PROVIDING OPPORTUNITIES THROUGH SPANISH LITERACY EDUCATION
Throughout the developing world millions of people encounter hardship and limited opportunities because of illiteracy. They are trapped in a cycle of poverty without options for economic progress simply because they cannot read and write. Sadly, Nicaragua is no exception where an estimated 33% of the population is illiterate and children grow up severely handicapped without the opportunity to live a life of choice. The circumstances are equally alarming in the Dominican Republic where an even larger percentage of the population is estimated to be functionally illiterate; able to read and write simple words but incapable of applying these skills to everyday tasks like reading a medicine label or understanding a bank statement.
In the rural areas where Outreach360 works, the effects of illiteracy are often compounded because of lack of resources, geographic isolation, or underdeveloped education programs. Many schools lack the resources and materials for comprehensive literacy programs and library systems, and many teachers are undertrained. As a results, many of the children we serve are at risk of growing up illiterate, without ever having the opportunity to interact with children’s book and develop an appreciation for reading.
At Outreach360 we’re improving literacy. We recognize the power of literacy and the gateway to higher learning that is opened when a child is given the gift of reading. Through our dedicated donors and volunteers we bring books and literacy education to the children in our Learning Centers and in the communities we serve. Staying true to our Education Philosophy, we believe that reading and writing should be fun, and that students learn best when activities are engaging, meaningful, diverse and interactive. That’s why we implement a layered approach to literacy that integrates multiple curriculum programs including Scholastic Guided Reading, Benchmark Literacy, and Vistas del Mundo Leveled Reading, in order to diversity instruction and provide a much more comprehensive and robust literacy education. Using our curriculum as the foundation for instruction, students explore the essential components of literacy and work to build not only fluency, comprehension and vocabulary, but also spelling, grammar, and creative writing.
Our literacy program focuses on comprehensive instruction aimed at ensuring all students are reading at or above grade level, while fostering a love of reading. Students regularly have the opportunity to interact with books of their choice during informal free reading time, where they are encouraged to explore content that interests them. Students also have the opportunity to experience checking books out from our library program, empowering them to share reading with their families and communities.
We are proud to offer an innovative literacy program where student not only learn to read and write, but also gain global perspective in the process through the cultural interaction with volunteers.
“A personal highlight for me was teaching in the Learning Center as part of the Spanish Literacy Group. This is a very well organized afternoon school program sponsored by O360, which expands on the educational needs of the children in Monte Cristi and not only serves to improve their intellectual formation, but also serves to instill character formation, and educate parents as well, by holding them accountable when a child is late or absent from the program on any given day.”
- Catherine Gomez-Goodnow, Episcopal High School, 2013
TEACHING SPANISH LITERACY
Teaching Spanish literacy is one of the most meaningful ways for volunteers to get involved in service and make a lasting impact in the communities we serve. The reality of illiteracy and functional illiteracy is tragic, and the ability to give a child the gift of reading is truly immeasurable. Children in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua are eager to learn, love exploring books, and are enthusiastic to interact with you. Whether you are volunteering as an individual, a family, a high school team, middle school team, college team or church group, teaching Spanish literacy provides a indispensable service to meet an urgent need in the community.
Teaching Spanish Literacy at an Outreach360 Learning Center is a unique opportunity to be a part of a more formal, long-term literacy program. At Outreach360 Learning Centers, local children are enrolled in programs on an ongoing basis and follow a structured academic calendar with a targeted pace and specific learning objectives geared toward completing our tailored year-long Spanish literacy curriculum. Our primary objective in our literacy classes at our Learning Centers is to give students the instruction they need to read and write at or above grade level and have the literacy skills necessary to be successful in higher education and career opportunities. An important part of reaching our primary objective requires remaining true to our education philosophy by cultivating an appreciation and excitement for reading, inspiring life-long readers, and promoting a powerful cultural exchange with our volunteers.
Teaching Spanish literacy at our Learning Centers requires more advanced Spanish language skills and is a unique opportunity both advanced Spanish speakers and native speakers. While teaching literacy you will be working along side other passionate volunteers following our professional guided reading and leveled reading programs. As you work to meet clear learning objectives, you’ll be creating captivating and meaningful lesson plans that engage our students in real learning. Regardless of your experience with teaching, you’ll find the tools you require to successfully meet the needs of the students during our comprehensive orientation with Outreach360 leaders, while they map out your service experience and guide you through the lesson planning process.
Teaching Spanish Literacy at Outreach360 Learning Camps is a special opportunity to interact with students who likely have had little if any exposure to children’s books. Sitting down and reading one-on-one with a child opens up a new world of possibility that engages students in the joy of reading. Although different than our Learning Center Literacy Program, Learning Camps are equally important and offer volunteers the opportunity to get involved teaching Literacy on a less formal level. Learning Camps are taught by volunteers throughout different neighborhoods and focus on giving children the opportunity to explore and interact with books, cultivating an appreciating and excitement for reading, engaging local children in dynamic teaching, inspiring local children to learn to read, sparking an interest in Outreach360 programs, and promoting rich cultural exchange.
Teaching at Outreach360 Learning Camps is a great opportunity for beginning, intermediate, or advanced Spanish speakers looking to serve in an authentic language context and practice and improve their skills. Teaching Spanish Literacy you will be working alongside other volunteers to create exciting and engaging learning activities. Although less formal, volunteers follow Outreach360 Learning Camp models and literacy modules that allows students to experience books on a deeper level. In preparing to teach at an Outreach360 Learning Camp, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to be a professional teacher or have a degree in Spanish Literacy to successfully teach these children! Our unique model is simple and focuses on promoting a love of reading via cultural interaction! During our comprehensive orientation, Outreach360 leaders will map out your service experience, guide you through the lesson planning process, and give you the tools you need to successfully meet the needs of the community children.
One of the most exciting and crucial ways to get involved in making a difference is by volunteering with Outreach360 to teach Spanish Literacy for a semester or a year as part of our Caminos Program. The Outreach360 Caminos Program is a challenging and rewarding leadership and teaching internship for passionate and dedicated volunteers that are looking for an opportunity not only to make a lasting impact in the lives of impoverished children, but also to expand their own horizons through living and working in a developing country.
Caminos Program volunteers meet a specific and immediate need as Spanish literacy teachers at Outreach360 Learning Centers where they work with local children enrolled in our programs, providing them with the consistency and coherency they need to succeed during the school year.
Teaching Spanish Literacy for a semester or a year is a unique and challenging opportunity geared toward advanced Spanish speakers, Spanish majors, or native speakers.
As a Caminos Program volunteer you will be working with other volunteers, often team teaching, and taking on leadership responsibilities to support short-term volunteers as they teach literacy at the Learning Center or in neighborhood camps. A key part of the Caminos Program experience is our focus on experiential learning. That means that you don’t need a college degree or background teaching to make a difference. You’ll receive the orientation and training you need to engage the children in meaningful learning activities and successfully meet their needs. All you need is a passion and desire to serve, and a belief that you can change the lives of the disadvantaged children through education.