with stories of Brer Rabbit or things that go “bump” in the night, her repertoire includes folk sing-along songs and stories told with Russian nesting dolls!

Become a Book Room

H-B Woodlawn Theatre Department: Made up of talented actors from grades 8-12, this group will lead an interactive show in which audience members jump in and play characters in well-known stories.  No memorization is required-the scripts are provided!

The Rainbow Entertainment Company Inter-Active Children’s Theatre: Children who wish to step out of the audience and onto the stage are encouraged to do so in a wide variety of fairy tales, folk tales, legends, and lore.  Once in costume, they find themselves contributing significantly to the production and gain a new perspective on the theatrical experience.

Read and Write a Book Room

In this creative, interactive space, families write their own stories and read books together, as well as enjoy time to relax and take a break.  As a gift to all families in attendance, all children will take one free book home with them!

Click a Book Room

The computer lab will become an interactive playroom where parents and children can explore two exciting children’s reading websites: Verizon’s Thinkfinity and WETA’s PBSKIDS.

Friends of LCNV

Children’s book authors will be present to read books, answer question, and even sign books for children.  Local authors planning on attending include Jacqueline Jules, Debbie Levy, Laura Melmed, Susan Stockdale, and Janet Stoeke.

~Erin Andrews, AmeriCorp Instructor

Reading Comprehension In-Service

March 17, 2010 at 9:00 AM | Posted in Announcements, Tutoring, Volunteers | Comments Off on Reading Comprehension In-Service

Is your student having difficulty understanding what he or she reads?   Come to the upcoming LCNV in-service workshop and get some tips and strategies for teaching reading comprehension to the adult learner.  The in-service will be on Saturday, March 27, 10:00AM-12:00PM.  Although the workshop will focus on the comprehension component of reading, it will include time for participants to ask questions about other problems they are experiencing in teaching reading.

Our presenter will be Dr. Annette Asfaw, who has worked in the field of special education for the last 20 years.  Dr. Asfaw, who currently teaches at  Shenandoah University, has presented at conferences and workshops all over the United States on various topics, including teaching reading and writing to students with learning disabilities.  This workshop is appropriate for people working either with Basic or ESOL learners.

Space is limited.  Contact Lizette Zurita at or 703-237-0866 by Monday, March 22 to register.

~Elise Bruml, Tutoring Programs Director

Nerd Herd Gets a Jump on Spring Cleaning

March 16, 2010 at 8:57 PM | Posted in Development, ESOL, Family Learning, Information Technology | Comments Off on Nerd Herd Gets a Jump on Spring Cleaning

This is another report from LCNV’s Nerd Herd, which is made up of IT and end users. The Nerd Herd’s primary goal is to improve LCNV’s IT/end user processes.

Two years ago, LCNV upgraded to Microsoft Windows Small Business Server (‘SBS’), which is designed to run the network infrastructure of small and medium sized enterprises. One of SBS’s excellent features is its large storage capacity, which has enabled LCNV staff to make and store numerous files on the server’s ‘Shared Drive.’

In the interest of maintaining user and cost efficiencies, the Nerd Herd recently analyzed the makeup of the Shared drive and concluded that it needs to be pared down somewhat through the removal of redundant and outdated files. In short, the S drive needs a good old fashioned housecleaning to restore space taken up by the various unneeded files.

The plan is to reduce the number of Shared drive primary folders from the current level of 30 down to10 folders. Any unneeded files will be deleted and those that have historic, if not immediate, value will be placed in archive folders throughout the year, and once a year transferred to an external drive.

The initial cleanup will be completed by March 30, 2010, and the overall process will be continued day to day, with Nerd Herd checkups conducted quarterly.

~Wayne Shewmaker, Director of IT

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