Wednesday the 22nd was a true success, all the more because I had very little to do with it.  Other than driving and leading off each lesson, I pretty much watched all day, which is exactly what I want to do.  My ultimate role is to become unnecessary.  If there’s one lesson to be learned about creating sustainable laptop programs, it’s that outsiders should do less so that locals will do more.  Allow the vacuum to be felt.

After a nice continental breakfast, the group headed up the hill an hour early, as planned.  We got there before anyone else, as Elisabeth had said, which gave us time to negotiate with Mercy Corps to use the downstairs room for the rest of the workshop.  Someone pointed out that upstairs was air-conditioned and downstairs was not.  I choose ample room over A/C, especially since we’ve never actually had A/C during a Haiti workshop.  It was the right call.

My one useful contribution for the day was helping to set up the tables and chairs and suggesting we use masking tape to mark where they should be placed later on.  It really does help to have lots of room to walk behind people.  Also, choosing good locations for the power strips and extension cords prevents the usual hourly tripping that inevitably follows.  As unsexy as chair & table placement might seem, it ranks right up there with power & content & food as hallmarks of a successful workshop.

Evens led the first adult lesson, which was on the Etoys viewer.  I was very pleased to see that he had heard my remarks about projecting, as he was clearly in command of the room, but in a friendly, helpful way.   Elisabeth was likewise animated and strong in the second adult lesson.   Both of them were clearly improved from last February, which was wonderful to see.  They will certainly become our first L4 trainers in Haiti.

After lunch, we led the children outside for another activity.  I suggested the mentors lead them in a song, as we did nearly every day at AMSAI, though it was a little difficult getting everyone going.  People weren’t as used to spontaneous playfulness as they were at AMURT, which made me think we should make it an explicit part of the training, rather than “Hey, who knows a group song?”

I led the children’s lesson off by talking about making storybooks, instructing the mentors to talk to the children about character (“who is in the story”), setting (“where are the”), and conflict (“what happens to them”).   I then asked them to show them the supply box, paint canvas, and halo, which was an accelerated way to introduce three lessons at once.  My hope was to make the introduce more purpose-driven, giving immediate relevance to the material.   Also, I was condensing … we normally have ten children’s classes and this workshop we had only three.

Most of the class was mentor & child, with trainers helping as needed.  I walked around and again felt successful for being unnecessary.  The mentors had understood the earlier lessons and were actively helping the children learn the material and create the storybooks.  Some mentors were a bit too hands-on.  I saw one storybook about the earthquake that was clearly written by the adult, using words like “infamy,” etc.  But all in all, the 45 people in the room had a good experience, one that was at the same time deep and creative.  If the Haitian Minister of Education had walked into the room, I would have simply let him watch things and would be happy about it.

In the second adult lesson, Elisabeth introduced scripting, which is the first of three core computer programming concepts.  By the end of the lesson, the room was alive with croaking and honks and other Etoys sounds, with spirograph patterns on everyone’s screen, having just learned turtle geometry.

The team breakdown meet was very short.  “Everything went very well.”  We all agreed.  When we got back to the hotel, I had a quick meeting with a gentlemen from Haiti Outreach, who seemed very interested to offer the training to two schools near Cap Haitian.  I then began my preparations for the Courseware Workshop the next morning.   I felt pretty daunted by the task, not entirely sure what to expect or how to prepare.

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