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[school-discuss] Contributing to GCompris based on English Phonics from FreeReading.net?

Dear Schoolforge,

Lately, I have been teaching four 8 year old neighbors English with an old teacher-friend who just keeps getting better, GCompris (J'ai Compris or "I have understood"), on Ubuntu 12.04 for practice and rewards. GCompris is not simple and not just for one age-group, but I can simply say that it sure gives 8 year olds a fun kick. They love it! Tux Typing, Tux Math and Tux Paint are simply wonderful. The image games are cool; there's listening and even braile. There's incredible variety and depth in this collection (including chat and a word processor). Coudos to M. Bruno Coudoin.

Of course, no great work of software is ever done, and, as deep as it is, and as I'm sure Bruno would say, GCompris could be extended -- or, a word I use a lot, "gardened." For example, I noted that despite having some very useful games for learning to read, it lacks real teaching of phonics (at least for English). One of the problems in filling this gap is that teaching reading well is not something you know just because you can read yourself. So, it would be a large and challenging job to come up with a really useful system.

Then, recently, I found freereading.net. Freereading.net is open source and has actually been approved for use in the early reading curriculum of the U.S. state of Florida. I think this is quite astounding and exciting! I think kids need to make their own cards, not just use the fancy ones made by artists if they're going to get the sounds into their heads effectively. But, be that and other possible objections by teachers as they may, this system is ready now -- and properly licensed. It got me wondering whether we could cook up something based on freereading.net to augment Bruno's collection. He's done such a good job getting it included on distributions and making sure that versions exist for non-Linux folks that contributing to his project seems like a good way to ensure that the work would be be exposed widely.

So, when looking into how to contribute to GCompris, I found an interview with a young woman who had the skills and smarts to add more musical activities under the Google Summer of Code's auspices last year. It sounds like she was lucky enough to have Bruno as her mentor. I thought people on this list would enjoy reading it and perhaps get inspired. It bugs me that even a bright computer studies student wouldn't have heard of Gnome before college/university.

Anyway, I see this as a place where we could involve students in a project for the benefit of their younger siblings and friends and which would teach them about coding and working on a free/open source project. To me, that's always been the goal of schoolforge. Is there someone or some group of people who would act as mentors for the various parts of such a project? From the hip, I'd say that we need a coder, a reading teacher and a project manager at minimum. What do you think? (We can talk about teaching reading to older students next.)


If nothing else, I think you'll see how useful the artwork could be: http://www.freereading.net/images/1/15/Index_Picture_Cards.pdf

David Bucknell

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Sustainable Learning Technologies

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