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News & Updates for April 2018

newsThis month:


Volunteer Appreciation Month

You make life sweeter

Volunteers do so much.

Did you know? In 2017, 257 Literacy Advance volunteer tutors gave 18,801 hours to their classes. That time is valued at a whopping $453,856 by the Independent Sector!

But even more than that -
Volunteers do what they do with such heart. Much more than stats about hours (as important and impressive as they are), is the fact the volunteers give back to their community because they want the world to be a better place.

And in the process, they make life sweeter for all of us :) THANK YOU!

Volunteers, please pick up a small (sweet) token of our appreciation during April, at the front desk or Literacy Advance office of the site where you tutor. And know that we are forever grateful to you all!


Gulf Coast Literacy Symposium

Free training for YOU!

Time's running out for you to register! The Gulf Coast Literacy Symposium will be held on Saturday, April 28.

And workshops have been confirmed! We're excited about this year's schedule and we hope you will be too. Find more information here.

We hope to have record numbers of Literacy Advance tutors register this year, and registration is open now.

NOTE: Some of you have approached us about arranging a car pool with other tutors to drive down to the venue as a group. This should be able to go ahead if we can find an organizer. If you can be the organizer (maybe by booking an Uber) or even the driver, please talk to Colleen: 713.266.8777.


Wanted: One AmeriCorps VISTA 

Program Support Specialist needed!

Want a fabulous year-long opportunity?
Know someone who might?

Literacy Advance is seeking a Program Support Specialist to connect adults and families to vital literacy resources; engage in key elements of program design and implementation; and support the valuable volunteers who lead English and literacy classes, all through the AmeriCorps VISTA program.

Find more details, including how to apply, here.


Waller Tutors Needed

The best recommendation is word of mouth

We think our tutors are pretty amazing. So when we want to recruit more, the first and best idea to spread the word is to ask our tutors to invite their friends.

We need tutors at our Waller campus. There are classes at Waller that are waiting to start, because they don't yet have a tutor matched. Just look at that empty classroom, above!

Can you invite a friend from Katy, Brookshire, or elsewhere in west Houston who could fill that classroom with an eager class? (And if not, can you invite a friend to volunteer at Bay Area, or Wilcrest? We'd love for you to invite friends for ANY site!)

If you have an interested friend, their first step should be to contact Maxine: 713.266.8777 or


Summer Semester 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 letting us know if you're willing and able to lead a class this summer.

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! We want to give you first choice of the days and times for your class, so take a look at Wilcrest needs here and Bay Area here (Waller to come shortly!).

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 complete a class over the summer, you should sign up for a Story Time tour and a Tutor Workshop as soon as possible.

Please contact Maxine with any questions: 713.266.8777 or


Summer Internships at Literacy Advance

Get GREAT experience this summer at Literacy Advance!

Every summer we pride ourselves on our robust internship program and the variety of experiences and learning we can provide for our interns.

We're looking for this year's interns, to work with us in Programs or Development.

All information, including role descriptions and how to apply, can be found here.


Theme of the Month

April: Money & Banking

money pigStudents tell us they need to understand, practice, and learn real-life skills on a myriad of topics, so with their help, we developed a Theme of the Month calendar.

As it suggests, we collected resources and developed lesson plans relating to a different theme each month. We gathered a list of related materials and activities, so tutors can access them online and help engage students quickly.

Houston Money Week is April 14 – 22, but we know students want to feel confident about managing their money 365 days a year! So we dedicate the entire month of April to the theme of Money and Banking.

You have access to many resources and activities for a variety of fluency levels and experiences in our Resource Rooms.

There are resources to help with counting, math basics, and recognizing denominations.

There are materials for learning about credit as well as setting and managing budgets.

There are even lessons to practice going to the bank.

Let us know if you will tutor a Waiting Class and want to use a lesson plan developed specifically for your beginner or intermediate class. To explore more, you can stop by the Resource Room, or contact Maxine at

And here are the themes for the rest of the year:

Month Theme Possible lesson content
May Housing Paperwork needed to sign a lease; rights and responsibilities of tenants and homeowners
June Jobs How to apply for jobs; what's typical in a US-style resume
July Getting Ready for School Getting kids ready for school; options at school including after-school care and clubs
August Shopping & Restaurants Houston Restaurant Weeks; loyalty clubs and benefits; online shopping risks and benefits
September Immigration & Citizenship Requirements for US citizenship including paperwork and fees
October Health Health Literacy Month; questions to ask the doctor; advocating for your own health
November Libraries What's available at your local library? What does the library provide online?

There's no right or wrong way to use the Theme of the Month calendar. Some months you may use it a lot, and other months less so - we hope you'll continue to be responsive to the needs and goals of the particular students in your class. But we hope this will be a fun addition to your lesson planning, and we'll be providing focused resources and lesson ideas on each topic throughout the year.

Want ideas, or to look at resources that match the themes? Talk to Maxine, our Volunteer Manager: 713.266.8777 or


Top Tutor Tips

Human Agency

“Human agency is the capacity for human beings to make things happen through their actions.”*

This section of the Learner Persistence Project involves helping students become more pro-active in their learning.

Unlike children, who go to school because they are told to, adult learners come because they have a problem to solve, and they can determine for themselves what they need. They are, after all, adults!

Our students are highly contributing members of their communities. They are parents, caregivers, business owners; many have advanced degrees and are fluent in multiple languages. They have responsibilities and can determine things for themselves.

When we encourage adult learners to recognize that they can learn something, we empower them to be self-directed in their learning.

In turn, when what they learn is useful, they become even more motivated.

This is why we ask you to help them set specific goals, beyond “I want to learn English.” or “I want to learn to read.”

This is why we take time to get to know each learner, and use valuable class time to allow them to complete reflection journals.

This is also why we use curriculum that is designed specifically to address the common challenges adult learners face, and why we have the flexibility to select the units that are most important to each individual class.

Finally, agency is a key reason why we should not assume we know what learners want to learn, or what they should know – we should ask them!

Next month, we will explore more about how adult educators can structure lessons to empower learners and increase their competence. Meanwhile, you can read examples of how learners became more self-directed and increased their agency here.

*World Education, New England Learner Persistence, Drivers of Persistence.

"Agency" is the third of the six Drivers of Persistence outlined by the wonderful Adult Learner Persistence website. This website and its insights into adult learning has been a pivotal tool in Literacy Advance program development in recent years. Read more about this particular driver here.

If you have any questions or comments about the materials or strategies suggested here, contact Maxine at, or join our powerful online community Literacy Advance Tutor Support Group, for AMAZING people only (spoiler alert: that's you!)


Be the best tutor you can be

Stay up to date with best practices and tutoring ideas

ProLiteracy's Notebook is a great tutoring resource which always covers a variety of topics.

The latest edition includes:

  • Numeracy: Connecting Math to ESL
  • Speaking: Video Training for Better Speaking Activities
  • Health Literacy: Talking About Diabetes
  • Dyslexia in the Adult Classroom
  • Exploring Resources
  • Student Profile: Determined Learner Gives Back and Helps Fellow Refugees

Read the whole issue here.


Student Success Spotlight

Don't miss this month's Student Success Spotlight!

You helped make it possible.


Calendar Highlights

What's ahead? Mark your calendar!

calendarWe always want you to be up to date! So highlights of the Literacy Advance calendar are summarized below.

A more complete calendar can always be found online here, or you can check our Facebook Events page.

Saturday, April 28
Third annual Gulf Coast Literacy Symposium:
FREE training for tutors!
Registration open now

Saturday, May 26 & Monday, May 28
Literacy Advance CLOSED for Memorial Day

July 2 - July 7
Literacy Advance CLOSED for July 4 & Summer Break

Friday, October 19
Around the World: 10th annual student & tutor celebration

Saturday, December 22
LAST DAY of classes in 2018


Find more information just for volunteers:

And finally - don't miss the Volunteer Spotlight!

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