Huzzah to a Great Semester and Another One to Come!

January 31, 2012 at 1:58 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Announcements, Class, Development, ESOL, Family Learning, Teaching, Tutoring, Volunteers | 1 Comment
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It is not only difficult to fathom that my first semester of teaching ESOL to adults has come and gone, but another semester soon approaches. I am anxious to meet all of my new students and excited to see many familiar faces.  Last semester was my first go at teaching and I was learning on my feet. Now, I have some time to really think about how I can begin to grow and be the best teacher for my students.

As a part of the AmeriCorps learning experience, I was recorded while teaching last semester. Watching this footage has been beneficial to me and already I’m finding areas of weakness that I can improve upon. I also learned that the only thing more unnerving than having someone watch and evaluate your teaching is watching yourself in front of the classroom, but that is besides the point. I find that instead of asking myself “How am I going to teach this class,” I am now asking “How can I be a better teacher?” I will begin my second semester adventure by developing more clear classroom objectives, searching for better classroom resources, and introducing  a new tool that will assess learning and monitor my students’ progress. I think it’s of the utmost importance that we really work on reaching students’ needs and goals, and that will be my focus henceforth!

Huzzah, to a great semester and another one to come!

Setara Habib
Americorps Instructor
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, Va 22042
(703)237-0866 ext 112
www.LCNV.org

American Library Association: 2012 Children’s Book Awards

January 30, 2012 at 10:24 AM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Announcements, Class, Development, ESOL, Family Learning, Teaching, Tutoring, Uncategorized, Volunteers | Leave a comment
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This week the news outlets were all abuzz with Oscar nomination announcements.  However, this is also a big week in the world of children’s book awards as the American Library Association announced its picks for 2012 at their Midwinter Meeting in Dallas.   Here are some of the top awards:

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature: “Dead End in Norvelt,” written by Jack Gantos.

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children: “A Ball for Daisy,” illustrated and written by Chris Raschka.

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults: Kadir Nelson, author and illustrator of “Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans.”

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award: Shane W. Evans, illustrator and author of “Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom,” is the King Illustrator Book winner.

Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children’s book translated from a foreign language and subsequently published in the United States: “Soldier Bear,” written by Bibi Dumen Tak and translated by Laura Watkinson. “Soldier Bear,” was originally published in Dutch in 2008.

Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience: “Diego Rivera: His World and Ours,” written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh.

Pura Belpré (Author) Award: “Under the Mesquite,” written by Guadalupe Garcia McCall.

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children: “Balloons over Broadway:  The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade,” written by Melissa Sweet.

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book: “Tales for Very Picky Eaters,” written and illustrated by Josh Schneider.

All of these titles are new to me, so I look forward to checking some of them out.

Carisa Coburn Pineda
Family Learning Specialist
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
(703) 237-0866
www.lcnv.org

Recommended Reading: Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf

January 25, 2012 at 8:00 AM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Announcements, Class, Development, ESOL, Family Learning, Teaching, Tutoring, Volunteers | 1 Comment
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One of the challenges in planning the training for the Basic Adult Literacy Tutoring Program is deciding what knowledge of reading and writing is essential for volunteer tutors to possess.  Obviously the trainings are not meant to be replacements for advanced degrees and can never answer all questions about why, when, or how to use a particular tool.  Instead, the trainings are introductions to basic instruction in beginning reading and writing. The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia tries to provide ongoing support and training to supplement the foundation that is laid during the initial training.  Of course, each time one question is answered, at least two more sprout in its place.

If you have some questions about the basic processes of reading instruction, but aren’t interested in obtaining a Master’s degree or digging through the academic research, take a look at Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf (Harper Perennial 2008).  This is a quick read that blends history, philosophy, and science to explain the most current understanding of reading research and reading disabilities.  It also raises some important questions about our typical conceptualization of what is ‘typical’ and what it means to have a reading disability or Dyslexia.

Wolf directs her attention to typical and atypical reading development in children but it is easy to apply the information to adults; the questions and perspectives she raises are certainly excellent and relevant to Literacy Council learners.  She explains the current science of reading clearly and thoroughly to give any reader a good understanding of the processes underlying what so many of us take for granted.  She also celebrates the wonder of reading and writing in all types of learners, raising questions about some common assumptions about learning to read that can give even the most seasoned teacher cause to reconsider.

Molly Chilton
Basic Literacy Tutoring Specialist
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
(703) 237-0866
www.lcnv.org

Digital Literacy: Beyond the Printed Page

January 24, 2012 at 10:38 AM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Announcements, Class, Development, ESOL, Family Learning, Teaching, Tutoring, Uncategorized, Volunteers | Leave a comment
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Check out Gavin Dudeney’s  “No Place in Class for Digital Illiterates,” which appeared in The Guardian.  Dudeney highlights a new aspect of literacy,  which is beyond the “three Rs of reading, writing, and arithmetic”: digital literacy.

The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia knows that education includes technology. In 2011, LCNV offered Open Computer Instruc­tion workshops , thanks to the help of a volunteer corps from IBM’s Asian Diversity Networking group, spearheaded by LCNV tutor, Elliot Zhang. The sessions were filled to capacity and learners worked on beginning-level operational skills, email, Skype, and navigating the Internet. Setara Habib, an AmeriCorps Instructor stated: “I am proud to say that my mom is a citizen of the internet. We set her up with an email and Skype account. I saw that other students were joining Facebook and looking for relatives while others were watching YouTube videos and learning about searches. It was a great experience!”

Adapting to the ever–changing and tech-connected world, LCNV hopes to continue to help our learners build their “digital literacy skill set.” Take a moment to read all about digital literacy and its role in students’ lives: “No Place in Class for Digital Illiterates.”

Ines Rivera
Communications Specialist
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
(703) 237-0866 x 109
www.lcnv.org

Learning Resources on the Web: Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

January 23, 2012 at 11:27 AM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Announcements, Class, Development, ESOL, Family Learning, Teaching, Tutoring, Volunteers | Leave a comment
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The internet contains numerous websites to help people improve their English skills, and new ones seem to pop-up daily.  Unfortunately, many of them are not particularly useful for our learners.  Some of them are geared towards children, others cost money to use, and still others just are not very good.  Separating the wheat from the chaff is time-consuming. There’s an annotated list of some good sites on the tutor resource page of the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia’s website. However, this list could use some updating.  We hope to accomplish it soon.  Meanwhile, here are a few websites which aren’t on the list yet but look good. All of them are free.

  •  http://www.migrant.net/migrant/Finanza/index.htm  provides a toolbox of materials created by the Geneseo Migrant Center to increase migrant workers’ financial knowledge.  The materials, which can be used online or printed out, cover a variety of financial topics, such as opening bank accounts, using credit and debit cards, and buying money orders.  Lesson plans, skills practice, and pre- and post-tests are included for each topic.  The lessons are non-sequential so tutors can pick and choose among them.  All the materials are available in Spanish as well as English.
  • www.queenslibrary.org is the website for New York’s Queens Library.  If you go to the Library Services A-Z tab on the left-hand side of the homepage and select Adult Literacy from the pull-down menu, you’ll get to English for Your Health.  The health literacy program for adults has some online activities for students;  it also contains a downloadable curriculum covering such topics as parts of the body, symptoms, making doctors’ appointments, talking to the doctor, and paying for healthcare.  Lesson plans, articles for students to read, photos, audio files, and student worksheets at both the beginning and intermediate levels are provided.
  • www.theliteracytribune.org, created by United Literacy Inc., provides a bimonthly online newsletter containing articles of interest to adults on subjects such as health, finance, technology, and history.  The articles can be read online or printed out.  They are written in simple English. Learners who read at the high beginning level could get something out of them.
  • www.rachelsenglish.com is a site created to help ESOL students improve their pronunciation.  The site includes videos explaining in detail how to create each sound, other pronunciation videos (e.g., the various ways of pronouncing plural nouns, how to pronounce “Thanksgiving” and “Christmas”), and intonation exercises designed to help with English speech patterns.   The site would be difficult for many of our students to use by themselves since it contains a lot of terminology with which they might be unfamiliar (e.g., diphthongs, voiced sounds).  However, it could prove useful for tutors to use with their learners, provided they have access to computers during their lessons.
  • I also want to put in a plug for a website which already is on the LCNV’s list: www.usalearns.org.  The contents of the site were spearheaded by the US Department of Education and designed by the Sacramento County Department of Education to improve adult ESOL learners’ English skills. The site is an excellent online resource which students can use by themselves if they have very basic computer skills or with their tutors. The first two levels (beginning English skills and low intermediate English skills) are appropriate for students in our ESOL tutoring program and for many learners in our Basic program whose first language is not English. However, the third level (intermediate reading and writing) would also be useful for native English speakers in the Basic program. The third level contains short articles which can be read and listened to, followed by exercises for vocabulary, comprehension, spelling and writing.

Elise Bruml
Director of Tutoring Programs
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
(703) 237-0866 x 106
www.lcnv.org

AmeriCorps Members Lend a Hand at A-SPAN

January 20, 2012 at 2:38 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Announcements, Class, Development, ESOL, Family Learning, Teaching, Tutoring, Volunteers | Leave a comment
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Yesterday for our Martin Luther King Day of Service, my fellow AmeriCorps members and I cleaned and organized at the Arlington Street Peoples’ Assistance Network ( A-SPAN), which is a homelessness assistance group in Arlington, Virginia. A-SPAN offers a plethora of programs and services: case management; employment counseling; Permanent Supportive Housing ; Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing; bagged meals; and an Emergency Winter Shelter.

I personally helped organize their clothing room where clients can pick out new clothes from donations. I also helped organize donated items to determine whether they were appropriate. Unfortunately, some people use organizations such as this as a dumping ground for their old, strained, ripped, and otherwise un-wearable clothing. The phrase “good enough for the homeless” flashes through some peoples’ minds as they drop off their soiled clothes,  but I’m glad that others take the alternative view that individuals, who are homeless or facing homelessness, deserve as good clothing as you or me. By the end of the day, the AmeriCorps team left A-SPAN with a clean, organized, and respectable clothing room that I hope will make an individual’s life better, even if in a small way.

Catherine K. Ludwig
AmeriCorps Instructor
Literary Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd Falls Church VA 22042
(703) 237-0866
www.lcnv.org

“Lose Yourself in the Service of Others”

January 17, 2012 at 2:44 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Announcements, Class, Development, ESOL, Family Learning, Teaching, Tutoring, Volunteers | Leave a comment
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The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
Mahatma Gandhi

Join our big family of LCNV Volunteers and get Northern Virginia reading, speaking, and understanding English.

Contact volunteers@lcnv.org or 703-237-0866 x 111 to attend the next Tutor Training!

The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia has hit the ground running this year. We’ve got our ESOL Tutor Training AND Spring Classroom sessions coming up. We need volunteer teachers, class aides, and tutors to help improve the literacy skills of area adults who are eager to learn and become full members of the community.

Our ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) one-on-one Tutoring Program provides individualized, goal-oriented English instruction to LCNV adult learners. We need more volunteer tutors to work with students on a waiting list, who need help with speaking, listening, reading, and writing English.  If you are looking to help somebody individually, as well as have the flexibility of setting your own schedule and volunteering in your own neighborhood, this could be a good fit for you.

Each tutor is trained, matched with a student, and encouraged to meet weekly for an hour and a half at a location convenient to both the volunteer and the learner. The Literacy Council provides intensive tutor training at our Falls Church office prior to starting an assignment (there is a $40 fee to cover the costs of training materials). The next THREE-DAY training will take place in Falls Church on January 21, 28, and February 4 (all Saturdays) at 9:30 am-3:00 pm.  All three days are required.

Our Classroom Programs offer beginning level ESOL classes to adults that focus on helping students improve their English speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills.  The classes also provide information about American culture and life skills important to the workplace, community, and family.

If you enjoy working with people, learning from others, and are available to give 2-4 hours a week for the next few months, our Classroom Volunteer Opportunities may be a perfect fit! Take a look at the class schedules online: http://www.lcnv.org/schedules.cfm and contact me to sign up!

Absolutely no teaching experience or knowledge of foreign languages is required for any of our volunteer positions!  Contact me to find out more and to get started!

Ruba Marshood Afzal
Director of Volunteers

Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
at the James Lee Community Center
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
(703) 237-0866 x 111
www.lcnv.org

Tutoring: Leaps and Bounds in Student Achievement

January 16, 2012 at 8:00 AM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Announcements, Class, Development, ESOL, Family Learning, Student Stories, Teaching, Tutoring, Uncategorized, Volunteers | Leave a comment
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Quarterly reports for the Basic Adult Literacy Tutoring Program are in! Quarterly reports provide great insights into students’ progress and the different ways literacy has impacted their lives. Take a moment to read what some BAL Tutors have written about their students’ progress, and the learning lessons that come from this one-on-one experience.

Sheka has been in need of a second job for some time. Over the summer and early fall, we completed many job applications. Sheka accepted a job at Arlington Hospital doing maintenance work overnight. Sheka now has two full time jobs. He does not want to give up tutoring nor does he want to give up contact with me and my family (the feeling is mutual). We will work it out. With luck, Sheka will be bringing his family here from Sierra Leone during 2012.
-Mary Anne, LCNV BAL Tutor

Arun has had a good end-of-the year experience: first, he passed the NOVA Accuplacer test, which he practiced with me on the computer; second, he took the citizenship test and interview. On January 3, 2012, Arun became a US citizen!
-Jill, LCNV BAL Tutor

The thing I like about Emelia is that she is always asking questions that lead to grammar, tenses, etc. I know this is helping Emelia. She told me a ‘friend’ took her to the bank and wanted her to co-sign a paper. Emelia told me the girl covered up the papers except where she was to sign. Emelia said she [the girl] knew she didn’t read well. Emelia uncovered the papers and saw the word LOAN. She immediately told her [the girl] how disappointed she was in her. When Emelia told me this story, I literally got chills. I knew our time, no matter how little, had made a difference.

Emelia is now working 5-6 days a week. She feels confident in herself. Emelia also tells me how she is helping her two-year-old with sounds. She is very proud of this.
-Jeanne, LCNV BAL Tutor

To learn how you can become a LCNV Volunteer Tutor inthe Basic Adult Literacy Tutoring Program or English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Tutoring Program, please contact volunteers@lcnv.org.  Get involved or donate today, and support LCNV’s cause.

Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd.
Falls Church, VA 22042
703-237-0866 ext. 104
www.lcnv.org

LCNV Students: Progress in the Making

January 12, 2012 at 2:56 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Announcements, Class, Development, ESOL, Family Learning, Student Stories, Teaching, Tutoring, Uncategorized, Volunteers | Leave a comment
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We in the AmeriCorner have just finished our end of session data entry, meaning that our first semester of teaching is officially over! It was a great semester, and a wonderful learning experience for both students and teachers. I saw four of the students at my class sites receive their graduation certificates; all are planning on registering for the Fairfax County ESOL classes this month. Of course, I am extremely proud of our graduates and students, but I also have to express how impressed I am. Seeing my students work so hard and progress is nothing short of inspiring – regardless of whether this progress was officially measured by a test.

One particular student of mine has left a very special impression on my heart. He recently came to the United States from Guatemala. He arrived at registration barely speaking a word of English, but I worked with him to fill out the form and get him tested. Right away, his enthusiasm for learning English was obvious– he went straight home to get his girlfriend and brought her back to register for class! Every single day he came to class with a smile on his face, ready to learn and with his homework completed, despite working long days doing construction. He also pursued his studies outside of class. He would stay after class to ask questions, and I often saw him peruse the ESOL section of the library. By the end of the semester, we were having full conversations about our favorite songs, movies, TV shows, and things he liked about America! He assured me that he was going to come back to English class during the spring semester! I hope that he, and all my students, return for classes at the end of this month and continue progressing.

Visit English for Speakers of Other Languages Learning Centers, and learn more about LCNV’s classroom program. To view the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia’s Class Schedules, please visit: Learn – LCNV. If you are interested in teaching or tutoring, please write to volunteers@lcnv.org.

Jessica L Raines
Americorps Member
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd.
Falls Church, VA 22042
703-237-0866 ext. 104
www.lcnv.org

Sam Jugus: A LCNV Supporter Earns the Eagle Scout Rank

January 9, 2012 at 2:58 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Announcements, Class, Development, ESOL, Family Learning, Teaching, Tutoring, Volunteers | Leave a comment
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The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia receives the support of countless dedicated volunteers and individuals. Sam Jugus is one of these LCNV advocates.

LCNV's Executive Director, Patricia Donnelly & LCNV Supporters, Sam Jugus & Donor Joe Brickey

This past fall, LCNV’s Connections for Hope Office in Herndon, Virginia, was a beneficiary of four new bookshelves. The donation was part of an Eagle Scout project led by Sam Jugus of Boy Scout Troop 30, in Centreville, Virginia. At the time, Sam was a Life Scout.

Sam started his scouting journey in 2001 as a Tiger Scout in Pack 1682 out of Virginia Run Elementary School in Centreville, Virginia. He joined Boy Scout Troop 30 in 2006, and continued to participate and earn merit badges throughout middle and high school with the goal to attain the Eagle rank, which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America.

The purpose of an Eagle Scout project is to give a young man leadership experience and provide a service to the community. After talking with LCNV Executive Director, Patricia Donnelly, Sam presented his Eagle Scout project proposal to his Troop leadership in July, 2010.  Several months of research, planning, seeking approvals, and securing funding followed. Yet, all of the young leader’s efforts came together in July of 2011: Sam pulled a team of scouts and friends, and began constructing bookshelves that would benefit LCNV’s Family Learning Program.

On August 10, 2011, Sam delivered four well-crafted, white bookshelves to LCNV’s Connections for Hope office; each handmade bookshelf came adorned with a small fingerprint – a little gold plate crediting the craftsman and his troop. Twenty-one individuals participated in the project, which took more than 140 hours to complete and cost more than $650, including $500 in donations.

“Teaching people how to read is an important way to help them take advantage of opportunities in our community,” Sam said. Smiling, he added: “I’m very proud of my Eagle Scout project and that I was able to help out the LCNV’s Connections for Hope office.”

Having successfully completed his Eagle Scout Project, on December 22, 2011, Sam became an Eagle and was honored in the Eagle Scout Court of Honor at the Virginia Run Community Center. LCNV would like to extend a warm thank you to Sam for all of his hard work, and congratulate him on becoming an Eagle Scout. We wish you continued success, Sam!

LCNV’s programs would not be possible without the help of dedicated volunteers and supporters like Sam.  We offer many diverse volunteer opportunities. To learn more about the different ways you can volunteer and become part of the LCNV family, please visit Volunteers or contact Ruba Afzal (volunteers@lcnv.org).   Get involved or donate today, and support LCNV’s cause.

Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
(703) 237-0866
www.lcnv.org

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