Friday, May 11, 2018

Art appreciation: Integrating literacy & critical thinking

See what listening to Billy Joel generated by 4 of our participants.
Doodle Art created to one of Billy Joel's tunes.

Wednesday morning group just switched to Art Appreciation

Why? Learners want to share their artwork and what they know about art. This topic is a subject dear to many of our learners' hearts - ART.

Our goal? Increase reading comprehension strategies and critical thinking skills while simultaneously sharing learners' artwork and learning about artists - past & present.  

We are exploring vocabulary and art techniques. Building critical thinking skills. Improving investigation skills. Growing observational skills. Interpreting visual and written texts. Forcing summarization skills. Developing and delivering presentations. Sharing ideas, supported with evidence.

Seem odd for an adult literacy organization? 
Not this one! We use topics learners care about the most. 

Bottom line: 
We are teaching reading, writing, and math skills, 
just like everyone else, but with a twist.

Here's how today's lesson went:

Warm-up: RJ shared his doodle art technique. For our warm-up, we followed RJ's technique, and we all doodled while listening to "Goodnight, My Angel" lullaby by Billy Joel. Once the music ended, we colored. When we shared our masterpieces, we each told something about the significance and meaning behind our doodles. We clapped for each artist. In the picture above, you get a glimpse of four of our twelve resulting masterpieces. Pretty cool!

Content: We focused on "Guernica" by Pablo Picasso. We wanted to know about the artist, his style, and the painting itself. We split into four groups with one mentor per group. Each group took on one of these questions:

(A) Who was Picasso? How did his life influence his work?

(B) What was the history behind the "Guernica" mural? What influenced its creation?

(C) What do you see in "Guernica?" Share the elements.

(D) What was Picasso's style? How did this style show up in "Guernica?"

Groups had print and electronic materials available. An introduction to "Guernica" and Picasso were listed on our learner website, but groups were not required to visit or limited to the info on our site. One group found info about Picasso on Khan Academy, another found info about Picasso's art periods, and one group started with a paper-version of the encyclopedia. 

The expressions on their faces tell it all!
Engagement is key.
Their facial expressions illustrate engagement.

Presentations: Each group read and interpreted different information in search of the information needed to present the one piece to the entire group. Each group had a different piece of the bigger picture. Was there some overlap? Of course. Was the overlap evident in the final presentations? A little - which reminded us that everything links together. 

Groups put up images or showed websites as part of their presentations. For example, Group D took us to Picasso's art periods website. This site not only talked about each period but also showed representative works to illustrate their points. Group D used this site to their advantage. 

These four presentations allowed all of us to ask questions of the groups and each other. We had an interesting discussion because of the info shared and our personal interpretations of this info. 

Evaluation: Everyone spoke highly about seeing a colleague's artwork, and then using the artwork to produce an art piece before reading about an artist. All agreed that doodle art was restful.

At the end, we took a moment to reflect on what was liked and what we should change for future lessons. The groups reported that they didn't like having to choose only one question area. Yet, they liked having a narrow question that they owned. They liked becoming the experts who then taught the rest of us about their piece. They liked the focus on one piece of art and artist. While they still don't know a lot about this person or his artwork from this short investigation, they certainly got familiar with one of his works of art.  


Note: CCRS provided underlying structure for the resulting lesson. Job options are highlighted as appropriate, especially since several of our learners are aiming for art-related careers through SLCC-SAT.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Sneeze Season

“What makes me sneeze” was the simple writing prompt on Thursday 4/5/18. “Show us what leads up to the sneeze but don’t tell us what caused the sneeze.”

Here are four results. Read them, then you decide what the sneezes are able about.

Cucumber Salad
By Selena

I cut a cucumber in pieces, and I put them in a bowl. I cut a lemon, then squeezed the lemon halves into the bowl with the cucumber. I put in salt, and then put in a hot tasting spice made from ground dried red chilies. Then, I started sneezing a lot.

The Back Hall
By Deb

“Jill, where are you?”

“I’m in here, Mom.”

“Where’s ‘in here?’” Mom shouted again.

I knew she needed to follow my voice to find me. “Back here, Mom. Where you told me to go.”

“Oh, there you are,” she said as she walked through the doorway of the back hall of the apartment building.

“Oh, I see you’re getting all the dirt,” she said as she looked closely at the mopboard behind the door. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. But I’m not liking… (achoo) this too much. (Achoo!) Look at the stuff flying through the air. Doesn’t anyone use this hallway anymore? (Achoo!)”

What Am I?
By Kathy

Winter ends.
Aspens force buds from branches
Bulbs push leaves and color through cool, sleepy soils

e ' voila'!

A crocus
A daffodil
A tulip appear,
Winter's moods to appease

As I dash from beneath my covers, morning begins with a sneeze

That which beckons my heart to see, causes me to seize

The Great Outdoors
By Danny

I was running in a field, and tripped a couple of times because I couldn't see. My eyes had watered up.

“Aaaaachuuuuu.” I was told not to go outside today, but I went anyway. The sun was shining and the flowers were in bloom, but I just couldn't stop sneezing.

All in all, I had fun.

What are we sneezing about? 

Leave your comments below.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Vietnam: Getting Out with our Lives

What do you know about 
the ending of the Vietnam conflict? 

For example, which president 

brought our troops home? 

President Ford

President Nixon



Meet Col. Hess, a former POW. Hear his story. 

I'm Ray Wright. I'm a history buff. 

Learn more on 2/8/18 at 2PM at Literacy Action Center.

(3595 S Main Street, SSL - in the basement of SL County Housing Authority)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Beguiling Charm

October 31 found our Tuesday afternoon group writing a story. Want to read the results? Read below.


Beguiling Charm

One spooky afternoon, Black Thunder landed her massive spaceship in the middle of a dozen tombstones. All she heard was dead silence, but what she saw as she raised the hatch brought her up short and terrified her to the bone.

A figure loomed, or was it just a shadow, between two extravagantly chiseled granite mausoleums encircled like a macabre portal by bouquets of black, thorned, funeral roses and a murder of crows.

“Holy Zeus,” she exclaimed breathlessly. Anxiously, she murmured, “What are you?”

“A friend,” it said, “and what are you?”

"A friend, huh!” she said with extreme relief.


We'd love to hear your reaction. 

Leave us a note.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Will you join us?

Join us for 

We host a benefit only once each year. This year it is on Thursday, Sept. 7 2017, at Trolley Square from 6-9 PM. 

Author Camron Wright, author of The Orphan Keeper or The Rent Collector, has graciously agreed to come and tell us the story behind his books. And, I can tell you from talking with Camron that those stories are as good as the stories in his books. 

Perhaps, you (and your friends) have read one or both of his books. If not, then this evening may give you reasons to read them.

You can help us in several ways with this event.

1) Come. If you are available on September 7, join us. Learn more the two intriguing worlds described in these books. Your ticket contribution and your silent auction bids will help another adult in our community raise his/her reading, writing, & math skills. 

2) Share. Whether you can come or not, share information about our event with your friends. Get them to come with you (or without you) to this event. This benefit is a great time for a book group to hear Camron.

3) Invite. Buy a ticket for someone else to attend our event. Let them learn more about the books and about the work we do in our community. 

For $60, you get to hear Camron and meet Taj (from The Orphan Keeper), participate in a silent auction, plus be part of helping another adult in our community raise his/her reading, writing, & math skills. 

​What a win-win opportunity!

You will join us, won't you?

Deb Young
Literacy Action Center


Get tickets by one of these methods:

1) mailing your check to Literacy Action Center, 3595 S Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84115 with a postmark by 9/5/17 for $60/person. 

2) ordering tickets through Eventbrite ($60 + handling through 9/5/17 or $75 after 9/5/17) at 

3) calling 801/265-9081 to reserve your tickets at the door (pay $60 each) when you get there on Thursday, 9/7/17. 

Note: Tickets at the door without reservations (and starting 9/6/17 on Eventbrite) will be $75/person. No refunds. All contributions (tickets & auctions) will be used to teach English-speaking adults reading, writing, and math. ===========

With your support, functionally-illiterate, English-speaking adults are becoming skilled, passionate, habitual, critical readers, writers, and mathematicians, who are career-minded and tech savvy! We are the only nonprofit organization that focuses on these adults living in Salt Lake County & Davis County in Utah.

Friday, August 25, 2017

An Evening of Intrigue with...

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

Have you lived in a dump? A real dump. A place where your existence depends on you picking through other people's debris to curb your hunger pains, put a roof over your head, and get your son well?

What would you do to get your family out of the Stung Meanchey dump?

Sang Ly knows.

Find out more as Camron tells us about the intrigue wrapped around this story at the Benefit for Literacy Action Center.

An Evening of Intrigue with...

The Orphan Keeper by Camron Wright

Ever been kidnapped or separated from your family -- by lies, by years, by oceans?

You have vague memories. You're told your family doesn't want you.

Who helps you find them?

And, what if the man who sold you to the orphanage may be your future father-in-law? 

Taj knows.

Find out more as Camron tells us about the intrigue wrapped around this story at the Benefit for Literacy Action Center.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

An Evening of Intrigue

A Benefit for Literacy Action Center

proudly presents

An Evening of 

Intrigue with...

Camron Wright

Date:  Thursday, September 7, 2017
Time:  6:00 - 9:00 PM
Place: Trolley Square (South Entrance Rm D-116)

Park in 600 South parking lot. Use south entrance. D-116 is next to the clothing store called Sparks, on east side of building.

Evening Features

Silent & Live Auctions

Author Camron Wright

Reading & Discussion

Friends Welcome!

Music: John Hiller, Guitarist
Auction: Donations by Local Contributors
Vintage China & Linens: Blue Bird Vintage Rentals

Chat with Camron. Meet Taj.
Join us for a contribution of 
$60/person postmarked by 9/1/17 or 
buy tickets today through Eventbrite,  
or $75/person at the door. 

Can't come? Help us anyway. 
Send a donation.
Send checks to Literacy Action Center, 3595 S Main Street, Salt Lake City UT 84115

Questions? Call Deb at 801/265-9081

Your support helps another functionally-illiterate English-speaking adult transform into a skilled, passionate, habitual, critical reader, writer, & mathematician, who is career-minded and tech savvy.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Arts Festival & Community Writing Center

Writers sharing their stories at 2016 Utah Arts Festival.

Five of us read to a crowded room last June at the Utah Arts Festival. 

For one of us, this community reading was a first.

The community listening to us were writers from other writing groups from across the city. These writers told us stories and recited poetry. These writers kept us glued to our seats, listening with anticipation.

Our five writers were no exceptions. 
  • Trudy drew us into her relationship with a treasured friend - her cat, Bobcat. 
  • Sarah took us through a series of snapshots of conversations and situations within a small community. 
  • Tyson described the circumstance around Abe Lincoln knifing James Buchanan in self-defense. 
  • Betsy shared her fantasy into Squeekamerica, where a creature wears his moods on his skin. 
  • Deb explained her view of how social media should be integrated into an organization.

This June, more of us will be reading our latest stories 
at the Utah Arts Festival on Friday, June 23 at 6:30 PM. 

You will join us this year, won't you? 

With your ticket to the festival, you can get a front row seat. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Law: Rights & Careers

Our day in court.

Law continues to be an area of fascination for our group.
For years, we have read and discussed 

Landmark Supreme Court cases.

This past fall our focus was on the system itself and our rights given to us by the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. For example, how does the U.S. Constitution set the stage for our behaviors? What are Miranda Rights? (Where'd they come from?)

We explored simple court cases, while looking through the eyes of the police, lawyers, and judges. Our exploration of these questions led us to several unique opportunities. During this unit, we chatted with a judge, attorneys, police officer, probation officer, clerk, and bailiffs. We learned about their work tasks, educational preparation, and potential salaries.

Carol reviewed our day in court.
We visited Judge Thomas' courtroom in South Salt Lake Justice Court. Judge Thomas explained each person's job and function needed to run a court room effectively. 

Judge Thomas also explained what happens to each arrested person. We watched a series of individuals go through these different proceedings: 
  • arraignment, 
  • pretrial conference (pleas of guilty, not guilty, or no content), 
  • trial (finding of guilt or innocence via jury or bench trial), and 
  • sentencing. 

We were all surprised by how closely the judge kept reviewing each individual's rights, trying to ensure that each person was aware of consequences and possibilities afforded them by the U.S. Constitution. 

Tim shows us his gear.
Tim Cottrell, an Adult Probation & Parole Officer, came to our center to explain his job - what happens when people enter APP - and show us his gear. He also told us about related careers and qualifications. 

Bottom line, we learned a lot about our rights as citizens and career opportunities.