So you think it is easy?

Well I still struggle at using a computer, but the people in my life are experts. Why, my 12 year old grandson is way ahead of me!

For the people at this Croix-des-Bouquets school the challenges are sometimes beyond what the volunteers expect. But imagine learning a new language, seeing a computer for the first time, even using electricity for the first time! For the little ones, being away from home, wearing shoes and a uniform, sitting for hours at a time, all this is new.

So today, the grade 2 class was a struggle for all. Here is what they reported:
The first 40 minutes were spent with the kids taking an audio quiz. The questions were presented to the students via a thin artificial voice from small speakers in a crowded noisy room. If they didn’t hear the question the first time, they needed to position the cursor above a right arrow at the top of the screen, and click the left button. None of this is intuitive. The touchpad does not always work, and needs the four finger salute. (a tricky hand position to fix)

After a color identification quiz, we switched to turtleart. This activity involves a complex set of ideas. We didn’t introduce it well. We did not tell the students that they were going to learn to talk to the turtle, and tell him what to do.

After 40 minutes, perhaps 30% of the students had gotten the idea. (some students had squares, circles, and triangles – which included the concepts of vertical, horizontal, and oblique – the real objective of the lesson). There was much frustration, some frustrations were directed to sabotaging of adjacent machines or diverting to the maze game.

Then Adam saved the day. He acted the “stupid turtle”. He had Junior program him to “advance 3 steps”, “turn to the right”, “advance 3 steps”. But the wall was right there, and he did a funny attempt to walk through the wall. He really had the kids attention, and explained the concept that had been so unclear earlier.

He drove it home by asking for volunteer turtles and volunteer programmers.

Adam and students practice giving geometry directions to a student volunteer

The teacher, Guerline, and the students practice giving geometry directions to a volunteer

We don’t realize all the lessons the students need to learn just to use computers. It’s confusing when the mouse pointer is over the button, but the tip of the pointer is outside when the button is clicked — or when the mouse jumps all over when you lift your finger off the touchpad, or when the cursor stops responding to touches.

The skills are varied too. Some are whiz kids, others have catching up to do. Some kids in grades 3/4 still count on their fingers.

Sometimes working together is a help, although not something they are used to.

I just love seeing the enthusiasm and effort that everyone brings to helping this school move forward!


About fromourisland

Gardener, knitter, wife, mother of 2, grandmother, and lots more.
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2 Responses to So you think it is easy?

  1. Alice Jordon says:

    Looks like Adam is having a blast with the kids! I have some ninth graders still counting (or at least adding) on their fingers.

  2. ncarol says:

    About the touchpad: I continue to preach about alternatives to four finger salute.

    If your mouse jumps, rub your hands together for about 10 seconds and touch a large object or a grounded suface — see the improvement ? Better is taping a metal foil ribbon from the bordering resistance pad down and under a rubber foot and then touching metal foil periodically.

    You can reduce the mouse sensitivity by sticking a piece of paper over the touchpad (1 7/8 inch by 2 1/2 inch). Printer paper to manila folder material varies the sensitivity. Use a pinhead size dot of removable mounting putty at each corner of paper to stick the paper down. Chewing gum can be used in a pinch. Paper can easily be periodically changed to keep a clean working surface.

    This does not help with bad touchpad, which is recognized by jumping always at same location on touchpad.

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