[IAEP] [Sugar-devel] How to Make Activity Designers Happy , Parts I and II

Bryan Berry bryan at olenepal.org
Fri Jan 2 15:10:09 EST 2009

On Fri, 2009-01-02 at 14:54 -0500, Wade Brainerd wrote:

I don't understand the construing of constructionism with "exclusively
>         high-level math and science" and I don't quite what you mean
>         by
>         "foundational skills". I don't think anyone would argue that
>         we don't
>         want numeracy and literacy to be "low shelf" tools in every
>         child's
>         repertoire, but what does this have to do with the other
>         topics in
>         this thread?
> I read this as saying that the constructivist activities that have
> been developed *so far* by programmers in developed countries tend to
> focus on high level concept learning rather than foundational skills.
> And I agree with this statement.
> I'm currently working on Typing Turtle, a typing trainer for the XO.
> One could say "they have Write and Chat, they will learn how to type"
> - that would be a constructivist approach.  I feel like there is a
> need for more focused training of fundamental 'low shelf' skills,
> that's why I'm working on that particular activity.

The Typing Turtle will be immensely useful and immensely popular in
Nepal. A typing tutor is one of the most frequently requested programs
by the Nepali kids and teachers alike. Thanks alot to Wade for working
on it.

While no one is arguing that basic literacy and numeracy are less
important, there are far fewer activities addressing them. Most focus on
higher-level skills. Sometimes I feel there is an attitude that kids
will "just learn" counting or reading by using Etoys or another program.
I don't believe that will happen for a lot of kids.

Also, too often we focus on empowering the smart kids in the class. This
project is about mass education. Helping the vast majority of kids is
the real point, not just the superlative ones.

Case in point, some of the sharper kids at Bishwamitra school think a
lot of the E-Paath math activities are lame and boring. The academically
weaker kids love them and do them over and over until they master them.
These are 6th graders who until recently couldn't count properly. Those
students initially had trouble w/ some of our math problems for grade

Some kids may learn basic math and reading so they can go straight to
using TurtleArt. They may hate simple math and language lessons. A lot
of kids won't be able to go straight TurtleArt. We need to think about
them as well.

Bryan W. Berry
Technology Director
OLE Nepal, http://www.olenepal.org

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