Post image for Refer a Friend to Train With Us!

Our spring tutor training session will happen on March 2 at Woods Church in Severna Park!

We’re always looking for new, dedicated tutors and have a special need for help in northern Anne Arundel County (Glen Burnie and Brooklyn Park). There are always students on our waiting list from Annapolis and the Severn area as well. Please consider referring neighbors or friends who you think could be committed AACLC tutors.

ESL tutoring candidates will be particularly helpful. We’re also training basic literacy, math, and high school diploma preparation tutors.

Interested trainees should contact Jane at director@aaclc.org. Space is limited — there are only a few seats left.

Post image for Director’s Message January 2024

Welcome, 2024! What will our students and volunteers accomplish this year? We are looking forward to finding out as the months unfold.

In 2023, our volunteers continued their great work, and students achieved a range of impressive goals, big and small — all contributing to a better quality of life.

Some highlights:

  • Six students earned high school diplomas.
  • Two students obtained U.S. citizenship.
  • Two students passed the ASVAB and enlisted in the U.S. military.
  • One student graduated from the nursing program at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC). She took the required national licensing exam at the end of the year and passed to become a Licensed Practical Nurse!
  • One former student earned her master’s degree.
  • Students continued or started their studies at AACC.
  • Twenty-six students advanced at least one level in the curriculum.
  • Students worked on resumes and interviewing skills, then sought new jobs and were hired. In 2023, 18 students got new or better jobs!
  • Students entered other educational or job training programs.
  • Several ESL students improved their ability to communicate in English through conversation, email, and texting.
  • Thirteen students reported increasing their involvement in a child’s education.
  • Twelve students got library cards and began using them to check out books, log into library computers, and use other AACPL resources.
  • Many students increased confidence in their abilities, gained a consumer skill, or improved an employability skill.
  • Several students made a healthy lifestyle change.
  • Students continued registering to vote and voting.

Our team is also celebrating these volunteer milestones:

  • 44 new tutors joined us in 2023.
  • We are tutoring at the Jennifer Road Detention Center and the Ordnance Road Correctional Center.*
  • Collectively, our volunteers donated more than 14,000 hours in our communities last year.

Congratulations, all!

Thank you for making a difference in Anne Arundel County.

Happy New Year,

Jane

Jane Seiss, Executive Director AACLCJane Seiss, Executive Director
Anne Arundel County Literacy Council

* ICYMI, check out tutor Michael Green’s newsletter feature from last summer about the Literacy Council’s tutoring work at the Jennifer Road Detention Center.

Happy New Year with fireworks

Post image for Thank you, Nora Roberts Foundation
Thank you, Nora Roberts Foundation! The Foundation continued its support of adult literacy in Anne Arundel County with a $6,000 grant to the AACLC in early December 2023.

The Nora Roberts Foundation’s contributions to our work over the years have helped hundreds of low-income men and women pursue their educational goals and improve their lives and those of their families.

Post image for Accepting New Students (December 2023)

Refer a local adult to our FREE literacy, ESL, math, or diploma programs! Call 410-269-4419 or email director@aaclc.org.

Post image for Christmas Toy Drive Ends December 23, 2023!

There’s Still Time to Donate Toys for Annapolis Children

Literacy Council partner and friend in Annapolis, Small City Big Dreams, is running a toy drive this holiday. New toys for children 10 and under will be distributed to low-income families in Annapolis neighborhoods.

Contact Lovell, Mike, or Erick to arrange collection of donated toys or gift cards. The drive ends on December 23.

Small City Big Dreams (SCBD) is a nonprofit that provides vital resources to low-income communities in Annapolis. SCBD was a recipient of diapers donated to the Literacy Council by the Good Time Gang in March. For more information about the organization, visit SCBD on Facebook.

Lovell of SCBD (with Perinaaz Gandhi) received a trunkload of diapers from the Literacy Council in March. Diapers were given to low-income families in Annapolis.

Post image for Tutor Training Session March 2, 2024

UPDATE: This training session has been filled! The next session sill be scheduled for June, 2024, and it will focus on training new ESL tutors. Stay tuned for details.

Our spring tutor training session has just been scheduled for March 2 at Woods Church in Severna Park!

Refer a friend to train with us!

We’re always looking for new, dedicated tutors and have a special need for help in northern Anne Arundel County (Glen Burnie and Brooklyn Park). There are always students on our waiting list from Annapolis and the Severn area as well. Please consider referring neighbors or friends who you think could be committed AACLC tutors.

ESL tutoring candidates will be particularly helpful. We’re also training basic literacy, math, and high school diploma preparation tutors.

Interested trainees should contact Jane at director@aaclc.org. Space is limited.

ESL Tutors Needed

December 19, 2023

https://icanread.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/Tutor-and-Student-Generic-e1703009757658.jpg
In his recent “State of the County” address, County Executive Pittman talked about immigration and said that in the last twelve years, the Latino population in Anne Arundel County has grown to 10% of our residents. As a result of this local population change, in recent years, the Literacy Council has seen a steady increase in demand for ESL tutoring services. Approaching the end of 2023, 39% of our students are Spanish-speaking, and just shy of 50% are English language learners.

Working with an immigrant student is rewarding. We currently have 52 volunteers tutoring students who are studying English so that they may participate more fully in a child’s education, communicate at an English-speaking workplace, pass the U.S. citizenship test, earn a Maryland high school diploma, or achieve one of many other goals.

How can you help?

Please review our early-January Available Student List when Wendy emails it to tutors. More than half of the people seeking a tutor are hopeful ESL students. Perhaps there is someone you could help.

If you have questions or reservations about your ability to tutor an adult in English language learning, please let us know. We will work with you to give you the tools you’ll need. (If you are a trained tutor and have a willingness to work with someone from another country, you are already quite well equipped.)

In 2024, in addition to two new tutor training sessions, we plan to offer an in-person training workshop focused on ESL tutoring. Please stay tuned for details in the months ahead.

Trained tutors are welcome to come to our March 2 tutor training ESL breakout session in the afternoon. Please let Wendy know if you are interested in attending that portion of the day.

Online Training for ESL Tutors

ProLiteracy offers free webinars in every subject that we tutor, including Low-Level English Language Learning and High-Level English Language Learning. Tutors can register for upcoming Teacher Training Plus webinars or watch videos of past webinars. There are videos on goal setting for high-level students, “starting from scratch” for low-level students, and more.

ProLiteracy on YouTube

Webinars for tutors are available on ProLiteracy’s YouTube Channel, where you can watch them at your convenience. The YouTube Channel offers videos in all subject areas.

Post image for Director’s Message December 2023

It is hard to believe that we are at the end of 2023. Thank you for all you did this year as a Literacy Council volunteer or supporter. You have contributed to our impact in Anne Arundel County.

This fiscal year, we expect to donate more than 14,000 volunteer hours. Translated to a simple monetary value, this is an investment of over $430,000 in services in communities that need the most help. (Not included in this estimate are the funds we spend on books and materials.)

By May 31, we expect to have served about 200 adult learners, including people at both county detention centers in Annapolis and Glen Burnie. Thank you for your part in this critical collective effort!

We’l be making other posts about how you can help us meet the needs of county immigrant residents in 2024.

We have scheduled our spring new tutor training session for March 2 — please consider referring a friend.

Thank you for your support on #GivingTuesday and throughout our annual membership campaign. If you haven’t submitted your AACLC membership donation yet and would like to, you can donate on the AACLC website or by mailing a check.

Happy Holidays,

Jane

Jane Seiss, Executive Director AACLCJane Seiss, Executive Director
Anne Arundel County Literacy Council

 

 

Warm Wishes with snowflakes in background

Post image for News From Our Board of Directors

Carol Tacket Retires as Board President

The Literacy Council’s Board of Directors, its staff, volunteers, and students extend much gratitude to Dr. Carol Tacket, who retired from our Board this month. Carol gave more than ten years of service to the Literacy Council as a tutor, volunteer, Board member and leader, supporter, and advocate. We are thankful for Carol’s leadership, dedication, and kindness.

Catie Comer Elected Board President

Catie Comer portrait

Board Member and devoted AACLC volunteer Catie Comer was elected Board President on November 8. Catie recently served as Vice President of Development of The Arc Central Chesapeake Region. She has over ten years of experience in fundraising and communications. Catie is passionate about nonprofits and supporting the community.

Catie is an Annapolis native and a graduate of the University of Maryland with degrees in Journalism and the Russian Language. She formerly taught English as a Second Language in Russia and volunteered as an AACLC ESL tutor. Catie is a 2022 graduate of Leadership Anne Arundel’s Flagship program.

Tutor Deborah Bennett Joins the AACLC Board of Directors

portrait of Deborah Bennett

Tutor Deborah Bennett was confirmed as Board Recording Secretary at the November meeting of the Literacy Council’s Board of Directors.

Deborah recently retired as a Risk Manager for Live! Casino & Hotel in Anne Arundel County after working there for ten years. She started as a Human Resource Business Partner, a position she held for four years. From 1993 to 2012, Deborah worked for The Baltimore Sun Media Group in advertising sales management. From 2004 to 2012, she was the Director of Sales Development and Training. Deborah was responsible for training programs, developing new revenue initiatives, and supporting sales staff development. Prior to moving to Maryland in 1992, she was General Manager and Media Director for L.F. O’Connell Associates, an advertising agency in New York.

Deborah has served on marketing committees and boards for the Columbia Foundation, Columbia Festival of the Arts, the MDDC Press Association, the American Heart Association, United Way, and the Willowood Homeowners Association. She was a volunteer for the Baltimore Sun’s Reading By 9 Program.

Post image for Unlocking Learning Opportunities with ChatGPT: A New Dimension for Tutors

by Dan Milleville, AACLC Tutor & Database Engineer

In the ever-evolving landscape of education, technology continues to reshape the way we teach and learn. One such transformative tool that is gaining attention is ChatGPT, a powerful language model developed by OpenAI. Designed to engage in natural language conversations, ChatGPT holds great potential for educators, especially reading, GED, and ESL tutors.

ChatGPT can be a valuable asset in fostering reading comprehension and language skills. Tutors can use ChatGPT to create interactive and dynamic reading experiences where students engage with text-based conversations to discuss and analyze passages. By posing open-ended questions or requesting summaries, tutors can encourage critical thinking and ensure students grasp key concepts. Additionally, the model’s ability to provide explanations and clarifications can enhance students’ understanding, making complex subjects more accessible.

For GED preparation, ChatGPT offers personalized assistance that complements traditional tutoring methods. Tutors can simulate GED exam scenarios, enabling students to practice answering questions across subjects. Moreover, the model’s adaptability allows tutors to customize learning paths, tailoring the experience to individual student needs.

As ESL tutors, utilizing ChatGPT can provide a platform for language practice in an immersive environment. Through conversations with the model, students can refine their language skills, practice grammar and vocabulary, and gain confidence in real-world language usage.

While ChatGPT is a powerful tool, its effectiveness lies in the thoughtful integration with tutoring methods. As tutors, we can harness its capabilities to create engaging, interactive, and adaptive learning experiences that empower our students on their educational journey.

Using ChatGPT for my Students

I do GED tutoring on Wednesday evenings at the Jennifer Road Detention Center (JRDC). I started in 2017 with “Reasoning Through Language Arts” (RLA) tutoring, transitioned to Social Studies, and, along the way, also did some math tutoring.

Our tutors at JRDC need to be very flexible because our students (typically 12 per evening with 4-5 tutors, including Shirley Theimer, also from AACLC) have a wide variety of reading skills. Some evenings, I fill in to help with RLA. We have some students at very low reading levels.

A few weeks ago, my assignment was to work with a student who we thought read at a 6th-grade or lower level. AACLC’s Janet LaBella goes to JRDC every Tuesday evening to assess students, so we have a pretty good indication of their levels. The recommendation for the student was to skip the Social Studies chapter and use the Weekly News Readers that we have available. I was kind of stuck because the Social Studies chapter seemed too much of a stretch for the student, and the Weekly News Reader was too basic.

I decided to push the student a little, and we slowly worked our way through the Social Studies chapter.

Later at home, I fed the Social Studies chapter (two pages on Colonial America) to ChatGPT and asked it to transform the reading into material suitable for an 8th-grade level. It didn’t look too much different so I then asked it for a 6th-grade level. When I asked it to tell me the grade level of the original material, it said 10th grade, not that different from the 8th-grade version.

I also used ChatGPT to develop tests for math and social studies. When I was working with the math students, we ran out of test questions in the workbooks that are available, plus I wanted to focus on quadratic equations, which were proving to be troublesome for the students. So I asked ChatGPT to generate GED-level math questions — and it did. I didn’t ask for an answer key so it didn’t provide that.

For Social Studies, I asked it to generate a test on a chapter with five multiple-choice, five true/false, and five fill-in-the-blank questions, which it did very quickly. The results of these requests should always be reviewed and edited. For example, the answers to the true/false were all true, and one of the fill-in-the-blank questions contained the correct answer in the question.

The next week, my assignment was with the same students: one session on Social Studies and one on RLA. I decided to try to use the Social Studies material for the RLA session as a way of reinforcing the material, so I asked ChatGPT to generate an RLA lesson from the Social Studies chapter, which it did. Unfortunately, it assumed I had more than two students, so I had to ask it to revise the lesson plan for a class with only two students.

I asked ChatGPT to write this article for me, but it couldn’t do it. It did write the four-paragraph introduction. Then I asked it to summarize how it has helped me, and it wrote the following —

Absolutely! Here’s a summary of how I’ve assisted you in generating GED material specifically for math, RLA (Reasoning Through Language Arts), and Social Studies:

In the realm of GED preparation, my AI-powered assistance has focused on three core subjects: math, RLA (Reasoning Through Language Arts), and Social Studies. By collaborating with you, I’ve been able to create tailored and effective study materials for each of these subjects, catering to the unique learning needs of your students.

Math

Through our dynamic conversations, I’ve helped you generate comprehensive math exercises, practice questions, and explanations that mirror the types of problems students will encounter in the GED math exam. These materials not only challenge students’ problem-solving skills but also provide clear insights into mathematical concepts. This aids in building their confidence and familiarity with the GED math content.

RLA (Reasoning Through Language Arts)

In the realm of RLA, I’ve assisted in crafting reading comprehension passages, language usage exercises, and writing prompts that align with the GED RLA exam requirements. By engaging with the content I’ve helped generate, students can improve their reading comprehension, writing proficiency, and critical thinking abilities. This preparation is essential for success in the RLA section of the GED.

Social Studies

For Social Studies, I’ve collaborated with you to develop study guides, historical context explanations, and interactive learning materials that cover a wide range of topics relevant to the GED Social Studies exam. These materials provide students with a deep understanding of historical events, government structures, and societal changes, helping them excel in the Social Studies section of the GED.

By harnessing the power of AI-generated content, you’ve been able to offer your students a comprehensive and engaging GED preparation experience across these subjects. Whether it’s tackling math problems, improving language arts skills, or mastering Social Studies concepts, the AI-assisted materials we’ve created together empower students to approach the GED exam with confidence and knowledge.

I hope this article gives you some insight into how you can potentially use ChatGPT to help your students.

ChatGPT is free to use, just go to https://openai.com/chatgpt and select the “Get Started” button at the upper right-hand side. From there, you’ll create a free account, log in, and then interact with ChatGPT via a text box where you can type or copy/paste your questions and see the results.