Category: Technology


We’re off!

Well not quite. We have a day to pack any away we go. Today I spent rounding up all the kids documents from Elmwood School. We have contributions from grades 1-5. Unfortunately the grade 6 teacher came down with the flu last week and just could not complete on time but it’s not a problem. We have plenty of good writing from our Canadian kids to keep us busy. Documents will be distributed to the kids in Mexico from the web server on my laptop so it should just be plug and play. Also bringing down some opensource typing tutors. I found gnutype and Stormy mentioned Tuxtype. Both work with Spanish  so that should be fun to try out. We are getting very excited!

Thursday October 15 update.

The kids at Elmwood School are starting!

Today a letter went out to all parents and many kids have already started!

The letter is as follows:

Dear Elmwood Parents,
We have a unique opportunity at Elmwood School to match our students with pen pals from 18 de Marzo Elementary School in Huajuapan, a village in the Mexican province of Oaxaca.  For the first time in their lives, these young students have just recently become the recipients of donated computer equipment, thanks to an initiative called “Kids on Computers” (http://www.kidsoncomputers.org). Staff and students of 18 de Marzo Elementary School hope to have internet access within the next few months.
In November, family members from our Elmwood teaching staff will be visiting 18 de Marzo Elementary School in order to offer volunteer training and technical support for their staff and students.  With your permission, they will deliver Elmwood School students’ pen pal letters that have been translated into Spanish (using online translation tools).  They will also bring back pen pal letters from Mexican students.
Please sign the permission form below, permitting the electronic capture and translation of your child’s writing and images he or she may wish to attach. These letters will then be shared with students of similar grades and ages, initiating an enriching cross-cultural correspondence that is sure to be a very educational experience for all.
Sincerely,
Mrs. J. denHartigh
Grade One Teacher
Elmwood School

Kids on Computers Followup Visit

I was intrigued by an Open Source project called Kids on Computers in the Spring of 2009 and made a small cash donation to help in the cost of shipping computers and equipment to Mexico. About the same time we were invited to attend a wedding in Monterrey Mexico  and started exploring the possibility of extending our visit and doing something more to further this project.  We decided to pay a visit to the site and with the assistance of my 3 very capable and computer literate daughters we would try to draw up a plan to make use of the new computer lab provided for this project.  I contacted Stormy Peters who got me in touch with her father, Thomas, in Mexico as well as others who are leading this project in both Mexico and the US to get a feel for what we could help with. My wife, Jane, is a grade 1 teacher at an elementary school in Edmonton.  I suggested to her that a school twinning project of some sort would be interesting where the kids from each school could be matched up as pen pals, using the computers available in their schools and use their document processors to write to each other electronically. Language barriers could be broken down with electronic language translation tools. While this could easily be done between schools that have internet access, we have a slight problem not having this luxury in the 18 de Marzo elementary school in Huajuapan. While bouncing some ideas back and forth with Hermes Ojeda Ruiz we decided that it would be easy enough to set up an internal apache web server on one of the machines in the 18 de Marzo elementary school in Huajuapan and we could index the documents created by the kids in Edmonton by age and grade.  The kids in Edmonton are using Microsoft Word to create their letters and the Kids in Mexico will be using OpenOffice. My experience with OpenOffice importing MS Word documents properly has been a little problematic  so we will probably have to the kids in Edmonton create pdf’s  of their completed and translated letters as well. It would probably be more efficient to have the kids in Edmonton create documents with googledocs  but we may run into school board regulations regarding internet use and creating public documents on this end.  In any case since the kids in Mexico have no internet access and consequently  no access to googledocs the point is moot.