The first few weeks were certainly a struggle trying to set up the computer room but we got there in the end! In the meantime, I found a black wooden board in the store cupboard and so we gave it a much needed makeover. We now have our own diapalante board featuring a balloon for the student of the week, this month’s theme and also an English word of the day.
In the computer room we have been super busy so far! This year we have introduced ‘Scratch Saturday’s’ which the students are all really enjoying. Scratch is a user friendly introduction to computer coding which I know Liz has been keen to kick start this year. In Senegal there are many jobs available for young people in coding and so Diapalante is providing the initial introdution to the language of computers. I, personally, am not really interested in computers, however I am being swayed with this colourful and fun approach to computer coding. With temperamental wifi for the first half of term, it has been difficult to use the textbooks which all include internet based activities, so I have been writing a course based on the books, called Scratch Sans Internet. The students have been learning how to make to Sprites move around along the x and y axis, how to make them talk, how to change their colour and changing the backgounds of the games too. Below are some photos of the kids getting stuck in!
Not only have we been using Scratch but also the multitude of activities which don’t require the internet too. Now we have activities available on the computers which are graded level by level for all different abilities. Maths, English, French, Science and more, their abilites are bieng tested when it seems like they are simply playing a computer game. The most handy thing is they don’t require internet use. Often the students want to use the computers for browsing the interent, so convincing them to do 5 educational activities and then they can have 10 minutes of interent time is usually effective; sometimes they forget what they wanted to do on the computer in the first place!
With the rise of the internet and technology in Senegal, young people are being more exposed to the world outside of Senegal. There are, obviously both positive an negative impacts of the Internet and social media and I was keen for the students to understand and be aware of the risks. This sparked an idea of having a debate once a week surrounding different issues. The debate of the dangers of Facebook became real when they had not heard the phrase cyber-bullying before. We mapped out the dangers on the board and debated their validity. Below is a photo of our debate board!
The computer room is also a hub for lessons. The projector and screen have been used on almost a daily basis as a key learning tool. I teach many different levels of English using these tools and thanks to the new projector remotes I can stand confidently at the front of the class and use TESOL techniques to teach. The use of powerpoint is a technique which teachers at Primary level up to University use and it is very effective. Playing games and having competitions makes the classroom environment all the more exciting and this is something I continually try to master with the help of Diapalante’s up to date technology.
The internet has been used frequently by the students and is, unsurprisingly, one of Diapalante’s most popular assets. In the first few weeks of opening we were learning about the continents in the world. We chose to study Africa, and Senegal as a country within that. The boys created a fact sheet using internet research. Here they are working hard!
Overall, from my first two months with Diapalante Senegal it has been tough trying to juggle planning, teaching and sorting computers with the daily struggles of living in the crawy [crazy] country of Senegal but we are getting there! Bring it on!