Thursday, August 18, 2016

Annual Benefit 8/25/16 - Are you coming?

A Benefit for Literacy Action Center

beautiful scene of trees and snow celebrate HOWL Susan Imhoff Bird's latest novel
Hear Susan's tale.

An Evening of 

Nature & Art with...

Susan Imhoff Bird

Thursday, August 25, 2016

   6:00 - 9:00 PM

Pilar Pobil's Garden

 in the lower Avenues (403 Eighth Avenue), SLC

Contribution of $50/person by 8/22/16

(Or $65/person contribution at the door)

Mail checks to Literacy Action Center
3595 S Main Street, Salt Lake City UT 84115
(Or Call for Reservations today at 801/265-9081)


We greatly appreciation your support!

For event updates, check with this blog daily
or send your email to 


Other donations for the event include:

Auction: Silent & Live auction from local contributors.

Eats: Red Food Truck, Cannella's Restaurant & Lounge, 

          Pizza Hut

Music: Kevin Christiansen, accordian

Vintage China & Linens: Blue Bird Vintage Rentals

Garden: Pilar Poblil Legacy Foundation

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Health materials: Blood pressure & "feet flat"

See how people responded to the words - put your feet flat on the floor.
How do you interpret the words "rest your feet flat on the floor?"

Wow! As writers, we put words on paper. If we want to understand the impact of our words on our intended audience, however, we’ve got to listen to their interpretations and watch their responses.

This month, as part of our health materials project, we read through a set of blood pressure instructions. (See New Health Project for details.) The instructions were meant to inform us on how to take our blood pressures at home. So, words like vital, accurate, wrinkles, and non-dominant were predictable discussion stoppers.

Expressions like “rest both feet flat on the floor” seemed simple and obvious, until we asked everyone to put their feet flat on the floor. When we checked under the table, more than half of the people’s feet were positioned with heels touching the floor and toes pointing in the air.

Another phrase that generated many interpretations was “don’t take your blood pressure within a half hour of eating.” And, the phrase “back supported” was popularly interpreted as either lying in bed or stretched out in a chair.

These discussions reiterate the importance of never assuming that just because we understand what we write that our audience will make the same interpretations.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Working with Numbers

Place Value. 

Simple concept? Not for us.

When 312.07 - 67.2 is easily written as

 3 1 2 . 0 7
-      6  1 . 2

then we know we've got work to do.

How would you explain how to line up in the numbers in the problem 6 - 1.2 or 54.63-9.7?

How do you explain "line up the numbers?"

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

How do you make the Best Quality Hard-Boiled Eggs?

What's your recipe for the best hard-boiled eggs?

Almost everyone has one. We did, too.

Our Friday group wanted to examine science and food. So, what better way to engage everyone in the scientific method? We started with something we all knew - boiling water and eggs. And, we all had something to say - either from personal experience or observation.

What did we do? We worked through the scientific method to set up our experiments - three tried-and-true recipes for making the best quality hard-boiled eggs.

Here's the Scientific Method that we followed:
1. Observe. Ask questions.
2. Do background research.
3. Construct hypothesis. (What do we think will happen?)
4. Test hypothesis. (Do the experiment. Collect and organize data.)
5. Analyze data. Draw conclusions.
6. Share results. 

Our experiments were three hard-boiled egg recipes: two from learners and one from

Like all good experiments, we made a hypothesis. We hypothesized which of the three recipes would produce the best quality hard-boiled egg. 

See the photos resulting from our experiment. Which recipe do you think we picked before we conducted the experiment? Which recipe do you think was the winner? 

To read our full report - our recipes, design process, methods, and discussion, click on this link to our June 20-24, 2016 lesson screen on our learner website. On the learner website, scroll to the files below the Friday entry, then click on Food Science.Boiled Egg

How did our recipes stack up to your best boiled-egg recipe?
Do you agree with our interpretations and conclusions?
Please comment below.

Monday, June 20, 2016

New Project: Health Materials

Ever wanted to know why health materials are written as they are? You know, those intense instructional tomes given to you at your doctor's office that you struggle over to figure out what you need to do next to better care for yourself.

A few of our learners are about to find out. They are going to provide feedback on health documents for a major local healthcare system.

One of our first tasks will be a two-page document. The content is currently unknown, but the excitement is mounting.

What health materials from your medical professionals would you revise? Why? How?

Health tools

Friday, June 17, 2016

Speed Dating

Yes, you read the title right...speed dating.

Now you're thinking, "What's an adult literacy organization got to do with speed dating?"

We were speed dating books!

Here's what happened...

Recently, our Wednesday afternoon group finished reading Getting Unstuck: Breaking Through Your Barriers to Change by Dr. Sydney Simon. Our next step was to select another book.

By the next week, we'd gathered fourteen possible books from which to choose our next group book. Well, how would you get twenty people to decide on one book? Would you dare to judge each book by its cover? Maybe. We decided a fairer way however was to speed date the books.

Round One

So, twenty of us spent an hour of our next session speed dating fourteen books.

We began by setting up our criteria. We all agreed that our next "read" had to be:
1) readable - we could pronounce most of the words and understand their meanings
2) helpful - the information would contribute to each of our personal lives in some way
3) interesting - the writing was not boring

In pairs (or in some cases as individuals), we examined each book one at a time for three minutes each for these three criteria. All daters agreed to at least minimally use the three minutes to examine the title, front and back covers, page 1 of the text, and the table of contents. Each dater had to decide if the dater made a connection with the content of the text and read a paragraph to feel if the text grabbed the dater's attention.

At the end of the three minutes, each dater rated each book. We developed the following rating scale:
1 = BAD - No way will I read this book.
2 = MAYBE - I might read it if I'm forced to read it.
3 = OK - I can deal with this book if it is chosen.
4 = I LIKE IT - I'll read it.
Image result for four agreements book
The Final Winner
5 = EXCELLENT - This is it. I love it! Let's read this book.

We followed this process six times, meaning that each dater examined only six of the fourteen books.

Because not everyone dated all fourteen books, we reported the ratings for each book based on the number of daters (reviewers). From the computed fractions, we figured the percentages. From the percentages, we decided that only books with 50% or higher could move into Round Two. The list for Round Two narrowed to seven books.

Round Two

One week later, we followed the same rules and ensured that all daters gave input. Based on the final count, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz won hands down.


Choosing our next book by speed dating and rating our "dates" engaged all of us in the book selection process. Everyone at least appears happy with the final choice and interested in participating in the group reading.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

What do you expect from a good writing mentor?

The question

That was the question posed to our writers last spring. What’s your response?

According to the SLCC Community Writing Center, mentors direct conversations, collect member feedback, identify strategies that work, listen for members’ wants and needs, and share information with SLCC Community Writing Center

A visiting mentor posed this question: "What is the group looking for in terms of a mentor?"

We used this question as our writing “warm up.” Here were our group members' responses to this open-ended statement, “A good mentor…” 

How do our responses compare to your response?

Draft of a Story

Our response

A good mentor…

§  needs to know the meaning of education.
§  must open our minds to help us learn.
§  knows what I have to know.
§  doesn’t do the work, but guides the work, based on what we want or need.
§  comes prepared, not just with plans and lessons to move our group forward, but also comes prepared to abandon or modify those plans based on auditory and visual feedback from group members. 
§  figures out how to include all of our wants, needs, and concerns, without excluding any of us.
§  is passionate about writing.
§  makes us feel motivated to learn and improve.
§  gives us hard words to read, spell, and write.
§  asks lots of questions, listens to responses, and connects us to resources to help us meet our goals.
§  directs our conversation to stay positive and writing based.
§  learns as much as, if not more than, the group members.
§  is also a viable group member.
§  helps us write stories and fix our spellings.

Call to Action

We are looking for excellent mentors and tutors.

Our writing mentors come to us through SLCC Community Writing Center. The writing center trains mentors for their many different writing groups across Salt Lake City. Interested? Contact them.

You will be awesome!

(Are you looking for a good writing group? Check out the writing groups sponsored by SLCC Community Writing Center. Or, search the web for writing groups sponsored by other writing organizations.)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Community Resources Strengthen Low-Income Families

Ever wonder what services are available to low income people?

This group knows. They are the - 

Family Self-Sufficiency Program Coordinating Committee.

This group brings together six public housing agencies (Provo, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Tooele, Ogden, and Davis County) and many public and private resources to work together to reduce dependency on welfare assistance and rental subsidies. (For more information, read about federal self-sufficiency programs.)

At our most recent meeting (on 5/18/16), we were a group of thirty-four representatives from a range of partners who help youth and adults become self-sufficient. This committee helps each of us learn about other resources.

Sarah at Volunteers of America
Nycole at DWS

Every quarter two partners share information about their work. This quarter we heard from Nycole with Department of Workforce Services and Sarah with Volunteers of America. They shared their knowledge about resources available for working with youth in our communities.

Do you serve low-income families in the greater Salt Lake area? 

If yes, and you were not represented at this meeting, then leave a comment below. Our next meeting is on 8/17/16. Perhaps, you can join us. If you work elsewhere, then look for this committee in your area.

Friday, April 22, 2016

SLCC Community Writing Center's Celebration

Where were you on Thursday, April 21, 2016?

Julie, Judy, Patrick, Paul, Trudy, & Debbie were at SLCC Community Writing Center's DiverseCity Writing Series semi-annual public reading. And, guess what? They were confidently reading their original stories to more than forty avid listeners. 

Bravo, Julie, Judy, Patrick, Paul, Trudy, & Debbie!

sine cera 2016
The audience laughed - Julie's character slipped on a banana, and Patrick's character was given permission to drive and drink (but, as he said, not at the same time). 

The audience grew hungry, especially as they listened to Debbie read detailed directions on how she makes chicken enchiladas.

The audience reflected on past memories. Trudy did this by telling a tale about a new born baby, Judy described the beginnings of her affair with books, and Paul told us about his visits to our state capitol in which one visit included "making donuts" in the capitol's parking lot.

But these 6 writers weren't alone last night. Fourteen other writers read their poems and stories, too. This semi-annual gathering celebrated the writings of more than 30 of our neighbors across the Salt Lake metropolitan area. And, writers received their copies of the 2016 edition of the sine cera containing their works.

All of this happened because of Salt Lake Community College's Community Writing Center's dedicated, professional staff who are committed to helping all of us bring out the writer inside of us. This event was part of their DiverseCity Writing Series, which has been facilitating writer workshops and producing sine cera since 2003. [From all of us at Literacy Action Center, thank you!]

Do you like to write, too?

Join a SLCC Community Writing Center group. Click here for a list of public groups. 

Literacy Action Center hosts two writing groups. Both groups are open to the public. Both groups meet at Literacy Action Center, 3595 S Main Street, Salt Lake City UT. If you join us, then you have a choice between: 
1st and 3rd Thursdays (5:00-7:30 PM) 
1st and 3rd Fridays (3:00-5:30 PM). 

In our writing groups, you write, share, and critique your own writing as you learn from yourself and other group members. Our mentors and group members help each other grow as savvy writers to polish our stories. We also include an educational piece at each group meeting. And, here’s the best part. You can publish your stories each year in sine cera (Click here to see issues of sine cera) and share your stories semi-annually at public reading events. Way cool! 

Join us! No experience needed. 

Just a desire to tell a story.

PS Literacy Action Center needs four writing mentors.

Contact SLCC Community Writing Center 

to volunteer as a writing mentor

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Gordon Hayward sponsors Literacy Action Center

Thirty-six of our volunteer tutors, adult learners, and families experienced the Utah Jazz versus San Antonio Spurs game on 2/25/16. With Gordon at the helm, the basketball bounced up and down the court, landing in the two baskets for a total of 174 points. Unfortunately, not to Utah's favor. 

Gordon Hayward #20 trying to get past a San Antonio player.
Intense staring

This opportunity was sponsored by Gordon Hayward. 
Gordon generously donated tickets to 
our center to attend this game.

You can see from some of our facial expressions and body language our thoughts about the game 
unfolding before us.

Nail biting. Grinning.

 Thank you, Gordon!