group of Asian men sitting in a circle and talking

Purpose:  to provide learners with practice summarizing and analyzing information from charts

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials Needed:  two short texts on the same topic


two overlapping circles with a red center

Purpose:  to encourage learners to compare and contrast short reading texts, and build familiarity with the Venn Diagram graphic organizer.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials Needed:  two short texts on the same topic


four people sitting in a group around a table

Purpose:  to support learners in developing their speaking skills, while developing inferring and sharing evidence skills.

Preparation Time:  15 minutes

Materials Needed:  sets of three pictures (one of people, and two of objects, places, or activities)


We spoke with Deborah Cushman, Associate Director of the literacy council, about tips for life after VISTA. Here's what she has to say:


VISTA service doesn’t tend to require much explanation when you’re communicating with the inside crowd. Plenty of nonprofits and public sector organizations are well-versed in national service. But here are some things to consider when engaging in a job search with audiences who might not know much about VISTA.

On printed materials (resume, cover letters, etc.):

certificate of completion for online volunteer class

Adult ESL classroom volunteers are the best! They answer questions, give learners feedback and support, provide speaking practice, encouragement, and help keep teachers sane. New classroom volunteers are hungry to jump in and help, but sometimes aren’t sure where to start.

graphic of elllo website

If you teach an ESL class, you might hear learners tell you that they struggle to understand people that they interact with out in the community. English language learners benefit from listening to fluent English speakers who have different accents, speaking speeds, and speaking styles. They need to be able to understand everyone, not just their teacher!

Purpose:  to give learners practice phonics and spelling. 

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Materials Needed:  paper or card stock to make letter tiles.

Preparation: cut paper into 1 x 1 inch cards. You will need enough for each student to have 8 cards.


a black and white picture story showing a woman with a stressful life

Purpose:  to give learners practice identifying the main idea and retelling key details

Preparation Time:  15 minutes

Materials Needed:  sets of picture stories, cut apart


a detective in a green coat and hat smoking a pipe and looking at a question mark through a magnifying glass

Purpose:  to help learners begin to use evidence from a text to make inferences and support answers

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Materials Needed:  A picture, sets of questions


What was the highlight of your VISTA service with the Minnesota Literacy Council? 
​The ultimate highlight of my service was when I became a member of the Council for Black Male Success at the age of 19. I was a part of the council that was allocated 3 million dollars for 3 years to help support African American males ages 11-32 who reside in St. Paul.



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