The Oklahoma Literacy Resource Office
200 NE 18th St
Oklahoma Literacy News
Read Across Oklahoma 2015
|Literacy Leaders from throughout the country met in Oklahoma City to exchange ideas.|
State literacy leaders from throughout the country gathered in Oklahoma City for the first face-to-face meeting of the Council of State Organizations (CSO). Participants not only shared information about state-level operations, they also identified resources developed for their state that could be used by other states. All meeting goals were achieved including brainstorming ideas for potential multi-state collaborations. The Oklahoma Literacy Coalition demonstrated Oklahoma hospitality by hosting a dinner at Toby Keith’s restaurant which resulted in even more networking, sharing, and fun. The Oklahoma Department of Libraries was able to host the CSO meeting thanks to Library Services and Technology Act funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
|Joni Dyer from Ponca City Area Literacy Council reenacts a classic scene from I Love Lucy.|
What does a vat of grapes and a crazy redhead have to do with literacy? The 2014 literacy directors’ retreat theme was borrowed from the vintage I Love Lucy grape stomping episode. The theme—Pressed for Time, Don’t Whine—inspired fun as literacy directors learned time management and innovative program practices while addressing program challenges.
The retreat provided many opportunities for sharing and networking activities, both favorite activities of attendees. The retreat was made possible thanks to a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
McAlester Regional Literacy Council has produced a cookbook full of recipies from council members, tutors, and learners—Feeding Minds and Tummies.
Jack Frost and a late winter storm couldn’t keep 30 Oklahoma literacy providers from convening at ODL on March 4 and 5 to participate in a Step Forward ESL Training workshop.
Jayme Adelson-Goldstein—author of The Oxford Picture Dictionary, the Step Forward series for English language learners, and numerous other publications—traveled from her Northridge, California, home to conduct the two-day meeting.
|[left to right] Jennifer Stanley and Judy Miller, both from Altus, with trainer Jayme Adelson-Goldstein|
“Often our English language learners come to us in the hope of finding a bridge from their first language environment to the English-speaking community. They have a pressing need to learn authentic and meaningful language in order to effectively navigate community agencies, assist their families, and achieve their life goals,” Jayme says.
|[left to right] Jana Smithey, Elk City, and Blair Lanning, Oklahoma City|
To help Oklahoma’s literacy programs support these new learners, Jayme presented a variety of instructional strategies and tools that providers can quickly and easily put to use in their tutorial sessions and classes.
All participants received copies of the texts and instructional materials as well as links to online resources.
According to United Health Foundation, Oklahoma ranked 44th in the 2013 national health ranking, up from 46th place in 2012. Even with the improvements, the state has many health challenges. Obesity, smoking, drug deaths, and cardiovascular deaths were among some of the greatest problems.
The ability to read, understand, and communicate health information is critical for all Oklahomans, but is especially challenging for individuals with low literacy skills or limited understanding of English.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that, “nearly nine out of ten people had difficulty using everyday health information.”
Seven local literacy programs are addressing health literacy in their communities thanks to health literacy grants from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries with Library Services and Technology Act funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Those funded in year two of the initiative are Creek County Literacy Program, Great Plains Literacy Council, Miami Public Library Literacy Services, Moore Public Library, Northwest OK Literacy Council, Project Read, and Western OK Learning Center. To view national and state health rankings visit America's Health Rankings.
National health literacy expert Dr. Andrew Pleasant recently met with health and literacy professionals at ODL to develop a health literacy plan for Oklahoma. Twenty seven individuals discussed how collaborative efforts among health care providers can move Oklahoma from a “sick care system” to a health care system generating significant savings by putting effort into keeping Oklahomans healthy.
|Participants in this year's meeting of health and literacy professionals included [left to right] Melissa Muncy Struttmann, Creek County Literacy Program, Sapulpa; Jesse Cradduck, pastor, Maranatha Ministry of Hope; Dr. Andrew Pleasant, Canyon Ranch Institute; and Marisa New, Oklahoma State Department of Health.|
Quack if you [Heart] Reading was the theme as thousands of children converged on the Oklahoma City Zoo to participate in the annual Read Across Oklahoma celebration. The 2014 theme was inspired by Oklahoma author Tammi Sauer’s new book Mr. Duck Means Business. Children in duck capes, and volunteers wearing duck caps were treated to a day of fun including two musical performances by local favorite Brendan “Spaghetti Eddie” Parker. The standing-room-only crowd cheered Tammi as she read her story about a grumpy duck and the friends he makes.
|[clockwise from bottom left] Author Tammi Sauer reads her book to children during Read Across Oklahoma at the Oklahoma City Zoo • Children, parents, and volunteers respond to the music of Spaghetti Eddie. • Capitol Hill High School students demonstrate "how to dance like a duck."|
More than 3,000 children visited interactive activity stations throughout the zoo where they played alphabet games, learned to dance like a duck, colored posters, met Super Why characters, and had pictures taken with the Target mascot Bullseye. Special guest readers shared stories in English and Spanish and more than 2,300 books were given away.
High school students helped make the day a success by cutting and sewing more than 1,300 duck capes, manning booths, wearing costumes, escorting guests, and helping teachers with the younger students. According to project planner Kerri McLinn, "The older students participated as mentors and volunteers, but it looked like they had as much fun as the younger children."
Three Quacks for ...
The Literacy Resource Office is pleased to release the newest collection of adult learner writings from adult literacy and adult basic education program throughout the state.
The book, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, aims to provide a venue for learners to build confidence while also improving their reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. Literacy programs use the book to illustrate the positive impact the local literacy efforts can have on individual learners and the community as a whole. Eighty-nine authors submitted original stories relating to the topics of courage, hope, and humor.
The Oklahoma Literacy Coalition will host a special author book signing reception at the annual statewide literacy conference in September. (we will link as soon as information is posted)
Adult learner Harold Wilson from the Great Plains Literacy Council in Altus wrote the story "Good Humor Around Us."
"A good sense of humor is valuable and comes in handy. Humor is defined as the ability to appreciate or express what is funny or amazing. I enjoy humor in reading, in everyday happenings, and in myself.
"Reading is one way to find humor. My tutor Jackie and I use the comic strips in the newspaper to learn new words and have a laugh at the same time. We always laugh at Blondie and Dagwood and B.C. cavemen series. ...
"The hardest thing is to laugh at yourself. It has been said that laughter is the best medicine. When I make a mistake or blunder, I try to laugh after it happens. Laughing is like medication to the body and soul. Rather than being depressed, laughter can lift your spirits and make you feel better. Sometimes I make mistakes in writing and reading, but I laugh and realize that I get better with practice. Learning can be so much fun."
Some 290 individuals attended Oklahoma’s first Health Literacy Summit held in September. Attendees, including healthcare professionals, literacy representatives, adult learners, and sponsors left the event with a greater understanding of Oklahoma’s health literacy issues, practical clear communication strategies, and ways health and literacy professionals can work together to address the issues.
After an official welcome by former Lt. Governor Jari Askins, keynote presenter Dr. Andrew Pleasant (pictured above with attendees) shared eye-opening information about health literacy issues including definitions, statistics, and examples of how health information is often most difficult for those at-risk for low literacy.
|[clockwise from top left] Adult learner and summit presenter Terry Terflinger [center] poses with Marisa New for the Oklahoma State Department of Health, and Leslie Gelders, Oklahoma Literacy Resource Office • Ida Fay Winters spins the “wheel of health literacy” • Dr. Bella Carroll and adult learner Ural Miles III discuss ways to redo a medical form using clear communication techniques|
|Representatives of the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians share information in the exhibit hall|
Another featured speaker, Toni Cordell, shared how her struggles with low literacy impacted her health decisions, including unknowingly signing papers for surgery because she couldn’t read the forms.
Workshop sessions covered a variety of health literacy topics presented by state and national experts. A complete list of topics and presenters is available here (Summit program pdf).
Toward the end of the summit, Cheryl Rowan with the National Library of Medicine shared practical plain-language techniques, and attendees worked in groups to transform existing health-related information into easier formats.
At the conclusion of the summit, the Oklahoma Health Equity Campaign unveiled Oklahoma’s new health literacy website.
Thanks to summit sponsors:
More than 1 million Oklahoma adults function at the lowest two literacy levels, according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy. This means that nearly four out of 10 working adults do not have the functional literacy skills necessary to perform the most basic tasks such as complete a job application or understand instructions from medical care providers.
To help address these literacy shortfalls, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation's Get Reading Oklahoma initiative provides free access to educational programs designed to help adults improve their reading, writing and math skills and prepare for the GED exam. The free programs, TV411 and GED Connection, air Monday through Friday from 6-7 a.m. on Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA), as well as through Cox's FreeZone section of On DEMAND, channel 1, Cox Channel 18 in Oklahoma City, Cox Channel 21 in Tulsa and as streaming videos at www.getreadingoklahoma.org.
"By providing access to these educational programs via television and the Internet, Get Reading Oklahoma eliminates barriers such as lack of transportation and childcare that may have kept many adults from seeking assistance," says Nancy B. Anthony, president of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.
GED Connection is a series of 39 half-hour episodes developed through the PBS LiteracyLink project to help adult students prepare for the GED exam. TV411, a series of 30 half-hour programs designed for adults who want to improve basic literacy skills, uses real-life situations such as completing job applications, reading news stories and understanding paycheck stubs as opportunities to learn. A complete television schedule is available at www.getreadingoklahoma.org/tvschedule.
In 2009, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation purchased the broadcast rights to GED Connection and TV411 to provide Oklahomans access to the programs and renewed the rights through May 2013. In addition to the television programming and online videos, DVDs of the two series have been distributed to more than 100 literacy providers statewide through the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and Central Oklahoma Workforce Investment Board. Cox Communications is also providing a toll-free telephone number where callers can find more information about local literacy service providers: 1-888-OK2Read (1-888-652-7323).
Literacy directors from throughout the state are in the process of learning how to use Phase-1 of Oklahoma’s new literacy tracking system Literacy Tracker. This web-based tool—developed with Oklahoma.Gov—was funded through a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Literacy Tracker will track such things and learner and volunteer demographics, increases in learner reading levels, and achievement of goals, as well as instructional and volunteer hours. Phase-2 is currently under development and should be ready to pilot later this year. All literacy programs funded by the Oklahoma Department are required to submit statistical data and Literacy Tracker will make the job easier.
Beth Lyle, director of the literacy program in Shawnee, practices entering learner data in Literacy Tracker.
|The first “graduating class” of Literacy Tracker, representing staff and directors from the Literacy Resource Office, two programs in Oklahoma City, Purcell, Norman, Edmond, Ardmore, Shawnee, and Ada pose with trainer Cheryl MacDonald.|