Time issues – transition
For this lesson I needed a location where all participants had permission to rez/build objects. I did, however, not want to go to a public sandbox as we would be using voice and I didn’t want to disturb others or wanted to be disturbed. In a crowded place it is difficult to mute everybody except the class members and group call (in IM) can be problematic. I decided to hold the class in front of my house on the SL English SIM. In order to be able to build students had to become members of the SL English group. It took at least ten minutes until everybody was enrolled because some students did not know how to join a group.
In order to avoid such a waste of time and hassle in the future, it is a good idea to arrange this in advance (e.g. by sending students a group notice telling them to join the group and explaining how to do this). Alternatively, I could find land that allows everybody to build on and which is usually not crowded at the time of the lesson.
Names of shapes
Most students new how to create simple objects like cubes and pyramids. This was good because I did not have to explain how to create them and could concentrate on eliciting or introducing the names of the shapes.
This part of the lesson worked out quite well but because we were late and I didn’t want to skip any of the later steps, I didn’t introduce all shape names. Later I realized I had completely forgotten to introduce the adjectives. These were, however, in the list I gave everybody at the end and they are also on the course site together with my recording of the pronunciation.
Instructions and prepositions of location.
Students had to follow my instructions and build objects in the shape and colour I told them. Then, I described an object and students had to walk to where it was. Finally, I and then other students instructed the others to move their objects to particular places to practise shape names as well as prepositions of location. All, of this worked out fine, except that, sometimes, it took a while until we could see all rezzed objects.
I had the feeling that the students were not all too motivated in these stages or maybe they had to concentrate so much that they didn’t have time to say or type much.
Building a scripted object
None of the students had build a scripted object before so they were all very motivated in this stage.
There wasn’t enough time to send students to the website where they could create their own script so I placed a sound and a script (play sound) into an object that gives all its content to anybody who touches it. This was time-saving because I didn’t have to pass around these items. This was a truly interactive task and all students had successfully built their objects that played a sound when touched. They were free to choose any shape and texture to make it more individual and give them choice.
This activity would have been even better by giving students the change to select and/or produce their own script and select the content of their object (notecard, LM, sound, etc.). One little problem was that it was difficult to test the objects because all had the same sound. But we managed to do that and I was also able to see where they had problems when building as I could look into their objects and see whether they were doing the write thing.
We had five minutes for this and I rushed through it a bit. Students said they all like building in SL and one student showed us what he had built.
This is a very handy object, which I used several times in this lesson. As I described above, you can fill it with inventory items that you want to hand out to everybody and by touching it students are given its content. Very time-saving and extremely easy to set up and use.
Besides reviewing the vocabulary, students have the optional homework to build an object which they can show off next time. I am curious what they will come up with. I’ve added some videos about how to record and upload their own sounds and about scripting to the Moodle course site to help them with this task.
I am planning to upload the recording of the shape nouns and adjectives and placing them into objects of that shape and placing these in the garden where we usually start our classes. So, for example, when the cube is touched, it would play the sound “a cube – cubic” or “This is a cube. – It’s cubic.”
There are two limitations to take into consideration here. Uploading sounds cost L$10 each and they must be shorter than 10 seconds.
There was not enough speaking practice for the students in this lesson and it was very teacher-centred. Whether this is something negative, I am not sure. During the lesson I had the feeling that it wasn’t good. It was also in stark contrast to the lesson before this one. I do think, however, that we should not always shy away from teacher-centred lessons or too much teacher talking time as long as this is the exception and not the norm and it can be justified.
I am not completely happy with how this lesson went (transition problems, level a bit too low as I didn’t introduce enough new words) and maybe I need to change the lesson plan a bit and think more about some of the stages. But I think in general this is the kind of lesson that uses the strength of Second Life. Students learn skills besides learning English (content-based) and students actually produce something.