Friday, November 20, 2009

Computer Labs for Kids: Update on SOS Childrens Village

Prior post. Yaaaahhhh! I have some photos from Shira! These tell the story. They are "still shots" that Shira extracted from the video that Lynn Ward took during the class. The kids, of course, are the stars :) It seemed to take a long time, but actually it was a remarkably short time between Millie and Chrystine bringhing the children up to be registered by yours truly and the volunteers arriving in singles, twos, threes and more for Erin to register. Soon, everyone was in the room we had set up as the classroom, and I was sitting outside panting, trying to catch my breath! LOL! But I didn't stay out there for long. Soon I was inside, circulating around, trying to stay out of the way as I watched the action. The class started with everyone (and I do mean everyone, including volunteers and everyone else in the room) standing up and doing a loosey-goosey exercise. With everyone being silly together, kids and adults form an instant connection. Then it's back to our seats and down to business! The first part of the class began with the "values" section, which was led by instructor Greg Molinaro of "The Way to Happiness." It is a common-sense approach to teaching values that does not a religious credo. "The Way to Happiness" video was presented in several sections so that the children could concentrate on one key concept at a time. Every child had an exercise book to work through with his or her buddy (technical instructor), who would ask questions at the conclusion of each video segment to elicit responses from the child that would reveal whether the child "got" the lesson of the video segment. As needed, the buddy would then ask the child questions designed to elicit further responses until the exercise was completed. As the child progressed through each exercise, the buddy would ask the child to place a sticker (the same stickers I had handed out to each child during registration) next to a particular section within the exercise, signifying that the child had successfully completed that part! Above is a photo of the class while Greg went through an abridged video presentation of "The Way to Happiness." The video presented vignettes that dramatized certain every-day situations to help the children understand common-sense values, emphasizing the Golden Rule, that will help the kids keep their laptops safe and also learn how to share it with others. This photo shows a part where the buddies are going through one of the segment's workbook questions with their children. It's intense one-on-one, but also fun, as can be seen by the expressions and body language of the participants! The entire class was designed to be completed in 3 hours, including time for one-on-one instruction after the award of each child's laptop computer for further work with their buddies to familiarize themselves with the programs downloaded to each laptop. The class was designed to keep in mind the ages of the children and time constraints (on a Sunday afternoon) of the volunteers. Shira tried to think of everything when designing this program, her most ambitious yet! Although Shira said that we started the Values Section late, we somehow managed to finish on time. The children were so eager - and so intent - being in that room was like being at a championship level chess tournament, except for the exchanges between the children and their buddies. It was awesome to behold! At the conclusion of the Values section, each child was called to the front of the room by name (in alphabetical order), to receive a Certificate of Completion for that part of the class, and received congratulations from Shira and Greg. It was my job to loudly call out the name of each child, which I did with gusto since I have a naturally big mouth :) and hand the certificates to Shira, who did the actual presentation to the child. I am happy to say I only made one goof, badly mispronouncing the name of one of the children, for which I abjectly apologized to her later. She was very magnanimous and forgave me for being such a screw-up. This photo: Greg on the left, Shira in the center presenting a Certificate to one of the children, and me on the right, looking MUCH stouter than I really am in person, darlings. But I think I must get a new bra, ahem. At the conclusion of the first certificate ceremony, we took a 15 minute break, and then Part 2 of the class began! The computers!

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