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.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tutor-Learner Teams: Make Plans to Join the Project Read Book Club in 2011

This is the schedule of books being read and discussed by Project Read's Wednesday Night Readers book club over the next few months. Tutor-learner teams are encouraged to pick up these FREE books and audio books and then 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.

A Mercy by Toni Morrison (Discussed at the February 23 meeting, books & audio available January 26)

In the 1680s the slave trade in the Americas is still in its infancy. Jacob Vaark is an Anglo-Dutch trader and adventurer, with a small holding in the North. Despite his distaste for dealing in “flesh,” he takes a small slave girl in part payment for a bad debt. The girl is Florens, who can read and write and might be useful on his farm. Rejected by her mother, Florens looks for love, first from Lina, an older servant woman at her new master's house, and later from the handsome blacksmith, an African, never enslaved, who comes riding into their lives. A Mercy reveals what lies beneath the surface of slavery. (224 pages)

The Crucible, a play by Arthur Miller (Discussed and the March 30 meeting, books and audio available February 23)

Set in Salem, Massachusetts during the witch trials of the late 1600’s, this play is the story of a young farmer, his wife, and a young servant-girl who maliciously causes the wife's arrest for witchcraft. The farmer brings the girl to court to admit the lie and it is here that the monstrous course of bigotry and deceit is terrifyingly depicted. The farmer, instead of saving his wife, finds himself also accused of witchcraft and ultimately condemned with a host of others. (160 pages)

The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett (Discussed at the April 27 meeting, books and audio available March 30)

This is Dashiell Hammett's classic tale of murder in Manhattan, which became the popular movie series starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, and both the movies and the novel continue to captivate new generations of fans. Nick and Nora Charles are Hammett's most enchanting creations, a rich, glamorous couple who solve crimes in between wisecracks and martinis. (208 pages)

The Power of Half: One Family's Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back by Kevin Salwen (Discussed at the May 25 meeting, books and audio available on April 27)
It all started when fourteen-year old Hannah Salwen saw a homeless man in her neighborhood at the same time that a glistening Mercedes Benz pulled up. She said “You know, Dad, if that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal.” Until that day, the Salwens had been caught up in the classic American dream—providing a good life for their children, accumulating more and more stuff, doing their part but not really feeling it. As a family, they made the decision to sell their Atlanta mansion, downsize to a house half its size, and give half of the sale price to a worthy charity. In the end they learned that they had the power to change a little corner of the world—and they found themselves changing, too. (239 pages)

The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg by Mark Twain (Discussed at the June 29 meeting, books and audio available May 25)
This short story by Mark Twain satirizes the pomposity of small town virtues that really aren't what they seem. A stranger sets out to ruin Hadleyburg's reputation as "the most honest and upright town in all the region." His scheme involves a fake bag of gold coins and notes that lure leading townsmen into greed and eventual public ridicule. (70 pages)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tutors: You're Invited to Join Us for a Tutor Roundtable Discussion in 2011

Tutor Roundtable Schedule
January to June, 2011

Project Read's monthly Tutor Roundtable meetings are an opportunity for volunteers to engage in an open and rewarding discussion with other working tutors and Project Read staff.  At these informal meetings, you'll be able to share your success stories and offer encouragement to your fellow tutors.  You will also pick-up some fresh instructional strategies to enhance your tutoring skills.  And of course, we will provide some tasty pizza and drinks to support the conversation. 

Here are some upcoming dates for Tutor Roundtables--they are held in the Conference Room of the Project Read office at the Main Library.

Tuesday, January 4, 6:00-7:30

Saturday, February 5, 1:00 – 2:30

Tuesday, March 8, 6:00 – 7:30

Saturday, April 2, 1:00 – 2:30

Tuesday, May 3, 6:00 – 7:30

Saturday, June 4, 1:00 – 2:30

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Join your fellow tutors, learners, and library staff for Project Read's annual

Holiday Party & Potluck

Thursday, December 9, 2010

6:00 - 8:00 PM
Main Library - Latino-Hispanic Meeting Room, Lower Level

You'll enjoy some great food, music, a free raffle, and special door prizes for everyone.
Friends and family members are always welcome.

Call (415) 557-4388 if you plan to attend,
and please bring a favorite holiday dish to share.

Friday, October 01, 2010

In-Service Class for Tutors -- October 21

Putting Roles & Goals to Work for You and Your Learner
Presented by Holly Fulghum-Nutters & Randy Weaver

This workshop will show you how to use the nifty on-line instructional curricula developed by California Library Literacy Services to support the specific learner goals featured on the Roles & Goals survey. These very helpful instructional plans can make your tutoring sessions even more supportive of your learner’s goals as well as give you a fresh approach to teaching basic reading and writing skills.

Thursday, October 21, 2010
6:00—7:30 p.m.
Main Library—Latino-Hispanic Meeting Room—Lower Level

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

Monday, September 20, 2010

Voting Workshop for Adult Learners

To prepare for the Election on November 2nd,
Project Read Learners are invited to attend a
Voting Workshop
Thursday, October 7, 2010
6:00 — 7:00 p.m.
Project Read Conference Room — 2nd. Floor

• Learn about the details of voting in San Francisco from a representative from the Department of Elections.

• Review voter information in the Easy Voter Guide.

• Complete your voter registration in time for the election.

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

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

International Literacy Day -- September 8

The United Nations has chosen September 8 to celebrate International Literacy Day.  Since 1946, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization has used this occasion to highlight the continued challenge of educating 786 million adults lacking basic literacy skills world-wide. http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/literacy/

You can help in this effort.  As many of you are already doing, you can volunteer to tutor an adult learner and thereby open new doors of opportunity not previously available to that individual.  You can also simply share your experiences with others in your community.  Volunteer tutors and adult learners are the best ambassadors for programs like Project Read.  Letting others know what you do and what you have learned form being involved in the adult literacy effort can help Project Read become even more visible in the community.

Thank you for your continued commitment to a more literate and participatory society.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Author Joins Discussion at Project Read Book Club Meeting

(Project Read Learners and Tutors in conversation with author Peter Zheutelin via speakerphone)

On August 25, members of Project Read's Wednesday Night Readers Book Club were treated to a very special discussion which featured a conference call with Peter Zheutelin, author of the August book selection Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry's Extraordinary Ride.Peter contacted Project Read, after reading on this very blog, that we would be reading and discussing his book in August. On the night of the book discussion, he called from western Massachusetts and spoke with book club members for about 45 minutes. Learners and tutors at the meeting had excellent questions to ask about his book which details the real life adventures of Annie Kopchovsky as she circumnavigated the world on her bicycle in 1895.

(James, Suzanne, Tim, Joanna, and George chat with author Peter Zheutelin via speakerphone)

One of the adult learners who took part in the discussion had this to say about the author's participation: "The author speaking about the way things were at the time gave me a real appreciation for Annie's venture".

Thanks to author Peter Zheutlin, book club facilitators Mary Hilton and John Gildersleeve, and all the tutors and learners who attended, for an unforgettable evening of thought-provoking discussion.

Peter Zheutlin


Tuesday, August 03, 2010

In-Service Class for Tutors - August 31

The Invisible Tutor:
Creating exercises and assignments that your learner
will love to work on when you're away.
This hands-on workshop, presented by Project Read staff, will give you some easy-to-use materials and strategies to encourage your learner to work independently to enhance his or her reading, writing, and study skills.
Tuesday, August 31
6:00 - 7:30 PM
Project Read Conference Room & Computer Lab
Please call (415) 557-4388 if you plan to attend.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tutors are Invited to Upcoming Tutor Roundtable Meetings

Here's a reminder to all Project Read tutors about our upcoming Tutor Roundtable meetings. These monthly roundtables are designed as open discussions about any and all tutoring concerns. Please make plans to join us to pick up some fresh perspectives and new instructional tips from your fellow tutors and staff.

Here is a schedule of upcoming roundtable meetings for the remainder of 2010. All meetings are held in the Project Read conference room at the Main Library.

  • Saturday, August 7, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, September 7, 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 16, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, November 9, 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.

And of course, pizza will be served.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Join the Wednesday Night Readers Book Club!

This is the schedule of books being read and discussed by Project Read's Wednesday Night Readers book club over the next few months. Tutor-learner teams are encouraged to pick up these FREE books and audio books and then 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.

Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londerry’s Extraordinary Ride by Peter Zheutlin (Discussed at August 25 meeting—books & audio available July 28) The lives of women in the 1890s were constrained by social mores, family obligations, and restrictive clothing. Annie Kopchovsky, immigrant, wife, and mother of three, seems to have had no qualms about doing the opposite of what the times dictated. So liberated was Annie that she cooked up a scheme to circle the globe on a bicycle—even though she had barely been on a bike—to earn fame and money. She abandoned her husband and children and made up a traveling identity, calling herself Annie Londonderry. Well researched and written by a great-nephew of Annie's, this true story illuminates family life, journalism, advertising, and recreation of that era. The author, Peter Zheutlin, will be joining the discussion via conference call to answer questions and comment on the process of writing this fascinating true account. (171 pages)

Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas (Discussed at the September 29 meeting—books & audio available August 25) Rennie Stroud looks back to 1942, when she was 13, to tell a powerful coming-of-age story. That year, the U.S. government opened a Japanese internment camp outside Ellis, CO, less than a mile from her family’s farm. Rennie observes the prejudice of some of the townspeople as well as her parents' strong moral code and their emotions of the time. When a young girl is murdered, suspicion naturally turns to the camp, and the town is divided by fear. This strong, provocative novel is a moving examination of prejudice and fear that addresses issues of community discord. The author’s phrasing and language bring the 1940s to life, and she has created characters that will linger with the reader. (299 pages)

47 by Walter Mosley (Discussed at the October 27 meeting--books & audio available September 29) 47 is the first young adult novel to be written by bestselling author Walter Mosley. A master storyteller, Mosley deftly mixes speculative and historical fiction in this daring novel. Set in a plantation, 47 (a young slave boy) is growing up under the watchful eye of a slave master. His life seems doomed, until he meets the mysterious Tall John who not only introduces him to an unimaginable magical science but teaches 47 the meaning of freedom. (232 pages)

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (Discussed at the December 1 meeting—books & audio available October 27) When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave—"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"—wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living. In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come. (206 pages)

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (Discussed at the January 26 meeting—books & audio available December 1) Stephenie Meyer's thrilling debut novel is a love story with a bite. In this suspenseful and sensual tale, 17-year-old Isabella moves to a small town in Washington State and gets more excitement than she bargained for when she falls for an enigmatic classmate -- who happens to be a vampire. Filled with fantastic mystery and romance, it's a heart-stopping novel that captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. (498 pages, but you have 2 months to read--the book club does not meet in December)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Learner & Tutor Recognition - Thursday, June 10

You are cordially invited to a special evening to honor
Project Read's learners and volunteers.

Fine Music
Tasty Food
Volunteer Service Awards
Tutor and Learners as Guest Speakers

Make plans to join your friends at Project Read on

Thursday, June 10, 2010

6:00 - 8:00 PM

Main Library, Latino-Hispanic Meeting Room, Lower Level

Friends & family are always welcome!

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

Friday, April 30, 2010

Continuing Education Class for Tutors -- May 18

Phonics Brush-Up

Presented by Andrea Jesse,
Project Read Tutor & Language Teacher

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
6:00 - 8:00 PM

Main Library - Latino-Hispanic Meeting Room, Lower Level

Tutors, this workshop is a chance to review the basic principles of phonics. Via a jazzy Power-Point presentation and hands-on materials, you will review many of the sound-symbol relationships of the language. Many of the principles presented are adapted from your very own LITSTART manual, but presented in a way that sheds light on some paradoxes of English spelling and sound systems. Handouts of activities that you can use with your learners as well as reference materials will be provided.

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

Friday, March 26, 2010

Continuing Ed. Class for Tutors - April 29

Wrangling for Writing Success

Presented by Amy Prevedel,

Director of the Oakland Public Library Adult Literacy Program

Tutors, bring your questions and concerns about writing instruction and Amy will provide precisely the tips you need to help your learner…

* Move past the fear of misspelling when writing.

* Dispel any initial nervousness and actually get started with writing.

You will also learn how to respond to a learner’s writing in ways that encourage even more writing (while still addressing errors).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

6:007:30 p.m.

Main Library—Latino-Hispanic Meeting Room—Lower Level

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

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Help Make the Learner & Tutor Recognition a Great Success

Learner & Tutor Recognition Event

June 10, 6:00—8:00 PM

Here are two ways that you can help make

this year’s Learner & Tutor Recognition a success.

Tell us how the tutoring experience has changed your life. We invite you to prepare one or two paragraphs that describe your experience as a learner or tutor. Then at the Recognition Event on June 10, you will be able to share your thoughts with fellow Project Read members, library staff, and community supporters.

Help out at the event. We’re looking for a few tutors and learners who can help present and host the event.

If you can lend your support for this event, please call Sarita Charitar

(415-557-4388) at the Project Read office.

Formal invitations will come your way later in the spring.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Learners & Tutors: Join the Wednesday Night Readers 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. Tutor-learner teams are encouraged to pick up these FREE books and audio books and then 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.

On the Waterfront by Budd Schulberg (discussed at the March 31 meeting, books/audio books available February 24.) Building on his Academy Award-winning screenplay of the classic film, Budd Schulberg's On the Waterfront is the story of ex-prizefighter Terry Malloy's valiant stand against corruption on the New Jersey docks. It generates all the power, grittiness, and truth of that great production, but goes beyond it in setting. It is a story of strength and fallibility, of hope and defeat, of love and betrayal. (113 pages)

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith (discussed at the April 28 meeting, books/audio books available March 31 Precious Ramotswe, proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in Botswana, and now married to Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, owner of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, is filled with worry over personal problems. At the same time, her assistant is preoccupied with finding a husband, and it appears that Charlie, the apprentice at the auto shop, has run off with an older woman. Large cups of bush tea remain the main source of relief for thirst and for solving mysteries. This is the sixth novel of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series--the Wednesday Night Readers have read and discussed the previous five. (233 pages)

Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin (discussed at the May 26 meeting, books/audio books available April 28) At age 10, Steve Martin got a job selling guidebooks at the newly opened Disneyland. In the decade that followed, he worked in Disney's magic shop, print shop, and theater, and developed his own magic/comedy act. By age 20, studying poetry and philosophy on the side, he was performing a dozen times a week. He writes about mentors, girlfriends, his complex relationship with his parents and sister, and about some of his great peers in comedy. He also writes about how he figured out what worked on stage.

Child of Dandelions by Shenaaz Nanji (discussed at the June 30 meeting, books/audio books available May 26) Fifteen-year-old Sabine lives a life of luxury with her wealthy Indian family in Kampala, Uganda. Then Idi Amin comes to power and things change quickly. All British Indians are expelled from the country. Sabine's father thinks they will be safe because they are Ugandan citizens, but they soon discover that they are in serious danger. Sabine struggles to deal with a world falling apart. Prejudices are clearly delineated, and the thin veneer of civilization crumbles as the chilling background beat of the radio relentlessly counts down the days left before all British Indians must leave the country. This book was selected by the American Library Association as the Best Book of the Year for Young Adults. (214 pages)

High Lonesome by Louis L'Amour (discussed at the July 28 meeting, books/audio books available June 30) Considine and Pete Runyan had once been friends, back in the days when both were cowhands. But when Runyan married the woman Considine loved, the two men parted ways. Runyan took on the sheriff’s job and Considine took up robbing banks. Now Considine is planning a raid on a bank that will pit him against Sheriff Considine and lead to either riches or ruin. (152 pages)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Notes from February 6th Tutor Roundtable

At the Tutor Roundtable meeting on February 6, among other things the group discussed the following tutoring concerns:

  • One tutor mentioned that while her learner seems very motivated and consistently attends their scheduled sessions, she is worried about the learner becoming bored with what they are working on.

It was suggested that she may want to utilize a variety of instructional methods, connecting with various learning styles, when teaching basic skills. In this way the instructional approach is varied and the same techniques are not always used over and over.

Another suggestion was to ask the learner to write some short pieces about him or herself --often a favorite writing topic. The tutor can then use these writing samples as a starting point for basic skills instruction. The tutor-learner team could even submit the learner's writing for publication in an upcoming issue of Update, the Project Read newsletter.

Finally, it was recommended that the tutor design learning activities that are directly connected to the real-life needs of the adult learner. Even if the tutor is already doing this, it's always a good idea to remind your learner how each instructional activity is directly related to the goal, because it may not always be obvious to the learner him/herself.

  • Another tutor brought up the common question of how to measure the learner's progress. The tutor mentioned that her learner likes to read very short novels from the juvenile collection because of the feeling of accomplishment he experiences upon completion, but sometimes the tutor herself does not feel that enough progress is being made.

It was mentioned that sometimes a volunteer tutor needs to let go of his or her own definition of progress and instead focus on what the learner sees as progress which is significant for them. Even seemingly small achievements, like finishing an 80-page book for example, can be huge for the learner. And regularly looking back at all the accomplishments important to your learner can help him or her maintain their motivation and commitment to learning.

# # #

Please join us for the next Tutor Roundtable meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 2, at 6:00 PM in the Project Read Conference Room.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Job Search Class for Adult Learners - Feb. 23

Find the Job You Want -- Pt. 2
At this workshop Project Read learners will...
  • Get a tour of the San Francisco Public Library Career Center.
  • Learn about where to find additional help with finding a job.
  • Learn how to use the new One Stop Job Centers created by the City & County of San Francisco.

Presented by SFPL librarian and former Project Read staff member Richard Le.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

6:00 - 7:30 PM

Main Library

Project Read Conference Room

Please call 557-4388 if you plan to attend.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Continuing Ed. Class for Tutors - February 18

Tutor Training Tune-Up with Holly & Randy
Thursday, February 18, 2010
6:00 - 7:30 PM
Main Library -- Latino-Hispanic Meeting Room, Lower Level

A rare chance for follow-up time with your co-tutor-trainers Holly Fulghum-Nutters and Randy Weaver. Bring your questions, observations, and inquiring mind. They'll give you more strategies and food for thought than you can shake a dictionary at.

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

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Notes from January 5th Tutor Roundtable

At the January 5th Tutor Roundtable meeting, four Project Read volunteers discussed a number of pertinent topics. Here are just a few...

  • A newly-matched tutor mentioned that her learner missed 3 out of 5 scheduled tutoring sessions in December. Although she seems motivated, the tutor is concerned about the developing pattern.

One long-time tutor and current Tutor Contact said that from her experience many pairs have difficulty getting together during the holidays. The Tutor Contact also suggested that the Project Read staff may need to call the learner and make sure she is serious about making a commitment to the program.

  • Another tutor spoke about the work she and her learner are doing to improve comprehension. Her learner has chosen a biography to read and as he moves through the book, the tutor is asking various questions to check for understanding. She asked the fellow tutors for ideas about what to do when the learners answers are incorrect.

One suggestion was to ask the learner to point to the portion of the reading that supports his answer to the question. Also, there might be some value to discussing the types of questions which we ask when checking for understanding--literal, interpretive, and active. Other suggestions for teaching comprehension included using the free Wednesday Night Readers book selection which includes comprehension questions, and using the New Readers Press publication News for You which provides comprehension checks for the easy-to-read weekly news articles.

  • The Tutor Contact attending the meeting was asked to offer a few suggestions for new tutors based on her years of experience answering questions of Project Read tutors.

She said that from her experience, the relationship that develops between the tutor and learner is crucial to the success of a match. She believes that the learner must develop trust in his or her tutor and also needs to feel that the tutor is a friend.