Round Table Discussions

SNOW UPDATE: This map shows predicted snowfall. Snow event will leave Richmond around 1 PM on Thursday.

Snow prediction 9:00 PM Wednesday

Snow prediction 9:00 PM Wednesday

roundtableThis year, we will offer 5 Round Table Discussions, each lasting 45 minutes. Roundtables are scheduled from 2:00 – 2:45 p.m. & repeated from 2:45 to 3:30 p.m. on Friday. Some people opt to stay for both sessions, which is perfectly acceptable.

1. GED, Open Q&A session with Michael Nusbaum, Virginia’s GED Administrator, OAEL VADOE, and Jeffrey Elmore, Training Coordination Specialist, VALRC. (GED)

GED 2014 changes have greatly impacted how programs help students prepare for the new GED test. Come with your questions and have them answered by two experts in the field.

2. Why and How we Developed a READ Help Book for Students with Katie Simmons, Leslie Harper, and Valerie Miller, READ Center instructors (ALL)

READ Center staff created a community resource book for their low level adult literacy learners. Come take a peek and learn how and why the staff developed this popular student resource.

3. The SAMR Model, a framework for technology integration with Victoire Sanborn, Literacy Specialist at VALRC (TECH)

How is USING technology in instruction different from INTEGRATING technology in instruction. This roundtable will discuss the four main stages in a framework that is easy to understand and use.

4. How College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) apply to nonprofit literacy programs to benefit the lowest level adult literacy learners with Hillary Major, Publications and Communications Specialist, VALRC (ALL)

One assumption that many nonprofit staff and administrator make is that the College and Career Readiness Standards are too advanced for students who are taught in nonprofit literacy programs. Find out how the CCRS have taken into account the lowest level literacy learners, and how they can be applied to low level literacy instruction.

5. How PluggedinVA, a workforce and Career Pathways program, can beneft the lowest level adult learners with Patti Donnelly, Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, and Kate Daly Rolander, Workforce Instructional Specialist, VALRC.

PluggedInVa is a hot topic these days. Join this lively discussion to see how or if this innovative Career Pathways program can benefit the lowest level literacy students as pre-PluggedInVA


Mobile APP for the Conference Schedule

To rest your minds, the weather forecast for February 25, 26, and 27 is good for travelers. UPDATE: the forecast has changed. Snow is predicted for Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Please click on the image for the latest forecast.

weather forecast

Click on the image for the latest forecast

In addition, our 2015 Conference Schedule has gone mobile! We’ve included the QR code and attached our flyer to this email. Up to the minute changes will be made to this Guidebook, which also offers links to handouts and websites.

QR Code for GuidebookDownloading the Guide:

The app is compatible with iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches and Android devices. Windows Phone 7 and Blackberry users can access the same information via our mobile site at

To get the guide, choose one of the methods below:

  • Download ‘Guidebook’ from the Apple App Store or the Android Marketplace
  • Visit from your phone’s browser
  • Scan the following image with your mobile phone (QR-Code reader required, e.g. ‘Red Laser’, ‘Barcode Scanner’)

The guide will be listed under the “Download Guides” section of the application. Be sure to join Guidebook for free in order to complete your download. Remember to UPDATE your guide regularly. We are adding information and workshop links and attachments daily.

Click here for more details about the conference: 2015 VLF Conference

Technology presentations at the 2015 VLF Conference

brooke_pizzettiIntroducing Adult Learners to Microsoft Word and Excel

This workshop about a project-based approach in teaching digital literacy. We will discuss different levels of digital literacy with a particular focus on teaching fundamental skills to students in Microsoft Word and Excel. We will consider recommended practices from academic researchers, business leaders, and adult educators. With the tools learned in this workshop, participants can help their students to create Microsoft Word documents using real life examples (writing a recipe in Word and making charts and graphs using an Excel spreadsheet).

Participants will use online VALRC materials (videos and accompanying workbooks) to complete given activities. They will create original lessons for use with Microsoft Word and Excel for their own instruction and explore how to extend these practices further.

They will also receive a template and at least 8 different activities that combine basic skills in English and math to projects in Microsoft Word and Excel. You will need to bring your own laptop in order to fully participate in this workshop.

Presenter, Brook A. Pizzetti, Program Manager, Rappahannock Community College Adult Education

Brooke is the Regional Program Manager for Rappahannock Community College Adult Education. She has worked as an ESOL instructor, ABE/GED instructor and data/assessment specialist, and has an extensive technology background. The videos featured in this workshop and on the PluggedInVA website were created by Brooke in partnership with the Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center.

Becky Shiring

Becky Shiring

Rethinking Assessment: Digital tools to engage and assess students

Formative assessment greatly increases achievement in low performing students, including ELLs (Black & William, 1998). However, assessments in the classroom are still being delivered in a summative way with the bulk of data being used to determine if students learned the material at the end of a lesson. Formative assessments are beneficial because they are ongoing and adaptive allowing for interventions to be made in real time to ensure maximal learning and growth (Noyce and Hickey, 2011).

Lindsay Crifasi

Lindsay Crifasi

Technology based formative assessments directly align with the US Dept. of Education National Technology Plan which states, “Our education system at all levels will leverage the power of technology to measure what matters and use assessment data for continuous improvement” (2010). Additionally, ISTE’s national standards for teachers states teachers must have the ability to “design digital-age learning experiences and assessments” (2011). Technology based formative assessments allow for teachers to track ongoing student progress and use that information to provide interventions to students who otherwise may be missed in a traditional environment with minimal effort. The technology based assessments presented not only engage students in their learning, but also allow for them to be close to their own data and track progress. They are often adaptive in nature, allowing for scaffolding and differentiation essential to ELL success.

During this workshop, participants will be introduced to 5 free technologies, such as Socrative and Kahoot, that will allow educators to improve learning and gain rapid insight into the ways students are thinking to help drive data driven decision making and differentiated instruction Participants will have the opportunity to test out the technology along with the presenters. Attendees will leave the presentation with practical ideas, tips for troubleshooting and resources for implementing technology based formative assessments in their environment. Access to all materials will be provided.

Presenters Becky Shiring and Lindsay Crifasi, Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, Washington D.C.

Becky Shiring is an Instructional Coach at Carlos Rosario Public Charter School with a passion for instructional technology and experiential, student driven learning. Lindsey Crifasi is a CALL teacher at Carlos Rosario International PCS who strives to see students succeed and stay safe in technology-rich environments.

Literacy Apps in 60 Minutes

Come enjoy this tour of iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch/Smart Device Apps that are mostly instruction and/or productivity based! You will learn how to use them in your teaching and preparation for teaching. A set of the apps will be focused on literacy and lower level learners.

Presenter Victoire Sanborn, Literacy Specialist

Lindsay Crifasi

Lindsay Crifasi

Rethinking Assessment: It’s Tech-Xtrordinary! 20 Tech Tools for the ESL Classroom

In order to prepare students for success in a connected global and digital society, it is necessary to integrate technology into the classroom. The U.S. Department of Education’s National Education Technology Plan lays out goals for providing students with opportunities to engage with technology in the classroom as well as to have educators leverage technology for assessment and professional development (2010). Furthermore, ISTE’s Digital Learning Standards for students state that students will utilize technology to communicate, collaborate, research, think critically and creatively, and interact ethically (2007). In working towards these standards, ISTE also identifies standards for educators that shift from teacher as the purveyor of knowledge to facilitator of learning by demonstrating skills of digital age professionals and designing learning experiences and assessments that utilize technology (2007).

Becky Shiring

Becky Shiring

Technology not only prepares our students for success in the digital age but also is extremely beneficial in diverse classrooms where students’ skill levels and interests vary. Technology provides students with engaging and personalized environment that helps students connect with content in meaningful ways. Additionally, it allows educators to differentiate and scaffold instruction, components necessary to an ELL’s growth and success in the classroom. In this session, participants will be introduced to 20 free technologies that are ideal for use in the ESL classroom.

The technologies will be varied to account for both high and low technology environments. Computer based and mobile apps and websites will be shown that target reading, writing, grammar, speaking, listening, and project based learning. Suggestions for differentiation will be provided and real classroom examples will be shown. At the end of the session, participants will leave with concrete examples of how technology can be used in any educational context as well as links to all resources used in the presentation.

Presenters Becky Shiring and Lindsay Crifasi, Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, Washington D.C.

Becky Shiring is an Instructional Coach at Carlos Rosario Public Charter School with a passion for instructional technology and experiential, student driven learning. Lindsey Crifasi is a CALL teacher at Carlos Rosario International PCS who strives to see students succeed and stay safe in technology-rich environments.

Other Tech Workshops/Discussions

Joanne Huebner and Katie Bratisax

Joanne Huebner and Katie Bratisax

Introduction to Digital Storytelling

Presenters Joanne Huebner and Katie Bratisax, Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center staff, will discuss the ABC’s of digital storytelling, the educational uses of this authentic learning experience and showcase example stories and projects. Discussions will center around experiential learning and an increase in retention when students are encouraged to create their own stories. Is digital storytelling a learning tool you will want to use with your student/s?  Find out!

Victoire Sanborn

Victoire Sanborn

 The SAMR Model – a framework for technology integration

In this roundtable discussion, presenter Victoire Sanborn will discuss the SAMR model as a way to assess and scaffold technology integration in your classrooms. With this framework, you can evaluate how you use technology and how student learning is transformed. SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition.

Downloading the Registration Form

New Early Bird Deadline: Monday, January 12, 2015

Dear Readers,

Some people are encountering difficulties downloading the PDF registration form document from the links we have provided on this site and in our emails. Below is a jpeg image of the form. Click on it to get the full size and print it out. You will see the information to complete registration. Thank you for your patience. For more information, scroll down or click on this link:

Registration Form 2015 latest

2015 VLF Conference Workshops and Presenters


Amie Whittemore

Tutor Recruitment & Retention Strategies

Since dedicating resources to tutor recruitment, Literacy Volunteers has increased recruitment by 30%. In this workshop, participants will share and evaluate current tutor recruitment and retention strategies and develop plans to implement new strategies to improve tutor/volunteer recruitment and retention. Discover creative, fun, and easy ways you can better reach volunteers and keep them engaged in your program.

Presenter Amie Whittemore, Tutor Recruitment and Communications Coordinator, LV of Charlottesville/Albemarle

Amie Whittemore holds a Master’s of Teaching from Lewis and Clark College and a Master’s of Fine Arts in poetry from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Before entering adult education, she taught and tutored writing at the secondary and post-secondary levels. She currently recruits tutors, supports tutor training, and coordinates communications for Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville / Albemarle.


Elizabeth Girvan

It’s All About Relationships – A Strategic Approach to Board Development

A good relationship between the ED and the Board is crucial to the effectiveness and viability of every nonprofit. Cultivating those relationships can be a challenging and time-consuming task. This workshop will focus on the importance of taking the time to build board relationships, using communication strategies that build trust and foster board engagement, and creating an ED and Board Chair relationship that will set the tone for communication and involvement with other board members. The importance of strategic board development will be discussed.

Annette Loschert

Annette Loschert

Presenters Elizabeth Girvan and Annette Loschert

Elizabeth Girvan spent over twenty years in the legal field as a court reporter and legal researcher, but after answering an ad for a volunteer literacy tutor, she decided to change careers and pursue something more rewarding. In 2007 she moved from Seattle to Harrisonburg, where she began working as the Tutor Coordinator at Skyline Literacy; in 2011 she became the executive director. She has degrees in communications and organization development and a certificate in nonprofit management. Elizabeth and her husband live in Harrisonburg and have four grown children and one very active grandson.

Annette Loschert‘s professional experience includes corporate marketing and events planning, various positions in academic administration at the graduate business level, and 12 years of experience in adult literacy as tutor, board member, and Executive Director of Literacy Volunteers of Roanoke Valley from 2003-2010. She currently serves as a non-profit consultant, facilitator and trainer. Annette holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and an MBA in management from Pace University. She provides strategic planning workshops to community-based literacy organizations through the Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center and the Virginia Literacy Foundation. Annette serves as a member of the Virginia Board of Education Advisory Committee on Adult Education and Literacy, and has served on the board of the Virginia Literacy Foundation and is a past Vice President of the Virginia Literacy Leadership Council.

Jenny Bolte

Jenny Bolte

Let’s Talk

WIOA, Standards, and State Plans…oh my! And all I really want to do is help people! So how? Well, partnering—and truly partnering so everyone wins—is the answer. During this workshop facilitated by someone with “insider knowledge” about a literacy organization, adult education, and Goodwill, we’ll have a candid discussion about how these entities can best work with and support each other. Where do we start? What do we do? Who’s the convener? Why should I bother? Wondering about this or have other questions, then let’s talk!

Presenter, Jenny Bolte, Director of Program Development, Goodwill Industries of the Valleys

Jenny Bolte served six years as an Adult Education instructor and 14 years as a Manager for a Regional Adult Education Program. She is an active board member for the region’s literacy organization and now serves as the Director of Program Development for Goodwill Industries of the Valleys. In her various roles, Jenny has had the opportunity to come to understand firsthand the power of partnerships in order to help initiate change and progress.

Dr. Don Finn
Dr. Don Finn

Effective Methods for Developing Critical Thinking in Adult Learners

Adult education programs place great emphasis on developing life, workplace, and continuing education skills in their learners. Research on effective learning and adult education theory suggest that the most effective way to connect with adult learners is to draw from their life experiences as a means to help develop self-directed learning and critical thinking skills. This interactive workshop provides hands-on opportunities for participants to reflect on their personal biography as learners and educators as a model to help develop critical thinking in their adult students.

Presenter Don Finn, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Adult Education, Regent University

Dr. Don Finn has been an adult educator for over 21 years. Currently, Don is an Associate Professor and of Adult Education and program chair at Regent University and an independent adult education consultant. He has designed and delivered talks, trainings, and workshops for adult educators across the nation. Don has consulted with organizations to help them better understand the unique traits of adult learners and the programs that serve them. Don has authored and co-authored numerous articles on the topic of effective instruction for adult learners. Don is a past president of the Virginia Association for Adult and Continuing Education (VAACE), a member of the Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE) board of directors, and co-chair of the 2015 COABE national conference in Denver, Colorado in April.

Dr. Alana Simmons

Dr. Alana Simmons

Soft Skills—The Missing Ingredient

In the workplace, employee skills are typically divided into two categories—hard and soft skills. Hard skills are specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured. By contrast, soft skills are less tangible and harder to quantify. Examples of hard skills include job skills like typing, writing, math, reading and the ability to use software programs; soft skills are personality-driven skills like etiquette, teamwork, effective communication, networking, problem solving, critical thinking and professionalism. Soft Skills—The Missing Ingredient, focuses on providing strategies that will assist the adult learner in development and improvement of their soft skills, in return adult learners will increase employability, improve their work performance and build stronger personal and professional relationships.

Latosha Branch

Latosha Branch

Presenters Latosha Branch and Dr. Alana Simmons

Latosha Branch is an Educational Tester & Evaluator with the Virginia Department of Corrections. She has more than 15 years of instructional experience, which includes K-12 and adult education. Presently, she is pursuing a Master’s degree in Administration and Supervision from the University of Virginia.

Dr. Alana Simmons is an Educational Tester & Evaluator with the Virginia Department of Corrections. Additionally, she serves as adjunct faculty in the School of Business & Economics at King University. She holds a Ph.D. in Post-secondary & Adult Education from Capella University.

Click here for more conference information and to register

Don’t forget! Early bird registration ends January 9, 2015!

Registration for the 2015 VLF Conference is now open

Sheraton Park SouthThe VLF Conference committee is now accepting registrations for the 2015 VLF Conference.

  • Click on image to print the registration form in JPEG format.

Registration Form 2015 latest

Please note the following deadlines

  • Early registration ends January 9, 2015. Registration fees will rise after that date.
  • Conference rates for rooms end on February 4, 2015. Room fees will rise after that date. The VLF will only reimburse up to the conference rate.

We will be adding additional presenter information weekly to the blog.

Save the Dates! The 2015 Conference is scheduled for February 26 & 27

logobookonly This year’s VLF Conference will be held on February 26 and 27 at the Four Points Sheraton in Richmond for Virginia’s nonprofit literacy organizations. Last year’s conference was bigger than ever, and this year we plan to provide enough workshop rooms to accommodate that growth. Registration will start officially in November.

Until then, we will provide regular updates on this blog! Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions.

Ginger Hilleary and Mary Cragun, Conference Chairs
Victoire Sanborn, Literacy Specialist,VLF


Don’t miss!

Opening speaker, Dr. Anita Prince, who will facilitate an exciting 2-hour workshop demonstrating contextualized instruction. Workshops on

  • student recruitment and retention,
  • a demonstration of videos that explicitly teach low level students how to create a microsoft document or excell spreadsheet,
  • a Q&A session with Virginia’s GED administrator and training for GED teachers available through VALRC,
  • a successful approach to teaching multi-level learners (from the very lowest literacy level on up) using professional staff and tutors,
  • how Goodwill’s job training and education programs and adult literacy organizations can find ways to collaborate with each other to benefit their students,
  • using apps and mobile devices to help students practice the skills they learned in the classroom,
  • finding facts and statistics to use in grants and regional presentations, and
  • how an E.D. and Board Chair can work positively on their communication skills to strengthen their programs.