Literacy Program

A partnership between the PLUS Company and Rivier University

In the spring of 1999, Kim Shottes, the Director of The PLUS Company, Maureen Boland, The PLUS Company’s Adult Education Director, and Dr. Patricia Roberts, Director of the M.A.T. Programs in English at Rivier collaborated to develop a program to teach basic literacy skills of reading and writing to The PLUS Company consumers. These consumers are adults with developmental disabilities who have fallen through the cracks of our educational system; therefore, they have not learned to read and write well, or at all. It is believed that this program will benefit The PLUS Company consumers who participate as well as the Rivier graduate students who will be teachers in the program.

Goals and Objectives
The goals for PLUS Company students are to:

  • Develop basic reading skills
  • Develop, where appropriate, basic writing skills
  • Be able to use basic literacy skills to improve the quality of daily life
  • Experience satisfaction from and pleasure in increased literacy skills

The goals for Rivier Graduate students are to:

  • Gain experience in teaching students basic literacy skills
  • Learn effective techniques for teaching exceptional learners
  • Earn a supplemental income

Functional Reading and Writing Objectives for PLUS Company studentsStudents will gain the ability to:

  • Identify in written form important personal data such as name, address, birthday, place of employment, etc. when they see them written
  • Read written information regarding areas of interest such as calendars, safety signs, directions, menus, recipes, transportation, etc.
  • Recognize high frequency words
  • Understand the meaning of texts that they read
  • Write personal data with such clarity that they are communicated easily to readers

Criteria for Teachers
Those eligible to teach in The PLUS Company/Rivier University Literacy Program will be students in the M.A.T., M.A., M.A./M.A.T., B.A./M.A.T. programs in English and the M.Ed. programs in Reading and Special Education at Rivier University who have completed the paid training. This training will take place in August at times most convenient to those participating. Students will be paid $10 an hour for approximately six hours of training.

Criteria for Students
The PLUS Company consumers who want to participate in this program must complete an application process, which includes diagnostic testing of basic literacy skills. Students must commit to a 14-week program, which includes attending 2 classes a week and completing homework between classes.

The Literacy ProgramThe Literacy Program is organized around two 75 minute classes a week that will meet for 14 weeks paralleling Rivier University semesters. Each class will be comprised of four to five PLUS Company students with similar literacy needs and skills and one teacher. What is studied in class will be reinforced with homework. PLUS Company volunteers will help the students with their homework. The teachers and students will use Literacy Volunteers of America philosophy, approaches, and a variety of materials. The PLUS Company will provide the LVA books and materials. The classes will be held from 4:45 to 6 p.m. twice a week at Rivier University.

The Teachers and Students
Based on diagnostic evaluations, eight to ten PLUS Company students will be divided into two groups of four to five students with similar needs. Each teacher will teach one of these groups. When possible, there will be an undergraduate service learning student to function as a teacher aide for each group. It is expected that the teachers will meet together for planning and mutual support as they develop lessons that build students’ basic literacy abilities. Teachers are expected to provide students with homework that will reinforce the skills being introduced or strengthened in class. PLUS Company volunteers will help students with their homework between classes; therefore, teachers must develop written directions for homework.

Student Responsibilities 

  • Attend the 28 classes in the program, arriving on time
  • Participate in class cooperatively
  • Complete homework as assigned

Teacher Responsibilities 

  • Teach the 28 classes in the program (or acquire a trained substitute if ill)
  • Develop goal-oriented plans in collaboration with the other teacher and the University Directors of the program. This planning must include written directions for homework assigned
  • Develop initial goals, keep attendance records, keep a portfolio of each student’s work and progress, and complete each semester intermediate and final assessments of how well goals and objectives have been met

Compensation for Teachers
Each teacher will be paid $25 per class. In addition teachers will earn ten hours of PSTE for teaching one 14-week session and an additional 5 hours of PSTE for a second. It is hoped that teachers, once they are trained and experienced, will apply to teach additional sessions.