Posts Tagged ‘Culture of Reading’

Learning How to Learn

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018
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Principal and first- and second-grade teacher Fermy with one of her students

Fermy, the principal and first- and second-grade teacher at El Rosario primary school recalls: “When CoEd came to ask if we would like to enter the Culture of Reading Program (CORP), I said: ‘Yes, I want to do it. I want to learn. I want to develop myself so that I never become stagnant.’”

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“I want to develop myself so that I never become stagnant,” says Fermy.

Until that point, Fermy had used the teaching skills she learned during her high school training—the only training that was required to become a Guatemalan primary school teacher until just a few years ago. “Give them a book and tell them to copy: that was reading,” she explains with a distinct note of frustration in her voice. “They would keep copying all year. But you can’t just copy—you have to find a way to learn. One can know that they are writing, but not know whether they are doing it well or poorly.”

Not only were Fermy’s students failing to learn to read through copying, they also struggled to overcome their fear of voicing their thoughts and being wrong, which posed a great barrier to learning. “Fear is something very personal,” says Fermy. “A teacher can say anything she wants, but if a student can’t let go of his fear, the teacher cannot break down that barrier for him.”

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Thanks to CORP, Fermy’s students are coming out of their shells.

CORP was the solution, Fermy says. The CORP activities her students participate in—such as acting out stories and even authoring their own stories—have naturally inspired them to let go of their fear as they become lost in the magic of learning. No longer do they shrink away when their teachers move to embrace them (a common expression of affection between teacher and student in Guatemala), or speak in voices barely above a whisper, like they did before CORP was introduced.

“The word corner, the books—they get excited!” Fermy says. “They even dance and sing when we bring out the puppet theater. And now when we read a story they continually ask, ‘What’s going to happen!? What’s going to happen!?’ And at the end they say: ‘Aaahhh!’”

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CORP teachers help their students let go of fear and embrace the joy of learning.

To ignite this passion for learning, Fermy explains, she had to learn the proper techniques, even when it came to a seemingly simple exercise like reading a book aloud: “As a teacher you have to know the right way to read a story. If you rush, without pausing, and without doing any movements when there are expressions of emotion in the book [the students become bored]. But if the book says, ‘Wow! It’s time to jump!’ and you jump—then the kids really pay attention!”

“I tell my students: ‘We are all capable if we simply have the desire to learn. But if we don’t want to learn, we will become stagnant. We learn, and we walk through life, and life teaches us.’”

Empowered by CORP, Fermy not only teaches her students how to read—she nourishes their natural curiosity and teaches them how to learn from life itself. It wouldn’t be possible without supporters like you!

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What You Make Possible in Just One Week

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Sit back and listen to some good news! Our Director of International Programs, Katie Camillus, wants to give you a “taste” of all the exciting things that happen in Guatemala in a typical week, thanks to your support! These stories range from playful to powerful: you won’t want to miss them!

Dora María Cardenas Figueroa: A Classroom Transformed

Friday, May 19th, 2017
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Dora María and her student Antony

Before the Culture of Reading Program (CORP) arrived at Agua Dulce school, Dora María’s classroom looked like most other first- and second-grade classrooms in rural Guatemala. There were no storybooks, just a whiteboard and some markers. Dora María used the teaching techniques she had learned while studying teaching in high school, which is all the training that is required of primary school teachers in Guatemala. “They would just copy and copy and copy,” she says.

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All Noe Wants Is a Hug

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

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Dear CoEd supporters,

Here at CoEd we never stop giving thanks for you, and we hope you have much to be thankful for as well.

As the gift-giving season kicks off, we wanted to share with you a special story of a third-grade student named Noe. Earlier this year as part of CoEd’s Culture of Reading Program, Noe’s teacher Maria read her students a book titled The Surprise Gift. To exercise their critical thinking skills, she asked them to answer questions related to the story, and one of those questions was: “What kind of gift would you like for your birthday?”

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That Face You Make…

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

In honor of International Literacy Day, we thought it was high time that we let some of our sprightly young Culture of Reading Program (CORP) students teach you a few things about proper reading technique. Namely, exactly what facial expressions one should make while engaging in various reading-related activities, from vocabulary exercises to dramatization of a story. Captured in their natural habitat, these emotive masters will dazzle you with their superb expressive technique. Go ahead and limber up your own facial muscles so you can play along at home with That Face You Make…

1) when you love practicing your letters
chubby cheeks and wide smiles

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Re-Learning How to Read

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

CORP students

Do you remember learning how to read? Depending on your age, you may have had fun with Dick and Jane or molded your mouth around consonant blends with Hooked on Phonics. But in Guatemala, neither storybooks nor syllables are standard fare. Instead, educators teach reading as an exercise in rote memorization of individual words. Words remain just arrangements of lines and curves, so students have a hard time interpreting new words on their own, and entire sentences, paragraphs, and stories never coalesce into meaning.

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Florencio Fernando Teleguario: Dreamer to Be

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

We often tell stories of students with big dreams and students who have made their dreams reality, thanks to your support and CoEd’s innovative programs. The truth is, many of these students started off without a dream—many of them thought a life of toil and poverty was inescapable—until you changed their lives.

Florencio Fernando Teleguario is still without a dream. When asked how far he wants to go in school, Florencio responds, “I don’t know,” and when asked what he wants to be when he grows up, he says, “I want to work with a hoe.” Currently, Florencio works alongside his mother in the fields every day after school. He considers himself the man of the house, shouldering responsibility for his mother and five sisters on his thin, 12-year-old frame.

His father used to send money home from the United States, but now he spends his money on alcohol and Florencio rarely hears from him. All of his sisters dropped of out of school before the sixth grade, two of them before the second grade. It’s no wonder, then, that Florencio assumes he will one day drop out too.

But wait! Don’t worry! Something is changing for Florencio, and we know it will make you smile as wide as him!

Florencio with his favorite book, "Bear Under the Sun"

Florencio with his favorite book

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CORP Teacher Wins National Prize in Guatemala

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Sergio Jimenez receiving Maestro 100 Puntos award_20nov2015Sixth-grade teacher Sergio Jiménez Valenzuela just received a big boost of confidence by being one of ten teachers in the entire country of Guatemala to receive a prestigious national prize called “Maestro 100 Puntos”.

What helped him get to this point? Why, the Culture of Reading Program, of course!
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Keep her dream alive this holiday season #GivingTuesday

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

2015 Holiday Appeal

This summer, 17 year old Cindy Pinzón Sotz hurried home from her job as a housemaid to join her family in welcoming visitors.

She watched with her mother as her younger siblings, dressed in their crisp Chimazat School uniforms, led Cooperative for Education (CoEd) volunteers down the path to her home, and she smiled as the group chattered about the impressive computer demonstration they had just witnessed at the school and the beauty of the strawberry fields that surrounded them.

As we entered their humble dirt-floor dwelling, someone asked the kids what they wanted to be when they grew up. “We want to be teachers,” the middle school siblings enthusiastically agreed. “I want to be a doctor,” said Cindy’s youngest sister, still in primary school.

Cindy and her family

Cindy, center, with her siblings and mother outside their home in rural Guatemala.

Cindy remained silent, resting her hand on her mother’s shoulder. “I don’t know,” she replied softly when the question was finally directed to her. “I don’t really think about it.”

When Cindy dropped out of school between sixth and seventh grade, she didn’t just give up her education, she also gave up her hopes and dreams for a better future.

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Understanding through participation {or How Scrabble Changes Everything}

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

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We never thought Scrabble would be such a smashing success at our CORP training sessions. We were wrong.

Let’s back up for a second and review exactly what we mean by “CORP training”. As you may know, our Culture of Reading Program (CORP) involves 60 training hours in literacy instruction for primary school teachers, as well as two whole years of in-class coaching and teacher support. (more…)