Thursday, July 16, 2009

memorize to Memorize

After our second day of training we were not sure how to move forward. We knew that we were making progress and that it is dificult to learn a new technology, but at the same time we could sense some problems with our process. Some of the teachers commented that while it may be nice to take pictures, that is not the point of their class. We debated the merits of explaining contructionism and how it is learning to take pictures and to use a computer, or to just see if we could tailor our teaching to our trainees.

As we walked away from the school around 9pm yesterday I was still unsure of exactly what was going to happen today. I knew that we had chosen to use Memorize as our activity for the day, but I wasn't sure how well the teachers would understand the application, or whether they would perceive it as useful.

This morning began again with a speach not only by James, but by a dynamic duo composed of both James and Devon. Leveraging French and Wolof languag skills, the two communicated that we would make efforts to show examples of laptop learning projects that relate to an elementary school ciriculum. They followed, but were not quite invigorated until we opened up the XO and started with Memorize.

We first had all of the teachers open up Memorize and then load the addition game, which is pre-loaded on the laptops. We again sat with the teachers and explained how to use the game. James described it as a computer version of a flashcard and demonstrated Mali and Bamako on opposite sides of a piece of paper. Some teachers got the concept right away, while others took some encouraging as they wondered why they did not get the answer right on the first time. The concept of luck may translate in language, but is definitely hard for anyone to accept.

After each teacher finished the demo game we had them create their own game. We jumped right into it and each of us chose different tactics. I had the first teacher that I worked with today use Dakar and Senegal as her first pair. Then I had her come up with another pair, which was the United States and Washington DC. Although on that one I had to help change the reponse (answer) from New York to Washington DC.

Other teachers started to make their own games featuring a variety of topics including math, language translations, captial letters, history and countries. Most grasped the concept rather quickly and a few made several differet games. Outside of the initial explanation that most required, there were surprisingly few issues with this session. A minor issue that came up a few times was that on the demo games the questions are at the top and the answers at the bottom, while the default for creating a game places the questions and answers randomly.

At the end of the session again the dynamic duo explained a newspaper project that we have been planning. The group came up with a list of ideas that were written on the blackboard. We then asked each teacher to prepare an article for class on Monday. We asked if they need to have any more skills to complete the assignment, and a few asked questions like how to import a photo into the Write activity, which was easy to re-explain.

After a successful day we went for a walk to the ocean. It's about 5km directly, but we chose to take the path through the breusse and it was definitely a nice to see the open fields and sand in the open instead of on the side of the road. As James was lying down on the beach, friendly crab started crawling on him, which prompted a good reaction.

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