Today began class two with my first graders and Panwapa.com. I am beginning to see that the website is rough on older machines. It runs very nicely on the newest (one or two year old) iMacs, but it is slow and troublesome on the PowerPC iMac and iBooks.
I took the time to download the lastest version of Flash since I worked with the first grade last week. I thought that would solve some issues I had with script errors in Flash. It still has not entirely solved the issues.
We reviewed starting Firefox, getting to Panwapa.com, and signing in with the user name and password. I demonstrated how to change the Panwapa kid's clothes, house, and flag. I also demonstrated how to click on the big globe to the right of the screen and zoom in to see how many Panwapa kids were in a particular country. Next I zoomed in to see the actual houses of the Panwapa kids in that country.
I showed the students how to send a message to a Panwapa kid. We compared what a child in Uruguay liked to one of our students who was absent from class today. Next I chose to send the child a message. We saw how to click on each message to hear what it was programmed to say.
We also saw how the Panwapa card collection begins to build. At that point, my students spent about 20 minutes changing their Panwapa settings and sending messages to other Panwapa kids.
They were really excited. They were happily telling each other what countries they had visited, how their choices matched other children's, and what messages they left behind.
I have 8 newer machines out of 16 in the lab, so I strategically set the children at the best machines. There was one little girl who was at a PowerPC iMac. It would not let her click the yellow Change Me icon. It kept reloading the screen over and over with no way to stop it but quit Firefox. So I switched her to an iBook, figuring it was a newer machine. It still didn't work. Next week, I will have her work at my MacBook. I know it works on that machine since it's the one I test things on at home.
All in all, I really love the website, but it's limits on my PowerPCs will force me to consider how many children I have in the room at one time before I use it.
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