State Literacy Award Spotlight: Christian Lundy

Christian Lundy was the 2013 recipient of the Flight for Freedom Award. This award honors an adult student who has demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in improvement of literacy or leadership skills. Christian began his education knowing around 10 words and having little reading skills. He worked with a tutor to improve his vocabulary, reading skills, and boost his confidence. Christian is proud to say that by working hard to improve his education he is more confident, makes better decisions, and thinks better. He can see that he will be able to meet some of the goals he has set for himself and he knows that he will become a better person. Christian’s goal was to become more independent and in furthering his education he can that he is in fact becoming more independent.

Do you know someone doing great things in literacy? Recognize the noteworthy accomplishments of individuals and organizations supporting adult and family literacy by nominating them for the 2014 Florida Literacy Awards. Nominations are now being accepted. The deadline to submit a nomination is FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 14th, 2014. To submit a nomination click here.

Zelda Rogers (Florida Department of Education), Christian Lundy (Marion County Literacy Council), and Alison Hoefler (Southwest Airlines)

Zelda Rogers (Florida Department of Education), Christian Lundy (Marion County Literacy Council), and Alison Hoefler (Southwest Airlines)

Top Stories in Literacy: March 5

Top Stories in LiteracySchools try to match jobless with the 3.4 million open jobs
Ever since the deep recession hit four years ago, many colleges have been rethinking their continuing education programs, straining to figure out how best to help the many unemployed Americans who have looked to them as a lifeline.

Florida Senate passes $71.2 billion budget
The Florida Senate approved a $71.2-billion budget Thursday that boosts funding for classrooms and people with disabilities, but slashes dollars meant for hospitals, adult mental health treatment and higher education.

Florida board approves school grading changes
The State Board of Education made some concessions to local school officials, parents and other critics Tuesday before approving rule changes making it tougher for Florida schools to get top grades.

Nonprofits Pin Their Social-Media Efforts on New Network
Pinterest, the popular new social network that allows people to share virtual pinboards of photos and links, is helping the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption do something it can’t on other social-media sites: share its personality.

Creating a Safe Space in the Adult Ed Classroom

In the adult education classroom, where people come from a variety of ethnic, economic and social backgrounds, it is important to create an environment where all students have the opportunity to learn. In order to do this, one must create a safe space.

According to advocates for youth, a safe space is “A place where anyone can relax and be fully self-expressed, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual, gender identity or expression, cultural background, age, or physical or mental ability; a place where the rules guard each person’s self-respect and dignity and strongly encourage everyone to respect others.” If a student feels as if they cannot be themselves or that they are at risk of being hurt, their learning experience will be hindered since their focus will be elsewhere. It goes back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, if someone feels that they are in danger, their concern isn’t going to be learning math.

Several organizations, such as System for Adult Basic Education Support, have chosen to be a resource when teachers ask questions such as “What do I say when a slur comes up in my class?” or “When and how do I introduce anti-oppression, or “teaching tolerance,” materials into my curriculum?” Teachers feel that they need more dialogue and discussion to better understand and respond to controversial and uncomfortable topics. So why is it that we are focused on silence?

Remaining silent about issues might ease the class by preventing confrontation, but it does not lead to a safe environment for students. As a teacher, you should use inclusive language and challenge any slur you hear in the classroom. Use it as an opportunity for learning. Be open to all sorts of differences amongst your students and make sure everyone has the opportunity to learn. Other things you can do include diversifying your curriculum, provide appropriate health care education that applies to different genders, races and sexual orientation, and be a role model by condemning discrimination.

What can Online Learning do for you?

Online learning is becoming increasingly popular. Several college courses are adapting a hybrid model of learning. Students are in the classroom part of the time, and spend the other part taking the class online. And I’m sure we’ve all seen the commercials about getting your degree in your pajamas. While most of us are hesitant about this new format, since we prefer human interaction, there are several benefits to taking a course online.

1. Convenience. With an online course, you can learn anytime, anywhere, and at your own pace. You can do it in the comfort of your own home, a library, a coffee shop, or your favorite place with wifi. The material is easily accessible and you will do better since you can spend as much time as you want on lessons and activities

2. Student-Centered teaching. Online courses use several different modalities for learning. You can read text and articles, watch videos, listen to audio, and participate in online discussions.

3. Increases student interaction. Participating in discussions is less intimidating since there is anonymity in an online environment. Even if you are in the course as your name, you may never see or meet your classmates. There is also an equal playing field. In a lecture class, there could be a couple students who are dominating discussion. Through online learning, everyone contributes to the discussion (it could be required).

4. Increases technology skills. Let’s face it, some of us have better computer skills than others and we could all improve on what we know. Taking a class online gives you the opportunity to experience and get familiarized with the computer and new technologies.

5. The instructor is easily approachable. In the classroom, you  might be nervous to approach the instructor, there might be a long line, or there could be limited availability for other reasons. In an online class, you are sending messages and participating in discussions with your facilitator.

With the help of the Department of Education, the Florida Literacy Coalition is launching an online tutor training course this November. Community Based Organizations throughout the state will be facilitating a course for their volunteers, but we will also offer a facilitated course for organizations unable to facilitate their own course. If you would like more information on the course and how you can be involved, please contact schmidta@floridaliteracy.org.

Career Pathways for Florida’s Adult Education and Literacy Programs

Career pathways is the wave of the future for Florida’s adult education and literacy programs.  In early November, ACE of Florida, the Florida Department of Education and other partners broadcasted a webcast about building career pathways for Florida’s adult students.  This is a link to the recorded webinar – it’s about 3 hours long, and gives viewers a clear picture of where the industry is headed with this initiative and how adult education and literacy programs can participate.

To help launch this initiative, each Regional Training Council (RTC) is conducting Career Pathways workshops.  Each workshop is on the January 2011 calendar on the Florida TechNet site and is free to attend.

This is the quick breakdown of offerings – each session will cover the same information, so you just need to attend one.

  • 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m., Monday, Jan. 10, at Northwest Florida State College (Niceville, Fla.) Register
  • 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 11, at Tallahassee Community College (Tallahassee, Fla.) Register
  • 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 12, at Florida State College Jacksonville (Jacksonville, Fla.) Register
  • 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Friday, Jan. 14, at Mid Florida Tech (Orlando, Fla.) Register
  • 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 18, at Hillsborough Instructional Services Center (Tampa, Fla.) Register
  • 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 19, at Lee County Public Education Center (Fort Myers, Fla.) Register
  • 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 20, at Lindsey Hopkins Tech (Miami, Fla.) Register
  • 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Friday, Jan. 21, at Fulton-Holland Ed. Services Center (West Palm Beach, Fla.) Register

Workshop overview:  An adult career pathway is a systemic framework that connects adult education programs, work, and postsecondary education. Each step in a career pathway is designed to prepare the student for the next level of work and education. Adult Career Pathways includes the guidance, remediation, curricula, and other support elements required to enable career limited adults to enter the workforce and progress in rewarding careers.

Purpose: This workshop will lead participants through practical strategies to analyze and develop the components of an adult career pathways system.

The workshop includes topics such as:
• Adult Education and Florida’s Economic Development
• Steps in Designing Adult Education Career Pathways
• Career Pathways Maps
• Student Recruitment, Orientation, and Placement
• Contextualized Curriculum and Instruction
• Career Development
• Data Collection and Analysis for ACPs

Does your program already offer career pathways/transition programs for students?  If so, tell us about them in the comment section below.  If not, what do you feel the challenges are?  Did you watch the webcast earlier this month – if so, what were your thoughts?

We look forward to your comments and conversation.

FLC’s New Women’s Health Curriculum Wins National Award

Women's Health

The Florida Literacy Coalition (FLC) is proud to announce that its health literacy curriculum, Women’s Health: A Special Addition to Staying Healthy, received the 1st place award for Reads-Easy™ in the National Health Literacy Innovators contest.

The Health Literacy Innovators Awards, a national contest to reward organizations and individuals for their commitment to excellence in plain language and health literacy principles, is sponsored by Health Literacy Innovations, creator of health literacy resources and the Health Literacy Advisor, the nation’s first interactive health literacy software tool.

Women’s Health won the ReadsEasy™ Publication award, which emphasizes the use of plain English, proper graphics and a proven reading level of 6th grade or lower determined by industry assessments.

The Women’s Health curriculum covers topics including menstruation, menopause, pregnancy, breast and reproductive cancers, sexually transmitted infections and domestic abuse. The student guide is loaded with photographs, illustrations and easy-to-read charts; the teacher guide includes practice dialogs and enriching class activities.

FLC is truly honored by this award and shares it with the great team of people who developed the curriculum.  FLC hopes this award will help raise awareness about women’s health and the availability of this free resource.

That’s right – FREE!!  Women’s Health, and its sister publication, Coping With Stress, are special additions toStaying Healthy: An Enlish Learner’s Guide to Health Care and Healthy Living. Staying Healthy is the core health literacy curriculum FLC developed in 2008 with support from the Florida Department of Education, Division of Career and Adult Education.

As some of you may know, Staying Healthy is the central component of FLC’s health literacy initiative which, through the support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, provides health-education resources for local adult English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and family literacy programs.

Florida adult ESOL programs can order FREE copies of Staying Healthy, the award-winning Women’s Health and Coping with Stress curricula from FLC by clicking here.  Each of these publications is also available as a PDF here.

Reading and Fun For Everyone During the Central Florida Literacy Month Celebration

The Central Florida Literacy Month Celebration brought families to Wekiwa Springs State Park in Apopka last weekend to enjoy a wide range of interactive activates to promote reading and literacy.The Florida Literacy Coalition and local partners held the event to celebrate Florida Adult and Family Literacy Month, as recognized by Gov. Charlie Crist  (see proclamation).

During the event children reenacted storybook themes, watched puppet shows, and were read to by literacy enthusiasts.  All of the activities revolved around storylines and emphasized the importance of reading, education and family literacy.

Seminole County librarian, Diane Keyes, and her puppets read about saving manatees

Sonia Hendrickson of Orange County Public Schools works with children to reenact Moon Rope.

Ranger Amy Conyers reads Home Sweet Home to the group before leading them on a nature hike.

Participants also had the opportunity to choose new books to take home courtesy of Borders Books and Music, and Just 1 Book, a local organization improving the lives of children one book at a time.  More than 400 books were given away at the event.

Just 1 Book’s giveaway table

A special thanks goes to all of our event partners and sponsors that made this event possible!  These include the Florida Department of Education, Florida Parks Service, Florida Lottery, GROWS Literacy Council, Orange County Public Schools, Seminole County Public LibrariesOrange County Library System, Borders Books and Music, and Just 1 Book.

Celebrate Adult and Family Literacy in Florida This Month!

September 8th is International Literacy Day, and Florida Governor Charlie Crist has again extended his support by signing a proclamation recognizing September as Florida Adult & Family Literacy Month.

The Florida Literacy Coalition is again partnering with the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Parks Service to recognize and celebrate this worthy cause.  However, we’ve added an extra element to the partnership this year – five regional community events to promote adult and family literacy.  These events will take place at state parks in the following cities:

  1. Tallahassee, Sept. 8 at Maclay Gardens.  For more information call: (850) 245-9670.
  2. Jacksonville, Sept. 11 & 12 at Talbot Island State Park
  3. Apopka, Sept. 11 at Wekiwa Springs State Park
  4. Sarasota, Sept. 11 at Oscar Scherer State Park
  5. Hobe Sound, Sept. 11 at Jonathan Dickinson State Park

These events are being organized by local planning committees comprised of area adult education and literacy programs, libraries, the parks and other community stakeholders.

Many of our literacy programs in areas other than those listed above are also celebrating Literacy Month!  Click on the links below to learn more about additional literacy celebrations throughout Florida!

We hope you will attend one of the events referenced above to help recognize the importance of adult and family literacy in Florida.  One in five Floridians is functionally illiterate.  This means they cannot read their mail, complete a job application or read a book to a child.  For more literacy stats, click here.

If you know of other Literacy Month celebrations, let us know about them in the comment section below.

Strategic Reading Instruction to Improve Comprehension of Struggling Readers

Tuesday night, tutors from across the state participated in a virtual training to learn about Strategic Reading Instruction to Improve Comprehension of Struggling Readers. 

Below is a quick summary of the training from presenter, Iris Strunc, of Northwest Florida State College.

Iris Strunc

Iris Strunc

Comprehension is the fundamental reason for reading.  Reading without understanding is merely a futile exercise of readers running their eyes across a page of text.  Many struggling readers, therefore, indicate that comprehension is their most serious reading problem.  In order to understand the text that they are reading, readers must be able to identify the topic and what the author wants the reader to know about the topic (main idea).

One of the strategies demonstrated during this session was analyzing the paragraph for words that carry the meaning in each sentence (key words) and using these words to identify the topic and the author’s point about the topic.  The steps include the following:

  • Reading the first and last sentence of the paragraph
  • Identifying and circling the words (key words) that carry the meaning from the first sentence to the next
  • Identifying and circling the words (key words) that carry the meaning from the second sentence to the next
  • Identifying and circling the words (key words) that carry the meaning throughout the remainder of the paragraph
  • Using the circled keys words to look for patterns to identify the topic (subject) of the paragraph
  • Writing the topic at the top of a post-it-note
  • Determining what the author wants the reader to know about the topic of the paragraph
  • Writing that information under the topic on the post-it-note
  • Combining this information on the post-it-note to write the main idea sentence  of the  paragraph

Students who are directly taught this strategy usually are able to comprehend the text that they are reading without having to reread the text several times.

This training was a collaborative learning event brought to you by the Florida Adult Literacy Resource Center, a program of the Florida Literacy Coalition. This training was made possible through the support of the Florida Department of Education, Division of Career and Adult Education.

Did you participate in last night’s training?  Let us know your thoughts; leave your comments in the box below!

Don’t Miss FLC’s Virtual Tutor/Teacher Trainings

FLC is offering TWO virtual tutor/teacher trainings this month.  These trainings are free; participants need to have telephone and internet access simultaneously to participate.  Click here to read the presenters’ bios. These training sessions are specifically designed to assist literacy tutors and teachers.

TRAINING 1

  • Training Topic: Strategic Reading Instruction to Improve Comprehension for Struggling Reader
  • Date: June 22
  • Time: 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. 
  • Instructor: Iris Strunc, Northwest Florida State College
  • Description: Although many school hours are devoted to reading instruction, many students simply do not understand what they read.  This training will explain how strategic analysis of text can help focus struggling readers on the text and task in front of them.  Participants will be shown specific comprehension strategies using highlighters, post-it notes and index cards to assist ineffective readers to analyze and comprehend text better.  

 TRAINING 2

  • Training Topic: Effective Vocabulary Instruction for the Struggling Adult Learner
  • Date: June 30
  • Time: 12:00-1:30 p.m.
  • Instructor: Cecilia A. Hicks, Florida State College at Jacksonville
  • Description: Many adult learners struggle with reading for a variety of reasons. This workshop will explore several of these reasons and offer instructors  research-  and evidence-based solutions to this literacy dilemma. The primary focus of this training will be on vocabulary development. Participants will leave with proven strategies and activities designed to foster vocabulary development in the adult learner.

HOW IT WORKS

Participate from the comfort of your own home or office.  All you need is a telephone and access to the Internet. We will send you a toll-free number and web address (URL) when you register. On the evening of the workshop, you simply join the conference call and go to the web site which will allow you to access the slide show. 

Register today

Questions?  Contact Yari Payne at payney@floridaliteracy.org or (407) 246-7110 ext. 203. 

These trainings are collaborative learning events brought to you by the Florida Adult Literacy Resource Center, a program of the Florida Literacy Coalition. These trainings are made possible through the support of the Florida Department of Education, Division of Career and Adult Education.