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Educational texts - written language teaching

I've been thinking about texts concerning the usage of GNU/Linux in
schools.  I'm really not sure whether this is anything usefull at
all, or if it's something just out of any techers common sence, but
I've started out on a text for teaching reading and writing.

I'm not sure wich format I should use.  I'm writing in KLyX, and can
easily get most formats.. To include it easily, I'll give you a
text-version, and you can say if it's something worth continuing or
if we should have something completely different:


Learning to Read/Write


I'm about to start out a document about learning and developing reading
and writing abilities by use of computers.


This text is copyrighted (1999) under the OPL. (http://www.opencontent.org/opl.html)

1 Introduction

Reading and writing is something utterly important, and dominates the
first years of our children's schooling. This text will mainly describe
methods to use computers in that cause, and the pedagogical reasoning
behind it. 

I will only refer to free software to be used on free software systems
such as GNU/Linux.

2 The Basics in computer usage

We use the language in many different ways. One main function of the
language is communication, to get someone else to understand what
you want or feel. Letting the children's meeting with written language
be a mean of communication, rather than hard practice or intense frustration,
sets a good ground for that small persons ability to express her/himself
for the rest of her/his life!

There are many ways to lead the children to a good textual language.
The computer is merely a tool to make some of them a bit easier, and
adding a few more ways.

2.1 Learn letters

There's an excellent program to start learning the letters, or to train
them a bit extra. Lletters is a simple program for small children,
where you get large capitals, the whole alphabet and the numbers,
on the screen. Clicking any of them will bring up a picture of something
starting with that letter, or the amount of something matching the
number. The word is printed below, so that you get a direct connection
between the picture and the word. This may sound behavioristic and
boring, but as long as it's funny, it's also useful! The children
will at the same time learn how to use the mouse and they can alternate
with the keyboard. I don't think this section requires any method,
just let them use the program if they like it, else, don't! If you
like, you could teach them to start it, or you start it for them.

2.2 Help them focus!

To spare the kids some of the enormous efforts of forming small, strange
symbols, can help them focus on putting down their thoughts in separate
words and sentences. Certainly, they will have to learn how to write
by hand, that is still a necessary skill in our society. The main
thought is rather to let them focus on one thing at a time, or at
least one thing less at a time.

When taking the first step toward an understanding of our written language,
figuring out that it can be divided into sentences, words and letters,
anyone has enough to do without having to exercise your skill in forming
small curves with a pencil. If the students sometimes can let go of
that part and focus on the writing, in a simple editor or word processor,
they will get the opportunity of developing their understanding of
written language, which in turn will motivate them further to later
learn and practice hand-writing.

 Methodological example

Introducing computers to a 6- or 7-years old kid is quite easy. You
can easily guide her/him to login visually by selecting the right
picture in the kdm (KDE's graphical login-manager) and clicking ok.
Presented by the desktop, configured so that there's nothing but an
icon for starting KLyX with their practice-document in it. So, with
3 clicks on the mouse, they are in a position to start writing, from
the environment presented by a just booted computer (or a computer
with a previous logged off session).

In there, they can just start writing! Pushing a button with a capital
letter on it will generally produce a non-capital letter on the screen.
The program is preconfigured for the whole age-group in the school
to produce a large font, consequent with the one they learn to use
by hand (the modern type 'a' etc).

The basics of using a computer will be learned quickly. It sums up
to a total of 7 mouse-clicks for a kid only adding some text to her/his
practice-file. These are: 

* select a user (and click 'ok')

* click the documents icon (and write!) 

* click save 

* close the window 

* quit X-windows. (including 'ok')

That's not very hard, is it, even for an adult to learn? The benefits
of this are that you can see directly how the text looks. You don't
have to form letters, you don't even have to know all letters! With
the keyboard, the children gets the whole alphabet in front of them,
in capitals. It's much easier to recognize something than to recall
it from memory alone. The result gets appealing, looks like something
out of a real book or newspaper. It can easily be printed out with
a single mouse-click.

Now, this isn't all reasons to use computers, is it? No! There are
a lot more coming, and using computers once in a while from the very
start will make the rest of it easier.

Well, any comments are welcome!  I wouldn't like to lay time on
something not worth it!

(I'm having a pause in the expmath development, waiting for the next
version of cln that should come soon and be compilable with libc6 2.1)

Educational Free Software - http://hem.fyristorg.com/edufs/