The big news is that we are launching the first large-scale trial of the recorded curriculum in rural villages. We plan to have at least four facilitators and groups of 15 kids for 5 days a week for a month. While raising the necessary funds to allow us to translate programs into native languages, we are training teachers to use the Spanish recordings we created last year. This initial large-scale trial in Spanish-speaking villages will be closely monitored and will provide precious experience for the next phase.
I did some research while in the States and found out that in comparative studies of kids' programs, parents liked Sesame Street but the preschool television series Blue’s Clues was more effective in terms of children’s learning. One major difference was repetition: Blue’s Clues repeated the same program several times a week. The children loved it and learned more. You know how kids love to read the same book. They learn by repetition and anticipation.
Based on these findings, we are going to repeat the programs and books for 5 days, while activities and the questions asked will change each day. The facilitators will adapt as they see what the kids are learning during the week.
I have hired our best preschool classroom teacher Lucy to create all of the activities and to train the facilitators to use them. The training will be in February and the trial in March.
Quirio (whose family recorded the programs in Spanish) has agreed to work on the weekends to push the translation of the programs into the Mayan languages this year. This has to be done face-to-face, which means visiting some pretty remote places by bus.
I will make up the difference to hire Lucy, the facilitators and Quirio (with his wife as a facilitator) from personal funds. In the meantime, we continue to reach out to new donors, with your help, and are also actively pursuing grant opportunities to enable us to complete the trial and expand into other areas.
Thanks to all of you who have helped so far. Your financial and moral support have been most encouraging to us. And special thanks to those who are helping to spread the word about the Aula Magica project.
Have you seen the videos on the Global Giving page? They will give you a more in-depth understanding of what we are doing.