Individual Submission Summary

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The children left behind: A reading program that works

Mon, April 15, 3:15 to 4:45pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Atrium (Level 2), Waterfront A


Around the world, 250 million children, half of whom attend school, are unable to read and write (UNESCO, 2014). In Latin America, socio-economic inequality determines that, while part of the population achieves relatively high levels of literacy, low-income students are often unable to read until the advanced primary grades (Abadzi, 2008). But frequently, children´s difficulties in acquiring literacy are attributed to their own or their families´ characteristics.
In order to help these children learn and to counter deficit thinking about their potential for learning, we developed an instructional programme for teaching reading and writing to children who were attending school but were not acquiring the already low levels of literacy that are typical of children growing up in Latin America´s extremely poor communities. This programme will be the subject of the presentation. The programme´s name, DALE!, is an acronym for Derecho a Aprender a Leer y a Escribir (the Right to Learn How to Read and Write). DALE! sessions take place twice a week for twenty minutes, with one adult (teachers in schools or educators in community educational institutions) work with one or two children at a time.
DALE! was developed within a framework of cognitive apprenticeship, which emphasizes incorporating the child´s sociocultural experiences to the learning process, integrating reading and writing of complete, meaningful texts with instances of practice in spelling and reading words, identifying sounds and learning phoneme-grapheme correspondences. In order to achieve this in very short sessions, DALE! combines oral conversations on children´s everyday experiences which give rise to supported writing in a journal-like format, oral linguistic games, word spelling, and word and text reading.
Results from DALE! show that, when adequately taught, children who had been previously deemed as experiencing reading difficulties can learn.
My presentation analyses this instructional program, ways in which educators have put it into practice, and why it works.