Monday, September 04, 2006

What I did this summer

Following is an instructive adaptation of an email I sent to my summer job bosses at Centronia, a community center where I worked this summer (

What really stands out to me was the genuine warmth of everyone in the building.

Kidpix worked reasonably well. I learned a little late that it works better with sound because the audio feedback is much stronger than the video feedback (when you click on a tool, it doesn't really change visually, but it makes a big sound).

Mavis Beacon is a lot like Sudafed... it doesn't taste real good going down but it's good for them. :) Some students even enjoy it.

We spent one day doing WISWEB. It's free, and it's the best educational website I know on the web. It's a Dutch site, and it's not very user-friendly, but it's fantastic even for the littlest students:

I think my most favorite activity was a fantastic the idea from the teachers of Conference Room C. For two days at 4pm we brought up some little guys to the computer lab. We paired up one little guy with one big guy from Conference Room C. At first we didn't have enough little guys, and it was a problem because the big guys who didn't have partners were jealous and disruptive. But after we brought in more little guys, everyone was engaged. It was very cute and educational. The big guys generally did a great idea teaching the little guys. The most important rule is the big guys cannot touch the mouse; the little guys control the mouse. I recommend that you repeat the activity with other students in the building. The activity worked best when we used a piece of free software called Sebran. It is installed on all the computers in the lab (click on the red heart on the desktop). It teaches the basics (abc's, counting, hangman etc). After about 30 minutes the students get restless, and at that point I rewarded the big kids and let them take control of the mouse. The big kids then spent about 15 minutes showing the little kids a favorite (filtered) website such at miniclip .com. More copies of Sebran can be downloaded at:

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