Thursday, November 6, 2008

MacDonough students get technical through donor generosity

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He's not doing it in this photo, but when I sat down next to 8-year-old Elvis Lozada last night, during a session of the MacDonough School computer club, he was drumming his fingers and bopping around in his chair to the music he had created on an XO mini laptop computer.


"I also get to chat and you can do "Tan Tan Jam" and use instruments, where you press numbers and letters and they turn into songs," said Elvis, who also often takes the laptop home to use. "I show my sister how to use it too, so probably when she is a third grader, whe can sign up for the computer club."

So not only can Elvis make his own music, connect to the Internet (for free with supervision), chat with his fellow computer club members via email and play all kinds of educational games, he also serves as teacher to his family members and is trusted to take care of the computer when he takes it home.

That's in addition to his regular day at school. Unique way to learn no?

josh.JPGElvis and fellow computer club members' ability to use this compact, little green marvel of technology was made possible by the North End Action Team (NEAT), through a program called "Give One Get One."

Here's how it works. When you purchase one of these XO laptops, either through NEAT or at, one laptop is sent to a child in Nigeria and the other to you, the buyer. You can either keep the XO for your own use, or turn around and donate it to a child like Zionique Walker-Elson and Josh Zona pictured above, right here in in Middletown. So far, MacDonough students have 17 XO laptops to use, which they do a good job of sharing during their bi-weekly afterschool computer club.

Here's hansome little Marc Torres, who was learning French with the help of his XO. He told me he wants to go to France some day, so he needs to learn French to communicate. Great goal Marc!  "I learned ensemble means together and la banque means bank," he said.


"I like teaching the kids how to use the computer, things they will use in the older grades, this gets them set for it," said MacDonough third grade teather Teresa Morello, chatting via computer in this photo with Nichoals Deren and Jonathan Shaw. "This thing is about creativity, with writing programs, they are doing their own thing." 

                                                                                                    Thumbnail image for morello.JPGNEAT executive director Izzi Greenburg is very excited about this grassroots program. It is her goal to provide all of the children at MacDonough with an XO computer. She is also talking with Wesleyan University students to come work with the kids on the computers, either during classtime or the computer club, so the teachers will have more time to work with the students.

"We want this to be a whole new way of learning," she said. "I want to create programs that are exclusive to this neighborhood, that will be incentive for people to come here and decrease the transiency."

Engaging, fun, community-based programmin in a safe environment - what neighborhood doesn't need that?

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