Thursday, March 30, 2017

Giving Back - Session Monitors

white board lists tasks we need to do to ensure learners are comfortable
Brainstorming session: What we need 
to do to be prepared for April 12 & 13.

Adults learning to read need opportunities to use their new-found literacy skills for real purposes in authentic situations. These opportunities give learners another measure of how far they've come! We've also discovered over the years that, in general, our learners like to give back to the community.

Authentic Experiences

When Mountain Plains Adult Education Association asked if our adult learners would be breakout session monitors at their conference in Salt Lake City on April 12 & 13, 2017, without hesitation, we said, "YES!"

Eight of our learners will help at the registration desk and monitor the breakout sessions. Their jobs as monitors include introducing the presenters (reading their bios to the attendees) and handling session evaluations. Our adults are excited to serve as volunteers for hundreds of adult educators from over nine states.


We developed a packet for each breakout room. Each learner has been assigned a room.

From the board pictured above, you can see that we have already brainstormed people skills and grooming requirements.

Our continued instruction and preparation will include:

  • revising presenter bios (shortening them so they don't take more than a minute to read)
  • practicing the presenter bios so they come naturally to the learners
  • developing a checklist of what is to be done before, during, and after each breakout session
  • role-playing situations that may occur so they better know what to do (e.g., presenter needs AV help, no handouts are left, ways to distribute evaluations, collecting evaluations without being obnoxious).
  • examining the floor plan of the hotel breakout rooms. (Learners are concerned about giving directions to people.)


Ensure that the breakout sessions go well - all presenters and attendees enjoy the sessions.
Ensure that our learners are comfortable doing their jobs and feel terrific about their contributions.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Rights and Responsibilities: Which statements are which? Do you know?

Our Tuesday afternoon group has been exploring their rights and responsibilities as U.S. citizens. They found out that the Bill of Rights was introduced by JamesMadison (our fourth president) in 1789 and became the first 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution (the law of our land) in 1791. The Bill of Rights defines our rights as citizens of this nation. Since 1791, our judicial system (ending with the U.S. Supreme Court) has further explained what these rights really mean to us as we live our lives.

With the Bill of Rights in mind, we examined these common statements to determine which ones represent rights given to us by the Bill of Rights and which ones are responsibilities that we should each undertake to help our nation to remain strong.

We had some serious discussions (debates) about a few of these statements. Go ahead. See what you think. Mark each statement – right or responsibility.

1. Express yourself – write or say what you believe about topics.
2. Support and defend the Constitution.
3. Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.
4. Prompt, fair trial by jury.
5. Vote in elections for public officials.
6. Participate in the democratic process.
7. Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.
8. Pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
9. Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.
10. Apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship.
11. Participate in your local community.
12. Pay taxes honestly and on time to federal, state, and local authorities.
13. Run for elected office.
14. Serve on a jury when called.
15. Worship as you wish.
16. Defend our country, as the need arises.

How did you do?

(Answers: 1, 4, 5, 8, 10, 13, 15 are rights. The rest are responsibilities.)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Gripping Tale (written by committee)

Have you written a good story lately? 
How 'bout with a group?
That's what we do whenever we party here. 

Years ago, learners discovered that Deb could turn almost any story into an adventure. Her reputation has been passed on to future groups. Some past learners come back to visit just to be part of the next story.

Deb has standards. She won't enact just any story. Learners must collectively write a story worthy of sharing. The plot has to be visible with true conflict, action, emotion, and interesting vocabulary. For Halloween 2016, the group created yet another worthy, gripping tale.


One Dark, Dreary, Creepy Night

One dark, dreary, creepy night, Patrick, a drunk, skinny, under-aged, red-haired geek, surveyed the cold women swinging from the dirty ropes tied to the rafters. He approached one of the chilled, red-eyed forms. Suddenly, the lifeless form dropped to the floor into a heap. 

Patrick stumbled backwards and trembled as the figure rose before him. The color drained from Patrick’s face, and he froze in fear. Seconds later, he collapsed. Before his knees touched the wood floor, the attractive brunette grabbed him by the neck, flipped him over her shoulder, and packed him off to the cemetery.

Once in the cemetery, she lugged him to an open grave that contained a hidden staircase. At the bottom of the staircase, she crawled through a trap door, dragging him behind her. She entered the silent, eerie, green-glowing chamber and deposited Patrick into a tank full of underground booze.

As the booze tickled his feet, he shivered. He eyed his captor and tried to wiggle free. Instead, she clenched his neck with her enormous fangs. Instantly, he, too, became a vampire.

Three thousand years later, Patrick smiled and said, “And that, my boys, is how I met your darling mother.”

Thursday, March 2, 2017

How to Protect People that Cross State Street

By Spring, a guest blogger

Looking north at crosswalk light at 3600 S State Street in SSL.

Step 1: Recognize the Problem

On September 23, 2016, I almost got hit again crossing State Street at the new crossing light at 3600 South State Street. 

Has this ever happened to youWhat did you do about it?

I took action. I called the South Salt Lake Police station. The officer who answered the phone told me that the police couldn't do anything about drivers running through the crossing light. I was mad because they weren't willing to protect me, one of their citizens. I was hurt because I didn't think that they thought my life was important to them.

The next day, on my way to an appointment with my two-year-old son and my husband, we were almost hit at the same crossing light at 3600 South. We pushed the button and waited for the lights to blink. The crosswalk has really good signs and great flashing lights. Cars are supposed to stop and wait for us to cross in front of them before they start up again. We got halfway and then got stuck in the middle of the road because cars in the other direction did not stop.

Some drivers don't pay attention to people that use crosswalks. Unfortunately, I have to use crosswalks every day to go to school and go home.

Step 2: Share the problem 

I explained my situation to Deb and asked, “How can I fix this situation?”

She told me to write a letter to the editor of the newspapers – Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune. My reason for writing this letter was to tell drivers to watch out for us pedestrians using the crosswalks. I just wanted drivers to help keep all of us who walk to places, even people with small kids or kids that have to use crosswalks to go to school, safe. 

I also sent a copy of my letter to the South Salt Lake Police Chief, South Salt Lake Mayor, and three of South Salt Lake's Council people.

Step 3: Work out a solution with the people who have the authority to help

Although my "Letter to the Editor" was never published in either newspaper, my voice was heard. Last November, I was invited to South Salt Lake's City Council meeting. The room was full. The police chief said he would send some of his officers to check out the situation. I think the meeting turned out great because they listened to me.

The next night on my way home, as I was about to cross, a guy ran the flashing crosswalk light. This time a motorcycle cop was watching the guy. Guess what? The police officer pulled him over and talked to him. The guy told the officer off – he said, “I don't need to stop for pedestrians.” So, the officer gave him two tickets.

Since then, many more people have been pulled over and given tickets. One day, a bus was even pulled over.

I think sending my letter to the mayor has been a big success! 

Two pieces of advice:

If you have a problem, please tell your town mayor, the police chief, and your city council people. The only way they will know how to help you is if you tell them.

By the way, I've noticed that often people who speed through the crosswalk are either talking or texting on their cell phones. So...
Please don't talk or text when you drive. 

Capitol Hill Scavenger Hunt (2017 version)

Utah's boundaries are based on our distance from Washington, DC.
What if someone measured wrong?
Here are the questions we used this year for our tour of Utah's capitol building.

Please note:
1) Learners worked in pairs (of which one of them had a cell phone with photo and email capabilities).
2) One tutor was assigned to each floor to facilitate learners' experiences on that floor.
3) Wherever the form said take a picture, the pictures were emailed with their descriptions to a specific email address. All other answers were recorded by the pairs on the form.
4) The hunt was divided into 4 floors. Each floor was expected to take approximately 40 minutes to explore.
5) While pairs selected a specific floor to search and received the questions for only that floor, they were welcome to explore all floors during the time permitted.
6) Included on our original form was our time schedule so that everyone knew where they were supposed to be throughout the morning.
7) The map exhibit on the 4th floor was only available through March 2017. (These questions must be changed for future trips.)

Sending emails served several purposes, including continuous update as to the whereabouts of each pair. One tutor responded to the emails as they came in -  sending feedback that acknowledged receiving the emails as well as responding to comments. The emailed information provided annotated visuals for later class discussions and activities.

PS Whether you use these questions or develop your own, please share your experience with us. We revise our questions (and hunt) annually, so we'd love input.



1st Floor (40 minutes)

Find the Hall of Governors (under the Rotunda).
1. Which governor was Utah’s first governor?
    Name Dates in office
    Two new facts
2. Which governor is the most recent governor displayed? Why?
    Name Dates in office
    Two new facts
3. Which Governor was in office the year you were born? Take a picture.
    Name Dates in office
    Two new facts

Look at the south wall.
4. What famous Lincoln speech is hanging here?
5. Find the American Revolution plaque. Why is it here?

Look in the display cases (on the west side).
6. Who was the capitol’s architect?
7. What is one thing you use that is from a mineral or ore mined in Utah? Take a picture.
8. What happened to the Utah flag in 1922? What happened to the Utah flag in 2011? Why? Take a picture of both flags. Explain the difference.
9. Find one fact that is new to you from one of the cases. Which case did you pick? What was the new fact?
10. Find the Liberty Bell. Take a picture of yourself with the bell. Is this the original bell? How did it get to be here? What is important about it?


2nd Floor (40 minutes)

Go to the center of this floor.
1. What is the name of the part of the building where the gulls are flying 165 feet above your head? If one story of a building is about 10.8 feet high, then about how many stories high are the gulls above your head?
2. Above your head are twelve murals (paintings on the walls). Each scene represents a defining moment in Utah history. Examine each of the four corner murals. Pick one scene. Take a picture. Describe what is happening. What do you think made this scene important?
3. What is the Utah state animal? (Hint: You can find a baby version of this animal in the sculpture with the man wearing a wreath for wisdom.)
4. What other statue is wearing a wreath? Take a picture. What does this wreath represent?

Look at the walls.
5. The walls and columns are made from Georgia marble. The columns are 26 feet tall and weigh 5,000 pounds each. The wall panels are made from cut sheets. Each wall has a unique design. Take a picture of the wall panel that catches your attention the most. What made you pick this panel?
6. Both arched murals at the ends of the building show or depict a covered wagon scene. On which end of the building is the mural with a young mother in a wagon? East or West Which group meets in the room under this mural? The mural at the other end of this building shows a wagon train. Which group meets in the room under this mural? 

Other areas
7. Find the State Reception Room. Who were two visitors to this room that you wished you’d met? (Note: If the doors are closed, don’t go in. If the doors are open, stand in the doorway and notice the gold in the ceiling and walls.)
8. Go quietly into the Governor’s Office. (Note: If the door to the room in the SW corner is open, peek at the desk from the doorway. This desk was built from trees that were destroyed by the tornado that swept past the capitol in 1999.) Look at the displays. Which display intrigues you the most? Why? Describe the display?
9. Go to the north stairwell. See the large statue. Who is this man? Was he ever governor of the state of Utah?


3rd Floor (40 minutes)

1. One marble staircase leads to the House of Representatives chamber. What is at the top of the other marble staircase? Take a picture of yourself on the stairs. How many Supreme Court Justices does Utah have today? Why?

2. Find the Senate Majority Leader’s office. Who is the leader? Which political party hangs out here? Is your state senator allowed to hang out here? Why?
3. Read the sign outside the Senate Chamber. Why does Utah only have 29 senators? Who was the first female state senator in Utah (and in the US)? What year? (Note: Women didn’t get the right to vote until 1920. What happened?)

House of Representatives
4. Find the House of Representatives Majority Leader’s office. Who is the leader of the majority? Which political party hangs out here? Is your state house of representative allowed to hang out here? Why?
5. By now you’ve passed four committee bulletin boards. Find one of them. Read through the agendas for this week’s meetings. Take a picture of the most interesting agenda. Why did you select this agenda? In which room will the meeting be held? Find the room. Take a picture of the door. Where was it located? Explain in words. (Use N, S, E, W.) Look down into the rotunda.
6. Now look at the murals painted into the archways. From where you are standing, you can only see two and part of a third mural. Each scene represents a defining moment in Utah history. Read and examine the murals you can see. Pick one scene. Take a picture. Describe what is happening. What do you think made this scene important?
7. Look at the details of the marble ionic columns beside you. The columns are 26 feet tall and weigh 5,000 pounds each. The top of the column is called the capital. Describe the design carved into the capital nearest you.


4th Floor (40 minutes)

Find the map exhibit (on the House side of the floor).
1. As you walk around on this floor, pick one map that you find to be the most interesting map. Take a picture. Why did you pick this map? 

Find the murals over the rotunda.
2. Look at the eight murals circling above your head. You can only see 4 of them well from where you are standing. Each scene represents an important moment in Utah history. Examine each scene. Pick one scene. Take a picture. Describe what is happening. What do you think made this scene important?
3. What bird sits on top of the chandelier? 

Find the statues & display cases.
4. Which U.S. President’s bust is on display? Why is his nose shiny?
5. Who was the owner of the Grand Central Store?
6. David Jenkins, a Salt Lake City Mayor 1940-1943, was famous for setting what world records?
His bust was donated on behalf of a charity. What does this imply about the cause of Jenkins’ death?
7. Philo Farnsworth, known as “father of television,” had over 160 patents. What is he holding in his hand? (Hint: Read the plaque.)
8. Why do historians think a pair of shoes was buried in the stairs?
9. Two common moldings in this building are egg-and-dart and dentil. Read how these two moldings got their names. Take a picture of one of the two moldings on the above your head, not from the display case. Which molding did you photograph? Why?

Find art work along the walls.
10. Name one piece of interesting art work. What interested you in it? Take a picture.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Capitol Hill – Our Day

“You should have been there!”

That’s the type of energy exchanged among those of us
who went to Capitol Hill Wednesday 2/22/2017 and those who did not join us.

We’ve been preparing for this trip since January 4th – searching, viewing, reading, pondering, and debating how our government works and who represents us. We’ve posed questions. We’ve explored official documents, web sites, and data. We’ve even done the math. We’ve listened to meetings and watched sessions. We’ve identified what happens in each chamber. We’ve followed bills from start to end. We’ve checked out our government officials, figuring out what matters to them. 

So, we left on our trip stoked on Wednesday and returned even more excited!

Have you been up there this year? If you don't have time to go yourself...with electronics and social media, you can follow from afar – just go to Through this site, you can listen to committee meetings, read and follow the progress of bills, and watch congressional sessions. 

Did you know: The Capitol is free and open daily to the public, even when legislators are not working. Each floor houses art work and displays. You can pick up a free self-guided pamphlet at the visitors’ entrance (east end of the building by the lions Integrity and Fortitude).


Senator Hatch addressing Utah Senators.
Our morning, once most of us had arrived, began with a group photo in front of the USS Utah memorial plaque on the ground floor. Then, in pairs, we set off on a scavenger hunt. The pairs searched for items on a specific floor of the Capitol. Some answers were recorded on paper while other answers were photographed and then submitted to our center. (Find our scavenger hunt form as a pdf file all the way at the bottom of our lesson page. You can use it with your family or a group of friends. Enjoy.)

At 10AM, most of us sat in on the Senate session (two people didn’t read the instructions and spent the morning in the House of Representatives). We heard bills in all stages of movement through the Senate. At some point, Senator Hatch arrived and addressed the crowd.

While electronics failed, body parts were still viable as voting method.
At 10:40 AM, we moved on to the House to observe our representatives at work – and to hear Senator Hatch one more time. The house members showed us how they overcome electronic challenges. At first, during one vote, we saw a couple of Representatives holding fingers or thumbs in the air. We were perplexed. For the next vote, more of them were holding up fingers or thumbs. Then on a third vote, all the Representatives seated on one side of the room were standing with fingers or thumbs pointing up. At that point, the Speaker of the House commented that they were experiencing issues with the voting system. Sure enough, for the next vote every Representative stood up with fingers or thumbs raised in the air. Some members of the House even took selfies and group photos for their social media sites.  And, by the way, Representative Chavez-Houck announced our presence to her colleagues on the floor and other visitors sitting in the balcony around us.

At 11:30 AM, we walked down to the area where House members greet the public. Nine out of ten learners, who sent in green slips*, chatted with their representatives (and posed for photos) before we went to lunch. While we pushed for everyone to complete and submit a green slip to their representatives (and blue slips to their Senators), only 11 out of our group submitted slips. Nine learners had photo opportunities as well as moments to discuss their concerns about specific bills. (Two learners had phone calls from their senators later in the day!)

At noon, we traveled to the capitol cafeteria, sharing tables with lobbyists and other visitors. Following our tasty repast, some of us took a walking tour of the statues outside of the capitol building. Eventually, we all left, either for home or back to the center for individual work.

*Slips: The pieces of paper visitors turn in to their House Representatives or Senators. House members receive green slips and the Senators get blue slips. On these notes, visitors may pose questions they want answered, share personal information related to public issues, or tell how to vote on specific bills. 
Blue slips go to Senators. Green slips go to House of Representatives.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Teasers: Stories from our 2016 Adult Learner Writings

See what thoughts books can evoke
2016 Adult Learner Writings
Below are three stories from learners who are long-time members of our DiverseCity Writing Series Groups with SLCC Community Writing Center. Their stories were published in 2016 Adult Learners Writing (our annual collection of learners' original stories) published in April 2016. Do you want to read more? Stop by for a copy of this year's book. 


Utah State Capitol
By Paul Rosser
     I went with my mom, dad, sister, and brothers in my mom's car five times to the State Capitol in the 1960's to have lunch on the grass. We had fun. We only went inside the building once to look around at things. We saw Ab Jenkin's Salt Flats car.
     Also in the 1960's, my friends and I walked around the State Capitol to hike the mountains. One winter, we drove up there in the car to spin donuts in the parking lot behind it.
     In 2014, my tutor  and I went to the State Capitol  to see the things inside the building. On the first floor, we saw pictures of pioneers, explorers, Indians, governors, golden spike, and movies made in Utah.
     I saw that the floor was made out of tile. Some of the tiles were chipped or cracked and some were whole. All of the damaged tiles were being replaced with new tiles. At the time I took the tour, half of the tiles had been replaced and the work was continuing.  
     We met the head caretaker, too. He told us about the building. He told us the building was earthquake proofed. He showed us a replica of the 265 base isolators underneath the building. He also told us about the walls on the first floor. The walls used to be painted white. When they took the paint off, they found the original limestone. They sealed the limestone walls instead of painting them.
     We also walked around the outside of the building to see the flowers, statues, and the Utah flag. The grass was beautiful because they keep it cut.
     The State Capitol was interesting to see. I liked seeing the things inside, like the pictures, tiles, and limestone walls. The outside of the building was beautiful, too. Being at the State Capitol with my family and friends was fun.


American Privileges
By Julie Liljenquist
     On Monday morning, I was privileged enough to be watching television.  A live news break on CNN showed President Barack Obama giving Edward Byers, a Navy SEAL, the Medal of Honor. Because CNN broke away from the campaign trails, I was privileged enough to see this man receive the highest award possible for a serviceman. He received this medal for rescuing an American civilian who had been captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Facing certain death, Edward Byers risked his life to save this person by covering him with his own body. None of the other hostages survived.
     Watching Obama put the medal around Mr. Byers' neck, I knew the country was going to be OK. At least for the time being, I didn't worry about Donald Trump getting elected president. I just thought about how privileged we are as Americans to be able to have soldiers who fight for our freedom. I was also grateful to not have to watch any more of the presidential campaigning for a few minutes.


The “Adventure” I will Never Forget
By Trudy Parrott
     Our adventure started on a hot summer day in 1980 when my brother Danny, my sons Gilberto and Israel, our friends Roger and Mike, and I decided to move to Douglas, Georgia, from Marion, Ohio.  We were tired of living in Ohio and being on welfare. Roger said he had a two-bedroom mobile home down in Georgia, and no one was living in it. Our friend told us that we all could get jobs and live well.  So, why not! We packed up what we could into my station wagon and started off.  I had never been in Georgia, but Roger and Mike made everything sound so good.  Living in Douglas couldn't be no worse than living in Marion.
     Along the way, I asked Roger and Mike, “Are there a lot of Black people and Black churches in Douglas?” I wanted to know because that's the kind of church I preferred. They looked at each other, and Roger said, “Maybe, a dozen Black people. And, maybe one church or so. But, not very many.”
     Later that day, we turned off the interstate, headed toward Douglas.   About half a mile from town, guess what I saw!  A house on the left side of the road had at least twenty Black people in the front yard.  I then said, “I thought you guys said maybe a dozen in the whole town, Roger!”  He said, “Well, that's what I thought.”
     As we came into town, I saw a few more Black guys going into Circle K. I jokingly said to Roger and Mike, “Are there any White people here? Because all I've seen is Black people!” They just smiled at me. They had me pull into Circle K to get drinks and chips. I asked if we could go to a grocery store to get some real food for supper. Roger said we would have to get something here because it was past 7 P.M. I asked, “Why???” He said Circle K was the only store open at that time of night. I replied, “It's only a little after 7!” Roger said, “I know, but all stores close at 7 P.M. And, on Sundays stores don't open at all.” So I bought some hot dogs, buns, and mustard before we headed north out of town.
     About ten miles out of Douglas, we came upon a dirt road that led to a small trailer court. The sky was just starting to get dark when we turned into the driveway of a dark trailer. The trailer was not locked, so we all went inside.  On the kitchen table were a few oil lamps with oil in them. The guys lit them, and we walked through the trailer.  Exploring the empty trailer with oil lamps was scary because of the way the lamps made shadows on the walls.
     Since the trailer had been empty for over two years, everything was dusty, even the beds, but the beds were all made. The kitchen had plenty of dishes and a clothes washer. And, the water was on. But, the trailer had no power.  We had to make a campfire outside, so we could roast hot dogs on sticks over the fire. The boys loved that.
     The next day, we got the power turned on and bought gas for the trailer. The gas cost over $600 to fill up the giant oblong tank in the back of the trailer. The gas delivery company told us that the gas in the tank should last until spring.
     With the power on, we were able to go to the grocery store the next day to buy food. Douglas had only two grocery stores in the whole town. One was called Winn Dixie and the other was Piggly Wiggly. The fact that the whole town closed at 7 PM was so weird to me.
     The next morning I made breakfast, and I fixed lunches for the three guys to take with them to look for work.  As the sun came up, the guys walked out to the road to hitchhike into town to look for work. The first truck that came by picked them up. My boys and I stayed at the trailer, so I could air it out, clean it up, and make it homey.  The guys were gone all day. The sky was almost dark when a truck pulled up at the edge of the trailer court and dropped them off.
     I had made a pot of beans, some fry bread and fried potatoes for supper.  The guys were real tired and sunburned. They had worked on a watermelon field all day, and they each made $25.00. They ate and showered and went to bed.
     The following weeks, we all had work almost every day. My sons went with me and played with all the other workers’ kids. If we didn't have field work, we would go to town and try and rake a rich person's yard. Raking would take us about six hours and $20.00 was our pay for all of us.
     We did migrant kind of work. Most of the time we worked together in the same field but not side by side. We only worked in a cotton field once. Each cotton ball is in a boll, and the tips of the boll were sharp and pointy.  You have to pull the four tips apart to get to the boll open wide enough so you can pull out the cotton. The tips of the boll poke your fingertips until they bleed.  It's not worth $20.00 a day.
     We worked on a chicken farm that housed thousands of chickens. The building had thousands of cages with one chicken in each; however, once in a while you could find two chickens in one cage. The cages were stacked three high on both sides of the walkway. The top row was about eight inches back from the bottom row. The middle rows were about four inches closer to you, and the bottom was even with the sidewalk. My job was to gather the eggs. I pushed a cart along the walkway, grabbing eggs first from the top cages, then the middle cages, and finally from the bottom cages on both sides of the walkway at the same time as I pushed the cart with my stomach. Sometimes I would get cut from a sharp piece of the cage as I grabbed an egg or the chicken would peck me.  At times, the cart was hard to push because of all the chicken poop caught up in the wheels of the cart.
     About every three days, the farmer drove a small tractor, with its plow down, down each row to keep the poop off the sidewalk so the carts could move easier. I was never surprised to see a big rat run in front of my cart in the poop with a big black rat snake chasing it. This mostly happened when the poop was deep over the row. One time, Mike was allowed to drive the tractor. Because he wasn't paying attention and going too fast, he didn't stop early enough and ended up flipping the tractor at the end of a row into the giant pile of poop. Oh, how Mike smelled.
     My sons often helped me wash the dirtiest eggs.  One day, they found a hurt chicken, and they spent most of their time with it, giving it extra food.  My boys always had some kids to play with, too.  I never had any problems getting them to bed. We made $25.00 a day for that job, and they let us take a case of eggs home each week. A case contains twenty-four flats, or 720, eggs. So, we had a lot of eggs to eat. Before taking this job, I didn't know that only the dirtiest eggs get washed and that eggs don't have to be refrigerated, but now I know.
     One week, we all picked pecans off of trees.  For each five gallon bucket we filled, we got $5.00. At the end of the day, we could take a bucket of them home. Another week, we worked on a dairy farm. We milked cows with milking machines, and there were a lot of cows. We started around five A.M. and worked way into the afternoon. The boss' wife would make lunch for all the workers. When it was ready, she rang the triangle that hung on the porch so we all could hear it. Lunch consisted of “you know it” steak, potatoes, gravy, corn on the cob, pecan pie, and cold milk. We got payed $25.00 each. We took a few gallons of milk home each day we worked.
     We harvested watermelons one week. It's hard work because you have to bend to check the watermelon on the ground. If it's ready to be picked, then you twisted it off the vine and laid it on the ground. The next person picked up and threw it to the catcher. The catcher, the person walking next to the moving truck, threw the watermelon to the person standing on the back of the truck. The person on the back of the truck was catching the melons from both sides of the truck. Sometimes that person missed the toss or dropped the melon, so we were able to eat those watermelons in the field. Because the fields were full of insects, eating cracked watermelons meant that you had to fight bees and flies and wear sticky clothes for the rest of the day. But, we could take a few home each day.
     Another job was picking yellow squash. They had hair-like stickers all over them and on the vine that you had to pick them from.  It was best to wear gloves and a white long-sleeve shirt with a long tail that covered your butt because you were bending all day long and the sunburn really hurts your lower back for days.
     The last job that I can think of was working in a tobacco field. That was a sticky job, too.  The big leaves were sticky, and the big green tobacco worms would stick to you also.  You had to ride on this machine that is very low to the ground with seats on both sides. As the machine moved slowly between rows, you had to pull off the bottom leaves on each plant and put them on the conveyor belt in front of you. The boss had us rotate places at the end of each row.  They let us take one leaf home every night. That one leaf made three or four packs of smokes after drying it out.
     Some weeks two of the guys milked cows, one gathered eggs, and the boys and I walked down the sides of the road and picked wild blackberries.  The boys washed the berries and ate as much as they could when I wasn't looking. I would know when they did because their fingers and lips would turn blackish.  I made blackberry dumplings for dessert that night and put some of them in a bowl and sprinkle sugar on them so they would be ready for snack the next day.  A few times, we each worked different jobs. That had its advantages because at the end of the day each of us brought some of what we picked or did home. We had plenty milk, eggs, vegetables, pecans, watermelon and steaks for weeks. Never had to worry about bringing lunches because the people we worked for always brought lunches for everyone, even the kids. We never had to drive to work because the boss picked us up and dropped us back off.
     Each day, twenty to fifty people worked the fields. They paid us daily. The sad thing was that if you were White, you made $25.00 a day. If you were Mexican or Black, you got paid $20.00 a day.
    When we had days off we would just rest, have a BBQ, go fishing, go to the movies or go swimming. Gilberto and Israel loved to go swimming.  The town did not have a public pool so we had to walk or hitchhike to a swimming hole. Most of the time while we were swimming a herd of cows would come through, and we would just move out of their way.  By the time we headed home, we had dried on mud in our hair and mud pies (cow poop) between our toes, but we all had fun.  We had to spray ourselves off with the hose before we could go inside to take a shower.  Whatever clothes we wore swimming, we used them every time because Georgia doesn't have dirt. Georgia has red clay, and this clay doesn't come out.
     I believe life in Georgia was OK. The people were nice. They treated us as part of their families.  Gilberto and Israel had lots of friends to play with and made money when they wanted to work.  The work days were very long, pay wasn't good, but when all four of us worked we earned a hundred dollars a day, plus we had a lot of good food that didn't cost us anything.  Roger and Mike were right about jobs, but I don't know about living well because we worked a lot. Gilberto and Israel loved it there because they made money, played a lot, went swimming and fishing, had a lot of friends, and did boy stuff. I believe I would go back there to live now since I have monthly income to enjoy the peacefulness and friendliness.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Founding Leaders: Birth Places

Revolutionary War map from
Revolutionary War map from

This week we talked about how everyone in the early years of the New World was either:

a. a native (that is, an Indian), 
b. an immigrant from another country, or 
c. a captive forced to live here.

As such, this conversation led to our speculation about the birth places of eight of our founding leaders: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Aaron Burr, and Alexander Hamilton.

We took a poll: Where were these eight men born?
a. all eight were born in the U.S.
b. four or more were born in U.S.
c. three or less were born in the U.S.
d. none of the eight were born in the U.S.

In two weeks, we'll reveal our results.
Meanwhile, where do you stand on this question?

Connecting with Our Founding Leaders

The debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is alive at our center. This ongoing discussion recently led to our Wednesday morning group posing questions like:

"Who started our government?" 
"How did they start our government?" 
"What are political parties all about?"

Documents that define the underpinnings of our US government
Three historical documents that frame today's US government

We are focusing the first part of our exploration on eight founding leadersGeorge Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Aaron Burr, and Alexander Hamilton (taken from Richard Morris' book Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny: The Founding Fathers as Revolutionaries and Joseph Ellis' book Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation).

Step 1. Last week, we brainstormed what we wanted to know about these men. Our questions, typed into google docs, included: 

Birth-Death dates, Birth place, Occupations, Family relationships, Wealth, Hobbies, What famous for? Invent anything? Voted offices held, Slaves - Owner? For or against slavery? Role in Declaration of Independence, Role in Revolutionary War, Role in Articles of Confederation, Role in Constitution, Which ones were friends? Which ones were enemies?

Step 2. Yesterday, in small, self-assigned groups, they sought answers. Learners used books and websites. They examined the authority behind the texts (sites) to ensure that they were using only reliable sources. Then they read, discussed their answers to the questions, and typed them into our shared google document. 

Did everyone have the skills to read the texts? No. In fact, about 1/4 of the learners struggled reading words like "the." They were partnered however with learners who could read the words. Another member of each group had some computer skills. A (volunteer) tutor also teamed up with the groups to help with harder words and digging information out of the text. The groups had to work together to complete the task.

Where they engaged? Absolutely. The buzz in the room was extremely focused. Members in some groups even shared what they learned with other groups when they found that their leaders connected in some way. What was supposed to last about 30 minutes turned into a 2-hour segment.

Step 3. In two weeks, we'll check in to see what information was found and what is needed. Then, we'll decide together how to share this information with each other to have some interesting conversations. Will our findings bring us back to Hillary and Donald? Check back with us in a few weeks to see what happened next.



Why are we, an adult literacy organization, reading books and websites about founding leaders, especially when some learners struggle with "the"? 

Simple answer - the group asked to read and learn about these individuals. They wanted to know something. Individually, this group has never used printed texts to answer questions. They lack experience posing and researching questions. These group activities allow these adults to learn much more than just decoding and interpreting words. 

Our charge is to ensure that all learners are college-career ready when they leave us to move on to the next phase of their lives! This means our learners need to build their abilities to the point where they can read complex informational texts, analyze and synthesize evidence in texts, and build and express their knowledge by writing expository texts

This charge requires that we engage all of our learners - including those with the least amount of literacy skills. We've found that their engagement in these activities actually helps to increase their word knowledge at a faster rate than just sticking to low-literacy texts.

Monday, August 29, 2016

SLC Adult New Readers Book Group Dilemma

You're on the book selection committee. 
You have to make a choice. 
Which book would you choose? 

Sarah, Plain & Tall 
by Patricia MacLachlan

26 Fairmount Avenue 
by Tomie dePaolo

Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery 
by Deborah & James Howe


Only one of these books won. Which one?
Which book would you choose?

That was our dilemma. Which book? 
How would we choose?

Since speed dating worked so well for us in the past, we decided to do it again. This time under Salt Lake City librarian Stephanie Goodliffe's direction.

Seven learners speed-dated the three books pictured above. The readers' goal was to select the first book to be read by the New Readers Book Group. (See details at the bottom of this blog.)

First, the readers came up with their criteria for a "good book." They developed a list of 5 must-haves: a plot that captured their interest, a hook that kept them turning the pages, a story-line that inspired them, a set of problems that they could relate to, and a group of characters who were life-like. Their rating scale was:
One reader rates a book.

A. plot - (1) don't like it; (3) ok; (5) love it
B. hook - (1) nothing grabbed me; (3) ok; (5) can't put the book down
C. inspires - (1) no; (3) ok; (5) feels good
D. problems - (1) can't relate; (3) ok; (5) can relate
E. characters - (1) don't like them; (3) ok; (5) like them

Either in pairs or individually, readers spent 7 minutes with each book. This time was focused on reading the dust jacket, the table of contents, and the first page of the book. At the end of 7 minutes, the readers recorded their scores.

Which score look like the winner to you?
Stephanie tallies the data.
After everyone dated each book, Stephanie and David compiled the scores on the board. Rather than tally all five categories, the group narrowed their examination to only the plot and hook. Their results were:

                      Plot*     Hook*
Sarah             4.0          4.0
Bunnicula       3.8          3.2
(*scores were averages)

Based on these two criteria, Sarah, Plain & Tall was the winner. The numbers were as plain as day, but the group wasn't quite satisfied with the results.

An alternative was offered by one group member - count how many 5's were listed for each book in the plot category only.

When they looked specifically at this set of numbers (Sarah three 5's & Bunnicula four 5's), Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery was declared the winner.

Read Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery
Beginning Monday, September 19, 2016

This group, co-sponsored by The City Library, Friends of The City Library, and Literacy Action Center, will meet 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month (beginning Monday, September 19th, 2016) from 4:30-6:00 PM in Conference Room D at the Main branch (210 East 400 South, SLC). 

Call Stephanie at 801-322-8131 or Deb at 801-265-9081 to enroll in this group. 

New Readers Book Group is Free 

and Open to the Public!