Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

loudoun gifts for good flyer 2013-page-0

The Loudoun Literacy Council has been selected to be a part of this year’s Loudoun Gifts for Good event. This holiday event will be a part of Leesburg’s First Friday Event on Friday, December 6th from 6PM-9PM at the Carter Braxton Preferred Properties in downtown Leesburg. Loudoun Gifts for Good mission is “To provide our community with a meaningful alternative for year round gift giving – one which celebrates personal charity in support of nonprofits that strengthen our community and promote the common good.”  We are so thrilled to be a part of this wonderful event!

Since 1980, Loudoun Literacy Council has been giving the gift of literacy to members of the community.  We have helped more than 4,000 adults and young people improve their literacy skills through programs supported by the dedication of over 800 trained volunteers.  Your support will help us continue to strengthen our community. You can support Loudoun Literacy by giving a gift of a ‘Baby Book Bundle’ for an at-risk new mother ($10), new books for 5 ‘Birthday Packs’ for children residing in homeless shelters ($25), an entire ESOL class for a Loudoun County adult ($50), supplies for four Head Start students with a school year’s worth of book packs including books for their very own personal library ($100).


We hope that you share the spirit of the holiday season with Loudoun Literacy’s community. To learn more about “Loudoun’s Gift for Good” head to www.loudoungiftsforgood.org!


Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



Through the months of January, February, and March, I excitedly continued my efforts in the classroom teaching adult English language learners! As mentioned in an earlier post, the Adult Literacy Program staff and volunteers were positively overwhelmed with the amount of language learners signing up for ELL instruction. Over 40 students entered my classes for the winter term and the experience of teaching large classes was a very positive learning experience for me. Restructuring lesson plans to adhere to multi-level learners, having activities that kept my students engaged in the classroom, and modifying learning and language skills, were all components of teaching that I was able to adapt to enhance learning within the classroom. Because of the large number of students in the class, I was so grateful for my teacher assistants, Kathleen, Megan W., and Susan S. They were so great in the classroom, not only with the students but in offering me assistance and guidance throughout the classes!

For the winter term, we focused on units covering clothing, food, and health. It was interesting for me to see how much my students knew about the topic before we began to delve into the subject. I believe one misconception that I had as a new teacher was that the notion that “beginner” meant that my ELL learners knew little knowledge of certain subject areas. But as I began to teach these specific units, I came to realize and learn that my students understood many of the fundamentals such as the ins-and-outs of grocery store shopping, how to read store advertisements, and the basic parts of the body. The challenge of these particular units was the specificity of these topics such as the vocabulary associated with clothing, food, and health (i.e. cart vs. basket, headache, stomachache, etc.) as well as the grammar associated with the lesson. It was rewarding to see how students were able to strengthen their vocabulary skills and be able to use those words and incorporate them in to a sentence structure that was grammatically correct. By far, my favorite unit that I taught this term was health. I felt that it is one of the most important units to cover in a life skills based ELL course. As a class, we went over dialogs common to doctor visits and pharmacy visits and by the conclusion of the class, the students were able to construct their own dialogs about medication!

I cannot say enough that the winter term was such a learning experience for me. I feel more confident now entering the classroom for the spring session, teaching learners of multiple ELL backgrounds and adapting my lessons appropriately to all learners!


Before this winter term began, I admit that I was nervous how the classes would be with new students and previous students mixed together in my classes.  After my first classes this winter, I learned that these students would come together and form friendships beyond the classroom.  Teaching this winter just was rewarding as the fall, and gaining the skills to assess students’ progression made it even better.  My confidence as an ESOL teacher has increased from this winter term, as I learn new techniques to use in the classroom and saw students responding to them positively.

This winter, my students learned about clothing, food, and health.  Students practiced dialogues, expanded their vocabulary and grammar, and completed surveys asking questions to classmates in the class and then at home to family members and friends.  This winter term, I also introduced my classes to a Weekly Log where students completed each week that asked them where they spoke, read, listened, or wrote in English outside of the classroom.

My favorite part of this term was taking my students from Cascades Library on a field trip to the grocery store.  Prior to the field trip, we spent a few classes learning the vocabulary about food and the grocery store. On the night of the field trip, we walked as a class to the store.  Then, the class split into two groups with me leading one group and my assistant, Jackie, leading the second group.  We gave the students a tour of the grocery store showing them the bakery, deli, produce section, frozen foods, and aisles.  After that, they completed a short scavenger hunt where they found food items in the store and listed the price of them. Finally, we went back to the classroom and wrote about their experience.  To be able to take what they learned inside the classroom and apply it to their lives was one of my most rewarding experiences so far this year during AmeriCorps.

This winter term went by so fast! I am thankful for my assistants, Jackie and Laura, for being able to add ideas and aide in the classroom.  The students were able to receive more one-on-one attention thanks to them.  Overall, I enjoyed watching my students grow and getting to know them.  One student received her library card and came in every night with new books, and one student received her green card along with her daughter.  I always hate the end of the term and having to say goodbye, but I look forward to hopefully seeing many of these students return this spring term to continue practicing their English skills and advance further.

Read Full Post »

(L-R) Susan, Leslie, Dr. Dann-Messier, Claudia, and Carrie at 2013 VLLC Conference

(L-R) Susan, Leslie, Dr. Dann-Messier, Claudia, and Carrie at 2013 VLLC Conference

Last Thursday and Friday, Leslie, Claudia, Carrie, and I traveled south to Richmond, Virginia for the 2013 Virginia Literacy Leadership Council (VLLC) Conference.   We had the opportunity to meet with teachers, program managers and administrators of other community-based adult literacy organizations throughout the state of Virginia.

We started the conference listening to the opening speaker, Susan Fletcher, who worked as a Deputy Superintendent of the Central Virginia Regional Jail.  She talked to us about how critical the GED is for our adults including inmates trying for a second chance.  After the opening speaker, the four of us attended different sessions in the afternoon.  They included: Minimizing Administrative Chaos, Having an Effective Tutor Training, Grant Writing the SMART Way, Transitions-Soft Skills for Employability, and EL Civics Lesson Plans for the Beginning Level ESOL Learner.  These sessions were helpful in us preparing for our upcoming volunteer training, simplifying our databases, improving our skills in writing grants, and working better with ESOL learners.   It was a solid first day of information.

On our second day of the conference, we went our separate ways and attended the following sessions: Working through the Interview, Learning Disabilities and English Language Learners, and Executive Director Bootcamp. These sessions helped us learn more ways to effectively work with our adult learners, our ESOL students, and to improve our non-profit overall.

Following the morning session, we listened to the Keynote Speaker, Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier.  In 2009, Dr. Dann-Messier was nominated by President Obama to be the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE).  She leads the Department’s efforts in adult education, career and technical education, and provides support for community colleges and correctional education.  Dr. Dann-Messier spoke to us about literacy facts in Virginia and also about President Obama’s goals to improve adult literacy.  She also talked about the importance of collaboration between community-based organizations, adult basic education, and community college programs.

The VLLC Conference was a great opportunity for Leslie, Claudia, Carrie, and I to make new connections, to learn about other organizations in Virginia, and to generate new ideas to bring back to Loudoun Literacy, as we are always striving to improve and grow our programs.  We look forward to the next opportunity for professional development focusing on adult literacy and ESOL.

Susan Pilley

AmeriCorps Member  2012-2013

Read Full Post »

LLC_Color 2013 New Logo Crop

Over the past couple of weeks, the Adult Literacy Program Staff has been blown away by 130 ESOL students registering and taking part in our ESOL class instruction! The week of January 14th, the ALP staff registered students at five different site locations in Loudoun County with the help of 12 of our wonderful volunteers. We’d like to send a huge “thank you” to our community partners: Douglass Community Center, Sterling Community Center, Ashburn Library, Guilford Elementary School, and Frederick Douglass Elementary School for allowing us to utilize their space and resources.

We are so excited that our ESOL student population has increased and we, as a program, have the ability and the resources to cater to the overwhelming need for English classes. Our students come into the classroom with differing academic backgrounds; we have students with advanced degrees, university degrees, high school diplomas, and students with little to no education. Our youngest student is 19 and are eldest student is 76 years of age. Our
students come from 27 different countries and represent a multitude of nationalities and cultural backgrounds! Sixty-four percent of our students are taking our Beginning Level ESOL courses, with an equal percentage of students taking our Intermediate and Advanced Level ESOL courses. With such diversity in culture, as well as English proficiency, we are fortunate to have volunteers who are able to teach students with varying academic abilities and cultural nuances.

Additionally, for the Winter 2013 term we were able to expand our classroom instruction, establishing another class at Rust Library as well as a new class at Frederick Douglass Elementary School. Currently, the Loudoun Literacy Council offers 12 adult ESOL classes in eight site locations including Douglass Community Center, Rust Library, Ashburn Library, Cascades Library, Galilee United Methodist Church, Sterling United Methodist Church, Guilford Elementary School, and Frederick Douglass Elementary School. The passion that we hold for providing English classes to our students is evident with our community partners as well. Their dedication fuels our dedication to keep improving and making positive changes towards the ELL community as well as the community at large in Loudoun County.

The determination of our students to learn and understand the complexities of the English language is very inspiring. As registration came to a close, and classes began this past week, we were again reminded of the challenges the students face on a day-to-day basis. It is part of our responsibility, as ESOL instructors, to help our students take a firmer grasp on the English language as well as take a second look and do something constructive when we witness the injustices non-native English speakers face in this society.

If you would like to be a part of “changing lives through learning”, please contact the Loudoun Literacy Council at (703)777-2205 or e-mail us at tutor@loudounliteracy.org.


Carrie Robinson, AmeriCorps Instructor 2012-2013

Loudoun Literacy Council

17 Royal St., SW Leesburg, VA 20175


Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Since 1994, Congress designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national day of service.   As part of our year of serving in AmeriCorps, Carrie and I just participated in the national day of service this year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

While others enjoyed the day off or watched the inauguration, we met at 9:00 AM at the Shoppers Grocery Store in Herndon, Virginia to volunteer with Fairfax County’s Stuff the Bus: Feeding Fairfax Families for Reston Interfaith.  Reston Interfaith’s mission is to help people build more stable lives by connecting them to vital resources that solve their needs for housing, childcare, food or financial assistance.   After the holidays, many food pantries in Fairfax County drop to their lowest points.  Throughout Fairfax County in January and February, there are food drives to collect food for area non-profits and food pantries, and Fastran provides the buses to collect donations.   To restock Reston Interfaith’s emergency food pantry, Reston Interfaith and Fastran hold a yearly Stuff the Bus event at the Shopper’s Grocery Store in Herndon to collect donations. Here is more information about Fairfax County’s Stuff the Bus: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news/2013/stuff-the-bus-2013.htm

From 9:00 AM-4:00 PM on Monday, Carrie and I along with two AmeriCorps members from BEACON Literacy handed out fliers about the Food Drive to shoppers as they entered the grocery store.  The fliers had a list of items that shoppers could buy and then donate to Reston Interfaith as they left the store.  There were also $5 bags already filled with needed items that shoppers could purchase at the checkout lines, or they could give monetary donations.  We spent the day handing out fliers and helping to collect donations that were loaded on the bus.

Though our feet were tired after seven hours of standing, we truly enjoyed our experience.  First, we were quite surprised by the unexpected generosity of people for buying items while doing their personal shopping, buying the $5 bags if they were in a rush, or giving money on their way out.  There was one couple that even bought a cart full of items to donate!   Also, we met people who use Reston Interfaith’s Emergency Food Pantry, met people who wanted information on services of Reston Interfaith for their own families, and met people who could barely afford to take care of their own families.  One lesson we took away from this experience is to always take time to listen to others giving out information, as sometimes, it is to help people in need.  At the end of the day, Carrie and I both bought a bag to help support Reston Interfaith’s food drive.

Overall, our day of service was a reminder of how generous people can be, and a reminder of being humble and appreciating what we have.

Susan Pilley

AmeriCorps Member 12-13

Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

During the first two Saturdays of the New Year, the Adult Literacy Program staff was hard at work training 17 volunteers for the upcoming Winter 2013 session! The Leesburg Town Hall Building was gracious enough to allow the ALP staff to use their space for the training event.  It was the first time that both AmeriCorps members were able to teach their potential volunteers the ins-and-outs of classroom instruction and the challenges and rewards of teaching adult ESOL learners. While Susan focused primarily on cultural diversity and the structure of a lesson and Carrie focused on realia and curriculum and text, they were able to co-teach the importance of chart levels, lesson planning, and adult learning and learning styles.

One of the highlights of the two-day training session occurred when the volunteers were able to create a lesson plan in groups of three or four.  They were able to take what they had learned and use it to brainstorm a lesson that could be utilized in an ESOL classroom. Each group was given a lesson in one of the units in the All-Star curriculum text. The goal was to have the volunteers understand how lessons are purposefully built up from a more general lesson to a more complex lesson.  This was also a great time for volunteers to use realia, dialogue, and incorporate games within their lessons. It was great to hear each group present their lesson plans and share their great ideas!

It was awesome to see so many potential volunteers come out to learn more about Loudoun Literacy Council and the services we provide and to learn more about the adult ESOL community in Loudoun County.  The Adult Literacy Program staff is thrilled to announce that the majority of our potential volunteers have signed up to assist in the classroom, become a tutor, and/or help out at our registration events!

The ALP staff would like to congratulate the following individuals for successfully completing the Winter 2013 Teacher/Tutor Training:


















Written By:

Carrie Robinson

AmeriCorps Member 2012-2013

Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tables turned Saturday when one of our own students taught our potential volunteers what it felt like to be in a classroom learning a language that is foreign to you. Kholoud prepared a fantastic lesson taught solely in the Arabic language as part of our immersion experience this past Saturday for our volunteer training session.  Looks of confusion and awe were on the faces of our volunteers as Kholoud presented them with the alphabet, numbers, and simple words in Arabic.

As a native of Jordan, Kholoud has lived in the United States for less than ten years and has tutored with our fantastic tutor and teacher, Barbara. Beginning their sessions over a year ago, Kholoud and Barbara have made tremendous progress together, working primarily on reading and writing English.

As a teacher, Kholoud was a natural in front of the room teaching our future tutors and teachers. She used flashcards as part of her presentation, saying, “I use these cards with my son to help teach him Arabic.” At the end of her lesson, Kholoud received a rousing round of applause and a chorus of thank yous. It was great to see one of our own students become involved in the different aspects of our Adult Literacy Program.  We are so grateful for Kholoud in taking time out of her busy schedule to be a part of our training session and for opening our volunteers’ eyes and teaching them a much valued lesson.

Carrie Robinson

Susan Pilley

AmeriCorps Members 2012-2013

Read Full Post »