Monday, November 27, 2017

Learning about Dyslexia

Last Wednesday Action Read tutor Mel Stronach, with the assistance of her learning partner Colleen Harper, gave a fantastic workshop on working with dyslexia.  Mel is a high school teacher who also recently trained on the Orton-Gillingham method for teaching literacy to individuals with dyslexia.
Mel’s presentation was riveting! She and Colleen shared lots of hands on practical examples, reflections, and experiences.  Mel went over the role of grapheme / phoneme correspondences, spelling strategies, auditory, kinesthetic and visual strategies, suffixes, etymology and much more in the workshop. Fortunately, she created a binder filled with strategies and ideas for other to use if they were unable to make it out.  Speak to staff if you’d like to check it out.
Mel and Colleen sharing their wisdom!
Multi-sensory resources that Mel and Colleen use in their learning sessions.
Listening closely

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Aboriginal Writing Group Poem

Action Read's Aboriginal Writing Group meets weekly to work on reading and writing skills, and to make connections to indigenous worldviews and principles. These include the importance of balance, storytelling and community; the significance of elders, respect for traditional knowledge and connection to the land; the importance of silence and listening, experiential learning and mentorship, and much more. The group also learns about the seven grandfather teachings and honouring and connecting learning to the different aspects of the medicine wheel - intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual.
Informed by this approach to learning, the following poem was created by the group in observation and celebration of the beauty and colour of the changing seasons. We hope you enjoy the vivid images and feelings they create!

Friday, September 29, 2017

2017 AGM and 30th Anniversary Celebration

We enjoyed a wonderful jam-packed AGM and 30th anniversary celebration on September 27th. We celebrated the work and accomplishments of our members in 2016-2017, and looked back with much fondness at 30 years of history, successes and stories.  We enjoyed a terrific presentation from Jane Tuer Executive Director of Project Read Literacy Network, and Joanne, Laura Sumner and Celina Whaling-Rae launched their amazing new film done at Action Read called ' Finding Our Voice - Stories from Adult Literacy Learners'.
In 1987 Action Read started with a dream to help those who couldn’t find employment due to basic skill gaps. In fact, Action Read was initially a project of the Centre for Employable Workers. Action Read set out to pair individuals who wanted help with trained community volunteers. From there, small group learning, family literacy and computer based programs quickly emerged. 

In 1991 Action Read became an independently incorporated charity. Throughout the 1990s, we moved several times to accommodate growing demand.  For 17 years we were located at the Park Mall building in downtown Guelph, and in 2017 we came here! 
While many changes have occurred at Action Read since 1987, we remain a community-based agency committed to learner-centred programming, involvement and accessibility – the values that propelled us forward from the beginning.

Here are some highlights from our  celebration...

Reviewing the Annual Report prior to getting started
Hosts with the most! Shawn Knight and Renee O'Drowsky

Outgoing chair and all round awesome volunteer Jeff Guitard!
Life is sweet...What would a celebration be without cake?!
Some of our members
Doris Middleton Award Winner Colleen Harper (right) with her tutor Mel and Doris's daughter Sherri Gosse
From Project Read's Presentation (Gosh, golly, gee-whiz ;) )

Friday, June 30, 2017

Kindergarten Readiness Summer Fun!

by Denia Dornan-Anderson

Summer is here, which means that kindergarten is fast approaching! It’s the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the weather while engaging in activities that will help your child get prepared for school in the fall. Take advantage of your summer surroundings by experimenting with these early learning activities, or make up your own.  Above all, make it fun and follow your child’s interests!

Sand Words
When the weather is hot, it’s sometimes nice to take a trip down to the beach. Identify different animals and things that you see at the beach. Each time you find something new, help your child write the letters that make up that word in the sand. Sound out the word, and if you want to add something, have your child think of another beach-related word (e.g., pail goes with sand and shovel).

Summer Vacation
If you plan on going anywhere this summer, whether it is a picnic at the park or a trip to see grandparents, have your child help you pack. Emphasize the sound of the first letter of each item being packed (e.g., “sss…Socks”). Following this, ask the child the name of the letter that makes that sound.

Window Art
Do your windows look like they need a cleaning? Why not have some fun with it! Gather some non-adhesive foam shapes, numbers or letters, a bowl of water and a paintbrush. When water is “painted” onto a mirror or window, the foam letters and numbers are able to stick to the glass, creating opportunity for children to make words or sequences of numbers. Having a variety of colours that the letters and numbers come in is also useful for children to sort into categories.

Alphabet Hopscotch
Make a hopscotch grid and add different upper case letters in the sections. You could even have your child draw the letters.  Using a beanbag to toss onto one of the letters, ask your child to identify the letter and then count the number of hops it takes to get to it. You could make this more challenging by adding both upper and lower case letters so the child becomes familiar with the different letter forms.

Berry picking
On a sunny day why not go to pick some berries? Once you have collected them, set up a clean spot where you can dump them all out. In that space, encourage and assist your child to create letters by lining the berries up to letter formation.  For example, start by spelling their name.  Each time they take a berry away from the letter to eat it, have your child name an item that starts with that letter.

Animal Number Songs
You may encounter some frogs this summer. A great song that can be used to practice numeracy skills is ‘5 Green and Speckled Frogs’. This song is useful for working on numeracy skills by counting how many frogs are left after they start “jumping in the pool”.  If you have internet access, check out the song on youtube - you will probably recognize the tune!

While this is the classic version of the song, you could do it with any variety of animals that you see during your summer activities.

For Example:
“5 brown and fluffy dogs drink from a drinking well, wagging their tales back and forth, swish swish. One saw a frisbee fly, which made him follow by, now there are only 4 brown fluffy dogs.”
Coming up with different versions helps children identify different characteristics of the animals, in addition to enhancing their counting skills. Cut out the frogs below, or make your own to have a visual when you sing the song together.

For Example:  

“5 brown and fluffy dogs drink from a drinking well, wagging their tales back and forth, swish swish. One saw a frisbee fly, which made him follow by, now there are only 4 brown fluffy dogs.”
Coming up with different versions helps children identify different characteristics of the animals, in addition to enhancing their counting skills. Cut out the frogs below, or make your own to have a visual when you sing the song together.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

2017 Winegard Award Winners Recognized

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 — News Release by the Volunteer Centre of Guelph / Wellington
A student helping Syrian refugees adjust to life in Canada, a professor who uses his skills in computer science to support food security, and a Physical Resources (PR) manager who teaches adults how to read are the winners of this year’s William Winegard Exemplary Volunteer Awards.
Student Yousr El Sharawy, computer science professor Dan Gillis and PR manager Paul Mesman were honoured at a ceremony at the Gryphon Athletics Centre March 29.
Volunteer award winners (from left) Paul Mesman, Yousr El Sharawy and Daniel Gillis with William Winegard
Established in 2007, the awards are presented each year to U of G staff, faculty and students who volunteer in the community by the University of Guelph, the United Way of Guelph Wellington Dufferin and the Volunteer Centre of Guelph/Wellington.

Volunteer award winners (from left) Paul Mesman, Yousr El Sharawy and Daniel Gillis with William Winegard
They are named for William Winegard, former U of G president and former Guelph MP who served as Canada’s first minister of science and as parliamentary secretary to the minister of international trade.
“I’m not in the same league in volunteering as most of you. In my experience in Guelph, the volunteers are just fantastic. It makes you feel good to see such dedicated people,” Winegard said in a short speech.
Winegard continues to volunteer today as a reading buddy for local schoolchildren.
“Professor Gillis, Paul and Yousr are dedicated volunteers recognized today for their tremendous community spirit,” said Ken Dardano, executive director of United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin.
 “United Way is pleased to partner with the Volunteer Centre and the University of Guelph to present these outstanding volunteers with this year’s Winegard Awards.”
El Sharawy uses her Arabic-language skills to help refugees as a logistics coordinator and interpreter for a private Syrian refugee sponsorship program. She co-founded the campus Migrant Justice initiative and works with other campus groups, and volunteers with the Guelph Refugee Sponsorship Forum.
Gillis co-founded Farm to Fork, which aims to improve the quality and quantity of food donated to emergency food systems. He is also a founder of The Seed Community Food Hub, which helps local partners bring people together to access, grow, cook and share healthful food. He has co-organized the Food Waste Hackathon and the Feeding Nine Billion Challenge, both of which involve multidisciplinary teams of U of G students developing solutions to food problems.
Mesman has been a volunteer tutor at Action Read Community Literacy Centre since 2013. He meets with learners once a week to help them develop practical skills and to build their confidence and self-esteem.
“Our three recipients have shown how volunteers can turn their passions into lasting contributions benefiting people and organizations in our community,” said Christine Oldfield, executive director of the Volunteer Centre of Guelph/Wellington.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Cassi's Story

Action Read was first recommended to me three years ago by my job coach. Since being here, I have participated in a variety of roles.  I am a learner, front desk volunteer and a learner representative on the Board of Directors. The most surprising experience I had when first coming to Action Read, was how much I enjoy math. I never expected that I would like it let alone find it fun.  It turned out I did! The most rewarding experience I’ve had since coming to Action Read was last year when I won the Doris Middleton Memorial Award. At the time, I had no idea I had won, so receiving the award was an extremely exciting moment. The award is given to women that have overcome challenges in their lives. I am much more outgoing and self-confident.  With the confidence I have gained, I am planning to get my GED to go to school for social work. Currently I share my story at different events in the community. I am also proud to be United Way Agency speaker during their campaign.  My dream is to work with troubled youth to help them see that there’s hope in the future. To help get my story heard, I am currently writing about it to prove to others that there can be a happy ending.                                                                                  


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Be Good to Yourself

by Joanne Morant, Action Read Tutor-Learner Coordinator

The days get shorter and the sun hides behind the looming snow clouds.  It is a busy time of year as we prepare for the holidays. During this time, like a lot of people I tend to socialize more, spend more, eat more, do more and sleep less. By the time January comes around I feel exhausted, and by the time February arrives the winter blahs have settled in.
Self-care doesn’t come naturally to me.  I still insist on putting everything else before my own needs. I go into over-serving mode during the holidays to make sure everything is ready, and everyone has the “best holiday ever”.
So what steps do I need to take now to help me through the holidays and winter months until spring arrives?
Everyone has different ways and ideas to help with self-care. These are a few of mine for this holiday season!
  1. Get more sleep – 8 hours is my goal. Turn off the TV and sit quietly with a cup of herbal tea for a half hour before bed.
  2. Read – my pile of unread books seems to grow each month! Losing myself in a good book will take my mind off all the holiday preparation.
(Let's hope Joanne's pile of books isn't as big as the donation we received from the Retired Teachers this year!)
3.      Make and stick to a budget – not the easiest for me. The best places I have found to shop during the holidays are the used book stores, second hand stores (so many interesting and unusual things I could spend hours just browsing), Christmas church bazaars and the grocery store.  My sons have always appreciated a nice bottle of olive oil or specialty vinegar at this time of year and it doesn’t cost a lot.
4.       Smile – the more I smile and laugh, the better I feel.
5.       Bake – this always put me in the holiday spirit especially listening to music I enjoy. It feels great to share with others some tasty treats.
6.      Un-schedule – so many people to see and things to do in a short period of time. Instead of rushing around here and there I will set some time aside in January to visit friends and family. There will be more time to spend together and less stress for everyone.
7.      Ask for help – this year when my family gets together it will be pot-luck instead of preparing everything myself. What I always seem to forget is how much others like to cook, experiment with a new recipes and enjoy bringing a dish that they made to share. It is about being together during the holiday.
8.     Finish a project (or start a new one) – it could be a craft or an art project. Mine is a needle point I began 3 years ago. Take time out to do something I enjoy!

Give yourself permission to engage in activities that make you feel happy and less stressed during the holidays. Make time to go for a walk, have coffee with a friend, volunteer or just sit down with a good book.
I am going to tape my list to the fridge and it will stay through January, February, March………
Miriam, Gabe and Deb showing us how to kick back by channeling their inner rock stars!

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