Literacy Volunteers of Illinois


Supporting Volunteer Literacy In Illinois Since 1979


OTR Conference Workshops

Session 1

Money Math Matters: Financial Literacy Instruction and Activity Ideas

Michael Matos, Education Technology Director, scaleLIT

This session will focus on real-world money education that delivers financial topics and tools, making mathematical educational connections for all learners. Participants will be involved with hands-on activities, apps, and websites that work with concepts such as: opening and managing checking and savings accounts, understanding banking accounts, basic budgeting, and using credit wisely. Gain ideas for activities that your learners can complete and conclude that money management is fun and easy to understand.

Resources, Research and Community for Teaching Low Level English Language Learners

Xavier Munoz, Assistant Membership Director, Literacy Education and Second Language Learning for Adults (LESLLA)

Have you ever heard of Literacy Education and Second Language Learning for Adults (LESLLA)? It is an international organization that promotes high-quality, research-based education for second language learners with emerging literacy and limited or interrupted formal education. Join this session to learn about what LESLLA offers for adult ESOL teachers and tutors and how to access the resources. We will preview the LESLLA website - curated collections of free and low-cost level-appropriate readers, recordings of professional development trainings, etc. - and how they can help address common challenges in teaching and tutoring ESOL literacy learners. Participants will have time to explore the website on their own before the session wraps up with a Q&A.

Rocket to Literacy

Joanne Telser-Frère, Author of 33 Ways Not to Screw Up Teaching Adults To Read; Director of Program Development, Literacy Chicago

Explore ALfA, an innovative approach called "Accelerating Literacy for All" designed to teach literacy and numeracy skills swiftly. This revolutionary method promises to leave you invigorated, envisioning the potential of incorporating ALfA into your programs and expediting your students journey to literacy. This approach is tailored for adults with limited or no literacy experience.

Teaching Literacy Through Poetry in a Multilevel Classroom

Jane Rothschild, Tutor and Instructor, Literacy Chicago

Poetry can be a great genre to use with emerging readers and writers. In this training, you’ll learn activities and poems to try out with students, and you’ll explore how to approach the same poems with learners of different levels. Jane Rothschild teaches a multi-level, poetry-centered class for adult learners, and she will share her approach with concrete examples from her classroom. This training is for teachers of multi-level groups and for anyone who wants to incorporate more poetry into their lessons in a one-one, small group or whole class setting.

Técnicas de enseñanza, experiencias que inspiran ((Español))

Teaching Techniques: Experiences that Inspire (Spanish)

Jorge Fidel Berrios,Instructor and Tutor, Erie Neighborhood House

El propósito de este taller es proporcionar a los participantes un refrescamiento de procedimientos, técnicas, métodos y estrategias de la enseñanza aprendizaje para ser utilizados en la práctica docente.
Objetivos de taller:
1. Reconocer las cuatro categorías de la didáctica utilizadas en el proceso de enseñanza aprendizaje.
2. Describir las funciones esenciales de las Técnicas de enseñanzas en el mundo de la didáctica.


The purpose of this workshop is to provide participants with a refresher on teaching-learning procedures, techniques, methods and strategies to be used in teaching practice.
Workshop objectives:
1. Recognize the four categories of didactics used in the teaching-learning process.
2. Describe the essential functions of Teaching Techniques in the world of didactics.

*For English speakers interested in attending, there will be some interpretive assistance provided by Susana Ortiz (Erie Neighborhood House). In addition to Spanish speakers, this session may also be of particular interest to tutors who work with Spanish-speaking English Language Learners and who want to experience an immersive classroom with some bilingual translation.

Ten (Not-So-Secret) Rules of English Speech

Margaret Goldstein, ESL Tutor and Trainer, Literacy Chicago

Do you ever wonder why your ESL students just don’t sound right when they speak, even though they do a decent job pronouncing each word? This session will explore ten “secret” rules of English speech patterns that native speakers follow unconsciously, making English sound “natural” and clear to native speakers. By knowing these rules and imparting them to our students, we can help them make that magical leap into more natural sounding English.

Session 2

Breaking Down Industry-Recognized Credentials

Dena Giacometti, Director of English Language Acquisition, Illinois Community College Board

Within each career pathway is typically a series of credentials that individuals might need or want to have in order to be hired or be successful in a sector. This workshop will review understanding industry recognized credentials. How to incorporate them into your programming for practitioners and how to find where they are offered for learners.

Connecting to the City Colleges of Chicago

Aimee Rosario, Project Coordinator of the Adult Education Career Bridge Program, Chicago City Colleges

Adult Education practitioners interested in connecting Adult Learners with an interest in continuing their education in ESL, GED, and Spanish GED classes at the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) can join this workshop and learn about: Adult Education at the CCCs, Resources for CCC students, Available Programs, Career Grow Chicago, Bridge Programs at CCC, Supports for Bridge Participants, and Connecting for Summer.

How to Not Screw Up Teaching Adults to Read

Joanne Telser-Frère, Author of 33 Ways Not to Screw Up Teaching Adults To Read; Director of Program Development, Literacy Chicago;

Karen Fredrickson, Instructor and Master Tutor Trainer, Literacy Chicago

Participants attending this session will leave with a plethora of ideas to engage adult literacy students. We discuss the barriers and impediments to adult education and how to get around them.

This interactive presentation will focus on subjects ranging from what materials to use, to creating a safe, nonjudgmental space for students to learn. We will discuss the methodology used and the role of the teacher/tutor in the classroom. Finally, participants will get a chance to try out some techniques that have proved effective in teaching adults to read. Note: This presentation is based on Joanne’s book 33 Ways Not to Screw Up Teaching Adults to Read.

Modeling of Actionable Empathy and Compassion in Teaching English Language Learners

Jeanine Ntihirageza, PhD, Professor and Coordinator of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Program; 

Colette Ruscheinsky, English Language Instructor, College of Lake County; Graduate Student, Northeastern Illinois University

Compassion is not just feeling with someone, but seeking to change the situation. Frequently people think compassion and love are merely sentimental. No! They are very demanding. If you are going to be compassionate, be prepared for action! — Desmond Tutu

Teachers and tutors are called to play a leading role in modeling actionable empathy and compassion, the kind of empathy that moves us to act. In this presentation, I plan to share a few practical ways to model actionable empathy and compassion founded in ubuntu principles. This modeling promotes collective healing by 1) building much-needed safe space in the learning environment, 2) cultivating trust, 3) developing activities that promote kindness and unity, and 4) enhancing an environment conducive to learning. Actionable empathy and compassion need to be intentional and engage individuals who have experienced socio-political upheaval and disruptions, violence, and individual or collective trauma.

Plain Language for Teachers and Tutors

Sarah Glazer, Clear Language Lab Program Manager, Literacy Works

How can we communicate more effectively with the people we learn with in our classes and tutoring sessions? This session is for teachers and tutors working with adult learners. We'll talk about giving clear instructions, creating usable worksheets and handouts, and writing clearly. While this session will focus on applying plain language practices to the classroom, many of the strategies we'll talk about are applicable to other program staff as well.

Speaking, Writing, and Sharing Our Stories: A Social Justice Approach to Literacy Learning

Bria Dolnick, Community Literacy Program Manager, Literacy Works; 

Janise Hurtig, PhD, Faculty, DePaul University School of Continuing and Professional Studies; GED Instructor, Howard and Evanston Community Center

Storytelling is perhaps the most universal way in which people teach and learn; it is a fundamental medium for expressing and exploring one's lived experiences. Unfortunately, because storytelling -- and in particular story writing -- is considered a complex literacy task, it is rarely incorporated into adult beginning English language and literacy classes. And yet, learners can tell deep stories with simple language. In this workshop we'll focus on meaningful writing activities you can do with beginning English language and literacy learners. We'll talk about and model routines, practices, and prompts you can use to help build literacy skills while writing about life experiences. Finally, we will share student work and project ideas to ground our conversation in student and teacher experiences.

Session 3

Approaches to Serving Newly Arrived Migrants – Experiences for the Field

Laura Moreno, Adult Literacy Coordinator and English Language Instructor, Sauk Valley Community College;

Mike Moline, Education Director, World Relief Chicago;

Jim Roberts, Program Coordinator, Literacy Volunteers Fox Valley;

Chana Sternberg, TPS/EAD Centralized Immigration Workshop Program Manager, The Resurrection Project

In this session, adult education practitioners from urban, suburban, and rural programs will discuss their approaches to serving newly arrived migrant students. With panel moderator Chana Sternberg, panelists Laura Moreno, Mike Moline, and Jim Roberts will share how their programs work to meet the needs of these students with diverse language and academic goals. In addition, panelists will discuss how they connect students with resources beyond the adult education classroom and how other literacy pracitioners can consider the needs of new migrant students in their own programs.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Adult Literacy Teaching and Tutoring

Jenny Siegfried, Adjunct Faculty, Adult Education, Waubonsee Community College

Are you curious about Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Do you want to know how AI can help you with your tutoring? Come to this workshop to learn the basics of AI, what it can (and can't) do for you, and become a better "prompt engineer." Examples of AI prompts will be shared for basic literacy, ESL, and GED/HSE contexts. Participants will have a chance to practice writing AI prompts for their own context.

Educating English Learners About Crimes and Crime Survivor Rights & Resources

Radhika Sharma Gordon, Outreach and Education Manager, Apna Ghar;

Eva Mwariri, Community Engagement Coordinator, Apna Ghar

Trainers from Apna Ghar, Inc., an organization addressing gender-based violence, will lead an informational session on the crimes and rights violations that immigrants and refugees often face. They have developed simple English informational flyers and will lead participants in discussions on how these materials and Apna Ghar PowerPoint slides can be infused into ESL curricula.

El acto Didáctico en acción, de la imaginación a la creación (Español)

The Didactic Act in Action: From Imagination to Creation (Spanish)

Jorge Fidel Berrios, Instructor and Tutor, Erie Neighborhood House

El propósito de este taller es proporcionar una actualización de habilidades y destrezas centrada en LudoPedagogía como activador emocional en la enseñanza aprendizaje.

Objetivos de taller: 

  1. Reconocer la importancia de la motivación del maestro como activador emocional en los estudiantes.
  2. Identificar las categorías de la ludopedagogía y sus principales beneficios en el entorno educativo.

The purpose of this workshop is to provide an update of skills and abilities focused on Play Pedagogy as an emotional activator in teaching-learning.

Workshop objectives:

  1. Recognize the importance of teacher motivation as an emotional activator in students.
  2. Identify the categories of play pedagogy and its main benefits in the educational environment.

*For English speakers interested in attending, there will be some interpretive assistance provided by Susana Ortiz (Erie Neighborhood House). In addition to Spanish speakers, this session may also be of particular interest to tutors who work with Spanish-speaking English Language Learners and who want to experience an immersive classroom with some bilingual translation.

Literacy for the Whole Family: Boosting Reading Levels at All Ages

Keighty Ward, Community Literacy Program Director, Literacy Works

Tutors and teachers are doing an incredible job supporting adult learners as they learn new skills - but what about the kids at home? Many of our learners have children in their lives and those children can play an important role in the education of their adults. Reading is reading - whether it's a news article or a children’s book. Involving their kids can be a great way for adult learners to practice their skills and build an environment of learning and togetherness at home - win-win! In this training, we’ll share techniques for encouraging more family reading at home and discuss the importance of families learning together. We’ll practice how to read with children and how crafts and games boost reading skills. (Yes, we’ll have some fun craft ideas!)

Say It with Photos!

Bria Dolnick, Community Literacy Program Manager, Literacy Works

There are so many ways that photos can be used as a catalyst for developing language and literacy skills. In this workshop, we'll explore a variety of photo-based activities that you can use to help students develop vocabulary, practice speaking, generate writing, and more. Activities and resources shared will work for learners of multiple levels and abilities.


LVI began by working with just four LVA programs, and today provides an array of resources and services to staff, tutors, and students in adult literacy programs statewide.


Literacy Volunteers of Illinois
100 South  State Street, Suite 437
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: 312-857-1582

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