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Posts Tagged ‘XO’

Birmingham Goes 1:1

As part of our efforts to support low-cost computing and expand on our positive experiences using the XOs in NYC classrooms, Teaching Matters has partnered with Birmingham City Schools and Tala Professional Services to train teachers and technology coordinators in Birmingham.  By the end of this month, every child in grades one through five in Birmingham City Schools will have an XO laptop. This is an incredible opportunity for the 14,000 students who have not had reliable access to technology in school.

In late 2007, Mayor Larry Langford of Birmingham, Alabama purchased the XO laptops, with the goal of closing the digital divide and ensuring that the children of the city have access to the tools they need to succeed in the digital age.  This is the first large-scale purchase of XOs in the United States.  In the spring of 2008, the XOs were piloted at Glen Iris Elementary School.  The pilot had positive results, and plans were developed to deploy the laptops to the other children in the city.  Birmingham was on its way to providing every child with access to technology.

This past fall, Teaching Matters consultants trained 35 technology coordinators on how to operate the XO along with how to support and maintain them at the school level.  Then, we spent a total of three weeks traveling around the city training over 500 teachers on how to use the XOs and integrate them into their classrooms.  The Birmingham teachers recognized the incredible potential these computers brought to their classroom, and they were eager to find ways to use the XOs with their students.

Whether it involved taking pictures to illustrate student writing or using the chat activity to facilitate book club discussions, the teachers saw the opportunities to use the XOs as a tool in their classroom to engage students and teach them skills they need to succeed in the 21st century.

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Schools interested in XO

Spoke to Brian Culot a principal interested in the XO project and invited him to follow the blog. He raised a couple of issues that concerned him having seen the device.

  1. ability to charge devices that do not fit a laptop cart – also security. He thought there would need to be a specialized cart developed.
  2. looking at the device for 2nd and 3rd graders his parents want students to develop keyboarding skills — not as the only thing they do, but as one thing they learn. He has middle schoolers who are still type to slow  to write fluently.   I know keyboarding gets contentious but the machines should support what educators, parents and students want to do with them.. so is there keyboarding software that would work on the linux machine?
  3. He was also concerned  that students might not be able to write fluently with this keyboard… so kids.. can you.. does the keyboard slow you down.. or do you need to learn to type faster as part of writing…
  4. What kind of training/support would teachers need, if they had a curriculum and wanted to explore integrating the tool to support inquiry within in single unit – say a study of ancient egypt.
  5. Brian I know you had other issues, I hope you will post them in the comments.  Educators please ask our kids questions!

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We handed out XO machines to the 6th grade students at KAPPA IV for the first time on Friday. It was a very exciting experience for all involved. Solangel Brujan and Professor Almanzar structured the students’ first experience with the machines to ensure that they know how to open and care for the computers as well set up their names correctly. They also provided the students with time to explore on their own. We focused on the Record activity and the Write activity to start.
The students were totally enthralled. Towards the end of the experience, we asked students to write their reflections in a document on their XOs. I think they convey their impressions better than I can. Here are just a few:

Some first impressions from the students at KAPPA IV (taken from the documents they drafted on the XO for the first time)…

  • My impressions of the XO laptop is that there are many features. This is so cool because you can take it home and finish any work that you can do. I like that the keyboard is quiet. This is the best thing that ever happened to me. It has a handle and it is for Kids. That is so cool. You can take it anywhere. I LOVE THIS NEW LAPTOP. It is so easy that I will use it to study for all my tests. My breath was taken away.
  • I think this xo computer is the the best computer that I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s poppin’. It can do things that a regular computer can’t do.
  • What i like about this xo is that it is so cool and it does not make noise. It is better than the computer that I have home because it does not have internet and this one does. I think all the kids are going to buy it and like it.
  • It is cool. The keyboard is really soft and with this little gadget I’ll be able to have a better career and a great job for the future.

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Kicking Off at KAPPA IV

 

On Friday, Solangel Brujan (Teaching Matters’ consultant at KAPPA IV), Briony Carr (principal of KAPPA IV), and I introduced the XO project to the entire sixth grade class. I developed a presentation for this introduction. Our goal was to get the students excited while outlining our expectations that they take responsibility over their learning with these new devices.

I started by explaining the idea behind OLPC – that it is a small group of people with a big idea – make a laptop for kids and put it in the hands of every kid around the world. I asked the students to brainstorm ideas for how they would make a computer for kids, different than the computers they are familiar with. Some of their responses were very interesting. They want it to be durable. They want to use to communicate with their friends (like on MySpace). They want it to be different than the Apple and Dell computers they are used to. It should have cool designs, be easy to carry, take pictures and record video. Of course, they also wanted a computer that they could play a lot of games with and that they could keep private from their parents (hey, they’re kids).

I showed them the XO and explained many of it’s features. The students were all amazed by the machine and had many, many questions.

While our project will begin with one class, we wanted to make all of the students in the sixth grade aware of what was going on and explain how they could be involved going forward. We feel this is a critical part of our implementation plan. ALL students need to feel included. Because this is a staggered roll-out plan, it is critical to make sure students don’t feel alienated or resentful. At the same time, we want to ensure that all participating students understand their responsibility to share their experiences with their peers.

I left the auditorium to cheers and excitement from all.

We’re off to a great start.

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