Archive for March, 2008

The following are all comments made by students at KAPPA IV in NYC after visiting the New York City Council:


Yesterday I was in a council meeting about the XO. Other organizations were there too. A lot of people were there like City Council Member Inez Dickens. I got interviewed by a lot of important people.They asked me about the functions of the xo. How I influenced my classroom was maybe convincing people to let us keep them. Our cooperation can change the lives of other sixth graders.


My experience yesterday was a real privalage. I am greatful that i was one of the 4 kids that got to represent class 601. My class has worked really hard with the xo’s. We were so exited when we got to work with the xo’s. I hope that we can keep on doing a great job with the xo laptops. When i got to city hall, i was amazed. It was a great experience.


I really like working with the xolaptop because you learn a lot when it comes to being a better writer and it helps me when it comes to typing faster and doing my home work. Also i am really happy about going to city hall too beacause seeing the mayor and seeing Inez Dickens and showing the xo to basiclly everybody in city hall is a real honor.


This unit has been fun especially with the xo because with the xo it has been easier because we could take them home and finish it at home i wish this unit did not end because I am having so much fun. the xo is also good because we wont have to look for papers we just go to our journal and find it also we don’t have to worry if we right sloppy. vgb


My time with the xo computer was amazing. I loved using it and writing my feature article in it. When I first got it, the first thing that came to my head was if it was going to be great. But guest what it came true. I LOVE THE XO and USING THEM!!!!


Over the course of the 6 weeks with the XO i have felt that my class is lucky. The reason that i say that my class is lucky is because the xo gave us a advantage because if  we didn’t use the XO and we don’t know how to write clearly for our teacher to understand. We would have to write it over.But if you have the XO the writing will look clear and your teacher would understand.


My experience  with my XO has been fulfilling in every way. My XO inspires and motivates me to work harder and work to my best ability. My work might have not been as good as it was without all the resources my XO offered me. It allowed me to get on the internet, type several drafts, and share my work in class easier.

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I took this photo with an XO using the Record activity during class – students are getting ready to draft their feature articles.

Yesterday, the Institute for Learning Technologies at Columbia University conducted focus groups with the students to learn about their experiences with the XOs over the February break. Many of the students dug right in and experimented with all of the activities. They used the Record activity, the Tam Tam music activities, and wrote parts of their Feature Articles for Literacy class. The most surprising thing was their collective interest in the Measure activity. The students liked watching the sound waves move. It made us realize that they are eager to learn how these other activities work!

The students were definitely eager to chat. All of them tried the chat activity, called their classmates, and tried to make it work. None of them could make it work because they live too far away from each other to be in range without the Internet. One student helped her mom crunch some numbers using the calculator activity.

I will try to post some of the data about what students did on their own once ILT tabulates everything.

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The past two weeks the students have been completely immersed in the writing process with their feature article unit. Clearly, the students have become very comfortable with the XO’s, as if they had used them for a long time. As I sat in the back of the room helping a student edit their work, I took a glance at the rest of the class and witnessed any consultants dream; independently engaged students with all the necessary resources. The production and cooperation in this class has clearly changed since the last time I worked with the students in the memoir unit. Those memoirs were fantastic, but this unit entailed learning a new genre and a new technology. I have been very pleased with the outcome of this unit and am now planning the final publishing of their work on the TMI moodle site.

Today I played around with two documents; one on the xo and one on a pc.  Because they are feature articles, I pasted the work in a 2 column table so that the writing could look like a newspaper article.  I tried to copy and paste their work on the writingmatters ezine and found several things. I found out that the writingmatters website accepts the xo work in a two column table but not from the pc. Also, I didn’t have to change the font size to 12 on the xo document but I did have to on the pc document. However, a consistent problem is the slow speed of the xo. It’s not  a big difference, but with the lack of classroom time, I can expect impatient students getting somewhat frustrated if the xo is slow to boot. In time though, all of these students have gotten used to the pace of the xo.

As this xo pilot wraps up in the next week, Mr. Almanzar and I are discussing the implications of the xo in the writing process, technology and instruction integration, technology management, and classroom dynamics. Most importantly we are going to compare and contrast the work of the xo students from their previous genre and the current feature article. We will also evaluate the work of students from different levels; E.S.L, special education, level 1/2, and level 3/4. We will also look at the feature articles across the classes, making sure that we can gauge if and how the xo impacted the students writing.

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Having an XO is the GREATEST!!

Having an xo for 4 or 5 weeks was a pretty good experience. I learned the functions of it like how to get on to the internet by writing in terminal wifi .py. Its a certain code to acess the internet or block ther users except for the school internet wireless connection. Writing my feature article was fun because I was doing actual research on the xo. I got plenty of information to make my feature feature article a 4 for a grade. Probably, a laptop would of much more work because its for audults and kids wouldnt know anything about it. But really I thought it was slightly similar in a way, we all know its a pc different but it had a voice record and video but highly advanced. Having this xo is really fun and I hope the department of education will let us have one.

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4 weeks in counting

Having a xo made me really feel happy because it’s like a little toy but a toy that you helps you get better as a writer and etc. I feel i got a good grade because of the xo it helped me write fast and put me in a position that made me really think of ways of making my feature article better and better every week. There’s really no comparing the XO and the P.C thier both so different in so many ways , you can just tell by the way they look. Also, having a Xo is hard work because it’s a new thing and not everything will work the way it’s planned to.For example, for the first week I had a lot of trobele getting onto the internet.

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It seems sites that use lots of java also like to detect the kind of browser you are using and then limit their site only to the browsers they know work.  So, while getting java working on the Opera activity was a step in the right direction, it still wasn’t solving the problem of not being able to get onto the Scantron site or the ARIS website. 

So I thought I would see if someone has done any more work on Firefox for the OLPC – and of course someone has: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Firefox2.  The instructions work well for setting it up.  Before you do though, make sure to look at the “Known Problems” – the biggest one on there in terms of a classroom implementation is “It can’t be sugarized” meaning students will always have to open up the terminal activity and type in “./firefox/firefox” to launch the browser.  They won’t have a nice icon to click and launch it.  Not good.

BUT – it does take java and it does work on all sites that I’ve tested (including ARIS and Scantron).  To link up java after you have installed firefox, follow the installation instructions here: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/RestrictedFormats#Sun_Java and instead of:

su -
cd /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins
ln -s /usr/java/jre1.5.0_13/plugin/i386/ns7/libjavaplugin_oji.so

use the firefox plugin directory – like this:

su -
cd /home/olpc/firefox/plugins
ln -s /usr/java/jre1.5.0_13/plugin/i386/ns7/libjavaplugin_oji.so

That should do it.  I also asked some heads over at OLPC what the plan for Java was.  They said they are definitely working on it and will integrate it into the standard browse activity as soon as they can.  Opensource is a key for them, so they are working on solutions.

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Java on the OLPC

Today I’ve been hammering away trying to get java to work on the OLPC.  Why you ask?  Well there are two systems in NYC that students and teachers use:

  1. The Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS).  This is a major information system that will allow teachers / schools / parents / students access to assessment data.  And it uses java
  2. The scantron system, that tried and true testing system….also uses java

This is turning out to be quite the pit-fall.  At this point none of the java (JRE) releases work with the browse activity.  There are issues with pop-ups and a few other things.  It is well documented, and seems to be an issue with the OLPC at this point.  I’ll outline what I have tried, and has / hasn’t worked:

Using build 656:

So the answer is use Opera w/ Java 1.5 right?  No.  ARIS still doesn’t load – now I am suspicious it is an issue with browser detection on the site.  So – back to trying to get Java to run in the Browse activity (which runs on Mozilla…and should be detected as firefox)….more to come if we get something that works.

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Xo’s and our unit…

After a 4 day conference down in New Orleans I returned to work today and after reviewing the students work over the last few days, I felt elated.  The feature articles are really coming together: Students  take to their saved drafts with an enthusiasm and willigness to improve that is gratifying.  The cohesiveness and continuity that having personal laptops affords has certaintly emboldened my students to stretch their writing toward a new level.  The editing steps, which are normally among the most challenging in terms of student motivation, have been completed more pro-actively, and certainly with far less reluctance than previously.  The economy of space(i.e- having everything on one clean draft) and the ease of changes made contribute to this progress. An additional thought:  Using the xo’s has also fostered a notable commonality among the students.  To explain, I’ve noticed that the students are more amendable in allowing their peers  to review and offer critique to their work.   Speculating a bit, I would suggest that the collective use of the Xo’s has promoted a certain vestedness among students.  In other words, they see their immersion in the unit of feature articles against the backdrop of a an exciting new technological experiment, and each compliments the other well.  More to follow……

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Since I have had my XO for the last 4 weeks, I have been able to do a lot of research. I am not able to see the internet all of the time on my XO, but that is o.k.. We were told to just keep writing on the XO and save our work. I have taken the xo home with me like my friends. I get to do extra work with it and catch up when i fall behind in class. My topic is about the rise of game addiction in the u.s. Did you know that 23% of american boys said they were addicted to video games and 18% of american girls said they were too. THe bigger problem is the fact theat they are a whole bunch of people addicted and depressed about video games. They are even people dying from video games. I found out that they are dying because of dehydration.

I am still writing my draft in the xo. But i got to schare my work with my class on the feature unit classroom. Three people responded to me. They said that they agree with my work and comments. I have a lot to say about this topic. I will finish next week.

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Drumming and the XO

I have been learning a lot about my topic using the xo. My topic angle is how drumming helps build mental and physical coordination. I wrote my outline and started drafting my feature article at school and home. My teacher lets me take them home so that I could continue typing. This has been really cool because now we dont have to share the computers with all of the other kids. We all did to get finish our memoirs in october using the regular laptops but having the xo gives me more time to draft and revise. I have copied my outline below.

Physical benefits of drumming
1. what are some ways drumming can help your respiratory system.
2. coordination
3. overall agility, flexibility, stamina

Examples of real life drummers
1. matt ritter
2. neil peart
3. claudel mejia

How to make drumming available for everyone
1. people interested in drumming
2. interview answers
3. facts and statistics

I got to put this on the teaching matters classroom and my friends make some real cool comments about my work. They said to rock on, but to add more details to my outline.

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