FLP: Looking Back and Looking Forward

June 29, 2011 at 4:38 PM | Posted in Annual Meeting, Class, Family Learning, Staff, Teaching, Volunteers | 1 Comment
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This FLP academic year was full of changes for me.  Change, even when it’s positive, can be very stressful and I’d like to take this time to reflect on this past year and thank all of you who have been involved in the Family Learning Program.  In July of last year I embarked on the adventure of parenthood.  I left work on a Thursday afternoon, thinking my task list for Monday.  Monday arrived and instead of tackling work tasks, I delivered a baby boy, Alexander.  I didn’t return to the LCNV office until mid-October and during my maternity leave whatever was on my task list and other work-related items were long-forgotten.  I returned to work having missed the intense back-to-school frenzy that I’d grown so accustomed to experiencing: a new group of AmeriCorps members arrived and were trained and FLP registrations happened.  I can say with certainty that the Family Learning Program was different for me this year which meant it was probably different for others too.  In addition to missing the beginning of our FLP “school year” I spent the remainder adapting and adjusting.  Although I believe (at least I hope) that I provided appropriate support  to the parents we serve prior to becoming one, now that I am a parent I can relate even more.  Now that I have done my fair share settling back in, I hope this coming school year will be dedicated to program improvement and I am very much looking forward to it.

Thank you to everyone that supported me and the program this part year:  Minta Trivette, for filling in for me during my maternity leave and doing such an amazing job; Erin Finn, for working closely with and guiding Minta; the lead FLP teachers, for their exceptional teaching and their flexibility (Elizabeth Magee, Serife Turkol, Sanem Cardin, Sheila Weiss); the children’s teachers (Beverly, Virginia, Nancy at Crestwood, Mirna, Nancy at Woodlawn, Josephine, Ysabel, and Shahida); the FLP volunteers, for their time and talent (Jessica, Marla, Jeff, Fred, Veronica, Judy, Vicki, Stephen, Maria, Kristen, Samantha, Judy, Amy) and a very special thank you to this year’s AmeriCorps members (Alicia, Jose, Kerrin and Sara) who all taught FLP classes, managed paperwork, participated in projects and did so in such a professional way.  And thank you to anyone else who I may have left out.

-Carisa Pineda, Family Learning Specialist

 

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Empowering Speaker Series

June 27, 2011 at 4:13 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Class, Community, Community Partners, ESOL, Teaching, Volunteers | 1 Comment
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Meeting with other ESOL professionals never fails to spark great ideas. During the Virginia Literacy Leadership Conference (VLLC), the AmeriCorps members attended a seminar presented by Brooke Hammond from Hogar Immigrant Services on Hogar’s Personal Empowerment Speaker Series. Hogar’s speaker series brings experts from different fields into the classroom to speak to the students about topics such as civil rights, banking, health literacy, and immigration. We thought it was a great idea to bring resources directly to the students, and we decided to start our own speaker series at the LCNV.

After surveying the students about topics of interest, we came up with a list of potential speakers. We decided to have the lectures on Tuesdays, in the half hour before both our morning and evening classes. So far on the schedule, we have had Jennifer Faddon from Fairfax County Public Schools speak about Advanced English Classes and Robert Rutland-Brown from Just Neighbors speak about immigration. Upcoming speakers include Kate Singleton, a social worker who will speak about health literacy, Sarah Moore from the Beacon Workforce Literacy Program who will speak about finding a job, and Daniel Quinn from Hogar Immigrant Services who will speak about civil rights.

So far we have met with a lot of interest from the students. On average, about twenty students attend both the morning and evening lectures. We hope to keep responding to students’ needs outside of the classroom by continuing the speaker series in the fall and beyond.

Thank you to Hogar Immigrant Services for their excellent idea, and thank you to the speakers who have made the Empowering Speaker Series a reality.

To view the Empowering Speaker Series pamphlet, click on this link: LCNV Speaker Series Flyer Summer ’11. If you or someone you know is interested in participating in the Speaker Series, please email Serife Turkol at learningcenters@lcnv.org

-Kerrin Epstein, Lead Teacher and AmeriCorps Member

 

The First Grader: A Movie to Inspire Adult Educators

June 21, 2011 at 2:31 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Community, Teaching | Leave a comment
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Last time I blogged, I told you about one of my all-time favorite books, Mountains Beyond Mountains, and how re-reading it last month brought about some much-needed introspection in regards to my post-AmeriCorps immediate future (disclaimer: if one more person asks what my plans are for the fall, [unless your intent is to offer me a job or to make my graduate school decision for me] you may force me to respond with something to the effect of underwater basket weaving.  Kidding.  Kind of).

Anyways, in keeping with the pop-culture recommendation of my previous post, I thought I’d tell you about a movie I recently saw with my cousin that I loved and think you will too.  The First Grader is based on the true story of an 84-year-old man from Kenya named Maruge (Oliver Litondo), who spent his youth fighting for his people’s independence.  Maruge is of a tribe of people who were almost singular among Kenyans in their efforts to withstand colonial oppression, to the extent that they were interned in detention camps where they were met with horrific persecution.

When Kenya gains its independence, the government establishes a program of free, universal education.  While not explicitly delineated, this free education is intended to be for Kenya’s youth.  On the registration day, throngs of parents and children flock to this little country school to sign up, but when everything is said and done, there stands Maruge, this 84-year-old man who wants to register for school too.

He’s turned away, but returns day after day until teacher Jane Obinchu (Naomie Harris), who is so moved by his determination to learn how to read (you’ll have to watch to learn why), accepts him into her first grade classroom.  As the story progresses, there are intermittent episodes of Maruge’s neighbors’ outrage at an 84-year-old going back to first grade, this selfsame man who spent his own youth being tortured for his country peoples’ freedom; as well as the heartwarming, archetypal exchanges between the aged and youth.

Viewers can love this movie from so many different angles, but as an adult educator (who counts among her students an impressive handful who are well into their eighties), this movie struck a special chord in my heart.

I hope that you get a chance to see and become inspired by The First Grader as well!  (FYI: I saw the movie a couple weeks back at Bethesda Row Cinema, so if you’re interested I think that you’ll have to hunt down a theater like Bethesda Row that plays movies of the more “artsy/independent” persuasion).  Enjoy!

Trailer: http://www.thefirstgrader-themovie.com/trailer/     

-Alicia Nieves, Lead Teacher and AmeriCorps Member

Upcoming Computer Workshop for LCNV Learners

June 20, 2011 at 10:48 AM | Posted in Basic Literacy, Community, Tutoring, Volunteers | 1 Comment
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Last winter a group of IBM employees from the DC metro area gave up a Saturday afternoon to come to our computer lab at the James Lee Center and work one-on-one with our tutoring and classroom students, helping them learn how to use the computer or improve their computer skills. These wonderful volunteers will be returning on Saturday, June 25 from 1:00-3:00 for a repeat performance.  In addition to providing the types of assistance they offered last time (e.g., instruction in using a mouse, setting up an e-mail account, and surfing the web) they have expanded their repertoire of offerings to include how to use Skype.  This should be of high interest to a lot of our foreign–born students who would like to learn another way of communicating with their friends and relatives back home.

If you know any LCNV learners who might be interested, do encourage them to attend this free workshop.  They’re welcome to bring interested friends and family members along.  There are bound to be some Spanish speakers there, along with speakers of some other languages, who are fluent in English and can help translate.  However, it would be helpful for students who speak very little English to bring their own translators with them.

This is a great opportunity, both for LCNV learners who were unable to make it to the previous workshop and for those who attended but would like to learn more.  I’m really looking forward to the occasion.  Last time it was great to see such a large turnout of our student population and to meet learners who were so intent on acquiring computer literacy skills and so grateful for the opportunity to do so.  I’m sure it will be the same this time around.

 -Elise Bruml, Director of Tutoring Programs

Beyond The Book Tutor Panel: Focus on BAL Tutoring

June 13, 2011 at 2:10 PM | Posted in Basic Literacy, Training, Tutoring, Volunteers | Leave a comment
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Educators often talk about creating a community of learners. In such a community, teachers and students learn from one another’s challenges and successes, trials and tribulations. Unfortunately, this community is very difficult to build in a tutoring model. Difficult, not impossible.

On June 8th, five tutors from both tutoring programs presented to a small crowd of fellow tutors. Tutor presenters from the Basic Literacy Tutoring program were Anne Spear and Amy Spencer. This space is far too small to applaud all of their great ideas, so I’ll just include some of the highlights.

Anne uses a variety of materials with her lucky student, including the Washington Post Express, student and tutor created dictionaries and many word games generated by http://www.edhelper.com ($25/year). She emphasized the need to know your student so every lesson can be tailored to his or her needs. She also stressed the need to circle back to material to be sure students are retaining information and to give them practice in multiple contexts.

 Amy shared many valuable and creative materials she developed for one of her lucky students to meet her goals. Rather than simply stick to Laubach 1, as she and her student were assigned, Amy created exercises that integrated the basic reading skills of Laubach 1 into relevant, practical tools, specifically, a visit to the doctor’s office. Amy used pictures and keywords to build functional vocabulary with her student so the student could independently fill out forms and advocate for herself.

Anne and Amy are just two examples of the excellent tutors we have in our community of learners at LCNV. It was inspiring to hear their ideas and even more inspiring to hear the discussion that ensued with all of the tutors present. In-service events like June 8th’s tutor panel are valuable for every tutor who attends and for each of their students. Be on the lookout for our next in-service and please let us know if you have any ideas or needs for any tutoring support – chances are you aren’t alone!

-Molly Chilton, Basic Literacy Tutoring Specialist

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