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News & Updates for May 2017

newsThis month:

Between the Lines Newsletter

Latest issue now available!

Between the Lines Vol 13, Iss 1Our print newsletter had a short hiatus for the latter part of 2016, but it's back - with our first-ever edition in color!

You can read online now if you didn't already receive your copy in the mail.

Thanks to all who shared their story and made this newsletter amazing. And thanks to you for reading and celebrating the successes of our students!

Summer classes at Literacy Advance

We'd love your help over the summer; please get in touch

summer Summer in Houston is an interesting time! Some people have extra free time they can give us (thank you!) while others are out of town and unavailable for some weeks or even months (safe travels and have a great time!).

TUTORS: Please help us get organized by telling us your plans as soon as possible.

For continuing tutors:

If you tutored a class within the last two years (including if you're a current tutor) and will be tutoring this summer – THANK YOU! Please let us know your schedule as soon as possible so that we can plan classes and room availability.

Bay Area Tutors, please contact Enedina at 281.282.6032 or .

Wilcrest Tutors, please contact Heather at 713.266.8777 or .  

If you are interested in tutoring at any other location, please contact Khushboo at 713.266.8777 or for information about upcoming Outreach and Waller classes.

For returning and new tutors

If you want to tutor over the summer and it's been two years or more since you last tutored with us, or if you haven't tutored with us yet – WE ARE SO HAPPY TO WELCOME YOU( BACK)! To tutor during the summer, you should sign up for a Story Time tour and a Tutor Workshop as soon as possible. This will help us plan classes and find a schedule that works for you.

Please contact Maxine at 713.266.8777 or

Students help Literacy Advance

Goal: $1,200 by May 20

savings bankPart 1 of our annual Student Appeal ran from May 6 to May 20 this year at Wilcrest (Part 2 is in September). This is an opportunity for students to be made aware of the costs involved in their free classes, and be given the chance to contribute something towards them.

We set a goal of $1,200, and our generous students exceeded it! At last count we were at $1,335 with a few last donations trickling in.

If you have any questions about the Student Appeal, please talk to Kathryn Bauchelle, the Program Director: 713.266.8777.

Thank you!

Are your students missing out on a great opportunity?

Computer literacy, conversation, work-readiness, more...

computer classDid you know that students can attend supplemental classes while they're in a regular class with you?

Known as "Special Classes" to the students, to differentiate them from their regular class, these supplemental classes are short, topic-specific classes, like:

  • Learning how to use a computer
  • Improving conversation skills
  • Communication at Work (DVD-based course)
  • Resume-writing and interview skills
  • Much more!

There are new classes regularly so remind your students to check what's coming up! Wilcrest students can check on the Programs Office Door; students at all sites can check our website.

Students must register for each class they want to attend.

Please remind your students of these great opportunities! If you tutor at Wilcrest, it would be great if you could show your students where to check for the new Special Class flyers.

Theme of the Month: Housing

Waiting Class lesson plans, and more

housingBased on direct and consistent student feedback, we've created a Theme of the Month calendar, tied to the life skills students say they want to learn. There's a different theme each month, complete with a list of (and links to) materials and activities that tutors can use to help get students talking and interacting more.

May = Housing

Do you remember the first time you signed an apartment lease, or planned to buy a house? There are so many considerations! You have to think about what neighborhood to live in, if it’s best to rent or buy,  who to contact about maintenance issues, and much more. The process can intimidate anyone, and it's something both our reading students and English learners consistently struggle with.

This month, we have a collection of resources, activities, and lesson plans to help learners become more confident when communicating about housing.

These are two resources that can be useful to either ABE and ESL learners. Each has housing-related information, as well as other useful topics.

Living in America, Knowing Your Rights and Responsibilities is a book that presents facts and examples for understanding renters’ rights. There are many other useful topics, too.

Here is Houston: A Relocation and Newcomer’s Guide is full of terrific tips and local information, including practical details about utilities and services in Houston. It is available both in hard copy and electronic format.

These and other materials are available in the Bay Area and Wilcrest Resource Rooms. Outreach and Waller tutors, please contact Khushboo or Maxine.

Coming up in June - JOBS.

Office closings and tutor absences

Plan now for Memorial Day, Summer Break, and other absences!

closed signA reminder to all tutors that Literacy Advance will be CLOSED for Memorial Day on Saturday, May 27 and Monday, May 29. We will also close for our annual Summer Break from Saturday, July 1, to Friday, July 7.

Please tell your students - we'll tell them too, but the more reminders, the better! Every time we close, multiple students still come to the office, and have to go home again. Please help them avoid a wasted journey!

If you have a planned absence for any time the office is NOT closed, PLEASE remember to contact your coordinator ahead of time! We can usually cover tutor absences, with enough advance notice, but we need you to communicate with us. Thank you for your help with this!

Did you complete your health literacy survey?

Please help your students in this way!

surveyOne of the Literacy Advance Board members works at MD Anderson and is working with people at three Texas universities to create health literacy curriculum. They want it to be as useful and practical as possible, so they want to hear from tutors and others who work regularly with adult students.

That’s you! You received an email from Maxine recently, with a link to a survey. We really hope you’ll take the 15 minutes needed to complete it, if you haven't already! (We haven't included the link here, due to the restrictions of the survey. Please use the link in your email. Thanks for understanding!)

Your input will be vital in giving real-life information about what our students need most and what can help them best.

THANK YOU in advance for your help with this!

Top Tutor Tips

A monthly focus on best practices

abe & esl

Plain Language can be a lifeline.

Why? Because one million adults across Houston struggle with the written word, or spoken English, or both. The way we communicate can mean the difference between someone understanding, and them being completely confused. And a confused person is stressed, anxious, and not likely to be able to do much with the information we're trying to give them.

Plain Language isn't an exact science, and it certainly isn't a complex formula. Put simply, Plain Language = effective communication. And we want more of that everywhere, including in our classrooms.

Things as simple as word choice, how you repeat something when a person isn't following, and how fast you speak can all have an impact on how effectively you're communicating. And let's not get started on idioms, which are a minefield for so many new English speakers!

You can read more about Plain Language right here on the Literacy Advance website. Stay tuned for training on this topic, which will happen later in the year, just for Literacy Advance volunteers. Or, you can get started early by coming to the Front Desk Volunteer training on Wednesday, June 7, where plain language communications will be a topic of discussion.


And don't forget - we have regular workshops, training, and roundtable sessions to help tutors continue learning best practices and sharing ideas with one another. Find upcoming sessions here.

Literacy Advance History Book

Celebrating 50 Years of Literacy...

history bookLiteracy Advance celebrated its 50th birthday in 2014 and we're still celebrating! We hope you've already read some of the 50 years of stories that got us to where we are today; if not, find the book here or click on the image to the left.

Current Volunteer Needs


There's more to do than tutoring! We have ongoing needs for Family Literacy volunteers, front desk helpers, and other assistance, and we're looking for Scrabble volunteers...

Current volunteer needs are here.

Volunteer Events

Tutor Enrichment, Volunteer Socials, and more!

Find out all information on our Volunteer Events page! For changes and updates throughout the month, remember to check our Calendar, or our Facebook Events tab.

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