Today marked the first day of my being solo here at Campo Alegria. I woke early and went for a swim and then made preparations for this afternoon’s class, reviewing the lesson, watching Tim’s video and checking that all of the computers were charged. Promptly at 12:30 my taxi arrived to transport me and the XO’s to the school in Buenos Aires.

Marcial was away for the day attending a AIDS forum in Managua but Roxanna, David, Geovany and Patrick were all present. Jose and Marvin rushed to the taxi to fetch the XO’s and carry them into the classroom. Cindy and Luis distributed the computers while Wendy passed out the mice. I sat down at a desk in front and the children quickly began pushing their desks into a tight semi-circle around me as they had day after day around Carolyn. I invited the other mentors to join me.

We began by talking about how the class would be a bit different now. Explaining that the teacher/mentor’s had just completed all the lessons that the children would be learning we discussed how we were all learners and that the emphasis now would be on cooperative learning. We talked about stories and how each one would be working on their own unique narrative. How each day one of the adults would present a new lesson and that these lessons were important because they would provide new skills and techniques that each one of us may want to incorporate into our story. We then turned to our expectations for the future classes. These were quite simple. The first was paying attention, as some of the concepts are rather difficult. The second was respect for one another. The third, cooperation and sharing – everyone in the class is a professor and is welcome to share insights and learning’s. And finally, exploration and discovery.

Some of the children had missed a few classes so we opted to have David convene a catch up group outside with them. It had become apparent to me yesterday that the children who had fallen a bit behind were reluctant to say so and would have silently tried to plod along. We decided to offer the opportunity to review or make up missed lessons an on-going possibility. A few who probably would not have admitted being a bit lost seized this chance.

We began by opening a new project and everyone, including the teacher/mentors, drew a very simple sketch I less then 3 minutes – this was quite an accomplishment to start as the children have consistently been hung up in perfecting their drawings. They took turns calling out the steps to write a simple script to move this object horizontally to the right or the left. A second very simple sketch was made and another script written to make it fall or rise. At this point Wendy reviewed the pen usage tool and many of the children opted to use it on one or both of their sketches. After this exercise all of the children had grasped the use of that tool. Everyone remembered to name their sketches, and after dragging a book out of the supply bin they named their page and added P1 to their sketches and scripts. From here Geovany and I explained startOver scripts and guided them in the process of creating them. Working in a simple, uncluttered desktop environment seemed to enhance grasping the overall concepts – clearly visualizing how each command affected first a singular sketch and then two in tandem by employing a worldScript.

After exploring this process the children were free to work on their individual story ideas or continue. Outside the children had caught up to lesson 10 and were ready to start on the lesson we had just presented.

Back inside the children were abuzz. German had created a 16-page flip-book with an abstract sketch that drew a different elaborate pen tool design on each page. As he demonstrated it he beamed with satisfaction. Small groups huddled together adding sound or bounce to their scripts. Others were rapt in singular concentration. For the first time we began hearing the expressions, “look at my world” or “in my world.” To me this was very exciting as it illustrates how the personal creative expressions they have been working on have become outward, sharable manifestations of a part of their inner realities.

Much to my delight Roxanna volunteered to lead tomorrow’s lesson. During the free-exploration hour Roxanna, David, Geovany, Patrick and I met to plan for that lesson. Roxanna outlined her understanding of the lesson and how she thought she would present it. Everyone listened and offered suggestions. All of the adults are excited about engaging in a cooperative and supportive teaching approach. They appreciate the idea of setting a positive environment for creativity and are excited to employ this approach. This evening everyone is tasked with reviewing at least tomorrow’s lesson and attempting to do the Starfish Challenge. I’m looking forward to tomorrow already.

We gathered in the courtyard to wait for my taxi and an impromptu game of football began with Geovany and David as ringleaders. Lately these two seem to possess boundless energy. The boys all joined in and the girls began hand-clapping games off to the side. I asked them if they played football and they giggled, rolled eyes at me, and shook their heads. I think it best to take things one at a time.

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