Wednesday, April 2, 2008

First In School Panwapa Day

I had the pleasure of introducing Panwapa to my first graders this week. I consider myself lucky in that the two classes are split between library and computer class. I only have 10 children at a time on the computers.

The formal Lesson 1: Who Am I? calls for two classes and a total of 90 minutes. I borrowed several ideas from the plan and added some of my own.

I started the class by asking the students how they were exactly the same at this particular moment in school. Some responses I received were that they were all first graders, they were all wearing a uniform, and they were the only ones in computer class at that moment. We talked a little bit about what each student's favorite food was and then they raised
their hand if they liked the same food.

Next I took it out a little. I asked them if they could think of a place that was a little bigger than Saint Michael School - could they tell me where the school was. They identified the town of Cranford. I asked if they could think of a place where we were that was a little bigger than Cranford. We proceeded to talk about our state, our country, our continent, our world, and our universe. One child mentioned that they heard there was a Cranford in England.

I told them that we were going to visit a website that allows us to tell what we like and see what other children in the world like too. I handed each child the Parent Welcome Letter with a pre-written name, user name, and password.

This was a great, real-world opportunity to discuss what a user id and password is. I asked them if they had a user id and password for anything at home. Certainly, a majority of the students had Webkinz accounts. I wanted to get at the difference between a user id being a word that keeps your identity private - a nickname you use online. I wanted to make sure that they knew a password is secret. Something you only share with your parents and other trusted adults who help you on the computer. Some students have older brothers and sisters who help them and we discussed that too.

I had put together a PowerPoint to go through the screens they would see as they built their Panwapa profile. It made it very easy. I included screen shots of the sign on screen, a map of the world with our country and the African continent circled so that we could discuss the meaning of the word Panwapa - here on this earth, and each screen for the avatar, house, and flag choices. I will update this post later today, point to a Slideshare of those slides, and embed the slides here as well.

They had used Firefox to go to the Dance Mat Typing website. I have our home page set to a account, so it was a matter of pointing them to the 1st-grade set of links. Everyone was able to start Firefox, get to the link for, and click the globe on the main page to get to the sign on screen.

Before the first graders left the chairs in the center of their room for the computers, I demonstrated the sign on process. It confused me the first time I tried. They needed to:
  1. Click the blue "My name is not on this list" icon.
  2. From the drop down list, choose USA.
  3. Click in the box below USA and type the five-digit number.
  4. Click in the password box and type their password.
  5. Click the green "Sign on to Panwapa World" icon.
For reasons unknown to me, most of the time, the user name and password I set up worked. In a few cases, even with typing the proper user name and password, I couldn't sign in with the pre-assigned information, so I had to quickly click the orange Join icon and sign them up again. When I did this, I wrote the new user name on the Welcome Letter and kept the same password.

Almost every child managed to create their Panwapa kid, house, and flag. There are four students (out of 38) who will need to finish that project up next week. I told the students finishing early that they should click around the screen and see what happened.

Next week, we will finish up the four accounts, plus the one child who was absent will need to get started. I did not have the children's cards print out to save time. I have to do that today at school. We will compare the cards and learn who chose which particular items on the Panwapa flag and learn how to visit other children around the world and leave messages.

I collected all the Welcome Letters and updating my spreadsheet. I will also photocopy the letters before sending them home with the children next week.

If you try Panwapa in your class, please leave a link to any blog posts you write, so that I can learn and improve this program at my school. Thanks!

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