OLPC Oceania/Training/Lesson Plans/Notes and ideas for teacher training

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Training tips and ideas from trials

This page is updated by the deployment teams





Ideas from Nauru trials, August 2008

Training took place from Tuesday 5th – Thursday 7th August, in the afternoons when their school duties had finished. The OLPC Oceania training guides from the Wikieducator were used, with the following schedule:

Day 1

  • Introduction to the OLPC vision
  • Basics – hardware and software
  • Group activity 1: Starting to think about using the XO for teaching and learning

Day 2

  • Introducing the XO
  • Introduction to activities
  • Sharing and inviting

Day 3

  • Using the XO in the classroom
  • Using the school server
  • Group activity 2: How the Write activity can be used in the classroom
  • Group activity 3: Using the XO tools and measuring activities in the classroom

Linkage with Wikieducator training

  • 15 school teachers attended a Learning4Content (L4C) workshop held by the Commonwealth of Learning in the days preceding the OLPC deployment. Several of these teachers are based at Yaren Primary School and are thus able to follow up on this linkage.
  • During the L4C workshop, participants created wiki pages of example learning content. It was demonstrated how these can be exported as HTML IMS packages and placed on the school server and viewed on the XO laptops.
  • The school server was loaded with demonstration content. This included material from the Wikieducator - about 40 of the “Lesson plans for biology in elementary schools”. This illustrated how open educational resources can be ported for offline use on the XS school server.
  • The teacher training guides are also developed on the Wikieducator. These were also ported to the server.
  • Teachers and the Ministry are encouraged to follow up on the potential, and develop policies for this. It empowers teachers to create their own electronic teaching materials on the Wikieducator, and the publication of official curriculum materials as open educational resources on the Wikieducator – thus helping with scaling up the OLPC programme in the region

Lessons learned from the teacher training

  • Having a working school server greatly improved the training and gave it more relevance as teachers could easily see how to access libraries with curriculum and other content. They also saw how they can create their own materials, worksheets, exercises and tests and quickly put them on the server for students to access.
  • It is difficult at present, for teachers to put their own materials on the server because the upload facility is not yet working. A technical person is needed to do this manually using a flash drive (requires Linux skills such as how to mount drives, locate the files, understand Linux commands and file systems).
  • Introducing more of a workshop format focusing on teaching integration was also an improvement over previous deployments.

Activity 1: Starting to think about using the XO for teaching and learning

The teachers were divided into groups and asked the following:

  • Question 1: Can computers help students learn and can they help you to teach?
  • Question 2: What are your first impressions of the OLPC laptops and principles and what are your hopes and fears about the project?

Following the group feedbacks, the various hopes and fears were discussed.

This was a very useful way of starting the training and placing it in the right context – the XO as a tool for teaching and learning. On the whole the responses were very positive, with some constructive criticism and highlighting of some common fears.

Full responses from each group are given in the report on the OLPC Nauru page.

Activity 2: How can the Write activity be used in teaching?

To introduce this activity, an idea borrowed from the OLPC Niue deployment was used. This went as follows:

  • A short piece of English with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes was obtained from a teaching English website, pitched at grade 1. This was copied onto the server as a Word document.
  • The facilitator demonstrated accessing it from the server and opening in Write.
  • It was then explained the document would be shared, and that each trainee (simulating a class of students) would take turns to identify errors and correct them.

This exercise was very useful and interesting for all, and a good deal of fun. Feedback:

  • Technically, it worked very well with around 15 trainees all accessing and sharing the single document. All were able to make changes and even add images
  • It demonstrated the concept of teacher sharing materials with students, and how the server works as a shared resource
  • In practice, as everyone was able to make changes to the document simultaneously it demonstrated the need for very careful guidance by the teacher. It might be a technique for older students who are more disciplined. It can also be used for reading materials, when the students cannot edit.

Trainees were then asked to divide in groups and give feedback on “How can the Write activity be used for teaching in class?”. They then noted that Speak and Chat are related activities that help with learning English.

Responses from each group are given in the report.

As result of the debate following this group work, one trainee had suggested a CLOZE activity. This is when a short piece of text has missing words, which are given in a list for students to select. The trainee teacher subsequently wrote a CLOZE activity using Write and it was copied to the server, and the whole group then simulated the lesson by accessing the resource and completing the CLOZE activity. Feedback:

  • The trainees decided that the sharing method was not workable but that each student should directly accessed the CLOZE activity from the server.
  • This really demonstrated well, the concept of teachers writing their own materials, such as worksheets, tests and activities to be used in class, and saving them on the server.
  • This activity was entirely at the initiative of the trainees, in particular one teacher who has suggested it and wrote the example CLOZE activity herself

Activity 3: Investigating tools and measuring activities on the XO

In this activity, a set of simple activities involving measuring and calculating were listed on the board and trainees were asked to to first try them all out, then work in groups to suggest how they might be used in class.

  • Calculator
  • Measure
  • Ruler
  • Stopwatch
  • Clock-game

This was a useful exercise as it enabled them to consider a set of tools that can be used in various ways in class to measure and calculate things. The responses are given in the annex, and illustrate that the teachers have a good appreciation of the potential for using the laptops in these ways.

It was noted by the trainees, that using the laptops in these simple measuring activities will

  • add motivation, make it more appealing to students
  • add element of competition
  • improve quality and make the exercises easier for teachers, as all students have the laptops with all measuring tools needed
  • encourage discovery learning

Ideas from Niue trials, July-Aug 2008

The memory game has a really easy Create new game ability. The teachers here started creating games in Niuan, eg numbers 1-10 with the match being the Nuian word for each number. Then you can use pictures from the record activity as well, so they made a memory game with each teachers picture and their name. This is really easy and you can quickly create activities in the vernacular. Try it. It is great and you can make a new game in 5 mins.

We talked about using Write in the class room. One English Lit teacher has a standard word document with a number of deliberate spelling and grammar errors. Usually she photo copies this and hands it out to the students to correct. We discussed how she could have the documents stored on the journal, open it, ask the whole class to join the write activity and then she would ask individual students to make changes. The whole class sees the correction and then the teacher can ask to discuss if it is right or not. Great collaborate learning.

One teacher is quite keen on Music, so she is composing a music piece for the leaders meeting using TamTam.

The jigsaw puzzle - great as it is, but you can make a new puzzle with your photo from Record, or use paint to make a drawing and then turn it into a puzzle.


Ideas from Solomons trials, July 2008

More focus on was given on classroom integration throughout teacher training. This was aided by the fact that all three facilitators had teaching experience. The teachers were asked for their ideas on how they could use the laptops in the classroom right from the start. Before even using the laptops, a discussion was held on this topic, and was returned to at frequent intervals throughout the training, as the teachers gained experience of the laptops.

It was also emphasized from the start that “this is a learning project not a laptop project”.

Some improvements included:

  • Seating the teachers in groups of 4-6 (same with students)
  • Inviting as many teachers and education officers to the training, not just the primary school teachers. All Primary school teachers were given laptops and 2 were also given to the Vocational school for their evaluation.
  • The teaching strategy involved initial demonstrations from the front of the class, followed by repeat demonstrations in groups.
  • As activities were introduced, the educational possibilities were debated. For instance, a demonstration was given of the Write activity, followed by a task where teachers had to create short “CV”s adding their own photographs taken with the laptops. Teachers quickly realized how this activity can easily be integrated within their lessons when writing is required.
  • Bearing in mind the young ages, it was helpful to start with simple activities, such as “Speak”, which requires students to structure sentences, and “Memorize”, that provides positive feedback for correct arithmetic, in addition to exercising memory and learning how to work in groups.
  • It was also useful to show the teachers how the computer can be used for administration and supporting their lesson planning. The teachers accessed documents written in Word on the school server, such as are very common (exams, admin materials etc).
  • The teachers were trained how to transfer files using a flash drive, and how they can collect student’s creations and mark them. It was noted that the upload to server does not work yet, in the current build.
  • The school server was accessed at the the beginning, so that the teachers could return back to it during the training.
  • It was important to make sure the teachers are very comfortable with sharing and inviting before the student training.

Regarding Student training:* It worked well with all the teachers to help with the student training. A similar approach was used, with demonstrations from the front, followed by repeating the demonstrations in groups. However, much more time was allowed for the students to try things out themselves. They are not as able to follow instructions as well as the teachers. However, they learn better “by doing” and “by trying”. They also learn very well by discovery – and loudly so!!!!

  • With supervision from teachers, other students were allowed to help. This produces good dynamics between older and younger students. In one instance, a small girl not even at grade 1, the daughter of a teacher who had one of the laptops, was observed without prompting teaching some of the grade 1 students how to paint their name in different colours using the “Paint” activity (see the Youtube video).
  • We noted that collaboration with the school server is much better than without, but is not 100%. Typically, a few XOs were not visible in the neighborhood screen. It is understood the server developers are working on this issue.
  • A good sequence with student training was:
  • Learn the basics, starting, shutdown, etc
  • Introduce the 4 screens with the neighborhood one. Allow them to discover themselves that the Xs on the screen are their friends.
  • Spend a good time getting them to make and remove friends. This helps them learn the touchpad etc
  • Only after they are happy with that, allow them to try to use an activity
  • With students, a session worked well when everyone split into groups and headed off around the campus. This was useful to help the students develop the concept of sharing.
  • Before the session above, a careful demonstration of sharing was used where students discovered it for themselves:
  1. The school server as turned off (so that simple mesh connections would be formed)
  2. Everyone was told to reboot their laptops and listen to the trainer
  3. All computers checked that they have started up with simple mesh (takes a few minutes, go round and check all have a good neighbourhood screen)
  4. The teachers made sure kids wait and listen first and didn't start any activities
  5. The trainer started Record on a demo XO and took a photo to show the class.
  6. The trainer I changed “Private” to “My Neighbourhood”, so sharing the Record activity
  7. Students were then asked to look at their neighbourhood screen and say what is there – some of them will discover the record icon – and are asked to try clicking it
  8. The trainer secretly takes a funny face photo of him/herself
  9. A few students around the class will have a fun moment and yell out in pleasure as they see the picture pop up on their screens.
  10. Once this concept is so “seeded”, the class divides into groups each with a teacher, and are allowed to go off to another classroom or location under a tree outside, and to try sharing chat, record and memorise for themselves.
  11. A trainer can then remain in the classroom and start up some other activities and share them. For instance, start and share Write, and type in an interesting or funny question. As students locate the icon they are drawn into responding.

Ideas from Australian trials, November 2008

  • Training the students and teachers simultaneously helps the teachers absorb and be comfortable with the technology faster as they aren't stressing about whether the children will be able to adapt. The children adapt very fast and help the teachers throughout the learning process.
  • Buddy system - children are paired up (older children with younger children) as "buddies" and then the buddies do learning activities together, share knowledge, ask questions, and the older children take the concerns and the issues of the younger children on and research how to solve specific issues. This has been extremely successful in supporting the children and encouraging collaboration and use of the technology in an education context.
  • Learning activities - we've started documenting all the information about the Aussie trials and the learning activities in the classroom here - http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Australia%27s_first_deployment
  • Videochat - using videochat to support children in remote areas with specialist learning and education needs.
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