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News & Updates for August 2018

newsThis month:


Welcome to our new Volunteer Coordinator

Introducing Courtney Justus!

We're very pleased to introduce Courtney Justus. Courtney takes on the role of Volunteer Cooordinator for Literacy Advance and will be your first point of contact for all volunteer-related questions. Read more about Courtney on our Staff Page, and get in touch with her at:

713.266.8777 ext. 16

And please drop by to say hello when you're next at Wilcrest!


Matching donations

They help more than you can imagine!

Have you been meaning to get around to checking whether your workplace offers a match? Some will match any money you donate, some will match volunteer time - and some match both! Even better, some companies' matching policies extend to spouses, or retirees...

You can't imagine the difference a matching grant can make to our bottom line. And every extra dollar can help more families, more parents, and more workers.

Please take a moment this week to check whether this is available through your workplace. With so many dedicated volunteers connected to Literacy Advance, matching funds can be a significant source of income for us.

And if you're already doing this on our behalf - THANK YOU, from the bottom of our hearts!


Fall classes starting SOON

Calling all tutors, new and returning!

Fall classes at Literacy Advance will run from August 27 – December 22, and we need YOU to make this the busiest semester of the year!

We'll be calling you soon to ask about your interest in fall classes, but if you already know the days and times that work best for you, you are more than welcome to sign up early. The earlier you talk to us, the more likely we can help you get your ideal schedule and class level.

To get started, please talk to Courtney: or 713.266.8777 ext. 16.


Bad weather? Not sure if class is on?

Step One: Check Facebook

We know that weather in Houston can be unpredictable. Sometimes we don't have a lot of notice that we'll need to close the office and cancel classes, and we don't always have time to call everyone. 

Facebook is a quick and easy way to update lots of people at once, so the Literacy Advance Facebook page always has the most up-to-date information about closings in cases of bad weather.

If you think there's a chance we might be closed, please check the page rather than calling the office. Look for this image, and click on it for the latest update:

weather information

You can check the Facebook page even if you don't have a Facebook account, so please bookmark the link above. And remind your students to do the same!

Of course, if the bad weather is local to your neighborhood, and you're the one who needs to cancel class because you're concerned about driving, please do call us and let us know.


Closed for Labor Day

Mark your calendar and tell your students!

Literacy Advance will be CLOSED for Labor Day on:

Saturday, September 1
Monday, September 3

Open as usual at 8am on Tuesday, September 4.

Fun fact: September is National Literacy Month! So we're going to pretend that the holiday on September 1 is in honor of literacy. Get ready to celebrate with us throughout September!


Theme of the Month

August: Shopping & Restaurants

Students 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.

In August, we're focusing on Shopping & Restaurants.

How comfortable are your students when they visit the grocery store?

How likely are they to try a new resturant, and order from a menu in English?

"Restaurant Weeks" is starting around Houston - what is this, and why might students like to get involved?

You can help them learn and practice in your classroom!

This month, plan to incorporate activities into your class that focus on how students spend money, and where they buy healthy food. You can borrow the currency container from the Resource Room to practice counting dollars and cents with beginner level students, then reinforce skills with Unit 1: Everyday Language in the Oxford Picture Dictionary. We love this resource for beginners, and it even has an entire unit on food!

Intermediate and advanced level classes can debate restaurant manners with American Manners and Customs. Then, take a look at LifeScenes LifeSkills: Developing Consumer Competence to discuss life's most challenging money situations, like shopping for a car or getting a mortgage.

We have more great resources on our August theme! Come by your site's Resource Room to learn about them, and ask any member of staff to get recommendations for use in your classroom. Plus, this is a great theme to use "realia" from around Houston - the authentic materials your students encounter every day.

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

Month Theme Possible lesson content
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 Colleen: 713.266.8777 or


Top Tutor Tips


Student engagement is crucial. We know some of what makes students come to class in the first place - but what helps them to continue? What helps them to finish class? That can be a big commitment of time and energy, and can be a challenge to fit in around other commitments.

To get you started as you think about student engagement, consider relevance. One of the core drivers of adult learner persistence, relevance is the connection between your classroom and students’ goals.

Adult learners are pragmatic, and want their lessons to be relevant to their lives.

In your classroom, how do you supplement your core instructional materials with letting your students self-direct, based on their unique needs?

Staff at Literacy Advance have specifically selected Laubach Way to Reading and English No Problem! as core instructional material for ABE and ESL students, based on the wide range of skills it covers at an adult-appropriate level, and you’re probably relying on it heavily to guide most of your lessons (we’re grateful for that!). However, all lessons can be supplemented and personalized, based on your students’ needs, by additional material from our Resource Room. And this promotes relevance!


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


Student Success Spotlights

Don't miss our Student Success Spotlights!

You helped make them 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.

Literacy Advance Fall Semester
August 27 - December 22

Saturday, September 8
International Literacy Day

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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