Erika Greene and FLC’s Online Tutor Training Course

Erika Greene

Erika Greene

How did you get involved with this project?

I was very pleased to be invited by Greg Smith, Director, FLC, to join an Online Study Committee established to explore the viability of developing and offering on-line training for potential tutors and teachers.  The team worked together and launched the pilot online training in July 2010.  As the Literacy Coordinator for the Lake County Library System Adult Literacy Program I am constantly recruiting and training volunteer tutors and I was immediately sold on the opportunity to incorporate an online tutor training component into our program.

Why were you interested in facilitating the course?

Being part of the study committee, a program coordinator, and volunteer tutor trainer it was a natural transition to facilitate the pilot course!  I was extremely excited to be able to participate in the online training – not only would I be able to see how it worked but I would be able to provide feedback, input, and guide the new volunteer tutors from Lake County as they traversed this new territory!

What was your interaction with course participants?

I was involved with the new volunteer tutors from the very beginning – recruiting, preparing and educating them on the online training program, providing support and guidance as they worked through the course content, participating in the discussion board topics, and transitioning them to our required face-to-face follow up meeting.

What would you suggest for other facilitators?

It is so very important to be engaged with the volunteer tutors throughout the process.  For some individuals the ‘technology’ can be overwhelming and, at times, discouraging for them.  If you are planning on facilitating your own online training be prepared to be busy!  But the rewards far outweigh the work.  You learn so much about your new potential volunteer tutors and they develop a strong relationship with you as they learn they can trust and depend on you to offer them assistance and support throughout the process.

How do you recruit course participants?

Recruiting volunteer tutors for the online training is similar to the traditional way I recruited tutors.  The only difference is that I stress the need for new volunteers to be comfortable with technology – or at least willing to try and learn!  As the LCLS Adult Literacy Program moves further into the 21st Century we, as a program, need tutors who use and/or are willing to be trained to use technology – hardware, software, the cloud, mobile aps, web-based learning, etc...  The FLC online training is the first step in this process.

For more information on how you can be involved with FLC’s free online training course, please contact

Apps for Education

Smart phones are becoming increasingly popular. Now that they are becoming more affordable, it is not that uncommon to see people in every economic bracket with one.  The PEW Research Center has completed surveys about the demographics of smart phone users.

I heard about using cell phones as a tool during tutor training at the Adult Literacy League. But after the trainer explained how she came to it, it made complete sense. Her student wanted to practice the new words he was learning, but didn’t want to be embarrassed as a grown man using flash cards.  After many trail and error experiments, they found an application that would work well for both of them.  I decided to compile a list of 4-5 applications for the most popular smart phones.  I suggest that you try out a couple and see what works for your student. The gFlash allows you as the tutor to upload a list of words for your student to use, or you can download a list already made by someone else.   All of the applications include audio so users can see how the word is spelled and hear how it is pronounced.  Is there anything else you would add?


Flash cards + $0.99 English Voice download- FREE (includes pronunciation button) – FREE

Math games- FREE

World Lens (Translates street signs) – FREE

Top 50 iPhone apps for Educators


Spanish-English Dictionary ColorDict Dictionary- FREE

Math Wizard- FREE

gFlash (create your own flashcards)- FREE pronunciation button)- FREE


gFlash PRO flashcards (create your own or download someone elses)- $4.99

Math Flash- FREE

Student Notes (good for those studying for the GED)- FREE

Learn to Write- FREE

Dictionary and FREE

Suzanne Ensmann: Technology and Playing games

According to Facebook statistics, there are over 800 million active users on this social network.

The US Census Bureau’s reflection of 312 million residents in America seems to pale in comparison.  If 50% of these Facebook users logon daily (and, yes, those are the actual numbers who do), that number is still higher than every resident living in our country.

How many of those 400 million do you think are in your classrooms?  Oh, I know, your students are a different population.  They don’t have computers (or those skills), right? Do they have a smart phone in their pocket?  Take a poll.  A quick survey in a few of my Student Success classes informed me that 100% of my students had cell phones (AKA computers), 100% of them have laptops, and 100% of them had a Facebook account!

The physical classroom where I am currently teaching does not have computers, but my students do!  Don’t know an answer to a question I pose?  Google it!  Amazingly this engages the students and eliminates that “deer in the headlights” look.  Taking a quiz and not certain if you answered correctly or not?  Immediate feedback returned when they hit that submit button!

One third of my students polled were kinesthetic learners.  They learn through playing games.  So, we play a game to review prior lessons every class on our cell phones.  Think about it.  Do you think students prefer to do classwork or play games while they learn?

The power of words goes a long way in my class.  We clarify if they “have to” come to class or “want to”.  After we break down the cost of their education (tuition, gas, time) and focus on the value, power of positive thinking, and the career pathway goal they are setting out to achieve, their attitude changes.  We’re in our sixth week this semester and I have close to 100% attendance, with the exception of those who’ve experienced the common cold here and there.

Use of technology and affirmations in the classroom are a starting point to foster student persistence, but I can’t say it’s the only ingredient for improved attendance. Since “cell phone” is no longer a dirty word in my class, though, my students will actually use the technology outside of class for their education like they do with every other world activity they partake in.   Communication, communication, communication!  They text me if they’re running late, out ill, or forget what chapter we’re reading.  I remind them of their test on Tuesday, that project that’s due next week, or post a popular motivational video to our Facebook class page.  Literally, I’m placing the reminders in their face where they’re playing.   But, I know your students can’t do these things.

A literacy teacher just boasted to me about the high completion rate she had for her students over the last few months.  Interesting, she has them all listed under her contacts in her cell phone.  Text messaging is a common occurrence (24/7) with her students.  Too much work?   I guess it’s about perception. A full classroom and completions?  I call it fun.  She seems to also.

Not a believer yet?  Read stats from the Deputy Director for Education Technology at the U.S. Department of Education.

If you want to support student success in your classroom and move them into Career Pathway in today’s digital revolution era, think Connect to… Complete to… Careers!  Analyze, create, and plan, but most importantly act on incorporating social media and digital technologies in your classroom today!

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

Virtual Tutor/Teacher Training: Reading Error Patterns

If you attended the Florida Literacy Conference this past May, you’ll probably recognize the name Betsy Stoutmorrill.

During Conference, Dr. Stoutmorrill presented a very popular session entitled “Reading: Science of the Brain Meets Art of the Mind.”  The session highlighted how learning to read requires the (science) brain’s capacity to decode and link symbols to sounds and the (art) mind’s facility to comprehend the meaning of print.

In just over 3 weeks, on Sept. 22, Dr. Stoutmorrill will virtually present a training on identifying and solving reading error patterns.  She will provide tutors and teachers with a system for identifying and analyzing oral reading/decoding errors students make.

Tutors and teachers can effectively address common error patterns through a process of listening, marking and discussing errors made by students who read a brief 100-150 word passage.

Participants will receive:

1) a list of the 10 most common reading errors

2) sample passages that can be utilized as a guide for selecting appropriate material from a wide range of reading resources

Interested?  Click here for registration and participation information.

Dr. Betsy Stoutmorrill is Vice President of Enrollment and Outreach for Beacon College in Leesburg, Fla.  Since 1989, Stoutmorrill has been in the field of adult education focusing on reading and learning disabilities.

More trainings are on the horizon & you can read summaries from two prior tutor/teacher trainings on this blog!

  1. Effective Vocabulary Instruction for Struggling Readers
  2. Strategic Reading Instruction to Improve Comprehension of Struggling Readers

Effective Vocabulary Instruction for the Struggling Reader

Cecilia A. Hicks

Cecilia A. Hicks

Yesterday afternoon tutors statewide participated in a virtual training facilitated by Cecilia A. Hicks, of Florida State College at Jacksonville, on effective vocabulary instruction for struggling adult readers.  Below, Cecilia Hicks provides a synopsis of the training, and other helpful hints for tutors and teachers.

Vocabulary refers to knowledge of word meanings. We’ve discovered that there are two types of vocabularies used:

  1. oral – words we can use and understand in speaking and listening
  2. reading – the store of words we recognize and understand in print

The reader cannot understand the writer’s message unless they understand the meanings of most of the words. Who needs vocabulary instruction? Everyone at varying reading levels benefit from this vital component of the reading process. There are several research- and evidence-based strategies and activities tutors can use.  Here is a list of some of these strategies.

  1. Using direct vocabulary instruction can include pre-teaching the words in instructional text. Teach the meaning of the word before the reading of the text.
  2. Be sure the learner uses the word through projects, employment, etc…
  3. Make the learning relevant to the learner.
  4. Teach how prefixes and suffixes can change the meaning and function of base words.
  5. Use context clues
  6. Teach the learner how to use a dictionary and thesaurus.

Several websites that I use often and modify as necessary include:

A  final note: remember the learning style of your adult learner and try to incorporate something for everyone during your teaching or tutoring session.

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 yesterday’s training?  Let us know your thoughts; leave your comments in the box 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!