2017 VLF Conference – March 2 & 3

Mark your calendars!! The 2017 VLF Conference has been scheduled for March 2 & 3 at the Four Points by Sheraton on Midlothian Turnpike, Richmond, VA.

We look forward to seeing you and two days packed with adult education and literacy workshops, networking, and shared learning! Solicitations for workshops will go out soon.

This year we are looking for contextualized activities for ESL, ABE, literacy, and numeracy.

Come join us in early March!

2016 Nancy Jiranek Award Winner


At the 2016 VLF Conference award banquet, Joan Peterson received the Nancy Jiranek Award for Outstanding Executive Director.  Below is the press release that was sent to the media:

Virginia Literacy Foundation Names Literacy for Life’s Executive Director 2016 Nancy Jiranek Award Winner

Joan Peterson receives award for exemplary nonprofit management.

March 4th, 2016 WILLIAMSBURG, VA — The Virginia Literacy Foundation named Joan Peterson the winner of the Nancy Jiranek Award. This award recognizes recipients who exemplify the best in nonprofit management through their contributions to the profession and field through their own programs, collaboration with other organizations, and the strong impact of their work on their clients and within the community.

Joan has grown the adult literacy program at Literacy for Life in Williamsburg, VA from about 370 learners to nearly 750 during her eight years with agency. She has tripled revenue through grants, donations, sponsorships, and special events, and provided the concept and developed the HEAL Program ®, a national award winning health literacy initiative for hospitals and medical offices. Additionally, under her leadership, Literacy for Life has established a new one-to-one tutoring and mentoring initiative called “Destination Graduation,” partnering with high schools to support students who are at risk of not graduating, as well as working with another non-profit with a focus on Workplace Skills. Joan has elevated the profile of her organization with programming that is essential to meeting the challenges and demands of the 21st Century.


About the Virginia Literacy Foundation (VLF): VLF provides funding and technical support to private, volunteer literacy organizations throughout Virginia via challenge grants, training, and direct consultation. The community-based literacy organizations teach adults who read at or below basic literacy levels with one-on-one instruction and small group tutoring. The VLF also works in partnership with public and private organizations to improve literacy with individuals and in the workplace, and to provide professional development training and research-based promising practices for programs and staff.

About Literacy for Life: In 1975, the president and faculty members of the College of William & Mary, as well as concerned citizens, recognized the urgent need for an adult literacy program to develop reading and writing skills for College employees. Four years later, it became a United Way agency and opened the program to adult learners in the surrounding community. It is the only organization in the area that provides individualized, one-to-one and small group tutoring for adults in reading, writing and math skills as well as instruction in English for speakers of other languages. In 2015, Literacy for Life served approximately 750 adult learners, with the help of around 300 trained volunteers.

For additional information about The Virginia Literacy Foundation, please visit http://www.virginialiteracy.org. For information about Literacy for Life, please visit literacyforlife.org or contact Deb Beach, dbeach@wm.edu or 757-221-1265.

Conference Changes

Please note: Disabilities Awareness Training (LD) will not be held at 9:00 AM on Friday, March 4. In its place will be:

Blended, Distance, and Mobile Learning. Oh, My!

Jason Guard will facilitate this workshop. Teaching with technology has been an ongoing struggle for the field of adult education. This workshop will define some of the most important terms and differentiate these ideas and practices. In the workshop he will explore ways to manage integrated computer-based instruction, practice and exploration into your curriculum.  Participants will be asked to share what’s worked and what hasn’t worked for them, and to compare experiences and understand how instructional strategies are evolving.


Travel Safely!

The 2016 VLF Conference will begin a little over 12 hours from now. Nell Eckeresley has arrived from New York state to discuss technology in instruction and offer a 3-hour workshop, Reboot your Digital Strategy.

Jason Guard, from Essential Education, will facilitate a workshop on Friday on TABE, GED, TASC, & HiSET: one Academy to Blend Learning for Bigger Gains

Essential Education is sponsoring Thursday’s wine and cheese reception and holding a give-away for a 12yr old bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, California, as well as free software trial accounts!

Don’t miss this fabulous opportunity to talk to Jason and attend his workshop.

More people than ever have signed up to attend this year’s conference. See you soon!! And drive safely.

Conference Registration and Workshop Information

registration form

Registration for the VLF Conference is now open! This year’s registration forms are online. Each individual attendee should fill and send in a registration form. If a program is paying for more than one person, please email the name of the organization and the number of people you are paying for by check or through PayPal. The link to registration form is: http://goo.gl/forms/gKatAYOPaq

Early bird deadline has been extended to January 25, 2016. For costs, please see the sidebar on this site.

Thursday Schedule

Schedule Thursday Gray

Workshop Descriptions

Opening Speaker, Nell Eckerlsey, Director of Instructional Technology & Communications at Literacy Assistance Center, Greater New York City Area. 10:00-11:30 AM

“Putting the Digital into Literacy: Why we cannot leave it out”

We live in a world that now requires job applications be completed and submitted online, where parents are expected to access information about the children’s school work online, where people bank, shop, and pay bills online, where people take their high school equivalency test on a computer, where post-secondary education requires the use of forums and file sharing. We are also on the threshold of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) which references the Museum and Library Services Act of 2010, which defines digital literacy as “the skills associated with using technology to enable users to find, evaluate, organize, create, and communicate information.” There can be no question that our students need to be digitally literate and there are going to be increased requirements on programs to integrate technology.  But I would argue that integrating technology into instruction even for students at the lowest level, we actually have the opportunity to deepen and broaden instruction and make learning available whenever and wherever students can access their mobile phones, tablets, or computers.

Reboot your Digital Strategy – 3 hours (1:15 – 5:30 with breaks)

Reboot Your Digital Strategy Training Event 3 hrs In this session, learn how your program and students can take advantage of national developments in digital literacy and access. Watch demos of helpful resources, websites, and tools to get your teachers, tutors, and students “connected.” Bring your own device (BYOD) to get a hands-on experience.

1:15-2:15 PM

Ginger Hilleary and Grace Bassler, LV Fauquier County

Get That Job!

Practical Strategies to Help Clients Find Employment.

Connie L. Valentine, Assessment Publisher

Tabe 2016 and Beyond

What’s new for TABE in 2016 & beyond. TABE launched in 1967 and continually adapts to align to new standards in order to meet the needs of Adult Educators. This session will discuss how TABE is in the process of aligning to the new College and Career Readiness Standards and changes in High School Equivalency tests.

Becky Shiring and Lindsey Crifasi, Carlos Rosario Internationial Public Charter School

Teacher Hacks: Creative Solutions to Classroom Challenges

A “hack”, a recently surfaced slang word, is defined as a clever solution to a tricky problem. In this presentation, participants will learn about 20 “Teacher Hacks” to improve quality of instruction and reduce workload. Presenter will demonstrate innovative ideas to address challenges in the following areas: lesson planning, classroom management, professional development, and resource procurement.

2:30-3:30 PM

Kim Herbstritt, LV Winchester

Elevating the Discussion

The broader community has a role to play in addressing low literacy in adults. The majority of the time CBLO focus their efforts on providing direct services for adults with low literacy skills. However, in order to better address the needs of students, an approach that seeks to understand the attitudes and perceptions of the broader community regarding adults with low literacy skills is needed.

Becky Shiring and Lindsey Crifasi, Carlos Rosario Internationial Public Charter School

It’s Getting HOTT in Here

The 21st century workplace requires students to utilize both higher order thinking skills and technology in a variety of ways. In this session participants will be introduced to 10 free technologies that can be used to facilitate classroom activities that promote higher order thinking and prepare students for workplace success.

Ashley King, Literacy Council of Northern Virginia

Teaching Tips for Working With Low Level Immigrant Adults. (ESOL)

4:00-5:30 PM

Heather Lamb and Lillian Allen-Brown, Solvent, Inc

Teaching for Retention.

The activities presented in this session will lend educators to participate in a dialogue that will address how to increase student learning, skill retention and comprehension, and effective use of formative assessment.

Kevin Franklin, Education Support Specialist, VALRC

WIOA: Shifts in Policy, Shifts in Practice

This workshop provides an overview of strategies for lesson planning under WIOA, including elements of technology implementation, CCRS, Career Pathways, and more.

Jeffrey Elmore, Training Coordination Specialist, VALRC

Managing Education Content With Symbaloo

This workshop will introduce Symbaloo as a 21st Century platform for housing educational content. I’ll show you how to create your own Symbaloo site and create different pages for different classes or content area. We’ll cover saving websites, embedding documents and folders, and saving videos.

Wine and Cheese Reception, 5:30 – 7:00 PM

Friday,  March 4

Schedule Friday


9:00 – 10:30 AM

Katie Bratisax, Technology and Support Specialist, VALRC

Disabilities Awareness Training

This training will focus on how adult literacy programs instruct adults with learning disabilities and will help increase knowledge and awareness that learning disabilities are a lifelong issue and that they vary from person to person. Adult educators will also use reflective practice to develop a better understanding of the struggles that adult learners with learning disabilities face and the instructor’s role in supporting their learning.

Jenna Kelly, IEL/Civics Program Manager, Literacy for Life

Weaving in Career Readiness for Beginning ESOL

Upon completion of the workshop, participants will have a better idea of CCRS and what employment skills are needed for the beginning ESOL learner to succeed and will have practical strategies and tools to take directly back to their learners.

Hillary Major, Instructional Standards and Communication Specialist, VALRC

What does college and career readiness look like at the literacy and beginning levels?

In this session, we’ll take a look at Levels A & B of the College and Career Standards for Adult Education, including the foundational reading standards. We’ll also discuss the six guiding principles (key “shifts” or “advances”) behind the standards and how they relate to literacy programs and the lowest level learners.

10:45 – 11:45 AM

Caitlin Phelps, Teacher, Chesterfield County GED

Man Your (Literacy) Battlestations

Literacy Stations! A simple, yet powerful tool in differentiation and teaching the five components of literacy. We know that adults don’t have an attention span much over 15 minutes, so learn how to pack as much learning as we can into a station. Participants will learn the structure of literacy stations, get an opportunity to experience one as a student, and leave with turn-around lessons for your classroom.

Kevin Franklin, Education Support Specialist, VALRC

Integrated Education and Training (21st Century Skills)

This workshop will demonstrate how teachers can repurpose old lesson plans to meet WIOA goal,  identify good and bad contextualization of curricula, and integrate GED instruction with contextualized instruction.

Susan Fletcher & Tracey Johnson, ACE (Adult Community Action), Louisa

Small Literacy Organizations – Big Results!

This discussion will cover the various aspects of running a small literacy organization, including funding, Board participation, tutor recruitment and training. The facilitators will go into detail on the classes/programs ACE offers, the new intake procedures, and recent collaborations.  Procedures that work for the organization in student outreach and use of social media will also be examined. The facilitators will open the workshop to brainstorm issues that small literacy organizations face.

12:15 – 1:45 PM Lunch

Keynote Speaker, Elizabeth Creamer,

will speak at lunch on the challenges adult learners face in finding and keeping employment, and how the low level literacy learners are included at the start of the Career Pathways Ladder.

2:00 – 3:00 PM

Deborah Abbott, Executive Director, LV of Prince William County

Speaking of Success: The Confidence Course

This innovative course is designed for adult learners of all levels. The course uses a standards-based approach to help learners improve life skills, leave their comfort zones, take learning risks, experience achievement through action and meet course requirements for the opportunity to earn a special framed Certificate of Achievement. The course takes a “boot camp” approach to learning. Adult learners are eager to succeed; they need help developing the skills needed to build confidence. The confidence course uses a hands-on approach to develop leadership skills, public speaking skills, improved reading and writing skills through vocabulary and homework assignments and team-building by participating in small and whole group class activities. The course requires a minimum number of attendance hours and outside course attendance to complete 40 instructional hours over the 12-14 week course.

Victoire Sanborn, Literacy Specialist, VALRC

Incorporating Workforce Activities into your Student Lesson

Tutors and teachers do not need to ignore teaching reading, writing, numeracy, and digital literacy when addressing workplace issues with their lowest level learners. Even adult learners whose main goals are to help their children in school will benefit from the life lessons contained in PIVA Pathways, a curriculum designed to help beginning literacy adults improve their soft skills. Some hands-on activities will be demonstrated.

Jason Guard, Essential Ed

TABE, GED, TASC, & HiSET: one Academy to Blend Learning for Bigger Gains

We are going to look at Essential Education’s adaptive software for ABE/HSE prep as well as digital literacy lessons and the new Essential English program. The Academy adapts to the learner as well as the assessment you are using. Free trials will be awarded to interested attendees. Bring your questions and readiness to discuss the hot topics in the field of adult ed.

For more conference details, go to 2016 VLF Conference on this blog site.

SAVE the DATE for our next conference! March 3 & 4, 2016

The next VLF Conference will be held on March 3rd & 4th, 2016 at the Four Points by Sheraton on Midlothian Turnpike in Richmond. Mark your calendars and plan to join us for two days of workshops and networking! The conference theme is: Pathways to Student Success. Our opening speaker will be Nell Eckersley, Director of Instructional Technology & Communications at Literacy Assistance Center, Greater New York City Area. Our Keynote Speaker will be Elizabeth Creamer, Advisor for Workforce Development, Secretary of Commerce and Trade. For more information about the conference, click on this link.

Conference proposal form: Due October 19th

Registration opens November 2, 2015.

See you then.