After being presented with the opportunity to design an English language curriculum using the XO laptops from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organization for primary students at St. Andre’s School in Haiti, all four members of our group were excited to be a part of the project. Two members of our group speak French, the political language of Haiti. Two members of our group are also entering the Peace Corps. One member knows his location and his assignment will be English and technology, which is very similar to this project. One member chose this project because of her fondness for children and her desire to learn about Haiti. The possibility of traveling to Haiti in order to implement our curriculum is an extra incentive.
For the scope of this particular project, we hope to implement our curriculum in teacher training in English and technology training as well as our English curriculum for 3rd through 6th grade students using the XO laptops. In the future, we hope that our curriculum will be a base for creating a layered curriculum that builds on each year of school beginning at the kindergarten level. We also hope that English be taught regularly throughout the 13th grade so that the students will be able to secure jobs with tourism or NGOs in Haiti or attend college in an English-speaking country. Another goal of our project is to demonstrate that the students are utilizing the XO laptops and encourage donors to provide more laptops for the students to use.
Our needs analysis was conducted through a series of extensive informal interviews and meetings, beginning in mid-September and continuing throughout the Fall 2013 semester, with Lisa Donohoe, our contact person at MIIS. Lisa is working with both St. Dunstan’s Church and St. Andre’s School. Given Lisa’s connection to St. Andre’s, as she has her own program and traveled to the school to conduct her own school-wide needs analysis, and her interest in this project, she is a wonderful connection. She has an established connection with the principal of St. Andre’s and is able to more easily interact with him than we would be able to on our own. We relied heavily on Lisa for information. Since the school is in Haiti, it was not feasible for us to travel there to conduct personal interviews or inspect the school and classes ourselves. Lisa was kind enough to share videos and pictures from her trip to St. Andre’s as well as provide us with an informal assessment of the English proficiency of the teachers there. We felt that an informal analysis would be the best approach to gauging the English levels so that the teachers did not feel threatened or judged.
Lisa’s connection to St. Dunstan’s is also beneficial as St. Dunstan’s is providing the XO laptops in addition to other supplies and is continuing to make physical improvements to the St. Andre’s campus. She provided us with their knowledge of what had already been done to the school and what is left to do, such as fixing a solar panel. She was able to connect us with some of the members from St. Dunstan’s who have been to St. Andre’s and will be able to provide us with even more information on the physical aspects of the school and the technical aspects of the laptops once we meet with them.
To help us with ideas for ways to integrate the XOs into our curriculum, we decided to attend the OLPC San Francisco Community Summit 2013. There we were able to attend presentations and converse with a variety of people who are invested in using the XOs and have seen them implemented in a variety of ways. We were able to speak with a group of people who currently have various ongoing projects in different schools in Haiti. We were also able to get some ideas for working around issues such as lack of internet or electricity and future implications of XO and related software and hardware.
Compilation of questions proposed to Lisa over the course of our meetings.
- What grades will we be designing a curriculum for?
- How many kids are there to a class?
- What is St. Andre’s Expecting?
- What is St. Dunstan’s Expecting?
- Who all is involved with this project?
- What are the goals of the teachers? The students? The school?
- What formal education/training do the teachers have?
- How proficient are the English teachers?
- How many English teachers are there?
- What is the current language of instruction?
- How proficient are the teachers in French?
- What are the classrooms like?
- What materials to the students and teachers have access to?
- What is the classroom layout?
- What is the school layout?
- Is there a per-existing English curriculum?
- What is the current English program like?
- What is the time scope of the curriculum?
- Can we go to Haiti?
- Can we reformat the laptops in English?
- How long are the students in class?
- Do the students remain in one class with one teacher for the entire day or do they rotate?
- What is the current level of students’ English upon graduation?
- Why are the students learning English?
- How is the students level of English evaluated?
- What level do the students need to be at upon graduation or completion of school?
- Where do the children live?
- Does the school already have the XO laptops?
- Do the teachers know how to use the laptops?
- How is the school year scheduled?
- What is the internet connectivity like at St. Andre’s?
- What is the power situation at St. Andre’s?
- Do the students have a say in what they learn?
- Should the same curriculum be applied to all of the K-6 students?
- Which grades should we focus on?
- How many days per week is instruction? For how long?
- What kind of teacher training should we plan for?
- Should we target our curriculum towards the teachers?
- Unit frameworks?
- Should we break down the curriculum into teachers and students? To what extent?
- Where should the main emphasis be for the curriculum?
- What kind of technology training have they already had?
- What kind of support material would you recommend for teachers?
- Can we Skype with the principal?
- How are students learning French? Through which method? How are the per-existing language curriculum informing the students?
- Are students using laptops in every class? Do they use technology for each subject area? Can we PLEASE change them into English?
- What kind of test can we give them for a needs assessment?
- Can we have access to any curriculum that they already have? ESPECIALLY French? Or Creole? How effective has their French curriculum already been?
- What topics are students interested in?
- Can we bookmark things on a computer for little kids?
- What age groups?
- Should we create English for little kids too?
- What limitations do you think we should put on ourselves?
- Can this project be followed up on next semester?
- What are the age groups in the school that we are designing a curriculum for??
- Basing lessons off of per-existing subjects?
- What would be the most optimal tool to collect data with?
- When are you going to Haiti?
- Can you bring back sample curriculum for St. Andre’s?
- What should we give to the teachers to assess their English proficiency?
- Can we meet with St. Dunstan’s?
Informal English Assessment: