Welcome to Write Away!
The writing forum for Project Read learners.

We've redesigned our blog so that adult learners working at Project Read can share what they have written with other learners, tutors, and the public. There are a few simple guidelines to be aware of.
  1. This is a moderated site, so submissions and comments will first be reviewed before being approved and published.
  2. Adult learners submitting their writing have the option of using their first name (only) or using "anonymous" for authorship.
  3. We wish to honor the writing efforts of the adult learner/authors, so no major copy editing will be applied, but we may suggest minor corrections in consultation with the author.
  4. Only active Project Read learners are eligible to submit their writing to the Write Away blog and there are two ways of doing this: send submissions via email to projectread@sfpl.org, or stop by the office with a hard copy of your writing.
  5. The views and opinions expressed on this web site are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not represent those of the San Francisco Public Library and/or the City and County of San Francisco.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Join Your Fellow Tutors at a Tutor Roundtable

Tutor Roundtables are offered monthly and provide our volunteers with an opportunity to share their experiences, ideas, and successes with other tutors and Project Read staff. These informal meetings are a great way to learn new instructional strategies and obtain all kinds of valuable tutoring tips from fellow tutors. Here is a schedule of upcoming Roundtable meetings:
  • Tuesday, January 6 -- 6:00 PM
  • Saturday, February 7 -- 1:00 PM
  • Tuesday, March 3 -- 6:00 PM
  • Saturday, April 4 -- 1:00 PM
  • Tuesday, May 5 -- 6:00 PM
  • Saturday, June 6 -- 1:00 PM
All Roundtable meetings take place in the Project Read conference room on the 2nd floor of the Main Library. Refreshments are provided. Please call the office (415-557-4388) if you plan to attend any of these meetings.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thanks for Celebrating with Us!!

A view of the main floor atrium splendidly decorated for the party.

We'd like to thank everyone who helped us celebrate Project Read's Silver Anniversary on October 27th at the Main Library. We would not be celebrating 25 years of service were it not for the dedicated learners, tutors, library staff, and community partners who have been part of the Project Read family.

A special thank you to the learner-tutor teams who served as program MC's for the evening: William Barrett & Andrew Belschner; Noel Hernandez & June Nakajima; Mario ST. Rose & Marianne Oest; Monica Barrera & Anjolie Chidambaram; Ruby Trejo & Linda Dusanic, and former Project Read learner Carlos Soto.

A highlight of the evening was a special music and interpretive dance performance based on the writing of a former Project Read learner. Cuddles the Cockroach, a four-part story, is one of the selections contained in the Silver Anniversary Collection, a book of learner writing selected from two decades of submissions to the Project Read Update newsletter. If you were unable to attend the anniversary event, please come by the office and pick up a free copy of this fabulous book.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

25th Anniversary Celebration - October 27 !

Join us to Celebrate Project Read's
Silver Anniversary

Monday, October 27
7:00 - 8:30 PM
Main Library
(Entrance on Larkin Street only - the library will be closed to the public)

The celebration will include:
  • Complimentary food and beverages
  • A Tell Your Story Station to capture your memories of Project Read
    (video and audio recording)
  • Project Read tutor & learner teams to MC the proceedings
  • Featured guest speakers
  • Volunteer & community service awards
  • A complimentary book of learner writings, selected from two decades of submissions to the Project Read newsletter, FREE to all who attend.
  • A special musical and theatrical performance based on one of the selections from this book
Please make plans to join us and bring your friends and family.

Call the Project Read office (415-557-4388) to RSVP.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Continuing Education Class for Tutors - October 23

Reading for Meaning

Understanding what we read is really the whole point of reading. Yet, practicing comprehension can sometimes be the most challenging aspect of literacy tutoring. In this workshop we will take a look at research that shows what reading for meaning entails. Then, we will practice all sorts of comprehension-boosting tutoring strategies you can use with your student. And, we'll have a good time in the process!

Presented by Amy Prevedel, literacy professional and former coordinator of Berkeley Reads.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

6:00—7:30 p.m.

Main Library—Latino-Hispanic Meeting Room—Lower Level

Please call (415) 557-4388 if you plan to attend.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Join the Wednesday Night Rearers Book Club

Here is the schedule of books being read and discussed by Project Read's Wednesday Night Readers book club over the next few months. Look over these titles with your adult learner, pick up your FREE books and audio books, and make plans to attend one of these exciting and rewarding discussions. We make unabridged audio books available so that learners at any reading level can participate in the discussion. Learners do not have to finish the entire book to attend the discussion.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney (
discussed at the October 29 meeting, books/audio books available September 26.)
On a quiet fall evening in a small, peaceful town in northern California, Dr. Miles Bennell discovered an insidious, horrifying plot. Silently, subtly, almost imperceptibly, alien life-forms were taking over the bodies and minds of his neighbors, his friends, his family, the woman he loved – the world as he knew it. First published in 1955, this classic thriller of the ultimate alien invasion and triumph of the human spirit over an invisible enemy inspired three major motion pictures. (216 pages)

For One More Day by Mitch Albom (discussed at the December 3 meeting—one week later because of Thanksgiving—books/audio books available October 30) This is the story of a mother and a son, and a relationship that covers a lifetime and beyond. It explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one? As a child, Charley was told by his father, "You can be a mama's boy or a daddy's boy, but you can't be both." So he chooses his father, only to see the man disappear when Charley is on the verge of adolescence. Decades later, Charley is a broken man. His life has been crumbled by alcohol and regret. He loses his job. He leaves his family. He hits bottom after discovering his only daughter has shut him out of her wedding. After deciding to take his own life, he makes a midnight ride to his small hometown only to discover that his mother--who died eight years earlier–-is still living there, and welcomes him home as if nothing ever happened. (197 pages)

The Shape Shifter by Tony Hillerman (discussed at the January 28 meeting, books/audio books available December 4) In Tony Hillerman's The Shape Shifter, a lot is riding on a little mysterious carpet. Not any old welcome mat, but a precious Navajo tale-teller rug, full of portents, interwoven with bits of bark and feathers. Supposed to have been burned in a fire years before, the priceless artifact turns up in the pages of an interiors magazine, shown on the wall of a rich man named Jason Delos. After it's spotted by Joe Leaphorn, a retired Navajo policeman and an old colleague of his, the story travels through an elaborate investigation of theft and murder. (276 pages)

A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (discussed at the February 25 meeting, books/audio books available January 29) Throughout the 1950s and 60s, the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the Civil Rights movement, inspiring generations and transforming the future of the United States. This collection includes the text of Dr. King’s best-known oration, I Have a Dream, his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize, and Beyond Vietnam, a compelling argument for ending the conflict. (223 pages)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Library Literacy Funding Alert

Gentle Reader,

As you may know, there have been some difficulties this year in balancing the California State Budget. The Governor’s current proposal includes a 10% cut across the board. This includes Education Code 4.6 California Library Literacy and English Acquisition Services Program 18880-18884, Line Item in 08/09 Proposed Budget 6120-213-0001 which provides funding to programs such as Project Read.

We recently found out that there is a proposal from some members of the State Senate to help balance the budget by suspending all funding to California Library Literacy Services.

Many library literacy staff members, tutors, learners, and other supporters are contacting the proponents of this proposal by phone, post, and / or e-mail to suggest that dismantling these vital, and cost-effective, services is not in the best interest of the State of California.

You can get detailed ongoing information on this matter by clicking on the following links to the California Library Association website http://www.cla-net.org/weblog and http://capwiz.com/ala/ca/issues/alert/?alertid=11904546&type=CU.

All the best, Brian

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Notes from August Tutor Round Table Meeting

On Saturday, August 2, six volunteer tutors came together to discuss their tutoring experiences at the monthly Round Table Meeting. Here are a few of the topics that were discussed along with the instructional strategies that were suggested.

One tutor mentioned that his learner continues to struggle with word recognition and spelling of relatively simple words.
  • It was suggested that the tutor-learner team might try using the Ultimate Phonics software in the computer lab to further reinforce the basics of sound-symbol relationships and spelling patterns.
  • Another suggestion was to work dictionary skills into the tutoring sessions so that the learner can better understand how to identify syllables and pronunciation.
  • Another good idea involved teaching spelling and vocabulary words from materials that correspond to the interests and goals of the learner. In this way, the learner will be more motivated to learn the words.
A tutor in the meeting mentioned that he could use some fresh approaches to helping his learner improve basic writing skills.
  • One tutor suggested asking the learner to write about TV show they view regularly. This exercise would make writing easier since the subject is something they have a great interest in.
  • Another suggestions was to use the picture response method to generate a writing sample. The tutor might use photos from the newspaper, magazines, or even personal photos that the learner could bring in.
  • It was also suggested that perhaps the learner could get involved with the Wednesday Night Readers Book Club and find some interesting reading material to write about. Learners who participate in the book club also have access to the unabridged audio book so even if they might struggle with the reading level, they can still listen to the story and write about their reactions.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Continuing Education Class for Tutors - August 21

Thursday August 21, 2008
1st Floor Conference Rm.
Strong Room)

Beyond the Language Experience Story

Join Emily Wilson to explore clear and directly applicable interview techniques to help your learner discover the power of his/her own personal story and then translate it into compelling writing.

Emily Wilson is a City College of San Francisco instructor with considerable experience in adult literacy and education. She is also a freelance reporter who recently helped facilitate the KALW Radio oral history project Stories During Wartime: An Intergenerational Conversation (www.kalw.org/Wartime.html).

Call (415) 557-4388 to reserve your space - you’ll be mighty pleased that you did.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sharpen Your Tutoring Skills at Upcoming Round Table Meetings

Here are the dates for upcoming Tutor Round Table meetings at the Main Library. Make plans to join your fellow Project Read tutors for a lively discussion of instructional strategies and common sense advice. We'll provide the pizza and you can provide the helpful collaboration.

  • Tuesday, July 1 -- 6:00 - 7:30 PM
  • Saturday, August 2 -- 1:00 - 2:30 PM
  • Tuesday, September 2 -- 6:00 - 7:30 PM
  • Saturday, October 4 -- 1:00 - 2:30 PM
  • Tuesday, November 18 -- 6:00 - 7:30 PM
All Round Table Meetings are held in the conference room in the Project Read office.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Notes from June 7 Tutor Round Table

At the June 7 Tutor Round Table meeting, eight volunteer tutors covered a wide range of topics relating to the instruction of their adult learners. This well-attended discussion was an example of a Tutor Round Table at its best. Each tutor described a particular challenge they were facing and then they heard from other tutors who offered a number of fresh ideas that could be put to use. The tutors also had a lot to say in praise of their adult learners who are making strong commitments to learning, taking on new goals, and making notable progress. Here are a few tips offered by tutors (and staff) at the June 7 meeting:

On teaching writing skills:
  • Try working on writing assignments associated with real life needs -- thank you notes, wedding vows, work related e-mail, etc.
  • As a motivator, discuss contributing a piece of writing for publication in the Project Read newsletter.
  • If your learner has trouble completing writing assignments at home, make writing a part of your tutoring session and use this material for instruction.
On G.E.D. preparation:
  • Help the adult learner establish a system or structure for studying that works with their particular learning style.
  • Help the adult learner understand that passing the G.E.D. can be a long term goal, but that it's one that is easy to break down into the necessary short term objectives. The Project Read book collection at the Main has a good selection of materials to help the tutor-learner team with this goal.
On word recognition:
  • For as learner who has no interest in memorizing phonics & spelling rules (and there are probably many of those) try using the software available in the computer lab, specifically Spell It Deluxe and Ultimate Phonics. These programs teach spelling and phonics in a fairly non-threatening way with a lot of built in practice and repetition.
  • Use word pattern exercises, or try using the very helpful book called Say the Word: a Guide to Improving Word Recognition Skills available in the Project Read office.
  • Use pleasure reading materials as a basis for word recognition instruction. For learners participating in the Wednesday Night Readers book club, the tutor-learner team can work on problem text throughout the month as part of their regular tutoring sessions.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Join the Book Club with Your Learner

Here is the schedule of books being read and discussed by Project Read's Wednesday Night Readers book club over the next few months. Please discuss these titles with your learner and make plans to pick up your FREE books and audio books and attend one of these exciting discussions. We make unabridged audio books available so that learners at any reading level can participate in the discussion. And look for special Movie Nights when we show film versions of these titles.

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck (discussed at June 25th meeting, books/audio books available May 28)

Of all Steinbeck's novellas, Cannery Row is the simplest story. It presents a slice of the lives of the men and women who populate a strip of sardine canneries after the workers go home. Set on California's Monterey Peninsula in the days long before famed golf courses and resorts, this post-depression tale depicts the life of an uproarious cast of characters: Lee Chong, the philosophical grocery store proprietor; Doc, the owner of the Western Biological Laboratory; Dora, the charitable Madame of the Bear Flag Restaurant, Mack, Hazel and Eddie and Hughie and Jones, the well-meaning residents of the Palace Flophouse, and, most important, Cannery Row herself, in all her ugliness and beauty, peace and violence. (192 pages)

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (discussed at July 30 meeting, available June 25)

Because of Winn-Dixie, a big, ugly, happy dog, 10-year-old Opal learns 10 things about her long-gone mother from her preacher father. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal makes new friends among the somewhat unusual residents of her new hometown, Naomi, Florida. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal begins to find her place in the world and let go of some of the sadness left by her mother's abandonment seven years earlier. With her newly adopted, goofy pooch at her side, Opal explores her bittersweet world and learns to listen to other people's lives. This warm and winning book hosts an unforgettable cast of characters (192 pages)

The Natural by Bernard Malmud (discussed at August 27 meeting, available July 30)

Bernard Malamud’s first novel, published in 1952, is also the first—and some would say still the best—novel ever written about baseball. It is the story of a superbly gifted “natural” at play in the fields of the old daylight baseball era. This novel was the basis of the film of the same name starring Robert Redford. (237 pages)

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell (discussed at September 24 meeting, available August 27)

What do you get when a woman who's obsessed with death and U.S. history goes on vacation? -- This wacky, weirdly enthralling exploration of the first three presidential assassinations. Vowell, a contributor to NPR's This American Life, takes readers on a pilgrimage of sorts to the sites and monuments that pay homage to Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley, visiting everything from grave sites and simple plaques to places like the National Museum of Health and Medicine, where fragments of Lincoln's skull are on display. An expert tour guide, Vowell brings into sharp focus not only the figures involved in the assassinations, but the social and political circumstances that led to each-and she does so in the witty, sometimes irreverent manner that her fans have come to expect. (272 pages)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney (discussed at October 29 meeting, available September 24)

On a quiet fall evening in the small, peaceful town of Mill Valley, California, Dr. Miles Bennell discovered an insidious, horrifying plot. Silently, subtly, almost imperceptibly, alien life-forms were taking over the bodies and minds of his neighbors, his friends, his family, the woman he loved -- the world as he knew it. First published in 1955, this classic thriller of the ultimate alien invasion and the triumph of the human spirit over an invisible enemy inspired three major motion pictures. (224 pages)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

National Volunteer Week Treat

(Non-redeemable sample of the discount coupon letter)

Gentle Reader,

In recognition of National Volunteer Week (April 27 - May 3, 2008), our good friends at Stacey's Booksellers are once again honoring all Project Read volunteers by offering to them a whopping 20% discount on the purchase of any books in stock. This generous offer is valid until June 30, 2008.

On April 21st we mailed letters containing a 20% discount coupon to all active Project Read volunteers. If you are an active Project Read of the San Francisco Public Library volunteer and have not received your letter/discount coupon, then please contact the Project Read office and we'll make things right.

All the best, Brian

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tutor Training Tune-Up Tomorrow

Gentle Tutor,

Please accept this reminder that 6:00p.m. tomorrow night (Tuesday April 22, 2008) is a rare chance for follow-up time with our co-tutor-trainer Holly Fulghum-Nutters. Bring your questions, observations, and inquiring mind. She’ll give you more strategies and food for thought than you can shake a dictionary at!

Give us a call at 557-4388 if you can join us. Biscotti will be served.

All the best, Brian

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Library Legislative Day

Hey Folks,

As you may know, there is a proposed 10% cut to the California State Budget. This includes public libraries and the many services they provide to our community - including literacy services such as Project Read.

Tomorrow, Wednesday April 16, 2008 is Library Legislative Day. Many library staff members and supporters will visit Sacramento to meet with their local representatives and inform them of the importance of libraries
. Many others will contact their representatives by phone, post, and e-mail to suggest that cutting these vital services is not in the best interest of the State of California.

If you are interested in finding out more about this event, and perhaps even participating, then please click on this link to the California Library Association.

If you would like to find contact information for your local representatives, then please click on this link to the Easy Voter Guide.

All the best, Brian

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Randy, Double Daddy-O

(Click on the images below to view larger versions)

They’ve arrived!

Randy Weaver and his wife Bridget are the happy parents of healthy twin baby girls born on March 25, 2008.

Nora Kathleen: born 1:07 pm, 5 lbs 13 oz, 19 inches long.
Lily Anne: born 1:08 pm, 7 lbs 3 oz, 19.5 inches long.

Mother and father are resting comfortably, for now.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Help Us Plan a 25th Anniversary Celebration

2008 Marks the 25th Anniversary of Project Read

We’d like to put together a team of learners and tutors to help us plan an exciting event to be held this fall. If you would like to participate as a member of this planning committee (probably involving no more than one meeting a month to start) please let us know by calling (415) 557-4388. If you have further questions, please ask for Randy.

We are hoping to make this a special celebration which everyone will enjoy, but to do so we will need your help.

To get you in the mood, here’s a link to our January 2004 newsletter which featured pictures from our 20th Anniversary Party (on pages 8 & 9). Just click on the thumbnail below.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Continuing Education Class for Tutors

Thursday, February 21, 2008

6:00 — 7:30 p.m.

Main Library, Latino-Hispanic Meeting Room—Lower Level

Syllabify to Identify

Join literacy professional Lucille Cuttler to explore how knowledge of common syllable types improves spelling and decoding skills. Count on seeing fun strategies that build on material in your initial tutor training. Also discover how to reinforce this learning in the computer lab.

Please call (415) 557-4388 if you plan to attend.