A Productive Visit

Yesterday I met again with Dorothy Jett and Scott Romsos, after school, to get the XOs ready for the students and to talk about our blog and lessons they might like to do.  Dorothy was able to stay for an hour before she had to leave for a meeting. Scott and I worked another hour getting all of the XOs prepped.

First order of business was getting Dorothy set up as a contributor on the blog. We were successful and she will help Scott got set up later.

Tam Tam
We talked about using Tam Tam Mini with the students, starting next week.  We outlined a lesson that will get the students started on the XOs and have them play a couple of simple songs.  We agreed that it is important for the children to not only have fun doing it, but also learn some of the musical curriculum from the MT state standards.

We will focus on relating the XO keyboard to the standard musical keyboard and the real names of the notes (CDE… and do/re/mi… not ZXC…) . I will make some PDF files to use with the lesson and will send them to Dorothy ahead of time. The 2nd and 3rd grade classes will be combined for this and there will be 18 students so we will have to find a way for all of them to have a chance to play.

Next Wednesday I will go to the school and help with the class.  We will post the  lesson plan with notes on what worked and what didn’t sometime after. Since I will be leaving MT a few days after that, I probably won’t get to do it again, but we will keep in touch.

There is a possibility that the school may have funds to hire an elementary music teacher. I hope if they do, the teacher will be as receptive to using the XOs as Dorothy is.

Science Activities
Scott has had internet issues and had not yet had a chance to read all the emails iI sent him with links to neat things he can do with his science classes, especially with sensors. He will try to check them out this week.  We also discussed the possibility of having a Computer Club for Middle School students to help with updates and maintenance and the like.  Evidently there is very little time for clubs since most children come by bus or carpool.  He will see if he can find a time that would work.

Resetting Clocks and Getting Developer Keys
Since these laptops had been stored in a closet for a year, most of the real time clock (rtc) batteries had run down.  We noticed this the last time we met when we were getting strange dates like 1999 and 2028! This time we worked on checking and resetting the date and time as needed, using the Open Firmware method (see <  http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Fix_Clock#If_the_screen_turns_on_but_you_cannot_enter_Linux >) which worked great, except for one machine that wouldn’t go to Open Firmware. I took that one home to re-flash and try again.  Then, after checking in Terminal  ( “date” ) to see if it was right, we went to Settings->Time Date and chose America Denver.

After that we made sure we were online, went to the Browse Activity, and got developer keys for all 9 of the machines that worked correctly.

Note: If anyone reading this has an XO that has been stored for a long time and finds crazy dates coming up, you can follow the above procedure to reset it, but you will still need to recharge the rtc battery.  I have been told that this has to be done with the XO turned on. Evidently charging with the XO turned off only charges the main battery.  You can use the XO during this charging process if you like.

SD Cards As Extra Storage For Activities
Scott Dowdle at Montana State University in Bozeman has been working on getting an easy method of storing Activities on an SD card and linking them with a sym-link so they will be accessible from the Activities list but will be stored on the SD card. He is teaching me to do this too so I can write up instructions in simple English.

The XO-1.5 we had prepped to do that last week somehow got the SD card erased, so I showed Scott R how it could be done without the links. Opening an Activity from the SD card works fine, but it is automatically installed on the XO, taking up valuable storage “real estate” on the XO. Erasing the Activity from the XO (but not the SD card) after each use can work as a temporary fix.

Scott D and I  hope to get the process perfected and written up and posted here and on the wiki soon!


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