Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Story Share Contest - Help Beginning Readers

Publish a story. Win a prize. Help beginning readers.

The Story Share Contest deadline has been extended! We are now accepting entries until February 1, 2014. If you've already submitted a story, feel free to revise and re-submit, or take the extra time to write another story.

More than 20% of our nation’s teens and adults read below a fifth grade level. Help us create more accessible and age-appropriate stories for over forty million readers.

Be one of 11 writers who receive a cash prize of up to $10K.

Looking for 2 types of stories:
-stories written at a pre-primer to primer reading level
-stories written at a third to fourth grade reading level

Open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia who are at least eighteen (18) years old at the time of entry.

Story Share aims to inspire a love for reading by generating compelling high-interest, low-literacy stories. With expertise from Benetech, CAST, Orca Book Publishers, and the National Center for Learning Disabilities, Story Share provides guidelines and tips to help you create readable and relatable content. You can browse guidelines, tips, and examples for each.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Literacy: Spanning the U.S. - Kern Co CA, Florida, Orlando FL, Madison Co NY

Literacy:  Spanning the U.S.

Kern must keep working on its pervasive illiteracy problem
BakersfieldCalifornian: 12.09.2013 by Jeff Nickell, Executive Director-Kern Adult Literacy Council
It's not a title any community would want, but it's a distinction we must acknowledge: More than any other place in America, Kern County needs help with its reading. And that's exactly why the Kern Adult Literacy Council is here.

The KALC, a 501c3 non-profit organization, offers free tutoring through a number of programs and learning modalities. Its services are needed now more than ever. Bakersfield is the least literate city in the U.S. with a population over 250,000 people, according to a 2013 study by Central Connecticut State University. Many have said the study is flawed because it factors in things like the number of hours our libraries are open and how many bookstores we have, but more relevant statistics support that ranking as well.

The numbers do not lie. Kern County's literacy problem, according to the 2010 American Community Survey, conducted by the United States Census Bureau, comes down to this:
* 28.1 percent of local adults lack the reading skills to successfully perform everyday life tasks such as reading medication directions and road signs.
* 15 percent of adults have not attained a 9th grade literacy level.
* 13.9 percent of adults lack the basic literacy skills necessary to perform daily job functions.  READ MORE !

2014 Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida!
January 13-17, 2014
Florida Dept of Education - Just Read, Florida!

"Reading Accelerates Success"
We're already building excitement for Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! (CLW) which will be held January 13-17, 2014! Our theme "Reading Accelerates Success" encourages our students to connect literacy with all kinds of careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This year we are providing a unique experience to students throughout the state that will help to solidify the importance of literacy and its tie to STEM in the minds of our children. Our educational partners are joining the Just Read, Florida! to bring portable planetariums to elementary and middle schools so that students can sit under the stars and learn how reading relates to science and space technology. We'll talk about constellations and their relationship to mythology, planets, space exploration, and bring it all back to the importance of literacy.  READ MORE !

At 24, he's learning to read with tutoring from Adult Literacy League
Orlando Sentinel: 12.26.2013 by Mary Shanklin

The worn pages of Jeremy White's spiral notebook are filled with blue-ink sentences repeated over and over.

At an age when most young adults are focused on paychecks, parties and personal relationships, the bright, 24-year-old Orlando resident is learning to read and write.

After about a year of tutoring at the Adult Literacy League south of downtown Orlando, he can now read T-shirt messages, basic sentences and words that flash on the television screen. Soon, he hopes, he'll be able to tell time by reading the hands on an analog clock.

"I can see myself improving, and I'm looking forward to working at a place like Universal Studios or as a bagger or stocker," said White, who has no job now. "I'm 100 percent dedicated to learning to read. I didn't come here to slack off. I came here to learn to read."

White is among 1,500 students getting help from the league, one of the nonprofit agencies supported by the Orlando Sentinel Family Fund. He started attending weekly classes in May 2012, and it took about five months to connect him with a tutor.

Gina Berko-Solomon, the league's director, said the dropout rate in classes can be high because students need one-on-one attention. Tutors have become scarce as more jobs have opened up. About 135 students are on a waiting list for tutors.  READ MORE !

Madison County Literacy Coalition has a lot to offer children, adults
Oneidad Dispatch: 12.25.2013 by Shafali Desnoyers

In Madison County:
-28 percent of fourth graders have fallen behind in reading.
-63 percent of children under five are not enrolled in early education programs.
-17 percent of adults don't have a high school diploma or equivalency credential.
-10 percent of adults cannot read and understand this news report.

These statistics are the motivation behind the mission of the Literacy Coalition of Madison County, a private, nonprofit association, which has a goal to expand literacy in people’s lives for an improved future. More information can also be found at all county libraries.  READ MORE !

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Learning Gap in Time & Money

Tracking the 'Learning Gap' in Time and Money
Education Week: 12.19.2013 by Erik Robelen

It surely comes as no surprise to hear that children from low-income families typically enjoy fewer opportunities for learning and enrichment than those in more affluent households.

A new commentary and illustration published this week by Education Week drives that point home, and makes put those disparities in tangible terms. The analysis by the After-School Corporation aims to quantify—in both hours invested and dollars spent—the learning advantages that accumulate for children beyond the regular school day who grow up in middle- and upper-class homes.

By age 12, the analysis concludes, disadvantaged children have received about 6,000 fewer hours of learning time than their more-affluent peers, and their families have been outspent by about $90,000 on learning and enrichment activities.  READ MORE !

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Literacy: Spanning the U.S. - Menlo Park Ca, Mercer Co NJ, Nassau NY, Delaware Co PA

Literacy: Spanning the U.S.

Holiday Fund: Changing lives through literacy
Almanac News: 12.19.2013 Submitted by Roberta Roth, Literacy Outreach Specialist

You who are reading this article are presumably not finding it to be a challenge. Unfortunately, this is not true for 15 percent of the adults in San Mateo County. That is why Project Read-Menlo Park exists, to empower people with literacy skills for all areas of their lives, as workers, parents, community members, and lifelong learners.

Indeed, in these times it has never been more important to provide literacy services to those in our community who struggle with basic literacy. Reading and writing are fundamental skills for building better lives.

Those who are able to read and complete job applications, obtain a GED certificate, attend college, and otherwise comprehend the information associated with securing work will be most employable in our economy.

Our volunteer tutors are fundamental to the success of our program.

Patricia D'Larzelere, a tutor for 17 years, said: "I get to help someone become more comfortable with a language that I love. So with great courage, perhaps even desperate courage, they (the learners I've tutored) asked for help. And Project Read was there. And they inspire me so."  READ MORE !

Tutoring non-profit launches Faces of Literacy
Mercerspace: 12.10.2013

Mercer County residents are putting a face to the region’s literacy epidemic.

LiteracyVolunteers in Mercer County, which helps improve adult literacy in the county, launched its Faces of Literacy campaign in December.

According to LVMC board president, the fundraising campaign is designed to focus on the people involved in adult literacy in Mercer County.

“The 60,000 people in Mercer County who cannot read at a 5th grade level may seem like faceless strangers but we know they are many things,” Gordon said in a statement.

Faces of Literacy features residents who sought help from LVMC.  READ MORE !

Volunteers Promote English Literacy
Anton News: 12.19.2013 by George Haber

Growth in the number of non-English Speaking immigrants to the Jericho, Syosset and Woodbury communities means increasing activity for one of Long Island’s most immigrant-friendly organizations, Literacy Nassau.

For more than 45 years, Literacy Nassau, based in Freeport, has been helping native-born Americans and newcomers to America learn English and improve their fluency.

Every week, volunteer tutors—many retired school teachers—meet with their students, usually in local libraries, and help them master the nuances of the English language.

“We’re not out to turn our students into public speakers,” says Judy Resnick of Syosset, a trained speech pathologist who works with a Japanese-American mother of two in Syosset. “We just try to help them express themselves better and understand better so they can handle conversations with their children’s teachers, so they can ask directions, so they can talk to a doctor.”  READ MORE !

The Literacy Mayor who nixes the Library?
Chester City Blog: 12.13.2013 by Stefan Roots

One month ago tomorrow, Mayor John Linder was awarded a “Champion of Adult Literacy” by the Delaware County Literacy Council. One day ago, the Daily Times published an article stating that the Chester city budget will cut (another) $50,000 from the Crozer Library budget.

In the words of Sesame Street - “One of these things is not like the other.”

City Council would like for us to accept their weasel words of justification that $50,000 will be made up in new tax revenue to the library.

In the words of Cuba Gooding, Jr. - “Show me the money”.

With a library that is bursting at the seams with patrons during almost all of their hours of operation, and one of the only places in the city people can use the Internet for free, they deserve more money, not less. If anything, they need a 5,000 square foot expansion, not (another) $50,000 square thinking takeaway (in other words, let's think outside the box please).  READ MORE !

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Library of the Future

Forget books and Dewey decimal, here's the library of the future
Fox News: 12.18.2013

FNC's Casey Stegall reports from the world's first all-electronic library.  VIDEO


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Public goods dwindle as wealth rises
Star Phoenix: 12.17.2013 by Paul Hanley

The announcement that home postal service will soon disappear comes as another warning that something is wrong with our economic model. The end of this service - long considered a basic responsibility of any government - may not be much of a problem for most of us, but will be a serious loss for the elderly or disabled.

Canada Post's announcement came alongside news of large-scale layoffs at Potash Corp, more university cutbacks, crowded public school classrooms, closures of hospital wards and the continued erosion of environmental services. The latest in a long list of environmental cutbacks saw the Department of Fisheries and Oceans dismantling one of the world's top aquatic and fisheries libraries, one of five such libraries to be eliminated due to spending cutbacks.

Established in 1973, the library held scientific records dating back to the 1880s. One scientist compared its closure and the resulting loss of intellectual property to burning the Royal Library of Alexandria.

Canada's GDP (in constant dollars) rose from $688 billion in 1980 to $1.6 trillion today. Yet as our wealth grew, public goods - commodities or services provided to all members of society without profit - dwindled. Instead of benefiting everyone, wealth is being captured by the highest income earners.

The decline of public services like mail delivery, schools, libraries and environmental protection occurs as more and more of the benefits from the liquidation of publicly-owned non-renewable resources like oil and potash are making their way into the hands of the wealthy. Canada and Saskatchewan are becoming increasingly unequal societies.

Social inequality was very high prior to the Second World War. After the war, progressive taxation and surging unionization ensured that wealth was more broadly shared. But since 1980, business-friendly economic and social policies have replaced the Keynesian welfare regime and inequality has skyrocketed. Somehow, the elites were able to convince the average person these changes were in their interest. Over subsequent decades, the gap between the richest Canadians and the rest has grown faster here than in all but one other OECD country, the United States. The richest one per cent earned 10.6 per cent of Canada's income in 2012, up sharply from 7.1 per cent in 1982. The concentration of wealth in this country is also rising: The top 20 per cent now control 70 per cent of net worth. READ MORE !

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Literacy: Spanning the U.S. - Chicago IL, Cadillac MI, Columbus OH, Rowan Co NC

Literacy: Spanning the U.S.

Tolton literacy center helps turn around lives
Education, GED can offer second chances
Chicago Tribune: 12.05.2013 by Robert McCoppin

At age 57, Tina Wellington is starting over.

Growing up on Chicago's West Side, Wellington only reached a fifth-grade reading level. In years past she got caught up in alcohol, drugs, prostitution and jail. Now she's trying to turn her life around, hoping to work in child development and eventually run her own restaurant, with help from the Tolton Adult & Family Literacy Center.

"I've got a second chance," she said. "It's like being a child in an adult's body. I'm excited to get to school."
.     .     .     .     .     .     .
With a staff of 22 and a budget of $550,000, funded primarily through the Illinois Community College Fund, the Tolton Center provides its services free to some 800 clients a year — often to people who otherwise could not afford it. The program also is supported by Chicago Tribune Charities, a McCormick Foundation fund.

The Tolton Center — named for Augustus Tolton, one of the nation's first African-American priests — has been working since 1991 to provide literacy and basic adult education to the homeless, immigrants, and victims of domestic violence, operating out of five sites on the South and West sides.  READ MORE !

Literacy a problem for some adults, help is available
CadillacNews: 12.12.2013 by Rick Charmoli

Depending on the county, between 8 and 11 percent of residents in the area are lacking basic reading and writing skills.

That equals almost 2,000 people in Wexford County, 1,100 in Missaukee County, 1,600 in Osceola County and 1,000 in Lake County. For that reason, the Adult Literacy Council of the Cadillac area was founded. Barb Derby retired from Cadillac Area Public Schools in 2009 and went from the classroom to helping adults learn to read. In all, she spent 27 years as a special education teacher, so she knows how difficult it is to overcome a disability while growing up as well as the challenges it presents to an adult.

“It is difficult for somebody to do something about it," Derby said. "It is difficult for someone to admit they have the problem and will do something about it."

Derby said when they do, they can begin the long process of learning to read.  READ MORE !

Literacy Council sometimes needs tutors; other times, like now, it needs students
Salisbury Post: 12.01.2013 by Susan Shinn

Sometimes, Phyllis Martin needs students. Other times, she needs tutors. But she doesn’t worry, because over the years, she’s learned it all works out.

Martin is the longtime volunteer director of the Rowan County Literacy Council. She’s also president of its board of directors. Daisy Boyd, who joined the organization in September 1994, one month before Martin, is its only paid staff member.
.     .     .     .     .     .     .
In 2012, 57 tutors logged 5,874 hours. If they were paid at a rate of for-profit tutoring groups, the amount of money tutors volunteered their time is equal to $154,960.

“The federal government says we’re not worth $40 an hour,” Martin notes, “but I think we’re probably worth more than $40 an hour.”

In 2012, the literacy council served 27 basic education students and 65 English as a Second Language (ESL) students, for a total of 92 students served. Of that number, 47 continued from the previous year. Unfortunately, national statistics indicate that 50 percent of students drop out within the first six months. According to literacy council statistics, 51 students left during the fiscal year, similar to national trends.  READ MORE !

Mothers in prison record books for their children
Columbus Dispatch: 12.09.2013 by JoAnne Viviano  

As Lacey Young finished reading A Charlie Brown Christmas, she told her 6-year-old son, Cayden, that the holidays mean more than packages under a tree.

“It’s about who loves you and who is always in your heart,” she said. “I love you.”

Young offered the message from the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, about 100 miles from where her son lives in Athens. This is the second Christmas she won’t bake cookies or decorate the tree with her children. It’s the second time she won’t be home to watch them open their presents.

But the Aunt Mary’s Storybook Project at the prison means that Cayden and his 4-year-old sister, Presley, will be able to revisit the days when their mother read books to them as they snuggled together on the floor or in bed.

As part of the program, Young met last Monday with members of Vineyard Columbus church, who recorded her as she read books. A copy of the recordings, and the books, will be mailed to her children, likely in time for Christmas.  READ MORE !

Saturday, December 14, 2013

World's Greatest Libraries

The World’s Great Libraries [Slide Show]
Financial Times: 12.13.2013

For centuries, libraries have served as repositories for wisdom, culture and learning. Many of the greatest examples are known not just for the books they contain but for the buildings themselves. In this digital age, amid changing attitudes to book ownership, these institutions retain their power to teach and enthral, as the following images reveal.

Photo: The Library: A World History
by James W P Campbell, Will Pryce
University of Chicago Press, 2013
@ Your Local Library


Thursday, December 12, 2013

How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities - Pew Internet

How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities
Pew Internet: 12.11.2013 by Kathryn Zickuhr, Lee Rainie, Kristen Purcell and Maeve Duggan

Americans strongly value the role of public libraries in their communities, both for providing access to materials and resources and for promoting literacy and improving the overall quality of life. Most Americans say they have only had positive experiences at public libraries, and value a range of library resources and services.

•95% of Americans ages 16 and older agree that the materials and resources available at public libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed;

•95% say that public libraries are important because they promote literacy and a love of reading;

•94% say that having a public library improves the quality of life in a community;

•81% say that public libraries provide many services people would have a hard time finding elsewhere.

•Just 34% of Americans ages 16 and older of say that public libraries have not done a good job keeping up with new technologies, while 55% disagree.

•52% of Americans say that people do not need public libraries as much as they used to because they can find most information on their own, while 46% disagreed.  READ MORE !

This report is part of a larger research effort by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project that is exploring the role libraries play in people’s lives and in their communities. The research is underwritten by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Melvil Dewey - “My World Work — Free Schools & Free Libraries for every soul.”

Teachable Moments: Melvil Dewey advocated structure as a means of betterment
Tennessean: 12.09.2013 by Frank Daniels III

One evening when he was 15, Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey determined what his life’s work would be. He bought a pair of cufflinks engraved with an “R,” which would serve as a reminder “that I was to give my life to reforming certain mistakes and abuses.”

Though Dewey, who was born Dec. 10, 1851, is best known for his reform of how libraries organize their materials — the Dewey Decimal Classification system that is now the most widely used method around the world — he did not limit his reformation efforts to how books should be shelved.

While in high school, Dewey worked as a door-to-door book salesman for the American Baptist Publication Society as well as working at his father’s shoe store in Adam’s Center, N.Y.

In 1870, he entered Amherst College, where his passion for reform found outlets.

An early outlet was the spelling reform movement, which sought to simplify and eliminate the irregularities in English words that made them so difficult to learn. He changed the spelling of his first name to Melvil to eliminate the “unnecessary” letters.

His passion for reform was in finding simplicity and efficiency, which drew him to the idea of shorthand for notes and drafting correspondence, and to the metric system for measurement.

To help pay his bills during school, he worked in the Amherst Library as the bookkeeper and became convinced that libraries offered a platform for his “R.” He wrote in his diary in December 1872, “My World Work — Free Schools & Free Libraries for every soul.”  READ MORE !

Melvil Dewey @ Library History Buff
Dewey Decimal System in Fiction @ Your Local Library

Monday, December 9, 2013

Computer Science Education Week: December 9-15

Computer Science Education Week
December 9 -15

Learn what most schools don't teach

#CSEdWeek promotes the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, and is expected to engage millions of students in hands-on computer programming and coding activities.

Computer science is a foundational field for every 21st century career or field of study. Learning the basics of computer science prepares students for a world that is increasingly dominated by technology. Research shows that students who study computer science also perform better at math.

Computer science is where the jobs are. More than 50% of all jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) are computing jobs. Some other stats:
• Computer science is one of the highest-paid college degree for new graduates.
• Computer programming jobs are growing at two times the national average -- but there aren’t enough graduates to fill these jobs.
• Nine out of 10 K-12 schools do not offer computer programming classes.
• In 35 out of 50 states, computer science does not even count toward high school graduation
Be a maker, a creator, an innovator. Get started now with an Hour of Code.