Friday, February 15, 2008

DFW-XO Meet up was a big hit!!

Over twenty people joined-in to learn more about the XO laptops in Irving ISD. This included teachers, students, principals, and technology support staff. Sam Farsaii started up the conversation with Seymour Parert's vision as stated in his book: Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas ..., Dr. Papert talks about the need to create an environment to "learn how to learn", a microworld for kids to think with. Sam then distributed XO laptops among participants to explore and discover in pairs.

The first activity of course is the classic "how to open the laptop for the first time." A required experience for every first-time user ;-)

He then introduced the sugar OS interface basics and turned it over to different folks within our learning community to share their experiences.

Darrell Vaughn talked about Analyze, network neighborhood, wireless network, access points, and security in Irving ISD. He demonstrated wired and wireless connectivity, how the IP addresses are displayed on the XO, and what Mac Addresses represent.

Dr. Alice Owen, then shared her experience with TamTamMini and her two year old grand child. Mia is an expert in making TamTam Mini Meow to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". Next thing you know, the room became a music studio! We need headphones for next meeting for sure!

Next, Brian Edomm shared his talent with TurtleArt. We drew a square, to make a house. We then had to figure out what angles to use for the triangle on top (the roof). What a great opportunity for kids to practice their geometry. Give it a shot see if you can draw the roof angles right the first time, (hint: it is not 60 degrees!!) Brian helped everyone hypothesize what the angles should be before they were drawn. Think first, then apply. Re-examine the results, and try again.

That's how babies discover their world, but somehow we loose the "discovery learning" as an opportunity to expand our knowledge in school. What Seymour Papert refers to as every mistake is an opportunity to learn. Unlike schooling today where we punish a child for making a mistake. What Dr. Mitchel Resnick, of MIT Media Lab calls, the circle of learning: Imagine, Create, play, share, reflect, and Imagine again... We'll learn more about Mitchel Resnick's project Scratch, further down the road.

Mikie Kindsfather introduced Etoys. She demonstrated how to deconstruct the car, to change the tasks, experiment with objects, and modify their characteristics. She shared the relationship between Etoys, Scratch and Squeak. Etoys is a constructivist's dream come true. Piaget would have been proud of Mikie!!!

Then Chris Drennon joined us with his XO from Bedford. We quickly put him to work!! He demonstrated how to download Opera, his favorite browser for XO. People were impressed with the ease of download and installation. He also shared his QEMU emulation on his other laptop. We'll need a lesson on that next time. He is very talented and we are glad he is on our team :-)

Sam next demonstrated how to use the Acoustic Tape Measure. In this exercise we learned that if multiple people try this as the same time, it can produce unexpected results. I guess the sound application of the Acoustic Tape Measure is intended for point to point, not multi-point to multi-point. Sound doesn't care where it is generated from. ;-)

Last we learned how to share a Write activity among groups. A simple example would be a creative writing activity I would call "circles and cycles" or "pass the sentence". Start the first line of a story, (the stranger, the better), then pass it to the next person to come up with the next sentence and so on.

Thanks to all, it was a very successful day indeed. In fact the group checked out all XOs until our next meeting (sorry Candy). I am excited that the group wishes to continue to meet every week to feel more comfortable with the XOs. So we'll see you next Friday, February 22, at 4:00 pm in Training Room 1. For those in the Dallas Fort Worth community who missed it: Come join us, teach a few, learn a few. That's what learning communities are all about.

Irving ISD
2621 W. Airport FWY
Irving, TX 75062

email me if you need further assistance, or if you wish to present something at our next meeting: Sam Farsaii,