Curriculum Jam Boston

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Curriculum Jam Boston
Boston, MA

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What's happening

Planning for a Boston Jam this fall is underway. For planning notes, visit the Talk Page - if you're interested, sign up for the mailing list and introduce yourself

Introduction

The problem

OLPC has wonderful little laptops with software Activities that have a lot of possible uses and applications (a word processor, a camera program, an oscilloscope, one where they can program little turtles to walk around the screen and draw shapes...) but for the most part have been used largely by the coders who developed them, and not necessarily by many students and teachers in a classroom setting in a manner that begets documentation useful to other students and teachers and classrooms who are trying to figure out what to do with the XOs.

You can imagine teachers and kids getting a bunch of laptops and looking at them going "...great, now we've gone online and used google, and they wrote a paper on the word processor, but what *else* can we do with these things? How would I use them in a dance class, or in a lesson about photosynthesis, how is my blind student supposed to use this device if she can't see the screen... where do I go from here, and what have other people done?

One solution

We need examples of wonderful, crazy, creative things teachers have done with these laptops in classrooms - stories of what they did (and instructions on how to do them) and what happened afterwards. Seeing other people's wonderful ideas (and sometimes following along and reproducing a few of them yourself) tends to make others have wonderful ideas of their own, and also to share the wonderful ideas they've had so that other people can play with them too.

For instance, see this list of learning activity ideas you could do with the Measure application - what if that was fleshed in and teachers shared lesson plans and stories of things they've tried with their classes using Measure in order to explore various subjects with their students?

What's happening

We're having a Jam. The goal of the Jam is to build collections of stories like the ones described above by having miniature "classrooms" of teachers and (K-12) students take on a particular thing to test (see "things to test" list below), and then try them out in a real classroom setting, and write up the results.

Local teachers will be...

  • getting together on Friday evening to meet each other and get an orientation to the projects, the laptops, and the software on them
  • spending all day Saturday preparing to run mini-classes involving XO materials and software (for various age groups and subjects - it depends on the specialties/interests of the teacher teams we get)
  • spending Sunday morning running those mini-classes with local kids as student-testers
  • spending Sunday afternoon (with the help of the student-tester children who are interested) writing up (1) the stories of what happened that morning - getting feedback from the kids, writing reflections on how their experience connects to various models and theories of learning, and (2) how they did it (instructions for other teachers who might be interested in doing the same thing - "lesson plans," if you will), and posting them to the wiki.

Then we'll collect all the stories generated and use them to publish the first OLPC Educators' Newsletter.

Interested? Read on to see how you can help out...

People

  • Jam organizer / Facility coordinator - Chris Torstensson - Chris Torstensson: Send a message on the mailing list to reach Chris.

Help wanted

Chris Torstensson is coordinating the Jam and needs some help. Can you pitch in?

  • Student coordinator - We need someone to recruit local K-12 students (and their parents) to come and help test on Sunday, to create a way for them to sign up (when they arrive on Sunday morning) for the "classes" the teachers will be offering, and to guide the kids and parents through the day once they arrive. Basically, you will be the very busy principal of a one-day-only "school." Can you help? Contact Chris.
  • Teacher coordinator - We need someone to help with registering teams and helping them find housing, food, and (most importantly) projects to do. Can you help? Contact Chris.
  • Technology translator - We need a tech-savvy teacher who can act as an interface between OLPC developers and the teams of teachers who will be arriving. Can you translate between geekspeak acronyms and education terminology? Can you get developers to talk to teachers and vice versa? Are you comfortable tinkering with random computers and pieces of software in order to get them to work? We need your help. Contact Chris if you can help out.
  • Newsletter coordinator - We need someone to organize the creation of post-activity documentation on Sunday afternoon and collect the materials into the first edition of an OLPC Educators' Newspaper that we can send out to teachers around the world after the event so they can see the ideas, feedback, and activities the folks in Boston did during our Curriculum Jam. (Creating the newspaper could be a Jam event as well, if you're a teacher who would like to recruit some middle or high school students to be journalists and editors!)
  • Teams - we need 10-15 teams of 2-4 teachers (any subject, any age, any specialty!) to join us for the weekend in Boston to develop (on Saturday) and run miniature "classes" (on Sunday morning) with children that explore one of the Activities listed in the "Things To Test" list below. Join the mailing list and introduce your team to get started.
  • Remote teams - are you a team of teachers who want to help out but aren't in the Boston area? Perfect! We need a group of remote teams to experiment with how classrooms can use the laptop software to do long-distance, real-time collaborative learning in different subjects. Join the mailing list and introduce your team to get started.
  • Activities - are you a developer with a (stable, easy to install) activity you'd like students and teachers to try out and make learning activities for, a cool Library bundle you'd like people to play with, a peripheral you'd like others to experiment with? Add your item to the list below!

Things to test

Turtle Art

Turtle Art is a Logo-like program where students can snap together "blocks" with programming commands on them in order to build sequences of instructions that tell a virtual turtle how to walk across the screen and draw lines. (For example, the command "go forward 100 paces, turn 90 degrees" repeated four times will draw a square - more sophisticated programs can draw complex, multicolored patterns.)

We need teachers and students

Measure

See Measure

Kuku

Kuku is a math game where you navigate a chicken around the screen to peck at the right answers to mathematics problems. It's a relatively simple game that younger children can use to learn their times tables and so forth.

What hasn't been done: it's pretty easy for older students to create their own Kuku activities and write flashcards for younger children to learn from. Can someone run a class on getting older (5th grade and up) children to create learning materials for younger ones?

Accessibility

We'd like to have a group of teachers exploring the laptop as a tool for children with special needs - from mobility/hearing/vision limitations to learning difficulties (dyslexia, ADHD, autism) to English-as-a-second-language (or local-language-of-their-new-country as a second language) students who need to acclimate to a new environment. Can you help?

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