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Archive - Featured Resources & Tutoring Ideas

All these resources have been featured in the past - but they're just some of what's available!

Check out more resources for tutors, and some great sites for students to use to study at home.

Holidays, Festivals and Customs

Great material for ABE and ESL alike!

halloweenIt's that time of year again - lots of holidays and festivals coming one after the other in quick succession!

If you tutor an ESL class, you may well have students who don't know American customs, and who would very much like to understand what's going on around them at this time of year.

If you tutor an ABE student, factual, simplified accounts of holiday customs can be great subject matter - the language is easy enough to follow, and the pictures give visual links, but the material isn't childish or 'dumbed down'.

We have some great resources for covering holiday-related topics, and there's even more online. One of the best books we have is falling apart now, so we have taken it off the shelves, but Anna makes sure to copy relevant chapters and have them ready in the Wilcrest Resource Room. If you tutor at the Bay Area or an Outreach location, please contact Anna ( and ask her to send you the materials.

Some examples from the book are shown here on this page. Right-click and choose 'Save Image' (or the equivalent in your browser) to have a print-ready copy.

Remember - holiday material is available in the Wilcrest Resource Room year-round! Look for the yellow folder with the label "American Culture & Holidays."


Internet Essentials

This website just had a make-over! Tour the Learning Center

internet essentials
Let Al Roker guide you through the site!
What's available?

- Video tutorials

- Internet training classes

- Online job searches

- Social media information

Visit the Learning Center.

Find out more about Internet Essentials.

SmartPhone Apps...

...students can practice spelling in a fun and challenging way!

Check out these free spelling apps for smartphones from softonic.

smartphone apps

And here's a ringing endorsement from volunteer tutor Clare:

“My student has already mastered the first level in his spelling game and was excited to download the next part (we finally made spelling fun!)”

Thanks Clare, and staff member Ruth, for recommending these apps!

Unlock imagination...

...and get your students writing!

make beliefs

You can find an imaginative new writing prompt activity at Each day author/teacher Bill Zimmerman offers excerpts from a new ‘’Make Beliefs’’ book aimed at encouraging students to express their thoughts through writing and drawing, as well as to spur their creative imaginations.   They are in the form of comic strip panels in which comic characters raise a question.

Students can write their responses by creating comic strips at, a free educational resource.

Some examples:

    • Make believe you had the luckiest day in your life.  What would happen?
    • Make believe you could perform  your dream act for the circus.  What would you do?

Hurricane Preparedness

Help your students get ready with 'Together Against the Weather'

together against the weather

Together Against the Weather was created to help people with access and functional support needs better plan and prepare for hurricanes in the 13-county region of the Houston-Galveston Area Council.

Even if none of your learners have access needs, it wouldn't hurt to spend some class time talking about hurricane preparations - for many, living in a hurricane-prone area is new and scary! You can help them be calm and practical.

Build Vocabulary Online...

...with Vocabulary Games!

vocabulary online

Build vocabulary the fun way with these online vocabulary games!

Types of games include:

This could be a good time to remind students that the Wilcrest Computer Lab is always available for private study any time a class isn't scheduled into it! Tutors are also welcome to book the lab for a lesson, or a part of a lesson, to bring their students and learn about online resources such as this one.

What are you waiting for?!

ProLiteracy Resources for all Tutors

Introducing: Notebook

notebook proliteracy

Notebook is a ProLiteracy publication for adult literacy instructors who work with learners in the United States. As a ProLiteracy member, Literacy Advance has access to this wonderful resource and can share it with you, our fabulous tutors!

In the current issue:

Reading: Analyzing Campaign Messages (page 3)
Reading & Speaking: Teaching Signs (page 6)
Applied Literacy: Tutoring with Skype (page 8)
Speaking: “The Elevator Pitch”: Helping Students Sell Their Skills (page 11)
Exploring Resources (page 14)
Student Profile: Encouraging Aspiring U.S. Citizens (page 16)

See the whole of the current issue here.

Check out archived editions here.

Make your own flashcards...

...with Flashcard Machine!

flashcard machine

This fabulous FREE resource lets tutors pull from a database of ready-made flashcards on all sorts of topics. Or, you can make your own!

The site has some cool ideas for both ABE and ESL classes.

Thanks to tutor Tom for sharing this site with us all!


U.S.A. Learns

This free site is designed to help adults learn English, and to improve basic reading, writing, speaking and life skills.

The site has three main courses:

  • Beginning English skills
  • Low-Intermediate English skills
  • Intermediate Reading

Each of these courses has many lessons and activities within it.

The site is FREE and can be used as a visitor, although registering allows the user to keep track of their progress and scores.

abe iconReading Skills for Adults - featuring new Health and Wellness stories

These readers are appropriate for adult learners, and aid in building learners' fluency and comprehension skills. The materials correspond to CASAS levels.

This project helps adults become better readers and more informed consumers, parents, employees, citizens and community members. The focus of these reading selections is on topics such as: Health and Wellness, Civics, Employment, Housing, School, Money, and Government.

The site has versions of the readers for viewing online, or for downloading and printing. Additionally, scroll down the page to find ideas for the tutor about using these resources in class, including a step-by-step guide on getting started.

English - No Problem Online

english no problemAre you an ESL tutor? Do you use our most popular curriculum series, English - No Problem?

You may not know that this series is supported by free online resources!

The site includes a Lesson Plan Builder, printable master sheets, and some articles about the use of the curriculum in other programs.

Article: Encouraging Adult Learners

learn-superpowerThis article, "9 Ways to Encourage the Adult E-Learner", from The Rapid E-Learning Blog, focuses on students learning online - but you'll be struck by how applicable the suggestions are for one-to-one tutoring, as all our ABE classes are!

Here are two of the nine:

  • Set clear expectations and objectives
  • Focus on relevance

Read on to see the remaining seven ideas!

ProLiteracy Education Network

ProLiteracy Education Network

ProLiteracy Education Network (EdNet) provides free instructional resources to adult literacy and ESL instructors, learners, and program staff.

EdNet helps instructors learn new techniques and strategies for teaching reading, writing, math, citizenship, and basic life skills. EdNet also allows people to choose how they want to learn by offering resources in many different formats, including lesson plans, online courses, tip sheets, podcasts, and interactive web-based exercises.

Some of the most popular resources on EdNet include:

New resources are always being added. EdNet is currently expanding the number and type of resources for adult learners. Interactive exercises and stories with audio components will help students read independently and reinforce what they are learning in their classes. EdNet is also developing an organized video library that will allow instructors to see and reflect on demonstrations of effective teaching techniques. All EdNet resources are available free to the global literacy community.

Did you know?

We feature resources regularly in our Resource Rooms!

Sample resourcesWe're sure you've seen the brightly-colored pouches containing lesson materials in our Resource Rooms at Wilcrest and the Bay Area - these are not just a handy stand-by in case you've had no time to prepare (though they can come in VERY useful for that!).

No; these are lesson samples, from a selection of highlighted resources. Every few weeks, our Resource Room guardians (Anna at Wilcrest, Joe at the Bay Area) choose resources they think you might find useful, copy a sample from them, and make them available to tutors. We hope that if you like what you see, you'll come back and get more materials from the same book.

We know that the number of resources available to you can be a bit overwhelming; this way, you get to try something new from time to time.

To get more information about the resources, chat with Programs staff at your location. We will do our best to help you find what you need!

news for youNews for You: is it the most popular resource we have?

If it's not, it's got to be close!

News for You is a weekly newspaper designed for adult beginning readers: it uses simplified language but still deals with topical, relevant news stories. New editions are displayed weekly in the resource areas at both Wilcrest and the Bay Area campuses. During the time the issue is current, we ask tutors to return the class sets to the resource area after use, to allow others to access them - but once the new edition arrives, back copies can be distributed to students.

But wait - there's more... there's also a supporting website, News for You Online. NOTE: when exploring the site, you may be prompted to enter a password - this is changed weekly, and can always be found in the latest paper edition of News for You.

The page has many features, some of them new and updated:

News for You Online has added a page for teachers that offers a new activity each week. Look for the link at the bottom of the right navigation bar.

• All photo and infographic captions now have audio. Just click on the little audio icon in the left corner of each photo.

• Links to the Teacher's Guides and the crossword puzzles for past issues are available on the archive page.

• You can navigate the site in both English and Spanish. Look for the link at the top right hand corner of the site.

• And, if you haven't already heard about it, you can download a free app for iPhones and iPads from the iTunes store. The app lets you access all of the great features of on these devices.

211You probably already knew about 2-1-1, the United Way information hotline - but did you know they also have a referral service online?

The United Way of Greater Houston Community Resource Directory lets you search by ZIP code, service category, service keyword, or even by agency or program name. The next time one of your students (or someone else you know!) needs information about services in Houston, you know where to go!

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