Friday, July 10, 2009

This past week has been going by really well! The day after I last posted, Tuesday, we started introducing the laptops into the classrooms. We had standards 4, 5, and 7 on the first day, and since then we've had all the grades except for 8, who aren't using the computers. We started off by teaching them basic things about the laptops-- how to open them, how to turn them on, how to move the arrow using the trackpad, how to click on things, etc. Our "introductory lesson" (that we've by now nearly perfected, since we've done it nine times!) usually consists of showing the kids how to use Speak, Record, and sometimes Paint or Chat, depending on the age group.

All the kids have been very receptive to the computers! The classes we've been in more than once have definitely shown retention of information and are getting the hang of things. It's definitely harder with the younger grades, especially 1-3, but the teacher of standard 1, Joseph, is one of the people who has used the laptops a lot in the past year. It was really helpful to have a teacher involved in the learning process, because sometimes the kids don't understand English with an American accent (vs. a Kenyan accent). They also know that they have to listen to their teacher, and therefore when he says something they definitely pay attention. The upper standards are learning very well-- one of our classes had their computers open and on before we even told them what to do! It's very clear that some of them have used the XOs before, and it is nice to have that little advantage on our side.

We've also been using the XOs during the evening activity sessions we've been holding with the students at the Polytechnic school. They really seem to enjoy using them, and chat has been a favorite among them. It's easier for them to discuss things and ask us questions that way, I think, so we've gotten to know a lot about each other's cultures & countries.

Now that we're trying to devise subsequent lessons after the initial introduction, it's becoming a little harder for us to figure out what to do and where to point the kids next. We've been playing it by ear pretty well, though, and things are getting done. One of our current goals is to get the teachers more involved so that we can slowly ease between us Americans doing all the teaching and the teachers using the laptops to teach the children things in class. It's going to take time, probably more time than we have here since we have a rather short deployment compared to the rest of the OLPCorps, but both the teachers and students at Kibwezi are very intelligent, and I sincerely think this will really catch on here. I'm so excited to see where it's going. Every day is a new experience and a new challenge, and I'm trying to savor each one.


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