Illiteracy and the Brain

In everyday life, reading seems to take part in one way or another, but just how much impact does reading have on a person? The answer is quite a bit. Reading allows a person to develop fully in more ways than one. To understand the true impact of literacy in our lives we have to look at some of what reading does in our development.

Newer studies seem to suggest that reading impacts the life of a person in ways that you cannot see. For example, reading helps in the increase of connections between the different portions of the brains. As a person reads the book, the left hemisphere of the brain comprehends the words, while the frontal lobe reasons through it. It allows for smoother processing within the brain and fluidity when faced with decisions on a day to day basis. It has also been shown that reading has an impact on motor skills. Motor skills are developed throughout life, but along with reading it may be easier to enhance them.

Reading is helpful in a variety of ways from physical to mental health, but it makes it so much more important to note that many in the world do not have the ability to read (about 26% according to UNESCO). The impact of being able to read is much greater than would be perceived initially. It may be repeated frequently that much of the world’s population does not have the ability to read, but realize that illiteracy is the root to many other problems that could be solved simply by learning to read.

The ‘Changing’ Core

There has been much talk about the Common Core standards within Florida. Since its adoption in 2010, the Common Core standards have been at the center of confusion as well as controversy. The argument over whether or not to keep the standards has come to an almost definite conclusion, that the Common Core standards are on their way to become changed and modified, as well as renamed. In fact this past Monday state officials released 98 proposed changes to the Common Core.

There are many reasons for why the Board of Education for Florida has decided to modify the Common Core. One of the greater reasons is that in the initial creation of the standards, no teachers were incorporated in developing them, which caused the standards to seem better on paper rather than in practice, as some suggest. Another major component of conflict is over the needing to have a cursive writing component, where the Common Core does not have it required.

New suggestions have come out to either go back to the previous standards Florida had or simply to modify the current Common Core addressing some of the issues set forth by critics. Seemingly, the path that State Educators have taken is to modify the current Common Core to become “Florida Standards.” Among the changes is the adjusting of the benchmark, adding cursive writing to the core, and a few other changes. It is notable that these changes for the most part are simply minor ones, and does not drastically hinder from the Common Core.,0,

Top Stories in Literacy: January 13, 2014

Literacy is big topic as we kick off 2014. From Celebrate Literacy, Florida!, to reports on the good work of literacy programs and their supporters, this is becoming a year for literacy awareness. Learn more about what is going on throughout the state in this week’s headlines!

First Lady Ann Scott to kick off “Celebrate Literacy, Florida!” in Miami
CBS Miami, January 12, 2014

Wedowee man biking to Key West to support Imagination Library literacy campaign
Alabama Blog, January 10, 2014

CNN Analysis: Some college athletes play like adults, read like 5th-graders
CNN, January 8, 2014

Educational program benefits entire family
News Chief, January 12, 2014

Literacy the focus of book festival
Daytona Times, January 9, 2014

Books-A-Million partners with over 180 charities this holiday season
PR Wire, January 10, 2014

English Language Learners addressed by new Common Core book series, January 10, 2014

FAFSA Now Available for All Students

Do you have a recent GED graduate or adult learner who is looking to go to college? Help them fill out the Free Application for Federal and Student Aid! Your students will have a better understanding of the types of financial aid (grants, scholarships, loans, etc.) they are eligible for and it will help their colleges or schools in their quest to help your student with financial aid. The 2014-15 FAFSA became available on January 1.

Here is a video explaining what FAFSA is and what it can do for your students. It can be a daunting process, so sometimes it helps to have a friendly voice guiding you along the way.


7 Myths About the FAFSA and Applying for Financial Aid

Literacy Ambassador Training- January 24-25

Adult learners are the best spokespeople for your organization. They will be able to help those intimidated to take the first step and they will help get the message of need and urgency across to your funders and donors. The Florida Literacy Coalition is hosting a training to help students become effective advocates for their program by telling their compelling stories.

Sessions include:

  • Introduction to Effective Public Speaking
  • Developing and Making Presentations
  • Adult Learner Involvement and Leadership
  • Conducting Interviews with the Media
  • Adult Learner Advocacy

Here is a video from the Literacy Ambassador Training in 2008

The training will take place January 24-25 in Orlando. The event is free and attendees will be reimbursed for mileage, meals, and lodging if traveling over 50 miles. Register your student today for this amazing opportunity!

Top Stories in Literacy: Week of December 16

Here are a few great examples of literacy in the news!

Lawmakers say it adds up to teach financial literacy in high school
The Florida Current

Miami Organizations Partner to Promote Reading, Donating 120,000 Books for Local Children
Biscayne Bay Tribune

Literacy Doesn’t Mean What You Think
Huffington Post Canada

Early promotion of reading skills crucial for future
Florida Today



Carolina Torquemada “Change of Life”

I was born on March 3, 1986, in Zimapan Hidalgo, Mexico City. All my childhood and part of my youth, I lived in Mexico. I studied until I was 18 years old, studying accounting in a technical school. I had many dreams to further my studies, but my parents did not have the economic resources to continue supporting me. So I decided to work to continue my education. I got a job, but did not earn enough money. Little by little my dream of studying nursing was falling apart. On June 2, 2008, my dad gave us the news we had been granted our resident visa to travel to the United States. At that time my feelings were of joy and sadness, because I had to leave a part of my family, my birthplace, my friends, and all. On September 18, 2008, my first trip to Florida, I arrived at my brother’s home. It had been three years of not seeing him. It was a great joy seeing him again and meeting his family.


When I came to this country, I was filled with illusions to work and further my studies. But over time I realized everything is very different in United States. I started to feel despair. I felt bad when people saw me and treated me differently for being from another country. I wanted to communicate with other people, and I was not able to. It is very difficult to adjust to another life in a new country. I missed my family, my city, and my friends.


Seeing that my dad worked very hard, I thanked God and my dad with all my heart for the opportunity of living in this country. I decided, and promised, to continue to help my family. My family is the most valuable and most important thing in my life, and they want me to fulfill my dreams. On February 3, 2010, I started working in a factory, and they have been very good to me. I am very pleased to share my achievements with my family. This year I want to travel to Mexico to hug my family and say, “I love you!”

Carolina Torquemada is studying in the Clearwater Adult Education/ United Methodist Cooperative Ministries Program at the High Point YMCA. Her teacher is Ms. Roseann Segura.

This is an excerpt from the 2013 Adult Learner Essay Book, Believing That You Can. We are now accepting essays for the 2014 Essay Book. Click here for more information on submitting a story from your student.

Making it Practical

Adult education students have gone their entire lives without knowing how to read. They have been able to manage ordering food in a restaurant, driving to unfamiliar areas, paying bills, holding a job, and much more without the ability to fully comprehend the world around them. So what brings them to your program today to learn how to read? What made them decide that they need to take the next step? The majority of students will say that it is because life is changing. They needed to apply for a new job and needed to know how to use a computer. Their children have homework assignments that they can’t help with. And many are looking to better themselves career wise.

As a tutor, you can make a difference. We have several blog posts focused on individual lesson plans you can use with your students and different ways you can incorporate college and career pathways into your curriculum. But if you are looking for something that will better equip you to work with your students, you should consider taking one of the modules for FLC’s Education and Career Advocate Training. They are each self-paced and will take 1-1.5 hours to complete. Each module comes with additional resources to use with your students.

To sign up for the course, you can use the link above or click the banner on the FLC website. Then select the option on the left indicating that you are a teacher that would like to review the course. You will then be taken to the three modules.

If you have any questions along the way, please contact Annie Schmidt ( for further assistance.

Teaching Current Events

Several adult education students take the step to learn how to read in order to understand and not be afraid of the world around them. They are smart enough to survive and make it through life without being able to read, but feel insecure when people talk about current events or things that they’ve read because it is harder to relate and their secret inability might come out.

Literacy experts encourage adult learners to bring their own materials so that the learning is relevant to their life. This could be a report the received at work, their child’s homework, a bible, or whatever they would like to know more about. If your student is unsure about where to start, try by bringing in an article from The Times in Plain English or The Why? Files. Students can learn something more about what is going on and have something new to talk about at work or with family that they might have been nervous to speak about prior. Turn it into a discussion about what is happening in the world or nearby. Then, ask your student about things that are important to them and what they would like to learn more about.

Learning more about major issues might also inspire your student to act and become a more active citizen in their community. Knowledge is power.