[View more about it on my learning log]
This is a professional development plan I created that outlines SMART goals and expected outcomes, NETS for Teachers standards, learning activities, and how to measure student outcomes. I can’t wait to give it a try.
[View more about it on my learning log]
I just returned from Butwal, my final technology outreach visit before we depart Nepal. It’s a hot, dusty town near Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha. These sorts of trips are never convenient nor easy, on a number of levels, but the end result is always worth it. The students and teachers are inspiring and each time I come away enriched.
This time I brought my talented colleague Sudha Rajouria with me and I’m so glad she was willing to come. With two of us we were able to accomplish much more than I am normally able to alone. She's a true professional and a great person.
These trips challenge me to share something useful in a very limited, one-off session. With a few rare exceptions, the students don’t have personal computers or devices, and the Internet is generally very slow. Developing technology skills takes dedicated time and practice: it doesn’t come during a two-hour window. The ideal would be to meet with these students in a computer lab, over a period of time, and help them truly learn to use the Internet and computers for learning. But, that isn’t a possibility. So, I struggle with sharing something that can be meaningful and lasting. The truth is that they likely will remember very little of what we talked about. What I do hope they remember is that someone tried. Someone cared. That’s far more important than any tool or vocabulary term or Netiquette rule.
I basically followed the same program as I did during my recent Birgunj trip. We talked about Netiquette and Facebook rules. We went over email basics and helped several of them open email accounts. I found it interesting that most of them not only don’t have email accounts–that I can understand due to limited connectivity–but they also don’t understand what email is used for and why it’s even helpful. They simply don’t see a purpose for it. So, we covered some of the benefits of using email and helped them set up a Gmail account and practice sending a few emails.
We broke up into groups again and I left the groups very open and informal. I didn’t want to assign them to groups. I wanted them to gravitate to what was most interesting for them. This picture captures the busy-ness of the classroom and a variety of things going on:
I also liked the students’ random shots of the classroom in general:
Sudha helped those who wanted to sign up for Gmail. This is the only group I’ve visited so far where a few students brought their own laptops and we spent some extra time with them. I took the opportunity to help one student create his own Weebly blog because he asked. In front of the whole class we were able to demonstrate real-time updates within Google Docs and had five of us editing the same document at the same time. While I am a huge believer in Google Drive, and feel it is a potentially great tool for these kids, they are at the mercy of an intermittent Internet connection. That is limiting, but it was still fun for a brief moment to show them the possibilities.
We gave the students the opportunity to use various STEM manipulatives. I enjoyed watching them tackle the tasks. There were no arguments over who did what or who should be in which group. They worked seamlessly as a team to create. Once they got started they were completely engaged.
I loved how proud they were of their work. Other students cheered for them.
I brought the iPad mini and had them try out some English vocabulary learning apps. I’m always curious to see what they will do when given an iPad for the first time. The swiping is intuitive. They move between screens and menus like they do it every day. In these circumstances and because our time is so limited, I mainly just observe them. These two kids found Traffic Rush and the couldn’t get enough of it. I didn’t stop them, mainly because I wanted to see if they could figure it out. I watched as they begun timidly, not sure of the swiping movements or strategy. Within a few minutes they had learned how to manipulate the traffic flow and were trying to beat their personal best. They were beaming with confidence.
Sudha and I spent some time with their teachers to help them update the Weebly Access blog and learn how to use Google Drive. Even though most of them had their own laptops, the Internet was not working well, so we were a bit limited. We did our best and I hope they will come back to the tools we discussed and try them out. Google Drive is a huge time-saver and productivity-booster, as it negates the need to send documents and attachments back and forth.
In the end I gave the students some time to reflect on what they had learned and write a few sentences on their experience today. Here are some of the highlights:
Since it was Nepali New Year’s Eve, we celebrated with cake and snacks. Sudha and I were presented with a karuwa, a meaningful gift for this region.
May the year 2070 be full of wonderful learning and happiness for all Access students and teachers. It’s always a privilege to be with you!
In Nepali, didi means older sister and is often used to describe one who works for you, one you respect, one who walks beside you on your journey. I work hard to bring teachers, parents, and students the best educational technology tools out there that educate, engage, and empower. Enjoy!