Sunday, July 23, 2017

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Philadelphia PA :: Crawford Co AR :: Fort Bend Co TX

Philly's adult learners earning their way to better lives 7.03.2017 by Kristen A. Graham

For a long time, Sharif Cook-Riley thought he would become a statistic: He was a young black man with a criminal record and no high school diploma. But this week, he earned a piece of paper that has already served as a bridge to a better life.

Hector Ceballos left Mexico without finishing high school, in search of more opportunities in America. The equivalency credential he collected on Wednesday will allow him to pursue a future in the music world – something he has dreamed of for as long as he can remember.

The two men are among the 100-plus Philadelphians who earned the right to graduate this week in a ceremony honoring adult learners who successfully obtained Commonwealth Secondary School Diplomas – high school equivalency degrees, essentially.

In a city where nearly one in five adults lacks a high school degree and nearly half struggle to read, the achievement is meaningful on both a small and a large scale. Adults who earn their equivalency degrees increase their earning potential dramatically, by thousands a year.
Through the Community Learning Center, a 30-year-old adult literacy nonprofit, Cook-Riley took placement tests and, in four months, zoomed through a program that takes many people a year or more to complete.  READ MORE @

Getting GED reinstated as alternative sentencing
Press Argus-Courier: 7.03.2017 by Taniah Tudor

Criminal offenders in Crawford County facing steep fines or community service can now have those sentences wiped out if they agree to work instead toward receiving their general education diploma.

When District Court Judge Chuck Baker started working as a county prosecutor 25 years ago, every sentencing included completion of the equivalency exam for those without a general education or high school diploma, he said.

After he took office as district judge in January, Baker and Debbie Faubus-Kendrick, the Crawford County Adult Education director, began to discuss reinstating the education program as alternative sentencing, he said.

“I wanted to bring that back when I became judge,” Baker said.
Baker started giving alternative service, or alternative sentencing in April in partnership with the Crawford County Adult Education Center, which offers the education courses.

“Baker is giving the participants an opportunity to grow and succeed where they’ve never had it before,” Faubus-Kendrick said.

Multiple people in the program are close to receiving their GED, and up to five people additionally will graduate from the CCAEC’s basic skills classes in a few months, said Marty Wilson, Crawford County Adult Education alternative sentencing coordinator.  READ MORE @

Volunteer teaches English to immigrants in Houston area
Waco Tribune: 7.08.2017 by Monica Rohr

Mr. Vito, as his students call him, began class with his usual questions: “What do you want to know? What would you like to read?”

The English as a Second Language instructor, whose full name is Vito Susca, sat at the head of a long conference table. By his elbow, a pile of dog-eared reference books: A Dictionary of American Idioms. World Almanac 2017. Collins Thesaurus. Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

His adult students at the Literacy Council of Fort Bend County can look up a nettlesome word in seconds on their smartphones, but the 86-year-old Susca is old school. So whenever someone stumbles over vocabulary, one of the books is passed around the table.

From Renee Kang, a native of Hong Kong, to Erika Arroyo, a soon-to-be first-time mother from Brazil. From Jean Cuyollaa, an ebullient retiree from France, to Morvarid Rad, a soft-spoken Iranian.

From one newcomer to another, then back to Mr. Vito, a retired engineer, Korean War veteran, history buff, widower twice over, son of an Italian immigrant father and Polish-American mother who both struggled to learn English as adults.

In his 17th year as a volunteer teacher, Susca conducts his class like a seminar on American culture, weaving in current events and comic strip brain teasers, regaling students with tales from his life and chapters from U.S. history. They leap from syntax and vocabulary to the Haymarket Square riots and the Trail of Tears; from grammar and idioms to the six flags of Texas and the meaning of Juneteenth.  READ MORE @

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Creators Discuss The Importance Of Libraries In Promoting Literacy

Creators Discuss The Importance Of Libraries In Promoting Literacy
Bleeding Cool: 7.20.2017 Posted by Ray Flook

Bleeding Cool reporter Marilyn Weiss writes:

Once again, the San Diego Public Library has partnered with Comic-Con International to bring back their special series of panels called Talking Comics with America’s Educators: The Comic Conference for Educators and Librarians. This is its own free five-day mini conference that takes play during Comic-Con. The series focuses specifically on libraries and educators, and presents new innovative ways to include comics and graphic novels in the educational process.

On Thursday morning at the Creators, Libraries, and Literacy panel, librarians and educators got to meet Raina Telgemeier, Matt Holm, Molly Ostertag, Zander Cannon and Mike Lawrence and discuss the impact that libraries and librarians had on their work. The general consensus was simple: libraries are a safe place of exploration. Or, as Telegemeier lovingly stated about them, “There’s a giant heart above my head.”

Each of the creators credited their love of books and comics to having library access as children. Libraries gave many of them a place to explore all different types of literature without any barriers. And, possibly just as important, it acted as a physically safe place to stay cool and out of trouble.

Unfortunately, comics have not always been embraced by parents and teachers as educationally valuable medium. But Lawrence credited the changing attitude towards comics in education to librarians who work hard to get comics into the hands of kids.  READ MORE @

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE :: 8 Semifinalists

Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE

Meet the semifinalist teams competing for the $7M Adult Literacy XPRIZE.

The Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE presented by Dollar General Literacy Foundation is a global competition challenging teams to develop mobile applications for existing smart devices that result in the greatest increase in literacy skills among participating adult learners in just 12 months.

In selecting the semifinalist teams we are one step closer to eliminating the barriers to literacy learning for the over 36 million low literate adults living in the United States. Their technology will disrupt the cycle of isolation, lack of opportunity and poverty for these individuals and their families. We are one step closer to the radical new approach to adult literacy learning.

The applications developed by our semifinalists will offer low literate adults the needed skills to improve their literacy affording them multitudes of opportunities. We look forward to their groundbreaking solutions and the journey ahead.

Alphabet Literacy was founded by Trudy Obi  and Xian Ke when they decided to collaborate on a team for the Adult Literacy XPRIZE competition. Trudy and Xian met during their teen years at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.
Tech Information
Alphabet Literacy is an app that allows users to explore multimedia content for improving their literacy skills. Users can interact with articles, songs, videos, and more within the app.

AmritaCREATE, Amrita University has pioneered technology enhanced learning for K12 Schools & Higher Education in both formal and informal settings and in Health Awareness and Monitoring Systems
Tech Information
Inspired by Amrita University's Chancellor AMMA, Dr. Prema Nedungadi and a team of educators and developers have created Amrita Learning, a personalized learning app along with engaging, culturally appropriate e-content linked to life skills.

Team AutoCognita got its start when founder Frank Ho, inspired by the challenge, signed up for the Adult Literacy and Global Learning XPRIZEs and looked around for other like-minded people also based in Hong Kong.
Tech Information
AutoCognita applies the constructivist learning approach to engage learners through action.  Low-literacy adults effectively acquire basic literacy, numeracy and life skills through a comprehensive curriculum and sound pedagogy.

Team Cell-Ed was born out of a staggering need. A need for nearly one billion adults – two out of three who are women – to read and write. From Miami to Mombasa, the team witnessed these adults scramble to access the classrooms, teachers and books necessary to learn. There were never enough, if any. But what the founders noticed these adults did have were basic cell phones. So they asked, “What if a cell phone can teach forgotten adults to read?”
Tech Information
Cell-Ed has 20+ years of ed tech experience with low income, low literate adults in the US and worldwide that’s filling a major market need by offering Cell-Ed: Learn on the Go! ,an on demand essential skills micro-lessons and personalized coaching on any mobile device - no internet required.

Learning Games Studios (LGS) comes out of a top shelf research network led by MIT’s Education Arcade and University of Wisconsin’s Games+Learning+Society Center.
LGS’ portfolio of games addresses the critical needs of adult learners, immigrants and employees, including English language learning and 21st Century skills, such as critical thinking, communications, and decision-making.
Tech Information
Xenos Isle is an evidence-based mobile learning game that combines a virtual world, scaffolded missions, and single and multi-player gameplay to rapidly increase adult learners’ English language and literacy skills for increased civic engagement and enhancing career pathways.

Founded in 1998 by educators, musicians, artists and programmers in San Diego, Learning Upgrade designs innovative, engaging lessons to support struggling students in reading and math. Through the incorporation of songs, video, games and educational research, Learning Upgrade has helped over 1 million students make learning breakthroughs.
In Adult Literacy, we have partnered with Los Angeles Public Library Adult Literacy to deploy our lessons with hundreds of learners at branch libraries, using web-based online courses. We have also worked with San Diego Public Library, Job Corps, and Community Colleges to provide literacy and math instruction for low-literate adults.
Tech Information
The Learning Upgrade app is designed to provide millions of adults with an enjoyable and effective path to reading success. Available now in app stores, Learning Upgrade is ready to help people around the world learn to read!

Lyriko Learning a new language is one of the most important challenges many of us face. Lots of countries have immigrants who are trying to learn the local language and fit in. Progress through traditional educational challenges can open up with improved language skills. Business is becoming increasingly global, and knowing another language can unlock new opportunities. And studying another language and culture is one of the best ways the break down prejudice and build appreciation in its place.
Tech Information
Lyriko is a music game designed to build language skills while exploring song lyrics.

Southern Methodist University (SMU) and Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT) serve a city that faces adult illiteracy rates that will reach 33% by 2030, impacting everything from poverty rates, to public safety and health. As populations grow, we see burgeoning areas struggling to build an infrastructure that can provide basic education to all residents.
With combined experience of 155 years in adult education, LIFT and SMU are joining forces to bend the trend of rising adult illiteracy rates. Our institutions educate a diverse population in a city of contrasts. The gap between the poor and the wealthy is glaring. Our natural partnership was formed from a shared belief that reading is a human right. As a result, we envision making a world-class, basic education accessible to millions.
Tech Information
Codex: Lost Words of Atlantis, a mobile adventure game for Android devices, helps low-literate adults improve their English reading skills. Based on an archeological adventure storyline, the initial gameplay revolves around crafting phonemes, onset-rime patterns, and sight words to “decode” a mysterious language from a lost civilization.  READ MORE @

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Tulsa OK :: Lee MA :: Fayetteville NC

Top 5 Myths about Adult Literacy Learners
TulsaLibrary: 6.30.2017

Danielle Merrill, ELL specialist with the Tulsa City-County Library's adult literacy program, encourages everyone to volunteer to tutor adult learners in need of improved literacy.  Merrill discusses the fact that increased adult literacy means improved quality of life, improved health, and improved childhood literacy rates which helps benefit out [sic] community.  WATCH

Literacy program gets a little help from its friends
Berkshire Eagle: 6.30.2017 by Jenn Smith

The Literacy Network of South Berkshire started with 11 students and a handful of volunteers in 1991. Nowadays, the nonprofit serves as many as 159 students a month, each one striving to better their literacy skills, and ultimately their futures.

To help residents achieve these goals, LitNet this month launched what it's calling the "American Dream Campaign" to raise funds for services and program materials. The Marblehead-based Gilson Family Foundation has promised to match donations up to a total of $30,000 until LitNet's annual gala, slated for Oct. 14.

The organization relies on volunteer tutors and community spaces to offer free, one-on-one tutoring. It also depends on private funding for materials, tutor training programs and staff and office space in Lee.
"Our funding has been level but our services have been increasing," said Jennifer Hermanski, LitNet's executive director since January 2016.
That fall, the organization marked its 25th anniversary. The current operating budget for LitNet is $204,400. This month's roster includes 132 students meeting with tutors; 13 students on break, and nine students waiting to be matched with a tutor READ MORE @

Senior tutor making a difference at 67
Fayetteville Observer: 7.01.2017 by Michael Futch

Puerto Rican by birth, Wilma Hernandez was 12 years old before she started to speak English.

Now 67 and retired, she’s teaching English as a second language to a crop of Spanish-speaking students in the Fayetteville Urban Ministry Adult Literacy program. Hernandez has been volunteering her time there as a senior tutor for the last four years.

In part, Hernandez said, she does it as “sort of an homage” to her father, who decided to come to New York from Puerto Rico at the age of 35 without knowing a lick of English. Leaving the rest of his family behind, he landed work in an electrical wiring factory and improved his lot by learning how to speak, read and write English.

“The first thing he said to me when I first came to New York — my Dad had not seen me in three or four years — he said, ‘You’re going to school to learn English because you’re not working in a factory,’” she recalled from her teaching cubicle inside the Urban Ministry building off Whitfield Street. “He said, ‘I work in a factory, and I’m getting out of the factory.’ And he did. He said, ‘You’re going to live a lot better. I want you to be a professional and sit at a desk. That’s the kind of job that I want you to do.’ Everybody had to have a high school diploma. We all had to graduate from high school.”

Hernandez is instilling that same necessity to learn the English language in nine students who originate from El Salvador, Santo Domingo, Korea and Myanmar. She is expected to soon pick up a few more students. In their native countries, she noted, they are all professionals from different vocations.

“I’m actually teaching them to read, write and speak it. I’m doing all that at the same time,” she said. “They come at a certain level, and I start them (with) all the basics and -I move on. I teach them all phonetics because most of the time they do understand it when I’m speaking English to them, but they have hard time pronouncing it. So that’s why I teach them phonics first.”  READ MORE @

Monday, July 17, 2017

Why Send Books to Prisoners ?

Why Send Books to Prisoners?

Why send books to prisoners?   The reasons range from the practical (education reduces recidivism) to the human (minds can rot in prison, books help them grow).  The people who get our books say it better than we can.  It’s letters like these that inspire us to do what we do.

Because a dictionary helped him get a degree – “Nearly 10 years ago I enrolled in a GED class and needed a dictionary to assist me in the class. Another prisoner gave me your organization’s information and told me to write to you about getting one. Well I did, and now, all these years later I have obtained my associates degree in paralegal studies, and I’d like to think you’re sending me that dictionary so many years ago was a contribution to me getting this far in my educational endeavors. Thank you.” – Eugene from Wisconsin

Because it helps prisoners to know someone cares – “Your job is literally putting smiles on peoples faces.  I’m smiling now knowing someone cares.” – Luke from Kentucky

Because knowing someone cares can change a life – “I never wanted to come to prison and ended up here under a bad set of circumstances. I have recovered from the primary shock (it took over three years) and I am trying to go in a new direction. What you did for me is part of that. I am doing the same thing in here that I did on the outside (help people). ” – Joseph from Arizona

Because some prisoners use their time to improve themselves  – “I am trying to use my time here to improve myself. I hope to rejoin society soon with a better appreciation of freedom and personal responsibility.” – Robert from Pennsylvania

Because people can discover reading and learning in prison – “There was a young inmate here who just got his GED and had never read a book from cover to cover. Sharing The Lightning Thief with him has created a literary monster. He is now a nonstop reader and is reading his sixth book.”  – Earl from Florida

Because many prisons don’t even have a library – “The library in my facility has been closed for nearly three years; unfortunately it remains closed but now we finally have some fresh reading material thanks to your organization.” – Gus from Connecticut

Many other groups do the same thing we do – send books to prisoners.
Although we are not affiliated with any of these, we wholeheartedly support their work.  If you have books to donate and live near one, they would appreciate your support.  If you would like to send books to a prisoner in one of the states we don’t support (California, Texas, Illinois, Nevada, Michigan and Maryland), one of these may be able to.  READ MORE @

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Delaware Co Pa :: Wichita Falls TX :: Wilmington NC

Delco GED graduates celebrate at commencement ceremony
Delco Times: 6.26.2017

Mussa Kromah of Sharon Hill earned his GED in December and just six months later was addressing other GED graduates at a combined graduation ceremony for those earning their high school equivalency diplomas during the 2016-2017 school year.

The ceremony, was held at Delaware County Community College on June 22, honored nine adult students who passed their GED through the Delaware County Literacy Council, along with ten graduates from DCCC’s GED program, and 19 graduates from PathWays PA’s GED program.

“In Africa we have a saying,” Mussa told the crowd. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Mussa also told the audience that he took the English portion of the GED test five times before passing it. “That taught me a good lesson — keep working. Keep working, and one day you will succeed”.  READ MORE @

Literacy tutors address different skill needs
Times News Record: 6.28.2017 by Eldon Sund

Hi, my name is Eldon Sund, and I would like to share with you some of my experiences working with the Wichita Adult Literacy Council, Inc. as a tutor over the past 10 years. I have thoroughly enjoyed volunteering for WALC with many different students. I worked for years as a MSU professor so these students at WALC are a new experience.

Most of the students I work with come from a background that I never knew existed. For the most part, they come from an income level that was foreign to me. I now have a much better understanding of what the term poverty means. Often one uses examples in teaching so that the student will have a better understanding of what is being discussed.

Many of the examples I found I was using had no meaning to them because they had not had the same experiences that I had. I have learned it is usually pointless to ask if his father ever taught teach him that because many of them didn’t have a father in the home. Most of my students are products of a Special Education Program where they may have graduated but are unable to read or write so they end up in the WALC program.

I have found that the majority of students are very bright; and if they had the same opportunities as most of us, I believe that all of my students would have been college graduates and perhaps even honor graduates. It takes a great deal of courage to come to WALC and ask, “Can you help me to read?”  READ MORE @

Citizenship 101
Wilmington Biz: 6.30.2017 by Yasmin Tomkinson, Ex Dir-Cape Fear Literacy Council

The House of Representatives has how many voting members?

Uh, good question!

Who was president during World War I?

You know, I should know this one, but….

The above exchange resembles a game of Trivial Pursuit. However, these questions aren’t part of a game and the ability to answer correctly is not a trivial matter. The examples above come from the list of 100 civics questions that are part of the process for applying for naturalization.

To apply for citizenship, a person must have been living in the United States on a green card for five years, unless he or she is married to a U.S. citizen. In that case, the application may be submitted after three years. The cost of an application is $725. However, an applicant may be able to apply for a fee waiver or a fee reduction. Other requirements for citizenship may be found at

At the Cape Fear Literacy Council, we assist people who wish to apply for citizenship in a variety of ways.  READ MORE @

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Public Libraries & Adult Education via NCAL

Point of View NCAL: 7.12.2017 by Gail Spangenberg
President, National Council for Adult Learning

“Soon after the skill of writing was developed, more than 5,000 years ago, the need to save what had been written led to the phenomenon of the library.  To understand the library’s history and role in society, no resource is more important than Marshall McLuhan’s and Robert K. Logan’s 1997 seminal text, The Future of the Library.”

An up-to-date national survey should be done to fully understand the current role and nature of public library involvement.  NCAL or some other group could do this with only modest funding. But, in the meantime, we hope this blog will help re-energize thinking about the matter.  We invited author Robert Logan and librarians Leslie Gelders of Oklahoma and Greg Lucas of California to share their thoughts about the subject. We appreciate and thank them for the prose they contribute below, especially their call for stronger funding. As always, readers are welcome to offer their own thoughts and experiences.

Director, Oklahoma Literacy Resource Office,
Oklahoma Department of Libraries
Public library literacy programs are in a state of transformation in Oklahoma. Where one-to-one tutoring was once the norm—and it still remains important—literacy programs here  are developing new services and partnerships to address the changing needs of our communities and those seeking literacy services. For example, our public libraries have two new areas of focus: Health Literacy and Citizenship.  READ MORE @

State Librarian
California State Library
The most cost-effective use of a taxpayer dollar is to help someone become a stronger reader. No other investment of public funds comes close in terms of the dividends paid and the yield in human capital.

Teach someone to read and they probably won’t go to prison. In California, that saves over $70,000 a year right there, the current annual cost of incarcerating an inmate. Teach someone to read and they can take a written test, which means they’ll get a better paying job.  It will cost the government less to take care of their family and that individual in the better paying job will pay more in taxes so that more investments can be made to create stronger readers.  READ MORE @

Prof. Emeritus – Physics – U. of Toronto
Fellow University of St. Michael’s College
Chief Scientist – sLab at OCAD
Author (with Marshall McLuhan) of The Future of Libraries:
From Electric to Digital Media, published 2016
Libraries are the custodians of our historic heritage. They deserve the proper care and support of the government because an informed public is the bedrock of democracy.

Too often administrators of the public purse become obsessed with balancing their budgets and take actions that do not preserve our heritage, which is the most important thing our society possesses.  READ MORE @