Monday, September 14, 2020

Why Literacy Matters to a Community Organizer: A Chat with Jessica Wernli

In this video. Jessica Wernli describes how literacy applies to her work as a facilitator, trainer, and community organizer. She tells how an empowering event that she witnessed as a child living in a women's shelter influenced her decision to become a community organizer.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Are You Good at Unscrambling Letters? How to Solve an Anagram Magic Squa...

As a teacher and literacy advocate, I like to help people discover ways to keep their brain healthy and have fun learning at the same time. The Penny Press Variety Puzzles magazine does the trick.
In this video, I will be showing you how to do one of my favorite types of crossword puzzles from the magazine. To solve the Anagram Magic Squares puzzle you have to unscramble letters. You are given 25 clues and 25 boxes with 5-letter words. This puzzle will test your general knowledge on a variety of topics. Once you solve the puzzle correctly, a message will appear. Feel free to subscribe to my channel. Thanks for watching! Note: Sorry about the video quality. I'm still learning how to film.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

How Will Kids Improve Their Reading When Schools Do or Don't Reopen?

 Coaching for Literacy

At Coaching for Literacy, we believe that if a child can read at grade level at the end of the third grade, the child's chances for future success skyrocket. We are all about reading. In fact, we do a lot of reading about reading. And because you're here, we can read into that that you're interested in reading too. So we present some links to reading we've done about reading, so you too can do some reading about reading. 

Today, we are thinking about schools reopening.

Pandemic Pods

The Washington Post published a story to their Education section highlighting families providing an alternative solution for their children’s education this fall – bring the teachers into the home – by forming “pandemic pods” and clusters. Many are worried about the health concerns that exist when schools reopen. But this is another example of how the education gap will continue to widen between those that have and those that have not.

Not everyone can afford truly private education, and these arrangements are raising concerns that this is just another way that the pandemic is exacerbating inequities that course through the educational system. Already, low-income children struggle for access to computers and WiFi service and face pressures at home that wealthy families do not. Now this.

These arrangements will allow children with affluent parents and connections to get ahead even as the system makes it harder for other children, said L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy, a sociology of education professor at New York University. He calls it a fresh example of “opportunity hoarding.”

A parent is the best advocate for their child and will make the decisions that are in the interest of their student. We will always be in support of this. But the pandemic pods are raising other questions about equity to families without the means for private schooling. Cheers to the Oakland mom cited asking parents to consider inviting children from families that cannot afford private schooling as a “concrete way we can and must use our privilege to prevent worsening inequality”.

For more on Pandemic Pods, check out Clara Totenberg Green’s point of view in the NY Times. Ms. Green is a social and emotional learning specialist in Atlanta Public Schools. 


Photo Cred: @flpschi

Safer Environments for Students

This opinion piece in the Daily Memphian by Leah Windsor asks questions about the plan to reopen Shelby County Schools. She asks nine questions specific to the school district’s reopening plan but several are ones we should be asking to create better environments for our students. Pandemic, or not. A few of Leah’s are here and then follow-up ones we’re thinking about…

  • Who is responsible for buying and maintaining cleaning supplies? Why do TN teachers spend on average $421 of their own money for classroom supplies?

  • What happens if students’ masks are forgotten? Lost? Soiled? What if they’re not laundered regularly? Who is supporting our children when they are unfed and arrive at schools in dirty clothes?

  • What about parents’ incentives to send sick kids to school? What if a child doesn’t have anyone in their home to care for them because mom, dad, grandma, etc. are not able to work remotely?

  • What about the social and emotional needs of children who have been at home since mid-March? What about the adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that children in poverty experience year-round as they struggle with childhood abuse and neglect and household challenges affecting later-life health and well-being?   

Kudos to Partners Delivering Food and Books to Pre-Schoolers

Kudos to a group in Detroit called Rx for Reading Detroit. The group has gotten together with two community partners during the COVID-19 crisis to make sure pre-schoolers in poor neighborhoods were getting not only food, but also books.

Note to reader: Have you seen any articles or podcasts that you have found thought-provoking? Comment below or email us at We’d love to check them out!


Can a Lawyer Learn the Law Without Being Literate?: A Chat with Odell Mi...

In this video, my son, Odell Mitchell III, talks about how being an avid reader throughout his childhood and adolescence prepared him for the rigors of law school. He discusses how his background as a creative person--singer, artist, graphic artist--helps him in his practice as an entertainment lawyer and leadership development consultant. He also relates how he is passing on the legacy of literacy to his children. Check description for a link to an audio of Odell singing "Christmastime is Here.

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