Literacy Connection

Recipe for Success

Post date: Friday, January 3, 2014 - 5:07pm

Tutoring is an art. It’s a beautiful thing when you find a way to reach a student. See below for tutor Andi Dolgin’s story about a breakthrough she’s made with her learner, a woman in her 70s was only able to read a few words when she entered the program. Her learner had worked hard all of her life to raise successful children and felt that it was finally her turn to learn.

At one of our sessions when [my learner] first sat down she expressed some concern that she was not learning fast enough. I asked her if she was frustrated and she responded affirmatively. Beyond her frustration, I felt that the materials were not keeping her interested.

We talked many times about how she loves to bake. That’s when it occurred to me that we should try reading recipes. She brought in a magazine that has a cake in it that she never made and I had her read what she could and I filled in the remaining words.

It was astonishing that she knew by sight what tsp. and TBL meant, but could not read the word. Spices that she used consistently she knew by sight. Our next session, I brought in spices from my home and she could read most of them. For those she was not familiar with, I wrote them out on index cards for her to study at home.

The next session, I asked her how she bakes sweet potato pie. I was thinking of Thanksgiving. She said she doesn’t follow any recipe, she just knows how to make it. With that in mind, I asked her to tell me how she makes the pie and I wrote it down for her. We read it together and from this we will start a personalized recipe book. She must rewrite it herself and learn any words that she wasn’t familiar with. I tried using as many sight words as I could that she was recently taught such as “in” and “the” in “in the bowl.” Here’s her recipe in her beautiful handwriting:

Also, some words I intentionally misspelled and admittedly a few were misspelled that were not intentional. We used a dictionary to correct the spelling. It was the first time she had ever used a dictionary and I believe she was happy with this accomplishment. Granted, the skills were not mastered, but it was definitely a great start.

Click here to see a recipe that Andi’s learner found in a magazine and brought in for them to read together. They read the time and ingredients sections together. She could read a lot of it because she is so familiar with the context of cooking but she hesitated a lot. She is concerned about making mistakes.

What can we learn from Andi’s success?

  • Really listen to your learner and be eager to adapt.
  • Use high-interest materials.
  • Give your learner a chance to show their skills and talents and share their experience.
  • The Language Experience Approach (Tutor Manual p. 21-22) can help you and your learner create text that is interesting to read together. It’s what Andi did having her learner tell her about how to make the pie.

What’s your tutoring story?

Do you have a success story to share about your tutoring? Or are you noticing frustration in your learner or learners and want some helping moving forward? Contact Literacy Program staff to share or get support.

We Give Thanks

Post date: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 4:07pm

New Adult Literacy Assistant at the Library!

Post date: Friday, November 15, 2013 - 1:32pm

Please join me in welcoming Rachel Cope to the Lake County Literacy Program!  Rachel will be taking over as the new Adult Literacy Assistant at the Waukegan Public Library.  She’ll work with me supporting the Library’s 1:1 and small group matches.  Feel free to introduce yourself with an E-mail (rachelcope [at] waukegnpl [dot] info) or a call (847-775-2547). 

Those of you who collaborated with the previous Adult Literacy Assistant, Janet, will be glad to hear that she will still be close by.  She accepted a new position at the Library as Reference and Customer Service Manager.   She’ll be infusing her knowledge of adult learners’ needs into all of the Library’s adult services. 


Rachel was born and raised in Mundelein and graduated from Belmont University with a B.A in English.  She’s had a wide range of experience working with volunteers through work with the Children’s Defense Fund, Manna International and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.  Last year, her interest in adult learners was sparked when she volunteered as a tutor for the Waukegan Public Library’s Conversational ESL classes.  She’s excited to be supporting our adult learners and tutors.

by Josh Anderson

Read to Learn 24th Annual Literacy/Volunteer Conference

Post date: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 4:12pm

Here’s another opportunity to become a better tutor!

The Read to Learn Literacy/Volunteer Conference is a half-day event, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on November 2nd.  The event is put on by the Read to Learn program a Literacy program operated by School District 214 in Arlington Heights.  This year’s event will offer tutors a chance to learn about navigating online resources, using blogs to foster learning, and locating appropriately-leveled reading materials.

For more information, please see the link to the registration form below.  If you would like to attend, please print and mail in the registration form according to the instructions and send an E-mail to Cheryl at cluick1 [at] clcillinois [dot] edu to let us know you plan to attend:

Read to Learn Registration Form


Never stop learning!

Welcome new Tutors!

Post date: Monday, October 14, 2013 - 2:58pm

Welcome to our newly-trained tutors in the Lake County Literacy Program who graduated on Saturday, October 5th. They are another great group of talented and passionate people.  Plus, they take a great picture!

Back Row (from left to right): Chris Lucchetti, Patrcia Steffens, Tom Schmitz, Daniel Henderson, Barbara Buholzer, Donna Doering, Cathy Plate, George Jeffries, Jaimie Schulz, Megan Lowry

Front Row (from left to right): Iffat Shiekh, Blanca Zorn, Kris Mitra (farther forward), Marion Napoli, Laurie Twarowski, Hazel Perez, Ursula Lentz, Josh Anderson (Adult literacy Coordinator, Waukegan Public Library).

Photographer: Laura Sherwood, Literacy Coordinator at CLC.


A few of them are already tutoring! We look forward to the seeing how their assistance will transform our adult learners.

To those new tutors waiting for matches:  We’re getting everyone started as quickly as we can.  Thanks for your patience!

Literacy in the news

Post date: Thursday, October 3, 2013 - 10:14pm

Barb Babb, President of Literacy Volunteers of Lake CountyTwo recent articles discuss literacy efforts in Lake County. In the first article, Lake County Journal interviews Barb Babb. Barb is the president of Literacy Volunteers of Lake County, and she describes her experiences working with adult learners, some of the challenges adult learners face, and the literacy program as a partnership of LVLC, Waukegan Public Library and College of Lake County. 


Tutor Steve Chambelin works with studentIn the second article, Lake County News Sun describes how students are working to complete their GED in 2013. In 2014, the GED exam will change; it will be an even more difficult exam, computerized, with higher fees. The article features our volunteer tutor Steve Chamberlin and his student Sheryl Jenkins working at Waukegan Public Library.

Each article is a reminder and an acknowledgement of the challenging and rewarding work of our students, volunteers, instructors and leaders!

(Photos courtesy of Lake County Journal and Lake County News Sun)



Walk for Literacy

Post date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 7:52pm

       Walk/Fun Run for Literacy

            Saturday, September 28

Van Patten Woods (Shelter A)

Route 173, ¼ mile east of Route 41 in Zion/Wadsworth

Registration:     8:00 am

Walk/Fun Run:  9:00 am

Snacks/Raffle: 10:30 am

First 65 walkers with a minimum $25 donation receive  a free t-shirt! Pledge  sheet available here.

Questions? Call 847-623-2041 x225 or visit


Join Literacy Volunteers of Lake County’s annual Walk/Fun Run For Literacy on September 28 to support adult literacy and family literacy services in Lake County.

One hundred percent of your donation is used to provide adult literacy services. Funds raised from the Walk provide instructional materials and professional development for tutors, pay for literacy conference attendance, provide financial support for the walk-in tutoring and computer lab at Waukegan Public Library, support the Collections student-writing program, and provide scholarships for adult learners who have completed their GED.

Every $10 raised earns one free raffle ticket good for a variety of prizes! The first 65 participants raising at least $25 receive free T-Shirts!

Click to see the Information sheet and Pledge/Donation sheet.

Come on out, bring your Walk pledges and/or donation, and help support literacy. See you there!

Photo: Walk For Literacy


Enjoy tutoring? Tell your friends!

Post date: Sunday, August 25, 2013 - 8:21pm

Tutor Carolyn Cunningham meets with her studentA training session for adult literacy tutors is scheduled for this fall. Do you have a friend or family member looking for a rewarding volunteer experience?

As you know, the adult literacy program in Lake County is a partnership between the literacy departments at Waukegan Public Library, the College of Lake County and Literacy Volunteers of Lake County. The program matches volunteer literacy tutors with adults who want to improve their basic skills in reading, writing or math. Tutoring usually involves a commitment of about two to three hours per week. Tutoring takes place in public places such as libraries or College of Lake County (CLC) sites throughout the county, and the greatest need for volunteer tutoring is in the Waukegan, North Chicago and Zion area.

Volunteer tutors are required to attend our tutor training series before being matched with a student or placed in an ABE (Adult Basic Education) classroom, and an orientation session provides an opportunity to learn more about the program. Here are the dates for the upcoming orientation and training session:

  • Tutor orientation is scheduled for Wednesday, September 18, at the CLC Grayslake Campus, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm.
  • The training sessions take place on two Saturdays, September 21 and October 5, from 9am to 4pm. Attending both Saturdays is required.

Tell your friends about your volunteer experience! Anyone interested in learning more about the fall tutor training session can contact Josh Anderson (janderson [at] waukeganpl [dot] info), Laura Sherwood (lsherwood [at] clcillinois [dot] edu) or Cheryl Luick (cluick1 [at] clcillinois [dot] edu) for more information. Thanks!

Pictured above: Volunteer tutor Carolyn Cunningham meets with her student.

Online Resource and App: Khan Academy

Post date: Sunday, August 11, 2013 - 12:37pm

Is your student working on gaining math skills? Khan Academy,, is a favorite online resource and free app for students and tutors.

The story of Khan Academy is inspiring. Salman Khan started tutoring his cousin Nadia in math by developing simple YouTube videos. As other friends and relatives became interested in his videos, Khan saw the power of this approach: his math students could watch a video as many times as needed to understand a new concept; they could watch previous videos to review a concept; they could skip ahead at their own pace as they mastered the material.

MIT and Harvard educated, Khan left his position as a hedge fund analyst in 2009, working full-time to develop Khan Academy. With the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google and many others, Khan Academy continues to grow. The site is used in primary, secondary and college classrooms internationally, and DVDs of his videos are used to teach in isolated areas of Asia and Africa.

Take a look! For students, each video teaches one concept in a way that’s familiar and straightforward. Practice problems are provided, complete with hints that step students toward the solutions. Khan suggests a student answer three questions in a row correctly before moving on. For tutors, the videos model math instruction and there are coach resources. There’s also a Knowledge Map that shows what material a student needs to master before learning new concepts—especially helpful for students who may have gaps in their math learning.

Here’s a brief handout to help you and your student get started.

Interested in Salman Khan? Watch his TED talk to learn more. Do you have experience using Khan Academy with you student? Send an janderson [at] waukeganpl [dot] info (email) and share your story!

Student Success Stories

Post date: Thursday, July 25, 2013 - 5:19pm

Enjoy these stories submitted by two of our tutors:

From one-on-one tutor Margaret Stuhr…In the last three-six months, my student has begun using email to communicate with me, friends and family; playing phonics/spelling games on an ipad; writing notes on a Facebook page; and working to master American coin and feel confident about making change. He has definitely begun seeing himself as a reader and a writer—frequently checking out books from the library, discussing stories he reads with his wife, and working to produce a multiple-paragraph narrative for Collections. He has just begun a new job which requires him to do some writing, so he is eager to continue to develop his ability to spell and punctuate simple sentences correctly.               

From classroom tutor Kelley Dickson…My student participated in an ESL Families Learning Together class. (Note: to learn more about Families Learning Together, click here.) She came to the class knowing no English, and when we began working together, she was very reluctant to speak any English. We worked on basic skills and words, and she learned to say her name, address, phone number, days of the week, months, upcoming holidays, names for various relatives, colors and more. She learned to fill out simple forms. She went from a woman who was terrified to speak English to someone who could communicate basic information.

Watch for additional student success stories!