Tuesday, 30 March 2010

PaleXO's Visit To Slafeet Elementary School For Boys

    We try to learn from our past experiences and deal with the difficulties we face. Our previous visits to Bodros, Abu Falah, Khalid Bin Al-Waleed, and Al-Fajr Al-Jadeed schools taught us many lessons. First of all, kids are already hard to control, and when they get the green XO devices it gets worse, and if that is not dealt with properly the sessions planned to introduce the XOs to these kids will become slow, inefficient and of low benefit. Second, the members and volunteers get really swamped dealing with the kids and they find it difficult to write down their instant observations while the interactive session is running. Moreover, we thought that five members per 35-40 students is a good number at first, this turned out to be totally wrong. In today's visit to Slafeet Elementary School For Boys we tried to address these problems and come up with appropriate solutions, and I can say we managed to solve these problems.

    At 7:30 in the morning a bus with half the volunteers headed from Ramallah to Salfeet picking up the rest of the group from Birzeit. We arrived to the school around 8:30 am and started working on updating the laptops directly. We found the laptops in their original boxes they were delivered in. They were never touched before! While updating the laptops we discovered many corrupted batteries, but luckily, each laptop was delivered with an additional battery, so that was not an obstacle. Updating the laptops took around 2 hours since we had 7 flash disks only to update more than 70 XOs, and that delayed our sessions.

    Right after the XOs were updated, we divided ourselves into two groups of 11 members each. We decided to divide the kids trying to make the interactive session faster and benefit all the students to benefit from, so we divided students into groups of 4, and assigned a volunteer per group to supervise the students, calm them down, and help them follow the presenter's instructions. Even though this way didn't reduce the noise kids made during the session (which is a natural result of their interaction), it was a success; the session went faster and the kids were made sure to follow all the parts of the sessions. We also made changes to the evaluation forms used by the kids, changing all the questions to make them easier to answer. In addition, we assigned a dedicated member to write down classroom observations noticing the kid's behavior and interaction.

    Israa Badha and Tamer Alkhouli presented the sessions to the two 3rd grade sections. It was really thrilling seeing the kids, who were using the XOs for the first time, discovering functionalities on their own. Many of the kids were smart and fast, they could just follow the instructions directly and smoothly, and even discover the shortcut keys to taking pictures and switching between the different views of Sugar!!

    One problem we faced was that the English teacher left just after the session was started, he mentioned he would come back but he didn't show up again. That was a serious problem since one of our goals was to train the teachers to become facilitators in the classroom to encourage the students to use the XOs.

 In the end we would like to thank each of the following volunteers for participating in today's visit: Morad Z Taleeb, Suhaib Siam, Iman Al-mali, Tamer Alkhouli, Hanaa Al-ali, Rawan Abu Leil, Samar Abu Eid, Aya Hassouneh, Samah Qiwi, Duaa Qiwi, Raseel Qadadha, Reham Issam, Anisa Yousef, Rasha Hussein, Mohammad Khatib, Mohammed Nawahda, Hiba Duriadi, Abdel Hafeth Salah, Lamees Shalash, Eman Hannoun, Yasmeen Shtayieh, Isra' Luna, and Ruba Rasem Hussien. We also appreciate the efforts of Ala' Abu Nada, Noura Salhi, Safaa Halahlah, Ahmad Ramahi spent preparing for the event. We'd also like to thank the Excellence Center in Birzeit University for providing electric cables and distributors, and the Palestinian Education Initiative for making this event possible.

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