El Calvario—a shining example of CoEd’s Spark Program—uses puppets to boost classroom creativity and communication, showcasing the importance of having fun while learning! Sacatepéquez, July 2023.

Cooperative for Education’s (CoEd’s) Spark Program is far from your average reading program. Spark empowers students to read fluently by the end of second grade and encourages creative teaching strategies that make learning a real treat for students. Through Spark, a classroom can quickly become a stage for students to immerse themselves in the stories they love and bring them to life!

El Calvario—who began receiving Spark Training in 2011—is a shining example of this methodology! After Spark, students are genuinely excited about reading, creating quite an engaging learning environment. More than that, teachers are finding innovative ways to help their students see learning in a new light.

Take Rosa, a preschool teacher at El Calvario, who’s utilizing the Spark teaching methodology to get her students psyched about reading! “The foundation is as simple as knowing what a book is, how it functions, and how they can interpret the images to help them read,” she expressed.

“They came from a very traditional learning environment, which at first was challenging. The students would ask, ‘Miss, where’s our worksheet?’ ‘What are we going to paint?’ ‘What are we going to do?’ So the activities really reinforced a good quality education that doesn’t only include pencil and paper,” shared Rosa.

You might be wondering: just what exactly do these activities include? Puppets! These simple visual aids have helped bring the enthusiasm levels in these teachers’ classrooms up by miles. Even students who encounter difficulties reading the words of the story discover the meaning once they’ve begun to act out the plot themselves!

Rosa told us the story of one student, Camilo, facing hardships at home due to his mother becoming ill. His teacher suggested they read The Little Prince together as a family. After that, Camilo’s love for reading grew and became a source of comfort for him.

A Spark class from El Calvario celebrates another successful demonstration of CoEd’s reading program in action, along with Cemaco volunteers. Sacatepéquez, August 2023.

“He’s so into the storyline, and I believe that love of reading was initiated here at school. Additionally, seeing his sister read this book kept him motivated in his progress,” Rosa said.

But Camilo wasn’t the only student whose life changed through reading. Nidia—a second-grade teacher at El Calvario—found a solution to help one of her students who had difficulties speaking feel included in classroom sessions. Instead of communicating with him verbally, she uses sign language, allowing him to join in with the other students!

Nidia shared, “I have a student who has trouble with reading and speaking…but he’s the student who wants to participate the most. We have evaluated a plan to communicate with him through sign language…he has a classmate, Genesis, who understands him and helps him out a lot.”

Before Spark, teachers like Nidia grappled with how to teach reading and writing to second-graders. However, they saw an actual change after implementing Spark strategies in the classroom. As Nidia put it, “It’s given them a reading foundation because without knowing how to read, they will struggle to comprehend everything.”

CoEd’s Spark Reading Program isn’t just about learning to read but also making learning fun and giving teachers the tools they need to help students feel confident and empowered in the classroom. And the best part? Your support helps these students create a bright future for themselves and their families!

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