Literacy Connection

Explicit Instruction for Strategy Learning, Part 1

Post date: Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 2:16pm

On February 27, a snowy Wednesday, Barbara Babb and Marlene McLeod provided a training session about Strategy Learning and Explicit Instruction for twenty tutors at the Waukegan Public Library. Marlene spoke first, describing Strategy Learning.

A strategy is an individual’s approach to a task—it’s a “how-to.” We all use strategies in daily life, whether plotting a route to a destination, cooking a meal, planning an event. Strategies help adult learners plan to accomplish a task, perform the task, monitor performance during the task, and evaluate their results. 

Marlene described a visualization strategy for reading comprehension. The steps to this strategy are:

  • Read part of the passage
  • Pay attention to “sense” words (hear, feel, touch, smell, taste, see)
  • Pause when you come to a sense word
  • Make a picture in your mind
  • Continue reading
  • Add details

Imagine how helpful this strategy would be for a student reading a poem, a story or a passage describing an historic event. As a tutor, you invite the student to “make a movie in your mind” and ask the student what he or she sees, hears, feels. You can make a plan with your student to read the piece twice, first focusing on senses, then focusing on the action of the characters.

Marlene’s second example provides a strategy for the writing process called TOWER. This mnemonic stands for:

  • Think about the topic: brainstorm, use prior knowledge, perhaps do some background reading
  • Organize your thoughts: use graphic organizers!
  • Write a draft: put thoughts into sentences and paragraphs
  • Engage in revision: make changes and corrections
  • Review: see if the writing communicates the message

This strategy helps adult learners understand that spending time and making revisions are an important part of the writing process—that writing does not have to be perfect the first time.

Strategies provide the steps, the “how-to” that help students become independent learners. Do you have a strategy that you’d like to share—a tutoring approach that you find helps an adult learner? Email Janet, jwigodner [at] waukeganpl [dot] info and we’ll share your strategy!             

Marlene McLeod is a special education teacher, certified in the state of Illinois, who has worked in the field of special education for over 30 years. She has taught in the classroom as well as provided teacher in-services, workshops and skills training. Marlene holds a B.S. in Psychology and a Masters in Special Education from the University of Illinois. Marlene’s primary concentration is in mentoring, teaching and training teachers.

Submitted by Patricia Burns and Janet Wigodner


Welcome New Tutors!

Post date: Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 12:57pm

A new group received adult literacy tutor training from Laura Sherwood and Josh Anderson in February.  We welcome you to the Lake County Tutoring Program and look forward to working with you!

The next tutor training session is planned for June, with an orientation session on May 30. Please contact Josh, janderson [at] waukeganpl [dot] info or Laura, lsherwood [at] clcillinois [dot] edu for more information.  

The tutor training manual is now available on the Waukegan Public Library Be a Tutor web page. 

Back row:  Kevin Kleine, Steve Knutson, Nancy Schabell, Peg Fredrickson, Barbara Blair, Amy Onan, Kathryn Polyack, Bill Scheddin

Center row:  Robert Hunter, Leslie Fretzin, Holly Staunton, Jim Meyerhoff, Lynette Ahlquist, Traci Crowley, Sarah Paveglio

Front row:  Laura Sherwood, Domenica DiCosola, Josh Anderson 

New Tutoring and Computer Help Lab at Grayslake Campus

Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 3:25pm

Now there are two opportunities for adult learners to drop in and receive additional help in reading, writing, math or computer skills. These sessions are open to any Adult Basic Education (ABE) or GED student—any student involved in our tutoring program. Volunteer tutors are available at the drop-in sessions, ready to help!

 The new! drop-in lab is at the CLC Grayslake Campus:

  • Wednesdays, 12:30 to 2:30 pm
  • March 6 through May 8, 2013 (note: closed during week of Spring Break, March 27)
  • Building 4, Room 423
  • Free! Just drop in!
  • Questions? Contact Laura (847-543-2327) or Cheryl (847-543-2024)

Also, students can attend the drop-in lab at Waukegan Public Library:

  • Thursdays, 10:00am to Noon
  • January  through December
  • Literacy Suite Classroom and Computer Lab
  • Free! Just drop in!
  • Questions? Contact Josh (847-623-2041 x225) or Janet (847-623-2041 x222) 

Click to see flyers describing the CLC Grayslake Tutoring Lab and Waukegan Public Library Tutoring Lab.



How much more fun can grammar get?

Post date: Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 9:50am

It’s exciting when someone brings fun and energy to a grammar lesson. Which is right: “Maggie and I are going to the store” or “Me and Maggie are going to the store”? Watch this Chalking Points video with your student to find out. Enjoy!


Just in time for Valentine's Day

Post date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 8:22am

Looking for some romance reading for February? Romance stories are popular in movies and in print, and adult literacy students may find a romance to be just right for February!  Consider reading these books with your student…

From the Waukegan Public Library Literacy Collection:

Mrs. Whippy by Cecelia Ahern   Emelda is 46 years old, recently divorced, and struggling with a new job. For comfort she turns to ice cream, and just might find love in its pursuit.  Reading level: grade 2. Pages: 75.

The Goddaughter by Melodie Campbell    Gina would like to just run her little jewelry shop. But, she’s related to the local mob, and she and her new friend Pete are reluctantly recruited to smuggle diamonds across the border…with hilarious consequences.  Reading level: grade 3. Pages: 144.

The Builders by Maeve Binchy   Nan Ryan lives by herself at 14 Chestnut Road. When Derek Doyle, a handsome builder, arrives to work on the deserted house next door, the two work together to unravel the mystery of the previous residents’ disappearance. Reading level: grade 4. Pages: 87.

Available at most libraries:

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks  Katie arrives in a small North Carolina town and seems determined to avoid forming personal ties. But she’s drawn toward Alex, a widowed store owner with two young children, and Jo, her neighbor. She begins to enjoy her new, close-knit community—until her past catches up to her. Reading level:  grade 6.5. Available in large print.  Safe Haven, the movie, opens February 14.

Janet Wigodner

February literacy fun for the whole family

Post date: Monday, February 11, 2013 - 7:01pm

Do your adult learners have kids? The Reading is Fundamental website  focuses on early literacy resources for families and children. The monthly calendars, in English and Spanish, for kids ages 0-5 and 6-15 are my favorite resource on the site—the calendars offer simple, daily literacy activities.  Here’s a few ideas from February’s calendar for younger kids…

February 11: Trace your foot and your child’s foot. Talk about the different sizes.

February 15: Tell your child three things you love about her. 

February 20: Help your child count the syllables in his name.

These activities reinforce your student’s literacy skills and remind moms and dads that they are their children’s first teachers.  Enjoy!

Janet Wigodner

Tutor training opportunity! Add to your student's learning toolbox

Post date: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 3:41pm

Explicit Instruction for Strategy Learning:

Learn the principles of explicit instruction and how to help adults with Learning Disabilities develop learning strategies.

Waukegan Public Library

Literacy Suite Classroom

Wednesday, February 27

10:30am to 12:30pm

Optional lunch to follow at Jerry’s Tacos in downtown Waukegan ($7-$10)

Please RSVP to Josh Anderson, 847-623-2041 x225

Training Overview

Part of being a good educator is helping to put more tools in your students’ learning  toolboxes.  This training will demonstrate how to effectively teach high-value learning strategies that are widely used by students in the College of Lake County’s Adult Education classes and Waukegan Public Library literacy tutoring groups. 

This free training is the fifth module from the Learning to Achieve Adult Education training, the result of a national effort to collect and apply the best available research on working with adults with Learning Disabilities.  The principles and techniques from this session will be effective with all learners.


Both presenters were trained as Learning to Achieve trainers in 2011 through the support of the Literacy Volunteer of Illinois.

Barbara Babb serves currently as the president of the Literacy Volunteers of Lake County.  She was the Adult Literacy Program Manager for the Waukegan Public Library for four years, and prior to that served as a volunteer tutor for adult learners with the Adult Literacy Tutoring Program for 15 years. She is a reading specialist with a Master’s in Adult Education from Northern Illinois University. Barbara is particularly passionate about working with beginner level adult learners and adults with learning disabilities.

Marlene McLeod is a special education teacher, certified in the state of Illinois, who has worked in the field of special education for over 30 years. During that time she has not only taught in the classroom but has provided in-services, workshops and skills training to teachers in the Chicago Public School system, parochial school teachers, college students in the Department of Education at the University of Illinois, student teachers and other professionals interested in the field of exceptional children and IDEA. She holds a B.S. in Psychology and a Master’s in Special Education from the University of Illinois. Marlene’s primary concentration is in mentoring, teaching and training teachers.


Two hours of free parking is provided in the parking garage located at the northeast corner of County and Clayton Streets.  Just bring your parking ticket from the garage to be validated at the Customer Service desk.

Since the training will be a full 2 hours plus the optional lunch, be prepared to pay $1 in cash for each hour after the first two. 

Save the date! On the Road to Literacy Conference, Saturday, March 23rd

Post date: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 5:28pm

Join us and plan to attend this year’s conference! The On The Road To Literacy offers programs for literacy tutors and instructors as well as adult learners of all levels. For students, it’s a chance to attend skill-building sessions and meet with adult learners from around the state—students are often surprised at how many in Illinois share their struggles and successes. For tutors and instructors, it’s a great way to share students’ enthusiasm, learn new teaching strategies and techniques, and discover new materials. 

Tutor Pete Zaragoza described his experience at the conference this way:

I have been to work-related conferences and this had the earmarks of all the others: people rushing to get handouts, hiccups with technology and difficult choices in session selection. What made it different was my sense of community and commitment. Adult learners gave testimonials about what can happen when you have committed tutors and students.”  

The Literacy Volunteers of Lake County will provide bus transportation from the CLC Grayslake Campus and from Waukegan to the event at the University of Illinois Chicago Campus. Watch for more details and information! 

Janet Wigodner

Literacy Connection Newsletter, September 2012

Post date: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 5:11pm

Literacy Connection Newsletter, June 2012

Post date: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 5:09pm