Friday, January 23, 2009

Our hearts go out to the family of Bishnu Adhikari, who passed away last night. Bishnu was in her mid-forties. She leaves behind her husband and four children.

The Bhutanese family arrived in Denver in January of 2008 from Nepal. Ferdi Mevlani of Ecumenical Refugee Service has set up an account at Wells Fargo to accept donations to help the family with funeral expenses. Donations may be made at any Wells Fargo Bank; reference Bishnu Adhikari or Ferdinant Mevlani.

I will post the funeral information when it is available. Thank you for any support you can give--the family is in great need.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mark your calendar

February 28
(It's a Saturday)
Inservice training for all in-home tutors.
Details to follow. For now, please pencil this in on your calendar. Unless you use a Palm Pilot.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I have no idea what I'm doing!

You've attended training, read the handbook, and been assigned to a student. You watched the language and literacy assessment. The volunteer coordinator has packed up her materials and headed out the door. Now, it's the moment you feared: You are alone with your student and you have no idea where to start.

Don't panic. There are a couple of things to know.

  • First, you can't do this wrong, and you won't inflict any permanent linguistic damage.
  • Second, there are a wealth of resources available to you, and many of them are free and online.

A week ago, we had the good fortune to attend a training session with Kathy Santopietro Weddel (see the post below this one). Her presentation focused on addressing literacy with the nonliterate student. Kathy encouraged us to go online and check out the teacher's toolkit at the Website for the Center for Applied Linguistics.

The document is over 200 pages of valuable and practical information. Again, don't panic--you can read it online, print it out, print out the sections you want, save it to your hard drive, etc. It's a pdf file, but you probably have Adobe Acrobat's reader already installed on your computer.

This toolkit has something helpful to address almost any ESL or literacy tutor (or classroom teacher). You don't need to enroll in a university class--the information you're looking for is in this toolkit!

To access the toolkit, click here. While you're on the CAL/CAELA site, look around--there is a lot of valuable information here to support your teaching. Remain calm--there is no need to panic!

Monday, January 12, 2009

An exceptional opportunity!

ESL Literacy Q & A and Training
Kathleen Santopietro-Weddel is coming to Denver!

Kathleen Santopietro-Weddel, a teacher trainer for the Northern Colorado Professional Development Center in Longmont, has experience as a classroom teacher, project coordinator, teacher trainer, speaker, and curriculum development consultant. She has authored several literacy textbooks and is a sought-after trainer and popular presenter at conferences.

What: A teacher trainer with amazing expertise is coming in from Longmont to answer questions and discuss how to help our ESL literacy students more effectively.

When: This Wednesday, January 14, 2009 3:00 – 4:30 or 5:00

Where: Emily Griffith Opportunity School--Room 433 (tentatively)

Who: Anyone who works with literacy-level ESL students or who just wants to learn more about helping adults learn to read. Classroom and in-home volunteers are encouraged to attend.

Cost: FREE!!!!
(You can’t beat that! What a deal!! What an opportunity!)

Bring your questions and examples of your most frustrating, difficult cases.
Please RSVP (ESL Office, 720-423-4752) ASAP so we can ensure seats for all.

Emily Griffith Opportunity School, 1250 Welton St., Denver, Colorado

Friday, January 9, 2009

Save The Date For


Friday-Saturday February 6-7, 2009
8am-1:30pm (Lunch provided)


Focus Points Family Resource Center
3532 Franklin Street
Denver, Colorado 80205

Workshop schedule and details to follow
Topics will include ESL, Family Literacy, Math, ABE, GED and more!

** Workshops are approved by CDE/AEFL (Colorado Department of Education/Adult Education Family Literacy) for Professional Development Hours.

For early registration, please send your name, email address, telephone number, and the town where you’re from to:
Molly Elkins 303-688-7646 or

UNHCR, Ben Affleck, The Stones, & You

It's interesting how things that come into our heads have a way of appearing and reappearing in our consciousness. For many years, I loved the Rolling Stones' song, Gimme Shelter. In fact, it's one of the top-three songs on my favorites playlist on my iPod. I've always thought the song's message was somewhat out of character within the Stones' musical collection, but it stands on its own as a strong piece of music with one heck of a powerful message. I saw the Stones play live in Atlantic City in late December 1989 (16 rows from the stage!). That night's version of Gimme Shelter gave me chills and cemented it in my mind as one of the most meaningful songs of our time. Silly, you say? Have you ever listened to the words? Here are abridged lyrics, reprinted without any type of permission whatsoever:

Gimme Shelter
(M. Jagger/K. Richards)

Oh, a storm is threat'ning
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away

War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

Ooh, see the fire is sweepin'
Our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad dog lost its way

War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

Rape, murder!
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

The floods is threat'ning
My very life today
Gimme, gimme shelter
Or I'm gonna fade away

War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

I tell you love, sister, it's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away
Kiss away, kiss away

This song is brought to mind because just this week, UNHCR launched a Global Appeal to raise funds for humanitarian efforts in Eastern Congo, featuring a film called Gimme Shelter that was directed by actor Ben Affleck. The film is currently available on YouTube.

"We made this film in order to focus attention on the humanitarian crisis in the DRC at a time when too much of the world is indifferent or looking the other way," said Affleck, who launched the film at a special briefing with UNHCR at the United Nations in New York on Dec. 17. "The suffering and loss we've all seen first-hand is staggering; it is beyond belief."

Affleck traveled this fall to the strife-torn North Kivu region of the DRC, where thousands have fled their homes since August. The film is set to the Rolling Stones' song Gimme Shelter, which Jagger and the group donated to the campaign.

Jagger described the human suffering in the DRC as appalling and expressed strong support for Affleck’s awareness-raising efforts.

"The Rolling Stones are very happy to contribute Gimme Shelter in support of Ben's efforts to raise the profile of the conflict in the Congo," Jagger said. "I hope this video will help highlight the plight of the hundreds of thousands of displaced people and also the thousands of innocent people who are needlessly losing their lives there."

Gimme Shelter captures the unseen suffering of Congolese families who fled the fighting with next to nothing and are now forced to find refuge in makeshift huts with little to live on. Some 30,000 others have fled to neighboring Uganda and are receiving help from UNHCR.

There are currently 1.3 million displaced people in the DRC, many of them earlier victims caught up in an ongoing cycle of violence. The effects of the conflict have claimed as many as 5.4 million lives in the last 10 years, with an estimated 1,000 people still dying every day. In some areas, two out of three women have been raped. Abductions persist in all brutal forms and children are forcefully recruited to fight. Outbreaks of cholera and other diseaseshave increased as the humanitarian situation deteriorates.

Click here to watch this short film.

for more information on the Gimme shelter campaign and the events in DRC, go to