Thursday, April 28, 2022

Memories: Do you remember when we...


Sidewalk Chalk Art 
(part of a unit on Art Appreciation, where art, literacy,
& critical thinking engaged us both mentally and physically)

I’ve been with LAC for a little over four years now, and I’ve had a lot of fun.

I’ve got tons of memories of great and not-so-great times. Like when we went to the park so we could draw on the sidewalk for class. Or, when I had to wait for what felt like an extra hour for the bus because I missed the previous one.


Read more about this unit in our blog post "Art Appreciation - integrating literacy & critical thinking."

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Things I've Learned

Elk sitting in snowfield thinking "Things I've Learned."

Two things I've learned from being at LAC:

  • reading in silence and 
  • talking about what I've read.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Different Ways to Learn

17 Ways to Learn presented in crossword puzzle format
Puzzle created with

One thing I learned about is different ways to learn while I'm attending LAC. I learned how Google can help me learn. I learned how to spell and find meanings or definitions of words.

The one thing I won't miss about Zoom is people talking over other people.


"Some Ways to Learn" included in the puzzle above are: audio, illustrate, journal, experience, listen, discuss, video, interview, watch, read, share, people, teach, observe, online, write, & draw.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Gardening Metaphor: Seeing/Being The Garden


Photo of daffodil in garden
Daffodil growing in a garden
(posted as La Fleur Du Jour for 11 April 2022 on Robert A Young's Facebook page)

My seminal memory is the day, sometime after a few months at LAC in November 2014, when I was able to see that, as a tutor, I needed to learn as well as teach.

Since that revelation, I began to be a part of the garden as well as being one of the gardeners.  I recognized that in order for each of us to reach our optimal growth, tutors must be both flower and gardener. Tending to each by fully understanding the needs of each individual, in the manner most appropriate, and by increasing my  knowledge of each flower and and the health of the entire garden. 

At that moment, I knew that each of us is both the garden and the gardener.


Thursday, April 14, 2022

Things Clicked

2 jam-packed shelves of books
Compare: 400 digital books to these books pilled on these shelves.

Recently, I have been working with a doctor regarding ADHD. On a Sunday a few weeks ago, I had a realization that things were working.  

I remembered the skills found in the Reader's Table. These skills apply to more than just books. I have over 400 digital books I want to read. The Reader's Table helped me relearn how to analyze books and other media.


Note: Readers' Table  was a 3-day opportunity we offered in August 2021 to improve reading skills. Our focus was on three specific, highly-rated reading strategies: Make-a-Note, Summarizing, and Questioning. Each session began with a Reader's Sprint. Next, a strategy was introduced and practiced in a group, with a partner, and then individually. Each session finished with a celebration.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Many Memories: Here's One

Happiness written on building blocks

 I have a lot of memories from LAC, but I was only allowed to mention one. 

I was testing one time at LAC, and I went up in my reading test from 6th grade to 9th grade. I was so happy that I went outside and called some friends that I moved up in my reading test. My emotions were all over the place, but that was the best memory.

To this day, I have a lot of confidence in myself. And I know that if I study, I can keep moving forward up the reading ladder.


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Video Stars in the Making


Just a few of our stars.

Ready to be a YouTube star? We didn't think we were quite ready, but hey why not!


The mechanics of everyday things is what got us started. We wanted to know how some things worked and share it with you. 

"How do we share it?" we asked. Until this moment, we didn't think about Tic-Toc, Instagram, or Facebook. No, we decided learning larger skills that would translate into other platforms would be better. That's why we decided on creating videos, or more specifically learning how to use YouTube.


Our Tuesday morning group explored topics, such as what makes popcorn pop, how a microwave works, what bluetooth is all about, and how to create a video. 

After examining these presentations, we identified the parts necessary to include in our videos.  We then worked on developing our understanding of producing quality videos, including creating storyboards, writing scripts, and exploring camera setups.

Final Products

Want to know how we did? Watch these five videos. 

Danny explains the intricacies of tongs. See How tongs works (3:25). 

Kathy explains how to use a nut grinder. See A Little Nutty Today (1:49).

Ray explains how a ballpoint pen works. See How a ballpoint pen works (1:41).

Ellen explains how an egg slicer works. See How an egg slicer works (0:40).

We may not be video stars in anyone's eyes yet. We know we each have a long way to go. However, we all have to start somewhere. And, for 3 of the 4 videographers above, these films are their first attempts at reaching stardom.

Please "Like" each of them. And, add comments about them to this blog post. Thank you.


Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Tuesday Mystery Motivation Puzzle


detailed image of mystery item #1
Image from:
This image represents our first "thing" to study? 
What do you think this is?

Our new set up starts this week. What does this mean?

New Schedule

On Tuesday mornings, our new content will be the following:

  8:30 AM - How Things Work 

10:05 AM - Story Problems Using Realia

11:15 AM - Reader's Sprint & Share


How did we come up with this content and schedule?

Brainstorming. Discussion. Decision-making. The coming together of our instructional units is a group effort. I know you hear horrible things about committees and meetings. However, in our case, group planning is extremely productive. Group planning allows all of us to engage in the process and be partners, even if the initial idea belonged to someone else. We also discuss which College & Career Readiness (CCR) Standards we'll focus on in each instructional unit. And, more importantly, what our final product will be.

As you can see from the time schedule above, we have set up three instructional units for Tuesday mornings for November & December 2021.

Why in this order? 

The question posed was "What will get you up excited to come to class in the morning?" This group agreed whole-heartedly that "How Things Work" would do it. 


Execution is on me. I have to take the content and figure out how to best deliver it for maximum benefit. We talk about the CCR Standards during our planning, but I'm responsible for ensuring that these skills and abilities are effectively integrated into instruction.

     How Things Work. This unit is about understanding the mechanics or workings of every day items or things in our lives. We'll look at the operations or science behind six every day "things." Our focus will be on growing vocabulary, taking notes, explaining processes, developing presentation skills, and giving supporting evidence. Each lesson will be delivered via a set of Google slides. These lessons will include both video and written information. Each lesson will end with a short quiz. 

Instructional Focus. What "things" will we focus on, you ask? That's still up for debate. I chose the first item. See the photo at the top. We brainstormed several ideas, then I added to them. In the end, I created a survey for the group to score in class this week. The items with the highest numbers will the ones we include.

End Product. Learners will identify how the lessons are being presented. One lesson will be specific about how to make a video. During the course of the two months, learners will each identify one item to explore on their own. We'll end the unit with each learner sharing a self-made video explaining how his/her item works.   

     Story Problems Using Realia. Realia - objects & materials from everyday life used as teaching aids - was our first vocabulary word in this unit. They asked for "real" story problems linked to "real" situations in their adult lives. Again, we brainstormed possible realia we could use. I put together a survey for them to score at our next lesson. Meanwhile, our first lesson will focus on reading a map and figuring out distances. This realia will be an extension of our previous unit on map reading skills and trip planning. 

Instructional Focus. We agreed to focus on identify language that helps you decide which math operations to use, how to turn story problems into equations, how to solve the equations, and how to know if your answer is credible.

End Product. This unit will have a daily win - learn about real math-related items from our daily lives, but no final product for display at the end of this unit. 

     Reader's Sprint & Share. This unit is instructional in a different way. The sprint part is about reading silently for a given period of time in a book of one's choice. 

Instructional Focus. The share part of this sprint focuses on practicing summarizing. Learners write in their notebooks about what they learned during silently reading, then type the summaries into chat to share with us all. 

We read aloud our summaries and briefly discuss them. Feedback depends entirely on the content of the summaries. Feedback may be specific about the structure of the summary. Feedback may be a conversation about the details of the summary. Or, feedback may even be questions or further requests for examples supporting the summary's content.  

The point here is to use writing to summarize. Then, use oral language to further explore and communicate ideas.    

End Product. This unit will have a daily win - develop summarization skills, but no final product for display at the end of this unit. 


What would you do to pull together instruction with an impact on life? Leave comments below.

skrow ti woh - nrocpop si meti yretsym eht

Monday, September 27, 2021

Journaling: 4 Journal Categories


Examples of 4 different journaling types:
processing, tracking, planning, and sharing. 

 As you may recall, our Tuesday morning group started September with a two-month unit on journaling

Prep work (for Lesson 2)

My homework between Lesson 1 and Lesson 2 became clear during Lesson 1. Learners needed their horizons widened. 

A brief Google search quickly identified several bloggers willing to introduce me to different types of journals. Notice how many journaling types I discovered just from these four blog entries: 

Are there really this many types of journals? If so, how was I ever going to introduce them to learners without boring them to death?

My Discoveries

For the next step in my exploration, I recorded the name of every type of journal presented in these blogs plus several more blogs. 

Discovery 1. With time, I realized that many of the blogs were just repeating each other. The list narrowed itself to 25 types. How was I going to engage everyone in all 25 types? In only 20 minutes?  

Discovery 2. Perhaps more importantly, I discovered that these 25 "journal types" organized themselves into four distinct categories. Thank goodness. Four is much more manageable than 25.

4 Categories

I've since named the categories as processing, tracking, planning, and experiencing. Keep reading and find out what I put in each category. See if you agree. Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below.   

Stream-of-consciousness journal entry

is about committing thoughts to paper, followed by thought-provoking explorations. These thoughts toy with and explore ideas. Here are some of the specific names given to this type of journal writing.

    • Brain dump journal 
    • Stream-of-consciousness journal
    • Morning Pages journal
    • Prompted writing journal
    • Gratitude journal 
    • Prayer/bible journal 
    • Idea journal 
    • Therapy journal 
    • 1-line-a-day journal
    • 5-minute journal


Rolling checklist of re-occurring tasks

Tracking is about making lists of repetitive actions that are key to forward movement on our goals, then checking the actions off each time we perform them. Here are some of the specific names given to this type of journal writing.

    • Goal action steps tracker
    • Bucket list tracker
    • Diet tracker
    • Exercise or fitness tracker
    • Mood or energy level tracker
    • Water tracker


Daily To Do List

Planning is about productivity. Productivity planners are about scheduling actions and time, organizing lists of tasks by due dates. Thus, this type of journal always pairs itself with a calendar. Here are some of the specific names given to this type of journal writing.

    • Bullet journal 
    • Planner 
    • Daily schedule 
    • To Do lists
    • Project planner


Experience journal entry

Experiencing is about combining pictures, images, or even video with explanatory texts. That's just a sentence or two or a few key words to highlight the context and importance of this "experience." These journal entries may integrate sketches with handwritten text in a notebook, photos with typed text in a word processing file, or even postings on social media (e.g., Facebook, blog, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok). These journal entries tell a specific story. Here are some of the specific names given to this type of journal writing. 

    • Dream journal
    • Creative design doodling journal 
    • Art journal
    • Memory journal 
    • Scrapbook  journal
    • Meal planner journal
    • Food journal 
    • Flower-of-the-Day journal 
    • Learning journal 
    • Travel journal 
    • Gardening journal 
    • Nature journal 
    • Junk journal 
    • Pregnancy journal 
    • Poetry journal

Lesson 2

I shared images and explanations for each of the four journal types described above. My purpose? 

  • First, increase learners' knowledge of what journal writing encompasses. 
  • Second, engage learners in identifying which three of the four journal types they'd want to try for themselves. 
  • And lastly, help learners work out the details of this unit's final outcome product.

Their decisions? The three journal types we'll be exploring over the next six weeks will be experiencing, tracking, and processing. We'll also create a rating sheet for identifying the pros and cons of each type and proclaiming our individual choices.   

Want to see how this works out? Follow us.

Guest blogger - D. Young. This article first published in Adult Literacy: Issues, Instruction, & Impact.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Journaling: What do we know?

What's the cover of your journal look like?
This unique collage cover inspires.

Have you ever kept a journal? 

If so, what kind? I don't mean - bullet journal, Midori, Hobonichi, or spiral notebook. I mean, regardless of the paper stock and binding preferences, what was your purpose for journaling? What did you record? Pretty art work? To do lists? Deepest thoughts?

Our new unit

Why am I asking? Because our Tuesday morning group decided this month to narrow their topic choice from practical spelling, herbs & spices, and sugar in our bodies to journal writing. That's right - for the next two months they'll be devoted to journal writing.

Where to start

So, what knowledge and skills should they take away from this instruction? What essential questions will get learners most engaged? What do they need to know about journal writing that will sustain them into the future?  All important questions.

Our first questions however were: "What do we already know?" and "What do we want to learn?" We quickly determined that our knowledge was tied pretty much to diaries. In fact, learners who are reading Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl were quite certain that that's what journals were all about. However, when questioned, learners were not interested in listing what they did all day. Unlike Anne Frank's life, they assured me their lives were too dull to write about. 

What would you do?

What would you include in this unit if you were teaching it? What would you want to learn from this unit?

My next step appeared very clear at this point. I had to introduce them to journals that weren't merely about describing their day-to-day activities. 

Want to see how this works out? Follow us.   

Guest blogger - D. Young. This article first published in Adult Literacy: Issues, Instruction, & Impact.