Exciting Changes to BAL Tutor Training

July 27, 2011 at 3:51 PM | Posted in Basic Literacy, Training, Tutoring, Volunteers | Leave a comment
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Summer can be both busy and relaxing.  We often spend a lot of time trying to relax and take a break from the work we do all year.  This isn’t the case for many old and new members of the BAL tutor training team!  On a beautiful Saturday in July, five volunteer members of the training team (Nick Rosenbach, Mary Kate Dougherty, Pat Thompson, Anne Spear and Claire Brown) and two staff members (Katie Beckman and Molly Chilton) met to discuss changes to the content, structure and presentation of the already strong BAL tutor training.  We discussed revisions to the training and made suggestions about how we could improve our support for tutors and our services for students.  In a mere two and a half hours we managed to update the content of the training, rearrange lessons to make them more relevant and condense the face-to-face learning time into two Saturdays rather than three, hopefully making tutoring a more manageable commitment to prospective tutors.

 We prepared for this meeting for a long time, rewriting modules from the training and raising concerns and conflicts.  We didn’t always agree with each other or have the same priorities.  However, at the end of the morning, we were all satisfied that this was a step in the right direction and eager to move forward.  The current training is good, but we all know it can always be better and this is a belief that drives us all in our commitment to LCNV’s mission of providing literacy to all.

 -Molly Chilton, Basic Literacy Tutoring Specialist

Using Children’s Books in the Classroom

July 21, 2011 at 3:32 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Class, ESOL, Family Learning, Lesson Plans, Teaching | Leave a comment
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It is a good idea to do something different in the classroom. One easy way to do this is by introducing books into the classroom. During the summer session I did this with my level one student’s and to an extent it was a success. We read Clifford Gets a Job and School Bus. My students were excited about reading a book in English. The first one we read wasSchool Bus, by Donald Crews, a hardcover with lots of pictures and few words. They loved that that I asked them to describe what they saw and that I slowly explained the words they did not understand. The book actually got the whole class asking about colors. What color is your shirt teacher? What color is the marker? There was one student that did not know any of the colors, and as a teacher, I was proud of how our class helped that one student learn her colors. “Yellow,” they said pointing to a picture of the school bus. “Red, yellow, green” as they pointed to the picture of the traffic light. “Orange,” said another student as he stretched his shirt. They liked the book so much that they asked me to bring another book for them.

So I brought in Clifford Gets a Job, by Norman Bridwell, which was very relevant since we had just finished going over occupations. The thing about this book is that while it has a lot of very colorful pictures it also has a lot more words and full sentences. This was a challenge for my level one students. It did not go as smoothly as the School Bus book. It unfortunately took me almost the whole class to go over it. I was expecting it only to take about 30 minutes. For longer books I suggest having questions ready to guide the lesson.

-Jose Flores, Lead Teacher and AmeriCorps Member

What’s that Library Thing?

July 15, 2011 at 2:19 PM | Posted in Favorite, Teaching, Tutoring, Volunteers | Leave a comment
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Just a friendly reminder if you’re seeking library books from the LCNV collection but don’t live within a convenient driving distance, we can still offer books and resources to you!

1.  Library Thing

You can view a listing of everything our library has to offer including tapes and CDs!  Each item is tagged with its call number and a variety of categories that might help you identify other similar resources.  It does not show what books are checked out, but you can call (703-237-0866) or email (library@lcnv.org) to verify.

2.  Fairfax County Inter-library loan

If you live in FAirfax County, the library system has generously offered to let us send ships from Thomas Jefferson Library to other Fairfax County libraries.  We can send books to you with this system, but you still have to drop them off here at the LCNVoffice for returns.

3. After Hours Drop-box

LCNV’s office hours are 9-5 Monday through Friday when most of the metro area is also busy working or commuting.  However, to make book borrowing easier, you can return or pick up using our drop box outside the office!  Call or email the librarians for instructions!

4. Giveaway materials

Every once and a while, a tutor or teacher cleans out their home libraries and donate to LCNV.  Any redundant material, we leave out for volunteers as a giveaway.  We just got several boxes from a former ESL teacher with great titles like Longman’s Grammar Series Focus on Grammar and Cambridge University’s Clear Speech.  Feel free to stop by and see if there is anything of use for you.

I hope you’ll make use of these wonderful services and give us suggestions of books or services that might inprove our system!

-Katie Beckman, Program Assistant

What Makes A Good Lesson Plan?

July 6, 2011 at 4:55 PM | Posted in Basic Literacy, Teaching, Volunteers | Leave a comment
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Nothing can replace knowing your student’s needs, preferences, goals and learning style when it comes to a good lesson plan, but there are some other principles that are also helpful when designing a great lesson.  The Basic Adult Literacy Training Team is in the thick of revising and updating some content and delivery for our fall training.  One section that we are revising is the overview of lesson planning.  So far we have come across some excellent guidelines that we plan to include in our new and improved presentation.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Make goals, objectives and expectations clear and explicit
  • Include strategy instruction; instruction that focuses on how to learn by making thought processes clear and signaling students as to when and how to apply strategies.
  • Scaffold instruction: support students as needed and gradually remove support as students become more independent
  • Make instruction intensive.  Students should be actively engaged in targeted practice with feedback, rather than just passively listening and/or observing
  • Be sure that instruction is structured so that content and skills are broken into manageable pieces and taught in a logical sequence that builds one skill on top of another and ultimately relates to the student’s goal(s)

These principles and more are discussed in Applying Research in Reading Instruction for Adults: First Steps for Teachers by Susan McShane (National Institute for Literacy: The Partnership for Reading, 2005) which is available in the LCNV library.  Take a look and see if you can find new ways to support your students!

-Molly Chilton, Basic Literacy Tutoring Specialist

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