USC ReadersPLUS is a literacy and math tutoring program under the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. The program is administered by the Joint Educational Project and funded in part through the Good Neighbor’s Campaign.
“What makes USC ReadersPLUS special is that all participants benefit. The children benefit more than just by improving their literacy level. They also gain self-esteem from the [tutors’] emotional support. The [tutors] benefit not only through the salary (which helps pay for school), but also through the interpersonal interaction with their students. Even more, the program improves the community in which these inner-city children live.” – Raymund Gargantiel, USC Reader 1999-2000
College students like Raymund have been afforded this unique opportunity since President Clinton created the America Reads initiative. Since July of 1997, the USC Readers program has provided tutorial assistance in reading to hundreds of children in Family of Five School classrooms while bringing meaningful work opportunities for work-study students at USC. The program has implemented the twin objectives of President Clinton’s America Reads program—bringing additional funding to higher education and promoting education in communities.
From its inception, the USC Readers program continues to place about 100 trained work-study students each semester into the five local schools (Foshay Learning Center, Vermont Avenue School, Norwood Street Elementary, Lenicia B. Weemes Elementary School, and the 32nd Street/USC Visual and Performing Arts Magnet). The program has been deemed by local principals as “the best USC program in the community.” In 1999, federal work-study guidelines were extended to offer math education in grades K-12 in addition to the K-6 literacy focus. USC Readers rolled this math component into the established program targeting the Family of Five schools and renamed itself “USC ReadersPLUS”.
What We Do
At USC ReadersPLUS, we believe that the challenge of promoting reading and math development can best be accomplished by:
1. Improving skills and strategies for learning,
2. Exposing children to various forms of literature and real life math problems,
3. Making reading and math fun and interactive, and
4. Creating a positive learning relationship between the students and their reader or math mentor.
Our literacy goal is to instill a love of reading in the students of our community that will help them improve their reading and writing skills. Our math goal is to promote an understanding of basic math facts and concepts in student while at the same time nurturing them in becoming effective problem-solvers. In order to accomplish the goals described above, we strive to:
- Assist students who are performing at the third quartile–those students who are just below grade level and may just need a little extra attention to pull them into books and reading or to enhance their mathematical understanding.
- Avoid working with children who are suffering with learning disabilities or other related problems; reading specialists and professional teachers can best help these children.
- Work one-on-one with students to develop a consistent relationship with each child revolving around books and literacy or math acquisition.
- Build the self-esteem of the children we work with and communicate the specialness of reading.
- Work with words through reading, writing, and speaking, and guide literacy development through the use of the three cueing systems that successful readers use simultaneously: meaning, structure, and phonics.
- Work with numbers to nurture a real understanding of number concepts by encouraging students to illustrate their problem solving strategies and explain their solutions to basic math problems.
After School Enrichment
Little Yoginis is a curriculum developed by JEP Associate Director of Administration and Educational Outreach, Tina Koneazny who has been practicing yoga for nearly 20 years herself. Approximately once each week, children are introduced to a yoga lesson which starts with a piece of children’s literature that is read aloud to our first through third grade students. Each Little Yoginis book selection features a theme that is directly related to one of the foundational principles of yoga. For example, Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss, brings special attention to Horton’s qualities of faithfulness and determination to create the theme for the children’s yoga poses introduced in the session. Practice begins with “Elephant Breath” (deep cleansing breaths as hand are clasped and arms are swung back and forth like an elephant’s trunk) and puts children in poses such as “Tree” (in honor of Horton’s many months of sitting in a tree), “Warrior” poses (to practice (determination). After the story is read and the theme discussed, the children practice breathing techniques to help them calm down and focus – bringing their attention to their own body and also the theme itself. Our USC ReadersPLUS tutors then guide students in a series of yoga poses which invite children to practice making the “shape” with their bodies, while also focusing on their breath to stay steady. Practice ends with a peaceful meditation which again reminds students of the theme and how they can practice that particular quality of focus (i.e. determination) in their daily lives at home and at school just as they did on the mat practicing the poses.
Through yoga practice children build confidence as they realize what they can do with their bodies; enhance their concentration as they focus on the poses and breathing through them; improve their flexibility and balance with each practice; and learn how to find a sense of calm as they learn various breathing and relaxation techniques. “Little Yoginis” was created to bring these positive benefits to the children in our neighborhood because, after all, life is hard even for a kid. But one of the best things about bringing yoga to our kids is that, above all, they are having fun and learning something new! Isn’t that what being a kid is all about?
See the links below to read more about Little Yoginis:
USC JEP WonderKids is presented after school by our USC ReadersPlus tutors at a number of our partner schools twice each week (schools served varies each semester based on tutor availability and staffing). This STEM curriculum was designed to introduce the first through third grade students in our after school program to the myriad of careers in the sciences and to promote a sense of curiosity about the many wonders of science. Various science fields are introduced in two week blocks through literature and hands-on activities. The final lesson in each science field block is presented by guest speakers – professional scientists from each field of study – to share more about their work, to engage children in fun and exciting science activity so that they can “play scientist”, and to answer any lingering questions children may have about their work in the field.
The program is managed by Dieuwertje (DJ) Kast, JEP’s STEMS Programs Manager who was recognized by Forbes in 2016 as one of the “30 under 30” next gen STEM leaders. Some examples of science fields introduced are: neuroscience, environmental science, paleontology, deep sea, marine biology, botany, robotics, space, chemistry, DNA, animal behavior, medicine, and more!
See the links below to read more about WonderKids:
Every April, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is hosted on the USC campus and has become a renowned experience gathering many guests, including community members from University Park. The annual Joint Educational Project/ReadersPLUS booth is cosponsored by the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences and Los Angeles Times.
The festival is one of the final events of the academic year in which all ReadersPLUS tutors from the USC Family of Schools join together to host two full days of read alouds, interactive math and literacy activities, and book giveaways. All students who visit the JEP booth are provided with books donated by the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, and Project Books and Blankies.
This after school component is an ever evolving curriculum aimed to help our youngest learners (first through third graders) become more interested in books through responding to them in journals through pictures and/or writing.
With the funding of Frances Carey and her Coalition For Literacy organization, a high school student from Rolling Hills Preparatory School in San Pedro when she first game to us with and now a USC Junior Åssociate attending USC, our ReadersPlus program has been able to hire more tutors to help us instill a love of books and reading in the hearts of the children attending our neighborhood schools. One day a week during after school hours, our USC ReadersPLUS tutors present “Turn the Page” curriculum which invites children to think of themselves as being a part of a “literacy club” as they respond to a variety of genres of books each semester including fairy/folk talks, non-fiction and poetry. Children make connections with books read aloud by our tutors as they are encouraged to relate to characters in the story, think about times they may have been in similar situations, or other stories or events that they have read or experiences similar to those they are reading. They talk freely together with one another and with our tutors to make these connections orally before putting these connections on paper in their journals, either by drawing picture, writing words/sentences or both.
For more information contact Tina Koneazny by phone or email:
(213) 740-1834 firstname.lastname@example.org
Please drop off application at the JEP House, email to the above address, or mail to:
JEP House (Attn: Tina Koneazny * 801 W. 34th Street *
University of Southern California * Los Angeles, CA 90089-0471
At Home Resources / En casa Recursos
Below is a list of *free* online resources for children and families to help promote and support student learning and mindfulness while restricted to Shelter in Place during this difficult and uncertain time. You will find lists for both reading and math website links as continued academic support is important. Equally important, however, is emotional and mental health. As such, we have included a list of links to websites which provide short meditation videos and yoga practices when children and/or parents are feeling anxious.
A continuación se muestra una lista de recursos en línea * gratuitos * para niños y familias para ayudar a promover y apoyar el aprendizaje y la atención plena de los estudiantes, mientras se restringe a Shelter in Place durante este momento difícil e incierto. Encontrará listas de enlaces de sitios web de lectura y matemáticas, ya que el apoyo académico continuo es importante. Sin embargo, igualmente importante es la salud emocional y mental. Como tal, hemos incluido una lista de enlaces a sitios web que proporcionan videos cortos de meditación y prácticas de yoga cuando los niños y / o los padres se sienten ansiosos.
• Free Lessons / Lecciones gratis
o Full lessons, mini-lessons organized by grade, theme, or learning objective
Lecciones completas, mini lecciones organizadas por grado, tema u objetivo de aprendizaje
• Language Arts Games / Juegos de artes del lenguaje
o Language Arts and Math Games organized by grade targeting specific skills
Juegos de artes del lenguaje y matemáticas organizados por grado, enfocando habilidades específicas
• Worksheets and Independent Study Packets / Hojas de trabajo y paquetes de estudio independiente
o Worksheets, independent study packets, and guided lessons for students
Hojas de trabajo, paquetes de estudio independiente y lecciones guiadas para estudiantes
• Math Worksheets / Hojas de trabajo de matemáticas
o Free Math worksheets organized by grade
Hojas de trabajo de matemáticas gratuitas organizadas por grado
• Math Games / Juegos de matemáticas
o Free math games organized by grade and skill
Juegos de matemáticas gratuitos organizados por grado y habilidad.
• Math teaching tips and resources / Consejos y recursos de enseñanza de matemáticas
o Games, teaching tips, and resources for teaching elementary math
Juegos, consejos didácticos y recursos para la enseñanza de matemáticas elementales
• Math and Language Arts Games / Juegos de matemáticas y artes del lenguaje
o Math and Language Arts Games organized by grade targeting specific skills
Juegos de Matemáticas y Artes del Lenguaje organizados por grado con habilidades específicas
• Meditation/Breathwork for Mindfulness Sites / Meditación / Respiración para sitios de Mindfulness
• 13 minute Meditation for anxiety/worry / Meditación de 13 minutos para ansiedad / preocupación
• Mindful Mantras for Kids / Mantras conscientes para niños
Use of mantras — phrases that are repeated silently while taking in deep breaths — is a helpful mindfulness strategy. Mantras are especially helpful for the times when we need to calm ourselves.
El uso de mantras, frases que se repiten en silencio mientras se respira profundamente, es una estrategia útil para la atención plena. Los mantras son especialmente útiles para los momentos en que necesitamos calmarnos.
• Deep Breathing / Coping Skills for Kids / Habilidades de respiración profunda / afrontamiento para niños
Coping skills for kids, teens, and adults to help deal with anxiety and stress around Coronavirus (COVID-19). Includes other links to resources, including deep breathing techniques for kids.
Habilidades de afrontamiento para niños, adolescentes y adultos para ayudar a lidiar con la ansiedad y el estrés alrededor del coronavirus (COVID-19). Incluye otros enlaces a recursos, incluidas técnicas de respiración profunda
• Rainbow Yoga / Yoga arcoiris
Rainbow Yoga is one of many youtube videos by “Yoga with Adrienne”. This is a sweet 17-minute practice to brighten your
day, to help turn darkness into light. Great for ALL AGES!
Rainbow Yoga es uno de los muchos videos de YouTube de “Yoga con Adrienne”. Esta es una dulce práctica de 17 minutos
para alegrar tu día, para ayudar a convertir la oscuridad en luz. ¡Ideal para TODAS LAS EDADES!
• Yoga for Kids – Play in the Park / Yoga para niños – Jugar en el parque
Another video by “Yoga with Adrienne”. This is a fun thirty-minute practice geared specifically for kids as Adrienne practices animal themed poses with a 12-year old friend in the park.
Otro video de “Yoga con Adrienne”. Esta es una práctica divertida de treinta minutos orientada específicamente para niños como Adrienne practica poses con temas de animales con un amigo de 12 años en el parque.
• Cosmic Kids Yoga Channel (Youtube) / Canal Cósmico de yoga para niños (Youtube)
Here you will find a variety of videos introducing yoga, mindfulness and relaxation for kids. Interactive adventures which build strength, balance and confidence.
Aquí encontrará una variedad de videos que presentan yoga, mindfulness y relajación para niños. Aventuras interactivas que crean fuerza, equilibrio y confianza.
• YouTube Video: Yoga for Kids! – Storyhive / Video de YouTube: ¡Yoga para niños! – Storyhive
This video offers a fun and family-friendly introduction to yoga. You’ll get to warm up, practice breathing and poses, and relax into a quiet rest to gain more focus.
Este video ofrece una introducción divertida y familiar al yoga. Tendrás que calentar, practicar la respiración y las posturas, y relajarte para descansar y concentrarte más.