[IAEP] Its.an.education.project Digest, Vol 4, Issue 8
bryan at olenepal.org
Mon Jul 7 12:56:23 CEST 2008
>The power of the Sugar activities is in the opportunities they give for
>self-directed problem-based learning. Achieving this is much more about how
>teachers "set up" their classes and not about following a preset plan.
>Self-directed problem-based learning does not always follow a preset plan,
>the teacher, the "guide on the side" gives things a nudge from time to time,
>more recognising when learning is working well than following a preset plan.
Tony, we are comparing apples w/ oranges here. Your situation in
Australia resembles in almost no aspect the situation of a typical
Nepali school. Your advice may be great for a western school but it is
not very applicable to Nepali schools for cultural, economic, and social
The Sugar activities offer many opportunities and one of them is
self-directed problem-based learning. To most Nepali kids the laptops
offer the largest library they have ever had access to. Interactive
lessons for basic skills. all things that western children often take
The teachers here in Nepal do not have nearly the professional freedom,
resources, nor training that you and your colleagues in Australia have.
It isn't really fair to compare them w/ yourself or recommend they jump
from their current 100% instructionist method to your interpretation of
>Students, teachers, administrators and parents all have expectations of what
>school is about and these are usually more didactic than the learning
>offered by Sugar activities.
And we have to work w/ these expectations, not circumvent them if we want to achieve
any kind of success.
>See Bill Kerr's blog. He talks of creating an environment where students
>know they can demand the whiteboard markers from him at any time and work
>things out at the front of the class and how this took weeks.
Again, the culture at Bill's school is radically different from 99.9% of
all schools in Nepal. The culture here is very conservative and hierarchical.
We aren't going to change this over night or even in several years.
>So in summary I don't think lesson plans and textbooks are needed so much as
>case studies of teachers who understand the art of teaching well.
Your advice applies well to well-funded western schools but I do not think it
applies to most schools in the developing world nor does it fit into their cultural
Date: Sun, 6 Jul 2008 19:11:31 -0700
From: "Carol Lerche" <cafl at msbit.com>
Subject: Re: [IAEP] Lesson plans needed (was Re: Release 8.2.0 -- pls
addcritical features (Greg Smith))
To: "Tony Forster" <forster at ozonline.com.au>
Cc: its.an.education.project at tema.lo-res.org
<c856d2f0807061911s7a08c2dbwd1de00e6e6e04f30 at mail.gmail.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
Please keep in mind that the "young kids" of 12 that you refer to are the
oldest kids targetted by OLPC. (Purportedly ages 6-12). Many of the
discussions on these lists use as examples science and math activities for
kids age 9 and older. Note that Bryan Berry's E-paath activities include
literacy and language learning activities for young kids in the OLPC sense.
As to lesson plans, these are important especially for the beginning, when a
teacher is inexperienced overall or is trying out an approach or particular
lesson for the first time. It gives the teacher confidence and ensures that
there is enough material to fill the time alloted and not too much, and
ensures that the lesson includes all the material the teacher means to
introduce. Of course after the teacher has done the lesson or
similar/parallel lessons before, it is less important to have a written
plan. A lesson is not the same thing as a lecture, by the way.
But the whole idea here is to introduce a new set of tools and techniques to
teachers who aren't familiar with them, and who are products of very
hierarchical and didactic educational systems. (See the recently circulated
link to the Ethiopian report as well as to a lesser extent some of the
descriptions on the Nepal blog).
On Sun, Jul 6, 2008 at 6:55 PM, Tony Forster <forster at ozonline.com.au>
> Bryan wrote:
> the consistent feedback they came back w/ was
> 1) The teachers want lesson plans integrated w/ the activities
> 2) The parents don't see the learning activities as anything more than
> Edward wrote:
> Writing lesson plans needs to be a whole program in itself, integrated with
> rethinking textbooks to make use of the available software and to implement
> Constructionism, or possibly just creating textbooks within available
> software. This is Alan Kay's domain, among others. I haven't heard of
> anybody seriously taking up this vital part of the program, and I haven't
> even gotten answers to my queries about previous work in
> this vein..Has anybody taught any of the programming language tutorials to
> the children?
> Underlying these comments is the question of how does constructivism/ionism
> work in classrooms. The call for lesson plans and tutorials by teachers can
> often indicate a difference in teaching style with a preference for a more
> didactic or instructionist style.
> The activities in Sugar, of themselves, have no particular merit, their
> power is in their potential for deep thinking and problem solving. So, much
> of their power is lost if they are "taught" in the sense of "follow me,
> today we are going to learn Etoys". The call for lesson plans and tutorials
> often indicates this teaching approach.
> The power of the Sugar activities is in the opportunities they give for
> self-directed problem-based learning. Achieving this is much more about how
> teachers "set up" their classes and not about following a preset plan.
> Self-directed problem-based learning does not always follow a preset plan,
> the teacher, the "guide on the side" gives things a nudge from time to time,
> more recognising when learning is working well than following a preset plan.
> Students, teachers, administrators and parents all have expectations of
> what school is about and these are usually more didactic than the learning
> offered by Sugar activities.
> Experienced teachers (not me) put a lot of effort into "setting up" classes
> at the beginning of the year creating an environment where collaboration,
> discovery and risk taking are the norm. It is probably better to look at how
> successful constructivist teachers set up expectations and use activities
> rather than to lock down to lesson plans.
> See Bill Kerr's blog. He talks of creating an environment where students
> know they can demand the whiteboard markers from him at any time and work
> things out at the front of the class and how this took weeks.
> He quotes Konrad Glogowski who gets students to select music tracks to go
> with their literature study, Bill says "Can this be duplicated at another
> School site, through an education plan or an assessment rubric? No"
> Another teacher, Roland Gesthuizen, gives students broken programs, games,
> and gets them to debug them. He uses this as "scaffolding", a bridge to more
> self-directed creation where students program their own games.
> Another, Margaret Meijers, selects topical issues from the newspapers, for
> example traffic accidents, and gets kids to hypothesise the underlying
> mechanisms and then program a simulation.
> Alan Kay has linked to resources for teacher guided discovery learning
> which are maybe a bit more choreographed than my personal style but still
> demonstrate the importance of the teacher being the "guide on the side"
> rather than the "sage on the stage". He has a sequence of activities where
> students can discover acceleration for themselves. The beauty of this
> sequence is that it is not about following a narrow path but guided
> discovery which will work well with a teacher who understands this learning
> method and who will provide guidance sparingly.
> So in summary I don't think lesson plans and textbooks are needed so much
> as case studies of teachers who understand the art of teaching well.
> PS I have never had any resistance from the parents of the young kids
> (grades 5&6) that I teach to program computer games, they have always given
> 100% support once they see firsthand the engagement and learning. I have had
> resistance from teachers who don't see past the activity itself, which has
> no great merits, to the underlying learning of problem solving,
> organisational skills, mathematics and kinematics.
> Its.an.education.project mailing list
> Its.an.education.project at lists.lo-res.org
Bryan W. Berry
OLE Nepal, http://www.olenepal.org
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