The following article appeared in today’s “Word of the Day” email from the Dictionary Project:
During 2016, the Arkansas Corrections Department and the Arkansas Literacy Councils partnered together to send dictionaries to fourteen prisons in the area. Heather Powell, the Training Director at the Arkansas Literacy Councils, reached out to share their story with us.
“Last year we [the Arkansas Literacy Councils] piloted a joint program with ADC to train literacy and ESL tutors within the prisons. To date, we have trained over 200 literate inmates as tutors. The tutors work with other inmates who have low or no literacy skills, tutoring from the Laubach Way to Reading/English programs. These student dictionaries are just the right level for introducing students in how to use a dictionary.”
Often times, we at the Dictionary Project are asked by organizations what they should do with dictionaries that are left over after their distributions are complete. We would ask you to please consider donating them to prisons in your area. Statistics show that literacy rates in the American prison system are at only 40% for adult inmates, and 15% for juveniles (literacyprojectfoundation.org). A vital skill that many of us take for granted, the ability to read could greatly impact the lives of inmates who would otherwise not have access to the basic level of education that every human being should have.
Thank you, Heather Powell at the Arkansas Literacy Councils for this story.
As a big fan of the Dictionary Project, this is interesting on several points. First, the question about left over dictionaries may include something that can easily be overlooked. In our Valley Grange Program, we have learned there is one hazard with keeping leftover dictionaries and mixing them with new ones the following year. Some teachers have the students keep their dictionaries at school for use in the classroom–both to learn dictionary skills and to use as a resource. If there is a change in the dictionary, mixing last year’s edition with this year’s can create confusion. This is easy to manage as long as you aware and pay attention to edition numbers. But it is possible to have “left over” dictionaries even though you are repeating the program every year.
Second, there are additional community service opportunities where we, as Granges and Grangers, can make an impact. As this article suggests, we can offer dictionaries to prisons. Most areas also have volunteer adult literacy programs. I occasionally hear the comment that the schools are already getting dictionaries from another organization. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a dictionary project–it just means it won’t be “Words for Thirds.” It’ll be words for others! Just think Literacy! (We have given our leftover dictionaries to local libraries and keep a few at the Hall to give to any children that visit.)
And it is that time of year to start thinking about your program with your schools. By providing dictionaries in the fall, kids get more use from them! In the twelve years Valley Grange has been providing dictionaries, we’ve learned a lot! You can read the history of our program and, more importantly, if you have any questions or I can help you with your program, please let me know (webmastermainestategrangeorg) !