Prepared for class by getting last two XOs reflashed with the latest system build. (Tuesday Elvis wouldn’t give up his computer, willing to deal with occasional cursor madness, so he could bring it home with him) Spent the drive out to Coral Bay thinking about class, most especially how to get the kids motivated to learn this stuff. Today is the fifth class and there are still kids who don’t have lesson one down.

As usual, had kids run around to burn off excess energy. Easy to forget that some of these kids have started as early at 6:30 am, and have already had a full day of school, so a lot being asked of them to go back into heavy thinking mode. Unlike Tues, good number of kids in attendance, probably 14-16. Both Mary and LaReesa were there to mentor.

Goal for today was to try and get everyone through the list Mary had posted on Tuesday. Draw a object and make it move. Draw another object and make it move too. Then get one of the objects to detect the other and make a sound.

Tried a new approach, aiming for much more interactivity on the kids’ part. Asked them what they wanted me to draw. Motorcycle came up and I drew that. I asked who was riding it, they said a mouse (after some discussion) so I drew that onto it. Then I asked what it should be chasing after and they said cheese, so I drew that. (Swiss cheese, as I’m Swiss) Also had them picking the sound effects.

Set the two in motion, all the while asking the kids what I should do next, script wise, to get them moving. Kids starting to have a good grasp, of what needed to happen, but even more important, they were all engaged, there was not a single kid who was off in the ozone layer. Next I asked how to get one to detect the other and then I did the color detect/ sound script. Every, every step of the way I asked what I should do next. Although they didn’t always have the right answer the kids were at least usually in the ball park. If something didn’t go as planned when we ran the program, I would ask why they thought it didn’t happen as planned.

When I finally had the motorcycle riding mouse chasing after the cheese I was amazed to see how engaged the kids were. They were all in suspense, watching as the objects raced around the screen. When the mouse would run over the cheese, and would make the sound, they were all like “yeah!” Then asked them if they were ready to try and they were all ready to go. From that point on the kids were pretty much on their own – with me, Mary and LaReesa going from kid to kid, or small groups of kids, helping them. It was pretty much nonstop, there was never really a point where each of us wasn’t helping someone.

Also with nearly every XO with issues reflashed, we had considerably less computer issues. The random cursor madness seemed to go away, but two computers, Vanessa’s and Tracy’s developed issues. (I had earlier reflashed both of those computers) Hooked a USB mouse to Vaneesa’s and that seemed to fix it, but we only had one so I had Tracy work on the Whiteboard computer.

Troubles there because all the kids would rather work with a mice, they were all clamoring to have one. The trackpad it just damn hard to work with. Lack of response makes it very difficult to select and move stuff, let alone try and draw. I have worked with the trackpad alone and then hooked up a mouse to the XO and believe me there is no comparison, it much harder to use the trackpad. As a result the kids are having to put all their effort concentrating on just moving things around, leaving not much left of their brains to think about what they are doing.

Although a few kids seemed forever stuck in the drawing phase, many more than before were getting the scripting part which was extremely heartening.

Number of reasons I believe, for the kids still stuck in the drawing stage. Some of the kids in fact cannot read. The best they can do is try and memorize the position of tiles I am using while demonstrating on the whiteboard. This of course is almost impossible. (In my notes for the OPLC eToys programmers, I suggested color coding the different script families – as well as number of software modification suggestions to compensate for the trackpad issues)

Other kids I think just had a problem drawing something they were satisfied with. Part of the limitation was that we (me, Mary and LaReesa) were drawn to kids that were actively asking for our help. Certain kids weren’t getting what they were supposed to do, but I didn’t realize that until I was walking around looking at everyone’s work, as they hadn’t been asking for any help.

All in all though I was extremely pleased with how well the class did, elated even. Complete turn around from the two classes before. The kids went past their normal 45 minute burnout time. In fact we had a tough time getting some of the kids off their computers so they could get ready for the bus, which hasn’t been the case before.

Also in this class introduced the idea of prizes as suggested by Susie. For next Tuesday, I told them that whoever made the best discovery in eToys over the weekend would get a prize. My suspicion is that no one will do it, but when I eat their giant chocolate bar in front of them, I suspect we’ll have a better response for the next contest.

Also interesting I saw Tracy in town the next night, while I was talking to Laura. (the other mentor) She was staying with her Aunt in Cruz Bay. I asked her if she had her laptop with her, but she said no, it was at her grandmother’s house.
She was playing a gameboy the whole time she was talking to us. Kills me now because I never asked her about it. (how does she like it? – what kind of game would she make if she could? – those kind of questions) Interesting though, as she’s a girl, and totally caught up in this video game, which was not the case back in my day when it was pretty much a boys only kinda thing.

Gives me hope man.

It for now.

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