Welcome to the Winnetka Rotary Literacy Projects Blog

Our literacy committee blog shares information about our Rotary literacy projects and events associated with sharing access to the many different ways in which people read. Some access reading the "traditional" way, some have computers read books, Internet pages, newspapers, and other print material. Our goal is to make the "written word" accessible to every person of every age and ability.

Please come back to find out about our past, present, and future projects.

What is the impact of illiteracy?

Illiteracy causes more harm than merely having a reduced ability to read and write. Illiteracy causes entire families to remain isolated from the everyday fabric of their local and global communities, to remain isolated from inspiration acquired by "enough education," and to remain isolated from a means to share history beyond the reaches of their spoken word.
----Dr. Jeanne Beckman

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Winnetka-Northfield Rotary wins two grants

Dr. Jeanne Beckman, literacy chair and board member of the Winnetka-Northfield Rotary, is pleased to announce that our Rotary club is the recipient of grants from both the Winnetka-Northfield Rotary foundation as well as a district simplified grant (DSG) from District 6440 of Rotary International. Here is a description of the project:
For the Winnetka-Northfield Rotary’s literacy project, the traditional Rotary Dictionary Project (one book for every 3rd grader), will be combined with added bonus of the Ultimate Talking Dictionary (computer software that is a full dictionary that reads aloud the definitions, so that every third grader in the Winnetka and Northfield public schools(plus one dictionary for each special needs and ELL student in all grades between kindergarten and eighth grade),can not only have his or her own traditional print dictionary, but can own his or her own copy of dictionary software to look up words on a computer at school or at home. Here’s a description of the Ultimate Talking Dictionary:
The Ultimate Talking Dictionary (UTD), is not only a comprehensive dictionary, but has other robust, integrated features that make it unlike any other dictionary anywhere. Like all other Premier products, UTD reads everything to you. The dictionary contains over 250,000 words, terms, jargon, and even proper nouns like geographic entries (e.g. cities, countries) and historical persons. UTD has a complete thesaurus built-in that allow you to quickly find synonyms and their corresponding definitions. The “Power Search” feature lets you look up words when you only know a partial spelling. Premier’s unique Interlink technology incorporates complex cross-references between all words in the UTD so you can quickly find related terms and definitions, even when you only have a vague concept of a word.
1. How will this project meet the needs of the community?

Even though many of the students in these two communities have family incomes that are far above those generally viewed as in need, most, if not all, students can benefit from additional vocabulary support and encouragement. The dictionary project has repeatedly demonstrated that students feel great pride in ownership in having their own personal dictionary. Additionally, many students have some barriers to easy acquisition to vocabulary growth, whether due to unidentified or identified learning challenges, disabilities, and/or English language learning. Combining both traditional dictionaries with software versions allows equal access and provides a foundation for lifelong learning.

2. How will the sponsoring club or clubs work together to implement this project?
The Literacy committee’s project for our club is a “traditional plus” project, which will deliver a personalized copy (with a Winnetka-Northfield Rotary nameplate inside) of DictionaryProject.org’s Webster’s Dictionary for Students Special Encyclopedic Edition dictionary plus a copy of the Ultimate Talking Dictionary to every third grader at Winnetka and Northfield schools. Additionally, a copy of both will be provided to each child in first through eighth grades with an IEP or 504 (i.e. special needs students) and English language learners (ELL), regardless of grade in school so that every child can experience success by having an equal opportunity to acquire the rich vocabulary of the written word.

In addition to attending an assembly where our club members will deliver these dictionaries to the schools, Rotarians will also participate in a hands-on project of converting books on the third grade reading list (at the Winnetka-Northfield public library) into accessible text via scanning each one into accessibility software (loaned by Winnetka-Northfield Rotary Club to the public library, a 2007 district award-winning Winnetka-Northfield Literacy project). School-provided library copies of these traditional books will be scanned, and their accessible versions will be placed on a CD in a Rotary bookplated pocket inside the front cover and returned to the respective school libraries.

Hands on component:
Ø Rotarians going to schools and presenting “dictionaries with a difference” to assembly of 3rd graders and possibly assembly of special needs students
Ø volunteering reading books aloud, either at schools or at the public library
Ø Northfield: possible facilitating special thesaurus projects at school request
Ø Age-appropriate mentoring student projects of making books accessible
Ø Scanning 3rd grade book lists into accessible print
Ø Scanning/mentoring of scanning of other book lists into accessible print as project matures
Ø Accessibility software utilized in library with possible student and parent mentoring

Stay tuned to find out how we plan to "pay forward" this project

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Winnetka-Northfield Rotary wins district literacy award!

District 6440 Governor Mike Erikson announced at the Rotary District 6440 Conference that the Winnetka Northfield Rotary was one of the recipients of the District Literacy Committee's Excellence in the Promotion of Literacy Award for their numerous projects, including accessible literacy library projects which are growing beyond the local libraries toward national and international library participation. Accessible literacy projects allow all individuals, including those with disabilities, to read about their world and make it a better place.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Award-winning Literacy Projects coming soon!

The literacy committee of Rotary District 6440 just completed a video that featured some of the 2006-2007 award-winning literacy projects of the district's Rotary clubs. This video will be shown during the district's conference in Itasca, Illinois on April 25th. Check back here for a You-Tube video of these wonderful projects.

On April 26th, the 2007-2008 award winners will be announced during the awards luncheon. Check back here for a list of the winners and the great projects.

Are you going to the conference? Here's a link to the district website where you can download a registration form:
District 6440 website
Hope to see you there.
Jeanne Beckman

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Free Rice: Learn vocabulary and donate rice through the UN Food Program

Instead of playing solitaire on the computer, how about playing a literacy game where, by choosing the correct definition to a vocabulary word, you can donate 20 grains of rice to the UN Food Program? Try it: http://www.freerice.com/

My personal daily goal: 100 grains of rice (5 vocabulary words). What have you done today?

About FreeRice

FreeRice has two goals:

  1. Provide English vocabulary to everyone for free.
  2. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

This is made possible by the sponsors who advertise on this site.

Whether you are CEO of a large corporation or a street child in a poor country, improving your vocabulary can improve your life. It is a great investment in yourself.

Perhaps even greater is the investment your donated rice makes in hungry human beings, enabling them to function and be productive. Somewhere in the world, a person is eating rice that you helped provide. Thank you.

“Web game provides rice for hungry . . . FreeRice went online in early October and has now raised 1 billion grains of rice [by November 9].”

- BBC News

Yesterday alone, 120,839,820 grains of rice were donated.

Now, in the privacy of your own home, you can grow your vocabulary as you raise funds for feeding the world's poor.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

President Wilf Wilkinson supports literacy projects for every club

Each time Rotary President Wilf Wilkinson speaks, he mentions the importance of literacy. March is literacy month. What is your club doing to promote literacy? Here's a picture of President Wilf Wilkinson with Winnetka Rotary literacy chair Dr. Jeanne Beckman. Stay tuned for more Winnetka-Northfield literacy projects.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rotary Gets It: Literacy Opens the World to Peace, Prosperity, and Fellowship

March is literacy month. What has your Rotary club done to support literacy in your local and global community? No project is too large nor too small for those who are of a committed and collaborative nature. Share a book, share the world.
Here is the story of Rotary:
"This is a book
That was donated to a third grade classroom
or was studied by a student abroad
or helped teach farming methods to a Ugandan villager
or maybe all of the above

Each Year, thousands of books are donated to schools, hundreds of university students receive international scholarships, and countless children and adults are taught how to read. Thanks to the 1.2 million members of Rotary who wrote the book on helping others."

Some may ask, "What's in your wallet?"
Instead, my fellow Rotarians and I ask, "What's on your bookshelf
.....and what's in your heart?"


Saturday, March 8, 2008

More projects!

Earlier, I listed the projects that the Winnetka-Northfield Rotary foundation had funded in 2007, but that is only the beginning. Here are a few others:
I will add to this list as I obtain more details

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Winnetka-Northfield Foundation 2007 grants for literacy projects

So many Rotarians go about their service projects in a quiet way, focusing their energies on the project itself rather than making their good deeds public. Our club's charitable foundation granted funding for the following literacy projects in 2007:

Winnetka-Northfield Rotary Charitable Foundation Awards June 7, 2007

Organization (Club Champion): Project/Proposal

Literature for All of Us (Karen Thomson): Literacy Education - helping teenage boys to improve their reading skills

Writer’s Theatre, Inc. (Sherre Jennings Cullen) The MLK Project- a project bringing Civil Rights information to schools

Pass Christian Library (Barb Aron):Children's Collection - supporting a two-year commitment to rebuild the Children's collection of the public library destroyed by Katrina

Rotary Literacy Project (Jeanne Beckman): Book Scanning/accessibility software - purchasing software to loan to libraries to allow people with reading challenges to access books, magazines, and the Internet.

LEARN Charter School (Linda Kellough): Materials for science lab - a private school in Chicago needs needs materials for their science lab

Nicaragua Matching Grant (Walter Reed):Fabretto's Children - an institution educating 700 students. Purchasing computer and digital equipment.

Kenya Library (Tony Kambich): Combined Community and School Library funding materials for a new combined library.

RISE International (Mike Wurzburg):Textbooks for a school in Angola.

Futures for Children: Supporting a young American Indian woman to complete her high school education.

Applications have already been submitted for funding for 2008. Stay tuned for updates on these and other literacy projects.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

To kick off literacy month (March) and celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday, Winnetka Rotarian Dr. Jeanne Beckman held a Dr. Seuss birthday party at The Book Stall in Winnetka. In addition to reading books "the old fashioned way," children (and adults) who came to the party had an opportunity to try accessible reading software by reading a Dr. Seuss book on the computer. What is your favorite Seuss book? I think mine is Green Eggs and Ham, the Number four all time rank of children's hardcover books. Stay tuned for more literacy events during the month of March.

Many thanks to The Book Stall at Chestnut Court, 811 Elm Street, Winnetka, IL
Every time I go into this store, I am struck with the wide selection of books available as well as the passions of owner Roberta Rubin and her the avid book-reading staff. The Book Stall is a local, independent bookseller, and they will order any available book or audio book. Http://www.theBookStall.com


Monday, February 25, 2008

Literacy Project Update

On Saturday, February 23, we had a Rotary literacy project volunteer update, technology demonstration, and book signing. Visitors had a chance to look at Rotarian and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammad Yunus' new book (Creating a World Without Poverty) in both hardcover and in digital format that the computer read aloud.

Among the visitors, we had Kirk Reed, our assistant district governor. Other guests included parents, several disabled individuals, and professionals.

Visitors had hands-on demonstrations of technology that reads books, magazines (even the Rotarian), and Internet text aloud, as well as other assistive technology (tools for access). Visitors also had the opportunity to see the multiple ways in which our projects will provide digital (computer-readable) materials so that those who struggle with reading can have the same opportunities to read and learn as their peers.

If you missed this event, several more will be scheduled over the next few months. Stay tuned...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Accessible LiteracyTechnology Demonstration and Winnetka-Northfield Rotary Literacy Project Update

Meet local Rotarian and author Dr. Jeanne Beckman

What: Winnetka-Northfield Rotary Literacy Volunteers Project Update, Book signing, Technology Demonstrations

When: Saturday, February 23, 2008 11-3

Where: One Northfield Plaza, Suite 300, Northfield, IL

Special for spreading the Rotarian spirit: Bring a copy of either Muhammad Yunus book (Creating a World Without Poverty or Banker to the poor: micro-lending and the battle against world poverty) and get a free digital copy for your computer to read aloud.

Find out about

  • Technology that reads any book aloud (text to speech)
  • Technology that types whatever you say (voice recognition or “Dragon”)
  • Technology that speaks for those with delayed, difficult to understand, or absent speech
  • Technology that helps you keep track of appointments, assignments, and other important information
  • How to get technology to meet your individual needs
  • How to share technology for literacy through local and international Rotary literacy projects
  • 10% of book sales during open house will be donated to Winnetka-Northfield Literacy Project

Audience: Information for all ages

  • For more information, email Dr. Beckman at techpsych@techpsychologist.com

Excerpt from Tech Psychologist’s Guide

As you read this book

As you read this book, I also ask that you consider how you might impact others’ lives if you only had the time. It is my hope that this book will help you and your family find ways to access learning so that you will have time to more fully participate in the community, both at the local and global level.

Making our world a better place

Challenging barriers is not a pleasant stroll in the park. It drains families of energy we could spend making our world a better place. When families work together, the likelihood of creating change increases significantly. When you work together with other families and find some successes in leading change, who knows how far you can go? Maybe you can create changes outside your own communities. Can you help other families find funding sources for technology? Can you share your techniques for bringing about changes with other families?

A final thought on my own attempt at ripples of change

In my book, I challenged readers to “pay it forward” by finding ways to share what they’ve learned. My own attempt to pay it forward is that I will donate a percentage of the profit from this book to the Winnetka, Illinois Rotary Club literacy project. This project loans text-to-speech software and scanners to local public libraries, so library patrons can access all of the books within their library as well as have fully accommodated access to the Internet and digital media. We intend to have this project “paid forward” to other Rotary service clubs throughout the United States and internationally. Each of those clubs will be asked to pay the project forward to three other Rotary clubs, and so on.

For information about the project
Please contact Dr. Jeanne Beckman at 847-446-1251

or email her at techpsych@techpsychologist.com

Monday, January 28, 2008

Reading Support for ESL

For those who are learning English as a second language, the accessibility software that is about to be installed in the Winnetka library can help. Both Kurzweil 3000 as well as Premier Assistive Technology's E-Text Reader IGT provide support for those who are trying to translate their reading material into a language they can easily understand. Here's the description of the E-Text Reader IGT
This is a easy to use reading tool that can read and translate documents to and from 8 different languages. Translate and entire document or highlight and extract a part of document and trans late just that part. The E-Text Reader is designed to help those who have trouble reading or comprehending the printed word. There are thousands of literature titles now available in electronic format, with more being released each day. We developed the E-Text Reader to read (using digital voices) the electronic version of books (“E-Books, or E-Text”) to you. The E-Text Reader can read any document in Standard Text, MS Word, RTF (“Rich Text Format”) and HTML formats. E-Text Reader contains bookmarking, text highlighting and extraction features that make it an ideal study aide. For more information, please go to http://www.readingmadeez.com/Home.php
Other libraries within the Rotary district are also examining whether their patrons could benefit from accessibility features of these universal design accessible reading products.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Phase 1: Text to Speech Software Delivered to Library

In December, the Winnetka, Illinois library received the first loan of Kurzweil3000 text to speech software and a scanner for library patrons to use. This delivery included:
  • One network version of Kurzweil 3000 Color Professional
  • Four network versions of Kurzweil 3000 Learn Stations
  • A new scanner with document feeder donated to the Rotary project by Jeanne Beckman
Since the software is installed on the network, all library computers connected to the library network could be capable of providing accessible reading for those with vision difficulties or reading challenges. Headphones will be available for private listening to Internet or other digital text while viewing the text on the computer screen.

Volunteers from the Winnetka Rotary, as well as other organizations and individuals, are invited to learn about using this software as well as to find out about volunteer opportunities of scanning books for those who need accommodated access to the written word. Scanning is as simple as pressing a button for a copying machine! For information, you are invited to contact Jeanne Beckman at techpsych@techpsychologist.com or telephone 847-446-1251

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

How does illiteracy affect our communities?

Illiteracy causes more harm than merely having a reduced ability to read and write. Illiteracy causes entire families to remain isolated from the everyday fabric of their local and global communities, to remain isolated from inspiration acquired by "enough education," and to remain isolated from a means to share history beyond the reaches of their spoken word.
----Jeanne Beckman

What is your Rotary club doing to bring about a literate community?