Sunday, July 19, 2009

Teacher Training

This post is quite outdated but my frustration during week prevented me from accurately describing the teacher training. Teacher training went with a few hiccups; first, people here do not like to say no even if that is the answer, second, using a translator who does not like to say no or contradict our understanding, even if it is wrong, adds a second layer of confusion, lastly, working with teachers who were not entirely sold or excited about the project led to late starts and uninterested exploration.

Our week started by meeting two fifth grade teachers; we want to teach sixth grade students in two classes. After a few minutes of trying to explain that we wanted to work with the sixth grade teachers of our two classes we found out that the teachers are by subject and rotate to the different classes. That afternoon we met with the six teachers in charge of our classes. This uses an additional four laptops of our already small stock and we requested that the headmaster shrink our classes to accommodate four less laptops.

When we first started working with the teachers we arranged to work for six days, two hours each day. We wanted to work with the teachers longer but they looked disappointed to have to attend these meetings. As we finally got started working with the teachers and laptops I started with a quick care and maintenance session before Corey started discussing the operating system and some activities.

Over the next few days progress was slow as any communication took at least twice as long through our translator Abilio because we would say something, sometimes he would ask us to clarify what we meant, he would tell the teachers in Portuguese and then if they had a question he needed to do the process in reverse.

The teachers’ excitement gradually increased and as we started our fifth day I was in charge of teaching Scratch, an animation activity on the XO. I had taught scratch to the English club on island a week before but I was nervous to try and teach the program only using Portuguese. The training went exceptionally well and for homework I tried to assign them to figure out how to make the cat walk in a circle. There is no command for this action and it requires them to repeat the walk one step, turn a little, and repeat. Within a minute of me assigning this task one of the teachers had perfectly demonstrated what I wanted. I spent a good hour trying to get the English club to realize what to do and this guy had done it in less than one minute! After he taught the class how to do it we revamped the homework to be creating some animation between a cat and a mouse.

The following day some of the teachers had not completed the assignment but those that had included changing backgrounds, relational logic (cat moving towards the mouse while the mouse moved away from the cat) and custom sprites (controllable objects); all concepts and ideas which they greatly expanded from what I taught them in a short amount of time.

When training ended we invited the teachers to continue learning by helping us work with the kids. Despite a rough start, the teachers are warming up to the idea and starting to create ways to implement the laptops in the classroom.

-XO Mike


  1. Great work, Professor Michael. Sounds like you had some apt pupils despite a rough start. Good thing you're a patient man ... you've had a lot of practice trying to help me conquer the computer. Remember when you were little and I was afraid to turn the computer off? I'd get you to come do it for me! I've come a long way! And, so have you.
    xoxo Mom -- only 23 more days!

  2. I remember that program! I played with it before you left! I even made my character super feminine and put make-up on her.

  3. Have you thought about getting these teachers to meet up with others who are native speakers of Portuguese AND are already used to the XO? I know that teacher-to-teacher, international collaboration goes against the grain of what you have been taught, but it might be worth a try...

  4. Yama Ploskonka-
    Do you know how to get in contact with any Portuguese speaking teachers? Please let me know: mrstein2 {at}

    I tried to find some but with a dial up connection, repetitive searches are difficult.

  5. I am impressed you were able to communicate so well in Portugese :)

  6. Teacher training is a learning course. Providing teachers with sufficient training is a must to keep pace with modern approaches and methodologies of teaching. This is the way to change traditional teaching method which helps the teacher to improve their educational quality.

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