Educational activity ideas/lang-ko
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XO: Special Features
Each XO has "mesh" networking capabilities that allow it to connect to any laptop around it. This makes it easy to kids to collaborate on activities.
Each XO comes with a built-in camera, so taking pictures and making videos are easy to do. The camera can also be used for videoconferencing.
The XO has a "tablet" mode, so that kids can take their laptops out of the classroom and into the real world. In tablet mode, the screen outputs high-resolution black and white graphics that are visible in the brightest of sunlight.
The XO comes with several pre-installed Activities. OLPC is particularly interested in activities, lessons, and curricula that make use of these applications.
Malleable Games for Learning
A major focus of the OLPC project is designing activities-- games in particular-- that kids can examine and modify as part of the learning process. OLPC is also particularly interested in activities designed with this principle in mind.
Ideas for activities
The disposable encyclopedia
Every year thousands (if not millions) of children practice their writing skills with 'template subjects' or themes, like 'my holidays', 'independence day', 'columbus day', 'my pet', etc. Every year. Teachers have to cope with the repetitiveness of their subjects (and hopefully marvell at the freshness of the child discovering the subjects). If teacher can cope, so should technology.
Most of the content ideas proposed seem to center around the children having access to whatever repositories (ie: OEPC and like). But what about the children doing their own encyclopedia?
Instead of writing their template subjects on paper (or AbiWord), why not write their own wikipedia?
Teachers can hand out these homeworks, writings and research papers individually, small groups or to the whole class (and know exactly how much content or work each student did—identifying traits like reviewers, editors, idea-generators, etc. and learn the dynamics of the students). Or the work could with deadlines (history and diff-like tools would be handy here).
So what could you do with the 30+ versions of 'columbus day' produced in a particular grade? That depends, but a possibility is to vote on the 'best' and make it the 'official' version (maybe with some kind of 'star' or 'prize' for the author). If curricula is reasonably structured, the 'official' article will then be used as a source, and be continually expanded as the year goes by.
This prize scheme (or mention) could also be applied inter-school (ie: a school district), where the 'school article on columbus day' of each school is pitched against the other schools' articles voting for the 'school disctrict article on columbus day'. Obviously, you want to do this on a per-grade given that a 2nd grader's article will never be a match for say an 8th grader's version.
But why stop at the school district level? You can similarly tackle the 'province article', and the 'national article'. You may even try to go regional on some subjects and why not global... (or at least hemispheric given that school years don't start/end homogeneously in order to have summer holidays at the end of the year)
So the first year was a success. Great! Kudos! Problem is: the encyclopedia is finished. There probably won't be a missing article on 'independence day', nor any of those other 'template subjects'. So what do you do next year?
You do the same: start from scratch. You discard the previous year's encyclopedia very much like the teacher cleans the classroom for 'next year's kids' taking down all those nice pictures and paintings off the wall...
Originally (thus the title of this section) was that the encyclopedia was discarded. Another possibility is to 'graduate' or 'pass' the encyclopedia as it is to the next year in order to follow the child's evolution. This way, the child always has access to his/her encyclopedia throughout school life. When the child goes from 1st grade to 2nd grade, the encyclopedia is not erased, but rather will be the basis to construct the 'new' "Class 2010 Encyclopedia version 2.0"... hopefully with fewer 'bugs'!
Comments?--Xavi 19:13, 24 January 2007 (EST)
- Fine, let's talk about this on Wikis for kids, with 2 existing project of encyclopedia written for and partly by kids (in french and dutch) We just didn't think about erasing it after one year ! I've never heard about on the wikipedia writing process for example. With 440 000 article in french and 1 500 000 in english, there are still things to work on aren't they ? It could be usefull to think about erasing, but one thing is sure, it is intersesting to built it the first time at least ! Astirmays 12:28, 4 February 2007 (EST)
Having access to technology if a fantastic enabler for cross-curicular work and work with multiple intelligences. Some examples could be
- Science/Maths/Languages - if the students are doing science and learning about how plants grow, they can create graphs to plot the development of the seedlings over time. Better still, comparing growth rates for plants grown with compost and without. Or, using the idea of environmental protection (mentioned above), document things which are meaningful to the children - what are the animal/insect populations like in the two different villages; the difference in the number of incidences of mud-slides in a village which is affected by deforestation as opposed to a village which is less affected; is there a difference in water quality/availability. (This can be quite useful in cultures where cause/effect relationships are not commonly explored.) Descriptive texts can be written to include a language compent, either in their own langauge or in a foreign language they are studying at school.
- Technological skills/any core subject - for schools with Internet access, students can be taught how to create simple web or wiki pages (using WYSIWYG editors for simplicity). Suitable topics might include some of those already outlined above - community health information, social science projects, recording some of the oral history from the community, etc.
- Language skills - setting up "Key Pals" (remember we used to have Pen Pals as kids?!?) with students in other countries. These kinds of projects lend themselves very well to learning about the geography or politics of another country, social studies and inter-cultural awareness, etc. .
- The Foxfire Approach - (http://www.foxfire.org/teachi.html) to collaborative teaching and learning has been running successfully in the Appalachian Mountain area of the U.S. since the 1960s. It could be adapted to the cultures of areas with OLPC.
- Learn a foreign language
- Learn specific expressions
- Introduction to reading and writing
The general idea is to create some kind image that holds active areas to which words are connected. The words pop up when you mouse over these areas. Imagine a picture of a tree. The kid mouses over the trunk - "trunk" pops up (eventually the kid hears it spoken from a soundfile), over the root - "root" pops up etc. .
It looks like squeak or maybe etoys is capable of doing this, so there would not necessarily be the need to create an extra tool. It would be good if an example implementation could be shown in squeak or etoys. The kids could extend this by adding additional active fields. They could download such a semantic block (like "every part of tree", "everything on a bus", "everything in a computer") and explore this for themselves. You could "zoom" in on parts of the picture (simply changing to a new picture like a "cut" through a machine or a magnified image of cells etc.) to get even more details and more words/expressions.
This could also be an approach to learn abstract expressions in such fields as chemistry, biology, historical figures etc. .
It could also be the basis for a kind of vocabulary test, where the picture is displayed and the kid gets a list of the words in his own language and if it translates them correctly the active area on the picture lights up. An other style could be the task: "Name 20 words connected to "tree" ".
Ideas to action
There are networks at all levels for creating and sharing materials, for looking for materials to meet existing needs, and for providing feedback on existing materials. While we develop our Educational activity guidelines, please explore our list of education networks.