Creating a new approach to learning at Ecole Shalom

A very special group of volunteers has been working at Ecole Shalom in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, since September 2011. Not only are these volunteers talented in their work with OLPC (One Laptop per Child) computers, but each has special skills in other areas such as upgrading the power supply, repairing toilets or increasing water collection to supply the school’s needs. All these volunteers are talented in developing school lessons using laptops and in guiding both students and teachers forward.

Volunteer Nick has been developing exciting material for all levels (K through Grade 6).
In Kindergarten the teachers asked for lessons to help teach colors in French.

Nick said that the kindergarteners are learning a new color each week. These activities use interesting visuals and also help children learn French. There are small differences between French and Creole words for fruits such as the papaya, articles of clothing, and even the colors themselves. Migueline, their teacher, lead the kids in a song incorporating each item in the pictures.

Last week Nick developed a game for older students. As you play, flowers rise up and you can use them as supports for a bridge. He connected the flowers’ growth to a solar sensor. Put your computer in the sun, and the flowers will grow and support the bridge. Watch out for clouds and saboteur classmates, because without sunlight those flowers will wilt away! ALSO to stop kids from cheating by connecting the sensor leads, the maximum flower height is too high for a train to climb.

Working in groups

Working in the sun to make those flowers grow!

On another day they held a demonstration class to show how the XO laptops could be used to promote literacy in the Haitian Creole language. For reading material, they used an illustrated story kindly offered to them by the IOM. Vivid pictures explained the situation (a mother and baby seeking shelter from a cyclone) and vital safety information. As the class read through the story, Nick asked questions about what was happening, and directed kids to mimic sounds that the character might hear. They noticed that students in the back row were doing most of the reading, so he asked the front two rows to complete the story. All in all, this had to be one of the best classes in terms of engagement and participation from the kids.

As Nick’s term at the school comes to a close, he has trained two edu-tech specialists at the school to carry on and expand the after school program. There is even talk of a possible computer club in the future.

Volunteer George will be returning in December along with others, and so progress will continue. January is expected to be a very busy time with the arrival of many new volunteers.

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About fromourisland

Gardener, knitter, wife, mother of 2, grandmother, and lots more.
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