Scrabble Night

NLAW

The Literacy Council hosted a Scrabble Night on Thursday, February 2nd in honor of National Literacy Action Week, an initiative to strengthen literacy activism in local communities. During the week-long celebration, literacy programs across the nation join together to raise awareness about literacy and create change on college campuses and within the greater community. 

From Competitive Scrabble to Informal Bananagrams

Dr. Bill Snoddy and Jacob Cohen of the Asheville NLAWScrabble Club partnered with the Literacy Council to provide necessary gear including game boards, racks, tiles, clocks, and score sheets for tournament style play. Their Scrabble expertise helped create a competitive environment for players both new and experienced to test the limits of official game rules. Limited to only 25 minutes of play, challengers had to think about word choices quickly and were subject to an electronic word judge program called Zyzzyva to make decisions fairly.

For participants who were uninterested in Scrabble, there was a wide selection of other word games to choose from, including Upwords, Boggle, Apples to Apples, Bananagrams, and Sentence Cubes.

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While the Scrabble Night event was offered as a way to engage the community in fun literacy activities, there was also plenty of time for reflection on the impact of literacy in every day life. Volunteers and literacy advocates in the community shared why literacy was important to them by writing responses on a dry erase board.

Literacy is Important to Me Because…

DSC_0612The Student Coalition for Action in Literacy Education (SCALE) collected responses like the one pictured as part of a social media campaign for National Literacy Action Week. Individuals could submit their pictures for a chance to win a free t-shirt and other prizes over the course of the week. SCALE also offered two free webinars: “Why Literacy Matters” and “Race Based Conversations with Kids Matter”.

Words (and Photos) with Friends

For more photos of Scrabble Night, scroll through our image gallery below or share your own on our Facebook page!

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scrabble 3        DSC_0611 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

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How Tutors Impact the Literacy Council’s Sustainability

Yellow sheet: attendance log for one-on-one tutors

Yellow sheet: attendance log for one-on-one tutors

You already know that you impact your students’ lives. You see it in their improved skills, increased self-confidence, and achievement of personal goals.

But you may not have known that you also impact the Literacy Council’s funding and sustainability every time you turn in your hours and assign a post-test or CASAS test.

Our Federal Funding is Outcomes-Based

Did you know that the Literacy Council receives over $100,000 annually (about a third of our overall budget) from the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)? In North Carolina, this funding is administered by the NC Community College System. It funds our Adult Education and ESOL programs, which serve 275-300 students per year.

For the past four years, the amount of funding that we have received is related to two factors: a) an annual grant application, and b) student outcomes from the previous year.

Next year, our organization will receive base funds and bonuses when our students are successful in:

  • Attending class regularly
  • Improving post-test scores
  • Earning a High School Equivalency diploma (like a GED)
  • Enrolling in post-secondary education (like an AB Tech certificate course) after leaving the Literacy Council.

The legislation also requires that we work with students on preparing for the workforce and getting jobs, though our funding is not dependent on this.

Our Tutors and Students Produce Some of the Best Outcomes in the State

The NC Community College System provides WIOA funds to literacy councils and community colleges across the state, serving a total of 86,000 students. Here’s how we stacked up in 2015/16:

  • The state recommends that literacy council students receive an average of 40 instructional hours each year
    • LCBC students received an average of 53 instructional hours
  • 58% of students statewide received sufficient instructional hours and were post-tested
    • 81% of LCBC students received sufficient instructional hours and were post-tested
  • 33% of students across the state improved post-test scores by a full level
    • 43% of LCBC students improved post-test scores by a full level

In short, you are helping our students outperform state averages!

How Can You Continue to Help?

  • Submit your attendance logs on time. Funding for your program is directly correlated with the number of instructional hours that our students receive. You can click here to download a new attendance log from our website or pick one up in the office.
  • Encourage your student to stick with it! If a student “stops out” for three or more months, they will have to reenter the program with a new pre-test. We want our students to continue to show persistence throughout the year. Students are be better equipped to show improvement if they have at least 40 hours of instruction per year.
  • Use lesson plans that include Adult Education Content Standards. For ESOL tutors, Ventures lesson plans provide a perfect starting point for your lesion plans. For Adult Education tutors, please follow the Wilson lesson plan or use the supplementary materials you discussed with the program director. If you have questions about this, please contact your program director.
  • Prepare your students for CASAS testing. Your students are most likely to be successful if you get them accustomed to the testing process by administering unit tests when appropriate and talking about test taking skills. If you need support on how to do this, please attend the spring in-service training about CASAS testing.
  • Talk to your students about their goals. Check in with your students about their goals regularly to ensure they have the encouragement and information they need to be successful. Once you have a clear understanding of your students’ goals, we can provide you with resources and contacts that you can use to help them be successful.

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Literacy Council Corporate Partners share “An Hour with Author Wayne Caldwell”

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Author Wayne Caldwell keynoted an event for the Literacy Council's Corporate Partners Monday, Jan. 23, 2017

Locally acclaimed author Wayne Caldwell keynoted an event for the Literacy Council’s Corporate Partners Monday, Jan. 23 aimed to both inspire new strategies for working together and provide a special experience for current partners. 

Wayne Caldwell’s Teachers Inspired His Craft

Caldwell spoke about the early influences that provided him the impetus to not only learn to read, but to read great works of literature. These influences included his adoptive mother and many teachers in the Enka community. A high school teacher even encouraged him to “write the Great American novel.” Caldwell knows that she would be proud, as his novel, Cataloochee, is a 2013 James Still Award winner and a Southern Independent Bestseller Award winner. Caldwell attributed his success to the encouragement he received throughout his childhood.

The Literacy Council Can Support Local Businesses

Robert Foster, of Biltmore Farms Hotels, presented about how his company has partnered with the Literacy Council for the past two years. During this time, the Literacy Council has provided English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes at the DoubleTree Biltmore hotel for housekeeping employees. Robert shared stories of employees who had previously declined offers to move into higher positions because they were not confident enough in their English language skills. After spending time in ESOL classes, Robert now found the same employees approaching him more confidently and asking for new positions, in English! He found a way to encourage these employees to take the classes by lightening their workload the day they have class and providing lunch during class. Robert says he has seen such a benefit to his business that he plans to expand the program to other Biltmore Farms Hotels.

How Your Business Can Partner with the Literacy Council

A partnership between a corporation and the Literacy Council can be a critical step toward improving basic literacy and English language skills for employees or other contacts, which in turn improves employee retention, productivity, and promotability. Ultimately, adults with increased literacy and English language skills positively impact our local workforce, economy, and community.

To learn more about starting an on-site class or referring an employee in need of assistance, contact Ashley@litcouncil.com.

To learn more about how to support with the Literacy Council through your business, click here.

Special thanks to Malaprop’s Bookstore, Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, Lenior Rhine University, Sierra Nevada, and Biltmore Wines for contributing to the event.

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The 26th Annual Spelling Bee Team Registration Open Now!

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Speller-2016-crop

Calling all bibliophiles, word-nerds, and linguists…
The Spelling Bee is back for its 26th year!

Save the Date

salvagestation-logoThe 26th Annual Spelling Bee benefiting the Literacy Council of Buncombe County will be held Wednesday April 5, 2017 at The Salvage Station, 6-9pm 

10 Purchase Audience Ticket

*Please Note: Team Registration is now closed.

Recruit two friends to complete your team and sign up to compete in the most spirited and outrageous word challenge of your lives. Choose your teammates carefully — they must have both spelling and concentration skills in order to disregard the pandemonium caused by a costumed, cheering audience.

How does it work?

  • Recruit two friends and register your team by calling 828-254-3442 or emailing luann@litcouncil.com. Once you register, you’ll get a team packet that includes event rules, study materials, and fundraising suggestions
  • Choose your team name and plan costumes (optional, but there are prizes for best costume!)
  • Study the word list provided
  • Raise funds online or make a personal donation to cover your team’s entry fee 
  • Encourage your own personal cheering squad to come and support your team

Why participate?

  • It’s fun! Unleash your inner geek and join us for a zany, raucous good time
  • With comedian David Ostergaard as the emcee, you’ll be laughing the entire evening
  • You can cheat! Teams that raise funds over the entry fee can pilfer another team’s word or purchase clues
  • The top finishers win generous prizes, but no one walks away empty-handed. Every speller receives a prize
  • Your team could be crowned “Best Spellers in Buncombe County!”

How much does it cost?

Teams contribute a collective $250 to participate. Most of our teams raise this amount (and more) through friends, coworkers, family members, and others. We will provide access to CrowdRise, a fun and easy-to-use fundraising web site. Even little donations add up to a cheat-worthy stash! We can also offer some pointers on using social media to reach more people who want to support literacy. You have until the day of the event to raise the funds.

Who is involved?

The Spelling Bee committee is hard at work with the Literacy Council’s staff, planning an unBEElievable event. This year’s volunteer committee is being spearheaded by celebrity restaurateur Joe Scully, 2016 Top Fundraiser Katherine Cross, former speller Lauren Harr and more. 

Let’s get serious for a moment.

The Literacy Council of Buncombe County works to increase comprehensive literacy and English language skills through specialized instruction by trained tutors and access to literacy resources. In 2015/16, 200 volunteer tutors gave over 14,000 hours of direct literacy tutoring to 350 students. We work with both native and non-native English speakers to help improve job prospects, ensure parents can help their children in school, and give students support as they enroll in a GED program. The gift of literacy is truly transformative. Our students gain self-confidence and develop the self-sufficiency to improve their lives as individuals, parents, workers, and citizens. As always, proceeds from the Spelling Bee benefit the work of the Literacy Council of Buncombe County.

Are you eager to compete?

We will limit the competition to 15 teams, so be sure to reserve your spot by contacting LuAnn today.

Email luann@litcouncil.com or call 828-254-3442 ext. 206

Want to support a team? Click here! 
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A letter to our community — valuing diversity through education

A  Literacy Council student celebrates passing the US Naturalization exam

A  Literacy Council student celebrates passing the US Naturalization exam

To our Buncombe County neighbors,

The Literacy Council of Buncombe County values people of all ages, races, religions, national and ethnic origins, abilities and disabilities, sexual orientations, and gender identities. Our staff and board are committed to creating opportunities for all people in Buncombe County to receive high-quality educational services. We honor the gifts that our diverse students and volunteers bring to our community.

In the month of November, we received inquiries from 50 people wanting to become volunteer tutors. This is twice the number we would typically receive over the course of a month. This tells us that people in our community honor and value literacy and English language education and want to help our students achieve their goals.

We are grateful to live and work in such a supportive community.

With great respect,
Literacy Council of Buncombe County

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