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IP: Jefferson School: Story of the Week/Century (12/4/98)
From: Dave Farber <farber () cis upenn edu>
Date: Fri, 04 Dec 1998 14:02:32 -0500



Date: Fri, 04 Dec 1998 12:33:22 -0600
From: "Peter Mudd" <peter () jeffersonschool org>
To: Dave Farber <farber () cis upenn edu>

Dave,

As an undergraduate at Washington University I was luck enough to have
you add me to your IP mailing list.  I have completely enjoyed it ever
since.

I now work at The Jefferson School, an all black innercity elementary
school in St. Louis Missouri.  Southwestern Bell and over a dozen other
corporations and foundations have donated almost $3 million dollars to
renovate the school, add air conditioning and wire it to the Internet
with 32 inch TVs, VCR's, and 100MB/s ethernt hubs in each of the 25
classrooms in the school.  We have been working extremely hard on this
project from the beginning of the summer and are just now finishing the
network installation, server installation, and have started putting
computers in all the classrooms.  The following is my account of my
first visit to one of the classrooms that I sent to everone who has been
working so hard on the project, some for several years.  I hope you
engoy it, this experience has really given me goose bumbs!

Thanks again for allowing me to be on your mailing list!

peter mudd



Peter Mudd wrote:

The Jefferson School (12/4/98)

--Story of the Week/Century

I started teaching individual classes this week for the first time at
The Jefferson School.  The day I put the first computer in a classroom I
spend an hour with theem to talk about it.  Averaging two classes a day,
it will take me about two weeks to visit the whole school.  Granted, we
have been making spectacular headway here on all fronts but I still feel
like I'm two months behind my original plan.  I foolishly expected that
I'd have all the equipment up and running and have my first visit to all
the classes in October, not December.  I'm learning.

I went into Ms. Norrington's class five minutes late, around 1:05, and
found a teacher but no students.  They were late from their previous
engagement too.  Good.  That gave me time to set up.  Fast forward 45
minutes ... lucky to have found a mixed grade class with only eight
students insteatd of the usual 20-25 we had already talked about what a
computer is (ranging from the one in my watch to the new PentiumII on
their desks); we had already talked about how computers, just like
people with telephones, can talk to each other over wires and the kids
had taken turns plugging the computer's network cable into the telephone
like RJ45 jack in the wall; we had already discovered that none of the
students had a computer at home and that none of them really knew what
the Internet was or what e-mail was.  When I first addressed the class
in the beginning of the period I had asked them to go around the room
and have everyone tell me their name and how long they've been at
Jefferson School and then had to traverse their rolling eyes, displayed
for my benefit.  I'm not sure what the kids were expecting, if anything,
from me but they weren't going to give me their full attention right off
the bat.  That was ok. I knew it wouldn't be long before I got it ...

After getting a chorus of positive replies when I asked the students if
they had noticed the pictures and artwork that cycle randomly on the
computer screen downstairs (displayed in our beautiful new kiosk at the
entrance to the building), I asked if any of them had seen a picture of
themselves or of their artwork on the kiosk screen yet.  The second
chorus was a resounding, "no."  I pulled out a digital camera and
silently began looking at it and turning it over in my hands in front of
the class.  I heard some shifting of seats as now eager eyes
repositioned themselves for a better look.  Fast forward 8 minutes ...
we had taken two snapshots of the whole class together
(http://www.jeffersonschool.org/kiosk/camer005.jpg &
http://www.jeffersonschool.org/kiosk/camer006.jpg) and I had passed the
camera around so they could see the pictures on the LCD display in the
back of this hand-held marvel.  We had all moved over to my laptop and
were "uploading" the images from the camera to the computer.  I did the
first one.  A student did the second one with no hlep or direction from
me.  He had learned how to with just one viewing.  While the class was
watching the "progress bar" on the screen count from 22% to 45% to 83%
to 100% I slipped over to the computer I had installed in their
classroom the night before, to their computer.  Unnoticed by their
captivated eyes I pulled up the second image on their computer and
slipped back to congratulate the class on their success.  "That was
excellent," I began, "but I've got a confusing question for you ... I
know you guys are smart so I hope you can help me out with this one."
One or two students partially took their eyes from the screen to pay
attention to me.  "You all saw me take the picture with the camera, then
I showed it to you with the LCD screen on the camera, then I plugged the
camera into the laptop and you downloaded it to my laptop, right?"  One
or two answered yes, uninterested.  "Then how did the picture you just
downloaded to my laptop already get onto your computer over there??"
All eyes shifted.  There was silence.  Everyone moved over to the other
computer and the classroom was filled with surprised murmurs, laughter
and excitement at the magic that had just been performed.  After a few
more moments the proverbial lightbulb glowed strong over one head as a
voice yelled out, "Hey, that must have gone over the blue wire I plugged
into the wall!  That went over the Internet!  That went over the
Internet from the laptop to our computer!  Hey Mr. Peter (the kids are
often torn by my request for them to call me by my first name and the
school tradition of calling classroom teachers by their last name) how'd
you do that?!?!? Come here and show me how you did that!!!...."

That student is a 3rd grader in The New Jefferson Elementary School and
you better believe that he will learn how to do that.

Although it is the beginning of December, this is only day one for this
classroom.

I believe everyone on this e-mail list, among others, has helped make
this happen!  Thank you.

peter


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