Saturday, November 7, 2009

Three Bears

Just a small tidbit about Holy Cross today. Some of the kids finished their projects early today, so they went outside where Drew was helping people take their pictures for their projects. I was inside helping someone save their project to a flash drive when Anelisa comes in yelling "Three Bears." I had NO idea what she was talking about and just went back to saving the projects. A minute later I went outside and about 5 kids are acting out the 3 bears and video taping themselves on the XO, I was pretty amaze and excited to see that...

Newspapers and "How To" Projects

At Holy Cross we have been busy trying to create projects that incorporate different aspects of the XO. Two weeks ago we did a "How To" Project. We broke the kids into groups and they had to choose something that they wanted to teach the rest of the group how to do. All that we told them was that they would pick a topic, tell us how to do it (including the steps, ingredients needed (if any), the rules (if any), etc), that they needed to type the directions in write and that they had to include at least 3 pictures with their project. We had 4 teams, and the topics were "How to play Soccer", "How to play Rugby", "How to make Tea" and "How to make Coffee." The projects ended up taking two days to complete because everyone wanted to include many pictures and we had to take time for each group to present to the rest. It was very sucessful. The Rugby group worked using two computers, one person was typing while the other looked up information about Rugby on the wiki (we did not even hint that they should do this, it is so nice to see them using different aspects of the XO all on their own). Since the how to make tea/coffee projects were a bit easier to explain, we actually tried to do them step by step to see if it worked (this was a fun way to show that the steps were not complete enough or that a step was out of order).

The next week we made a newspaper. For the first half of the session we talked about different aspects of a newspaper and what each section in a paper is responsible for. Then the kids decided on a name for the newspaper (After School Program News) and each student picked a section (we had weather, sports, news events, opinion, poems, and adverts) and then had to write the section and incorporate a photo. In this group of students we have different age groups, so the younger ones did the weather, opinion and sports section and the older ones covered news, poems and adverts. Two students even put a caption under their photo to explain how it related to the article. They were very excited about this project and even showed their teachers the next week because they were so proud of it!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Juriehien's Day

Thursday was a great day. Many of the children take part in karate lessons on Thursday's, so today I worked with 3 of the older boys (they're around 15/16 yrs old).

Since there was only 3 of them (I usually work with about 10-15 at a time), I thought it was a great opportunity to try a new activity, that involved computer basics (such as: dragging and right-clicking) and math (length and angles). The activity is called Etoys.

Reading the instructions, the boys were at first hesitant because the steps were a lot more challenging than they were used to. I made a point to tell them that it was okay to go slow and we would go step by step, making sure they didn't feel discouraged (because I've learned that as soon as the kids are discouraged they want to give up). When each boy completed the first step of "finding the key and dragging it to the keyhole in the castle," I could see their eyes widen and their smiles grow as they realized that they in fact could do the challenging activity.

The game went on and eventually they were advancing by themselves, telling me to shush and let them do it themselves! It was a great moment when Juriehien was the first to "drive the car to the goal" and shout my name to come running over to show me his achievement. I gave Juriehien a big high-five. I finally began to see confidence in his eyes and the smile on his face showed a "wow I can do this" expression.

Juriehien is a boy who was a bit slower with learning the activities on the laptops, and I have recently begun to notice his frustration and lack of confidence, seeing some of his peers improve drastically, showing little trouble. However, today was Juriehien's day as his two older friends looked over his shoulder, asking him questions on how to work the activity, giving him "props" for what he had done. I was so happy and proud of Juriehien.

Unfortunately in many of the schools in the township, motivation and positive reinforcement is scarce. It is days like this Thursday, that these kids, kids like Juriehien, need to push them to work hard and that they are not "stupid" or incapable of a better future. The intelligence is there, it's just buried; and it's resources like the XO laptop that will help these children realize their talents and bring alive the self-confidence and motivation needed for a brighter future.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pen Pals

The older girls of St. Mary's are currently typing out letters to exchange with students in the USA. Watching the girls improve on their typing has been such a rewarding experience. At first, my friend, Emily, and I had to constantly remind the girls to use capital letters when starting a sentence or pressing enter for a new paragraph. Now, the girls know when capital letters should be used, how to start a letter and end a letter. Knowing how to write a letter is extremely valuable for these girls and it has been great watching them improve!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Kids are Back

It's a new week and the kids are back from school holiday...

The kids were eager to get right back on to the laptops and since it was a nice, warm day outside, I decided that the kids shouldn't be stuck indoors. What's cool about these laptops is that they can be taken outside and still be able to connect with one another. I came up with a scavenger hunt for the kids in order to get them running around outside while still using and having fun on the lap tops. The kids ran around with a list of clues, finding the answers and taking pictures of them. The kids then had to rush back inside and cut and paste the pictures into a word document and title each picture. I figured this was a fun way to get the kids moving around and, more importantly, have them continue practicing how to cut and paste and work on typing!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Holy Cross

While the centers are on break, I now have enough time to talk about some of the things we are doing at Holy Cross. Holy Cross recently got a new volunteer who will be there for the year, and one of his responsibilities is to continue the laptop program after others leave. We are happy that we are able to spend time with him to teach him about the laptops, as well as to develop learning projects with him before we leave. His first wee at Holy Cross we had the students, and the new volunteer, do the "XO Scavenger Hunt." This is the same thing we had the St. Mary's volunteers learn in the training session. This is a great way to see all of the things that the XO can do, as well as make people more comfortable with the activities.

At Holy Cross the children usually do their homework before they use the laptops, except on Friday which is a laptop only day. As a part of this, we have been encouraging the children to use the laptops to help them with their homework, making use of the Wiki Activity in particular. This helps the students understand the many ways in which the laptops can be used, as well as helps develop important research skills. To encourage the use of the laptops for homework purposes we have done a few projects where the students had to use the Wiki Activity. We asked about 6 students to report on and make a presentation of a planet. They had to tell us how often it orbits the sun, how large it was, if it had any moons, what it was named after, and two unique attributes of the planet. They were also asked to draw the planet in paint and show the picture as they presented the information. The students are seeing that they can use their laptops to look up information, whereas before they had to ask the volunteers to tell them
or look it up for them on the computer at the center. We hope that the students will continue to explore the many uses of the XO, and that they will continue to use it to assist them with their homework.

Monday, September 28, 2009

School Holiday

The children of St. Mary's and Holy Cross are currently on school holiday and will be back working on the laptops on 5 October!