St. Petersburg: Home of the 32nd Annual Florida Literacy Conference

Registration is in full swing for the 32nd Annual Florida Literacy Conference which will be held at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront Hotel  from May 4th-6th. Be sure to register now to enjoy our early bird pricing.* With hotel amenities and the many attractions St. Petersburg has to offer, everyone is sure to have an enjoyable experience during their stay.


Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront • 333 1st St S • St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Conveniently located about 25 minutes from the Clearwater International Airport, the Hilton boasts plenty of amenities.  Daily parking will be available for $6. Guests of the conference can enjoy a discounted room rate of $116 available for stays anytime from May 2nd through 9th. This room offer is only available until April 11th. Reserve your room today!

The Hilton Bayfront is located in the center of many attractions. Keep reading for a brief overview of what St. Petersburg has to offer.

*valid until March 5th

Dali Museum

dali museumGo and experience the results of a collaboration turned friendship between two of the 20th century’s world-renowned artists: Salvador Dali and Walt Disney. Disney and Dali: Architects of the Imagination is an exhibit that displays the world shared by these two giants of imagination.* It will take you through paintings, story sketches, photographs, audio, and more that detail the friendship and professional relationship these two cultivated. Also be sure to explore the rest of the museum during this family friendly activity.

*runs January – June

Museum of Fine Arts

Florida-St-Petersburg-Museum-Fine-Arts-Front-FacadeLocated only half a mile from the hotel, the Contemplating Character Exhibit at the museum is just one of the exhibits that will be available for viewing at the Museum of Fine Arts. Go and explore the Neoclassicist, Romanticist, and Realist art styles of the 18th and 19th centuries in an exhibit that features 150 rare portrait drawings and oil sketches of artists, their loved ones, and famous figures. It even includes portraits of George Washington and author Oscar Wilde.


If you’re looking for a meal between your conference sessions or a nice drink to end the day, Tangerine restaurant and the Dali Bar are conveniently located in the hotel.  If you’re exploring the area around the hotel and get hungry, choose from multiple restaurants such as Gratzzi Italian Grille, Z Grille, Meze 119, or Crowley’s Downtown.

                Be sure to check back for future spotlights on attractions!


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



Comparing Halloween and EL Dia de Los Muertos

HalloweenCultural differences are often found to cause misunderstanding between ESOL students and their educators. What’s even more common is for teachers to give lessons based on American holidays, so students better understand our culture. Another activity that literacy practitioners could do with adult literacy and/or ESOL students is provide an comparison of the American holiday Halloween with the Central American holiday El Dia de Los Muertos.

For those of you who don’t know much about the holiday, El Dia de Los Muertos (literally Day of the Dead) is celebrated on November 1 of each year. Although festivities occur in various Central American countries, it is predominantly celebrated in Mexico. It is believed that the spirits of dead loved ones visit their families on this day, but the families choose to celebrate the dead relatives’ lives instead of mourning them.  There’s distinct food, clothing, and traditions similar to our Halloween.

Rather than teaching a lesson on Halloween that many of your adult learners have gone through and are expecting, why not compare cultural traditions? Whether your learners are ESOL students or adult literacy students, this idea can even be fit to incorporate collaborating with a mixed group of students. You could prepare a short overview of both holidays, or use your students’ diverse backgrounds to teach the others about their holiday traditions.

Whatever the level of your learners is, you could use this idea to cater a lesson that benefits them. Whether you use Venn Diagrams or a 5-paragraph essay, students can both provide information to the class on what they know and engage with the material, bringing a foreign holiday to something more familiar.

To get you started, here are a few resources worth checking out.


Teacher Boot Camp’s Halloween Activities Guide

History Channel’s Halloween Videos and History

5 Minute English’s Halloween Lesson

Day of the Dead-

Denver Public School’s Day of the Dead Lessons

National Geographic Day of the Dead Overview

Inside-Mexico’s Day of the Dead Page

ESOL Courses Day of the Dead Lessons

Scaffolding Strategies for Literacy Tutors Webinar

Last Friday, FLC hosted a webinar for literacy practitioners called Reading and Writing Tutor Strategies for ELLs with Jelitza Rivera, M. Ed. This presentation, tailored to literacy tutors rather than ESOL teachers who see their students on a more frequent basis, covered strategies and activities to use in tutoring sessions along with inexpensive educational apps for new session ideas or even for self-study.

Inexperienced and veteran tutors alike must find new ways to engage with their learners so that their meetings are productive and time-efficient, especially because tutors don’t have the luxury of having daily meetings or test assessments. The first step is to discover how a learner learns best and identifying his or her needs, and this is where Jetliza begins. This section covers how to establish measurable, attainable goals for each student whose progress can be monitored. Goals include short term, weekly goals and the long term goals such as earning a GED diploma. She also covers the importance of recognizing cultural differences and using culturally relevant materials.

After the short introduction, the bulk of the webinar is spent on 4 main issues: Vocabulary for ELLs, Helping students with Writing, Helping students with Grammar, and Helping students with Reading. The vocabulary section provides an overview of BISCS vs CALP language proficiencies and then some activities and apps dedicated to building vocabulary skills. The subsequent sections each provide scaffolding activities and apps to use in tutoring sessions.

It’s a lot of information shared at once, so for those of you who’d like to review the webinar you’ve already attended and for others who are now interested in viewing this presentation, FLC will make it available to view in about 2 weeks on our site. Be on the lookout on social media for when the webinar is released onto the FLC site!

April Returns as Financial Literacy Month

After doing some research on Financial Literacy Month, I’ve concluded that this post may be a week late but it is still quite necessary. There simply isn’t much information out there other than the standard April-is-Financial-Literacy-Month article. That’s a good first step, but often these articles don’t provide any sort of information to improve a reader’s money management skills- just short bits to ‘increase awareness’. If this was a discussion on social media strategies, I’d say that this type of article doesn’t do enough to make the reader get to that next level of involvement; I digress. Without any further advocacy ado, I assure you April is Financial Literacy Month.

Sadly, a majority of us have not been taught how to manage our finances responsibly, which can lead to dangerous financial decisions. It was reported that in 2012, only 13 states required students to take a course on personal finance. Teaching the basics of financial literacy is vital to give low-income adults the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty, especially considering that most of our adult learners have had less schooling than their credentialed counterparts, who themselves most likely have not received formal financial education lessons. That’s why financial literacy has been given its own month, because more needs to be done.

When it comes to being involved with a literacy-based organization, we all learn to work with what we’re given, and we learn to make it work. Naturally, the same can be said for incorporating financial literacy lessons for adult learners. As mentioned earlier, although you may have heard about Financial Literacy Month before, chances are you weren’t given any resources to help improve your money management skills. It becomes evident when searching for financial literacy resources targeted towards adult learners or ESOL students that this can be an even more challenging endeavor than searching for information accessible to the native speaker. So, to help you in your quest for financial literacy resources, I leave you with some resources for your perusal.

  • Financial Literacy Month by Money Management International Geared towards the apple pie loving American, this site provides daily steps towards becoming financially responsible complete with tons of resources from which to choose.
  • Financial Literacy Lesson Plans Want to know what to consider as you’re making a lesson plan for financial education? Check out this article for some insights.
  • Financial Literacy Lessons for ESL Students Here are some already created lessons for you to use with your adult learners, brought to you by San Diego Centers for Education & Technology.
  • Financial Literacy Video Games for Adult Learners Want to mix up your financial literacy lesson? Choose from “Taking a Bite Out of Debt and Spending” or “Rooting Out the Killer Bunnies” which your students can learn while they play a video game!

    *Warning- If you are a Vampire enthusiast, frustration may ensue from the former of the two games due to the flawed logic that Vampires would safely be able to transport to a “Day Club” without dying from the sunlight.*

  • Alley Wallet Wise The financial literacy program affiliated with Alley Bank offers free online courses which cover banking, budgeting, credit scores, and more.

Incorporating Easter and Passover traditions with Your Adult Learners

Cultural differences are just another barrier which adult learners must learn to overcome. Even the ways in which sects of the same religion, or for that matter same sects of the same religion in different locations, celebrate holidays differ in some way or another. That’s why this week you should take advantage of the Jewish holiday of Passover and the Christian holiday of Easter to teach your adult learners about the traditions, origins, and significance, of these respective religions.

This can be quite difficult to do without coming across as proselytizing a religious view, but it can be done successfully. The best method to ensure that what you teach will not be misconstrued as attempting to convert your students is to state the facts about each holiday in a fun, nonthreatening way. It’s more important to use these holidays as a means of connecting adult learners with unfamiliar language and cultural traditions than it is to use them as a tipping point for spiritual realization.

With that said, tutors might want to look into these websites which cover the traditions of Easter and Passover, taken from Larry Ferlazzo’s EduBlog.

If you’re searching for lessons for ESOL or ELLs, check out the resources on these sites:

Sneak Peek at the Financial Literacy Track!

It’s surprising, sometimes frightening even, how little we really know about personal finance and money management, since most of us know close to nothing about sound practices beyond the basics.  In fact, most of what we do know is information that our friends and families have given us or that we have learned through our own research. Rarely does it come from any sort of formal education. When we consider how we can all benefit a bit more from a few lessons on financial literacy, it becomes clear just how important financial literacy is vital to an adult learners stability and progress.

The 29th Annual Florida Literacy Conference will hold over 60 sessions within 14 distinct tracks, including a first of its kind financial literacy track! For those interested in learning more about personal finance and sound money management, here’s a look at what the track has to offer so that you can set your conference schedule proactively.

Sessions include:

  • Financial Aid for the Nontraditional Student
    Did you know the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship can be awarded to GED students? This session covers avenues for funding higher education through federal, state, institutional, and local resources.
  • Money $ense
    How do you make sense out of money?  One of the ways is to look at your behavior, habits and past to determine why you use money in a certain way. This workshop explains how to educate your clients to understand and change their behavior.
  • Financial Literacy Resources for Adult Education
    There are many free resources for providing financial literacy in the Adult Education classroom. Receive sample brochures, website information  and the latest research/statistics for financial literacy.
  • Making Money Work for You
    This brief intro to financial literacy and consumer education is designed for teachers and tutors of ESOL and ABE students.  (Participants can also access this module via Florida TechNet’s “Moodle” trainings.)
  • Opening Doors to Home Ownership
    In this interactive session, we will share the Opening Doors to Home Ownership website designed for high school and adult learners.  The focus of this commercial-free website is to develop financial literacy through topics such as credit, budgeting, preparing for home ownership, and understanding mortgages.

Trying to imagine how adult learners manage financially, or rather how they don’t, can explain why learning even the most basic money management skills can greatly benefit the lives of our adult learners. Attend this track and bring back skills and practices your students that will immediately have an impact on their lives!

Paul Rogers- Digital ESOL with PUMAROSA.COM

PUMAROSA is a free ESOL website for Spanish speaking students. It is bilingual and phonetic, with voice. Currently it is divided into five levels: Beginner, Intermediate, American Civics, U. S. History and the 100 Questions that is part of the Citizenship test. It has been online for 9 years now, and will expand soon with additional lessons to be available for a small fee.

PUMAROSA has proven to be an effective Teacher’s Aid in the transition to an English Only classroom setting. It is also very helpful in a Blended class with “live” instruction combined with study on the computer. For example, I taught a blended class with a group of 10 and 11 year old children during the summer of 2012 in Tijuana, Mexico: The class met in a small computer lab 4 times a week for 90 minutes.

During the initial week, the students explored PUMAROSA, PRINCIPIANTE, focusing on the alphabet and numbers. We also read, studied and sang out loud nursery rhymes from one of my texts. I was a big hit, especially with my Hokey Pokey!

After a few weeks, we began to study verbs and sentences – adjectives, articles, pronouns and the verb TO BE.
 The students studied independently, repeating the exercises out loud copying my voice, which they could hear on the computer.

At a certain point I walked around and gave each student a “quiz”. 
I would ask them in Spanish to tell me how to translate a sentence from Spanish to English. 
They had to listen carefully and repeat in English and then listen – repeat again to improve their pronunciation. After a while, each student improved very well.

I also introduced texts I had written which included Grammar tests and a few Guided Readers (stories written in a second or third grade vocabulary with lots of cognates). I was pleased with the success I had with this group of students, primarily because it is usually difficult to keep the attention of children this age.

Currently, I use SKYPE with several students and have included more advanced lessons. There are many ESOL programs online for free or at a low cost. Grammar lessons can easily be found which include worksheets. In addition there are online course to teach English literacy to English speakers, Spanish literacy to Spanish speakers, GED, English to children, plus…. math and science, etc.

With online lessons, email, SKYPE, YouTube, FACEBOOK and cell phones, it has become very easy to set up a Digital Learning ESOL course that can be centrally located in any computer lab. Also, Computers For Families is the name of a program that can provide used, re-furbished computers to low-income families free or at a low cost. There is also a growing interest in providing this kind of approach with grant money.

Please contact me for more information.

Paul Rogers



New Year’s Resolution Lesson Plans for Adult Learners

New Year’s Eve, for many, doesn’t mark the end of a year as much as it celebrates the beginning of another. I forget who said that. Regardless, entering the year 2013 is sure to inspire and motivate the 45% of Americans that usually make New Year’s Resolutions.

As the holiday season comes to an end, it’s time to return to our daily routines. This can be a challenge after having some time off, but looking towards the New Year can help both students and teachers. Creating a lesson based on New Year’s Resolutions can result in improving upon your students writing skills from their well intended yet likely-to-fail attempt to better themselves. Let’s stick to being optimistic though.

Looking towards the future is a great time to introduce the verb tense to beginning English language learners. There are plenty of templates available online for future tense practice, which specifically deal with New Year’s Resolutions. This approach can also be geared towards higher skill levels. Whether it’s constructing simple sentences or writing a plan to accomplish one’s resolution, New Year’s Resolutions are perfect for writing activities.

For future tense lesson plans:

You may want to include a brief explanation as to Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail (and How to Do Them the Right Way) to better equip your students with the tools and resources they’ll need to accomplish their goals. Since New Year’s Resolutions can be anything from eating healthier to quitting smoking, if your class size is small enough, it’s possible to even include Financial Literacy, Health Literacy, and even Digital Literacy!

Whatever happens in the future, it will be nice to know that your student’s New Year’s Resolutions won’t be for nothing. Finally, unsuccessful New Year’s Resolutions may yield some good after all!’s Popular New Year’s Resolutions Resources List

Mashable’s 5 Apps for Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

Maribeth Buie: How Your Local Pharmacy Can Help

Every day, unintentional poisonings account for nearly 87 deaths and over 2,200 emergency room visits in the United States.  A large proportion of unintentional poisonings may be attributed to low health literacy.  This is such an important topic that an entire chapter in the Staying Healthy curriculum is devoted to ‘Medicines,’ including the difference between over-the-counter and prescription drugs, reading a prescription label, measuring medicines, side effects/warning labels, etc.

Prescription labels and drug information can be confusing for native English speakers at any education level.  Difficulties arise with small print, ambiguous wording, unfamiliar drug names, and inconsistent formats.  Logic follows that it will be even harder for adult learners.  As they make gains in their health literacy, the local pharmacy can help!

Some pharmacies offer prescription labels and drug information in languages other than English, all your students have to do is request it!

I took an informal poll of four major pharmacies in Florida – Walgreens, CVS, Publix, and WalMart.  Walgreens offers the most in terms of language translation.  They offer prescription labels/drug information in thirteen languages (other than English):  Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portugese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.  Walgreens registers all pharmacists able to speak multiple languages to provide translation services.  So, for example, if a Japanese-speaking customer arrives at the pharmacy, the Walgreens computer system can locate and call a pharmacist that speaks Japanese to provide information or answer questions (if one is on staff anywhere in the United States).  In addition, Walgreens offers large-print labels in English or Spanish upon request.

Other pharmacies also offer translation services.  CVS offers prescription label/drug information in Spanish and French, and Publix offers prescription label/drug information in Spanish.  WalMart does not offer any type of reliable translation service.

It is important to teach your students that a pharmacist is a great resource.  Pharmacists not only help with understanding prescription medicines, but they can also help with understanding over-the-counter medicines – especially which medicine is right for an individual’s particular symptoms.  Another great idea, invite your local pharmacist to speak to your class. Most pharmacies value and encourage community involvement and education.

The ultimate goal is to help adult learners improve their health literacy, including understanding labels and information in English.  However, on the way toward accomplishing that goal, the local pharmacy can be a literal life saver.