National Volunteer Week 2015: Merged Tutor Training

April 16, 2015 at 2:05 PM | Posted in Training, Volunteers | Comments Off on National Volunteer Week 2015: Merged Tutor Training
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In honor of National Volunteer Week (April 12-18), we’d like to thank all of you, LCNV volunteers, for the incredible 34,000 hours of service you provide every year to help advance LCNV’s mission!

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This March, LCNV held our first merged Tutor Training. We want to give a shout out to our volunteer training team for their hard work, as always, and for helping make this happen. Merging what were once two distinct tutor trainings into one makes it easier for LCNV to deliver the training our new volunteers need to tutor any student on our wait list. This was a huge effort that we could not have accomplished without the dedication and hard work of our volunteer trainers.

See more background information on the merged training

For Instructors: Learning English with Technology In-service

January 17, 2014 at 4:30 PM | Posted in Training, Tutoring, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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IMG_5373Do you have questions about using technology with students?  People say you can find anything and everything on the internet, but where do you start? If you feel overwhelmed, take some tips from LCNV instructors, Laurie Hayden and Alexandra Roncal. They will guide you through over a dozen websites and apps to help your students practice English skills. Using free or free versions of resources, they will cover grammar, oral reading, reading comprehension, speaking/pronunciation, and listening skills. Volunteers with basic working knowledge of computers and internet browsing are invited to bring laptops, tablets, or smartphones to practice exploring and bookmarking/downloading these exciting resources.

To whet your appetite and see an example of the fun ways to practice English with your student, check out! This is free!

James Lee Community Center
2855 Annandale Rd.
Falls Church, VA 22042

Tuesday, January 28, 2014, 6:30-8:30PM

Tell us if you are coming and if you are bringing a electronic device!

To register contact or call 703.237.0866 by January 24, 2014.

Katie Beckman-Gotrich, Programs and Training Administrator
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042

ESOL Writing Workshop

August 3, 2011 at 12:39 PM | Posted in Class, ESOL, Teaching, Training, Tutoring | 1 Comment
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Come see the workshop our AmeriCorps loved so much last Spring!

Tanya Conover of Prince William County School’s Adult ESOL Program will presenting a workshop on teaching writing to ESOL students!

Where? James Lee Community Center, 2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22046

When? Saturday,  August 27th, 10:00 a.m.  To 12:00 noon

PWCS teachers and students have developed a curriculum using process writing (a presentation of writing as a step by step journey of internal and external “discovery”).  Come learn about their curriculum and text built for use in the classroom at all levels and about how student articles and stories are shared in their own publication Our Voices. (Although this curriculum was designed for use with ESOL learners, it may also be appropriate for low-level students whose first language is English).

Please RSVP by August 24th!

Contact or call 703.237.0866

Katie Beckman, Program Assistant

Exciting Changes to BAL Tutor Training

July 27, 2011 at 3:51 PM | Posted in Basic Literacy, Training, Tutoring, Volunteers | Comments Off on Exciting Changes to BAL Tutor Training
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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

Beyond The Book Tutor Panel: Focus on BAL Tutoring

June 13, 2011 at 2:10 PM | Posted in Basic Literacy, Training, Tutoring, Volunteers | Comments Off on Beyond The Book Tutor Panel: Focus on BAL Tutoring
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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 ($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

Three Cheers for the BAL Training Team!

May 24, 2011 at 1:25 PM | Posted in Basic Literacy, Training, Tutoring, Volunteers | Comments Off on Three Cheers for the BAL Training Team!
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What do a securities analyst, a librarian and a retired reading specialist have in common?  No, it isn’t a joke; it’s just part of the BAL training team, and just one thing that makes this team so special.  The current BAL training team consists of Marykate Dougherty, Pat May, Lisa Bellamy, Sandi Eisenstein, Nick Rosenbach and Pat Hayden.  The last BAL training session trained over 20 volunteer tutors to work with Basic Adult Literacy students from all over northern Virginia, and they all go forth well-prepared by this excellent group of trainers. 

The training team has worked together for over ten years, with some members serving LCNV for more than 20 years in various roles, from tutor to staff member to board member.  The current training manual was written almost entirely by volunteers, many of whom still serve on the training team.

During our last training workshop we were lucky enough to be joined by two prospective new trainers.  Pat Thompson is a current tutor and Max Postman is a former tutor – both looking to become more involved with the Literacy Council.  Pat and Max brought fresh energy and new perspectives to the training and we all look forward to sharing ideas as we head into summer to freshen up our already excellent training for the next crop of tutors.  Stay tuned for more updates on our new and improved BAL training and if you have any ideas, please let us know!

-Molly Chilton, Basic Literacy Tutoring Specialist

Dynamic Tutor Trainings

April 20, 2011 at 1:28 PM | Posted in Basic Literacy, Training, Tutoring, Volunteers | Comments Off on Dynamic Tutor Trainings
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This spring’s ESOL tutor training began last Saturday.  Even though I have participated in over 25 of these workshops since joining the Council’s staff, no two of them are ever the same.  Consequently, the experience never grows old.  For one thing, the substance of the training continues to evolve.  Our training team takes the feedback which participants provide on their evaluation forms very seriously.  They approach the curriculum with the attitude that there is always room for improvement.  As a result, they’re continually tweaking the training in an effort to keep it fresh and make it the best it can be.

The trainees themselves also keep the workshop experience interesting.  Before each workshop begins, I learn a little about the participants from the information they provide on their registration forms, but this is nothing compared to meeting them in person.  What admirable people they generally turn out to be.  They bring such varied backgrounds and life experiences to this volunteer opportunity but are united in their desire to make a real difference in people’s lives.

 In addition, each workshop definitely has its own personality.  It’s always fascinating to observe the group dynamics at work, as well as the chemistry that develops between the trainers and trainees and between the trainees themselves over the three sessions.

 -Elise Bruml, Tutoring Program Director 

Health Literacy Resources

March 14, 2011 at 11:00 AM | Posted in Community, Training, Volunteers | 1 Comment
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We’ve been receiving tons of great feedback about Kate Singleton’s Health Literacy Workshop last month and we wanted to follow-up with some of resources here for your reference.

Overall, people were interested in local options for low-cost healthcare and then we’ll follow-up with a series of links.  So here are her suggestions:

-About the Northern VA Low Cost Care Resources List: For Teachers re Resource List

-the list: Northern VA Low Cost Care Resources Feb 14 2011

Kate also noted, teachers might be interested in some statistics from her ESL presentations to lower level adult students in Arlington.  Out of 300 students, 78% were uninsured, 15% had not been to a doctor in their native country, and 68% had no doctor in the United States.  About 10 of the 300 acknowledged having heard of the Arlington Free Clinic.  It is always startling how few people know of the local clinics who might qualify for their services.

Other important links for your reference:

Information on Patient Rights

Teaching Resources

Cultural Views

Please feel free to start or continue discussion about the workshop in the comments below!  Thank you all for attending!

If you have any other questions, feel free to email Kate directly:

Health Literacy Specialist for Northern Virginia Health Literacy Initiative, Inova Health Sciences Library and ER Trauma Social Worker, Inova Fairfax Hospital Case Management Department or

Katie Beckman, Program Assistant

A Recap of the VLLC Conference

March 3, 2011 at 1:38 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Class, Community, ESOL, Family Learning, Lesson Plans, Teaching, Training, Tutoring, Volunteers | 2 Comments
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Last week the four AmeriCorps members as well as Katie Beckman, Elise Bruml, and Patti Donnelly trekked down to Richmond for the annual Virginia Literacy Leadership Council (VLLC) Conference, Feb 24-25.   About eighty adult educators hailing from all over Virginia and representing organizations serving across the spectrum of ABE, GED, and ESOL attended this two-day conference.

The speaker-list included such names as Lauren Ellington and Hillary Major (who should sound familiar if you’ve ever taken a VALRC online training) and Gloria Williams-Brevard (of USCIS, who the AmeriCorps actually had the pleasure of meeting several months ago at an ESOL event hosted by the Thomas Jefferson Library in Falls Church).

One of my favorite presentations was given by Brooke Hammond Perez of Hogar Immigrant Services, an organization based out of Falls Church that provides ESOL, GED, and citizenship instruction for a student body similar to the one that LCNV serves.  As part of their program, every Thursday after English class, a guest speaker (usually some sort of professional from the community) gives a presentation to the students surrounding an applicable topic in his or her field of expertise.  Individuals who have been part of Hogar’s Speaker Series have covered such topics as “Know your Rights” (a discussion of students’ rights regardless of citizenship status), “Personal Finances” (the importance of saving your money), “Domestic Abuse,” “Speaking to your Doctor,” “Getting your GED,” and many more.  It was wonderful to witness a successful program that an organization similar to ours implemented in order to bridge the gap that so often forms between our students and the greater community.   The AmeriCorps are interested in looking into how we can possibly assemble a comparable pilot program at one of our sites.

Tanya Conover of Prince William County Public Schools Adult ESOL program also gave a great presentation on how her organization incorporates writing into their classrooms.  The students write about topics very personal to them – from their lives in their native countries and their relationships with their children, to how they met their spouses and ways they’re adjusting to life in the U.S.  The stories are published in a wonderful compilation entitled: Our Voices, which will also soon be transformed into an audio media with the new name: Our Voices will not be Silent.  I speak for all the AmeriCorps when I say that we found this presentation very valuable and can’t wait to apply some of Tanya’s practices in our classrooms.

Overall, going to the conference was a very valuable experience because we were given the opportunity to interact with adult educators from our community who have the same visions, joys, successes, and struggles that we all experience here at LCNV.  Getting a wider perspective of things happening in our field was very inspiring.

-Alicia Nieves, Lead Teacher and AmeriCorps Member

BAL Tutor Training Revamp

February 22, 2011 at 10:39 AM | Posted in Basic Literacy, Training, Tutoring, Volunteers | Comments Off on BAL Tutor Training Revamp
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Like our student services, we’re always trying to improve our volunteer’s experiences, too.   I work to help develop our LCNV trainings for office volunteers, tutors and teachers with the help of our volunteer trainers, program directors and specialists.  I work closest with the BAL training team and pilot most our new ideas with them first.   Over the past few months, we’ve been talking about improvements we’d like to make.

With the help of our new BAL specialist, Molly and a new trainer joining our team, we recently met for lunch and had a really productive and motivating brainstorming session.  We do have a really great training program with a tremendous volunteer staff supporting it (+75 years experience among them), but we always want to make it as good as it can be.  We’re currently working to blend the strengths of our current methods with new content andonline resources.  In the end we’re hoping to promote more engaged, savvy, socially-connected volunteer tutors.

We had a lot of ideas about how to rearrange our training and use online materials other organizations have created to help save us the effort.  Using trainings like Thinkfinity, VALRC, or others may not be tailored exactly to our students but they can lay the groundwork for understanding what and why we teach our students the way we do. I’m so excited about all the opportunities this will allow us to pursue.  With more online, volunteers can reference back to material they need more easily and continue dialogging with their colleagues after training are out of session using  message boards.  We’re hoping to even work to integrate a new mentoring or shadowing program for apprehensive novice tutors!  I hope you’ll share your ideas and if you are a BAL tutor interested in joining the training team, please feel free to email me or call 703-237-0866 x103.

Katie Beckman, Program Assistant

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