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