Class Acts

Even when it feels like it can't be done,
the XO can still help you defeat illiteracy

 Uruguay, Children With Learning Differences

Learning is more than just being good at what you are required to be good at. When you can't reach the expected goals, when school feels like endless frustration, another chance can be yours when the XO gives you a fresh beginning

The 14-year-old boy stood in front of his sixth grade class holding his new XO. He had tears in his eyes, but he was smiling as he shouted, "

"Sé leer! Sé leer! ... I know how to read! I know how to read!'

Uruguay distributed the 396,727th laptop in their schools in Oct. 2009. Now every student in every public elementary school has received one. Connectivity and other logistic efforts complement the CEIBAL project, currently the largest 1-on-1 ICT4E initiative in the world
This story began a few days earlier when he accepted his very own XO as part of Uruguay's Plan Ceibal. Under the plan, all elementary school students will eventually have their own XOs. The whole country has enthusiastically embraced the XO and the One Laptop Per Child concept. Under Plan Ceibal, every child, regardless of economic status, cultural background, place of residence, or academic ability, will eventually be included in the distribution of the little green XO laptops.

When it came time to distribute the laptops in his sixth grade class , the boy was very nervous and anxious. He had always been a problem student, misbehaving, not getting along with the other students, and often being out of control in the classroom. Academically, he was behind the other students in his class. Although he knew the sounds of all the vowels and consonants, he was still unable to put them together to read or write words. At the age of 14, he was still "analfabeto"... illiterate.

A few days after the children received their XOs, the teacher asked them to tell a story using the Write Activity, which is part of the Sugar software that come with every XO. The boy came up to her desk and said,

"I want to write about Nacho, the character I liked in the play we saw last week... but I don't know how."

"Come and tell me what you want to write," she answered.

She took his laptop and wrote the story as he told it. She says she was amazed at how beautiful it was.

"Now, you have to read this to your classmates," she told him.

"But if I don't know how to read?", he asked.

"Ah, but today that doesn't matter," she smiled and told him in a soft, conspiratorial voice. "You are going to know how because you wrote it."

He went through the story several times in silence, then went to the front of the room and read it aloud to the class.

For him, it was an unforgettable day. For the first time in his life, he was able to read. Later, he read simple stories written by his classmates on their XOs.

And, so began his "alfabetización" ... he became a reader.

The XO that this child used is not modified in any sense compared to "mainstream" ones, though efforts are underway to reach the needs of other special kids.
This story was written by Caryl Bigenho with permission from Rosamel Ramirez, the sixth grade elementary school teacher who lived it at her school in the state of Durazno, Uruguay.  The story originally appeared on Rosamel's blog at:

You will find more stories there (in Spanish), along with many excellent photos and videos. Among them are some wonderful photos of deaf and hard of hearing children using Etoys on their XOs (Nov. 2008). Other great resources from Uruguay can be found through links at the Plan Ceibal website at: