This lesson built up on the previous one where the topic was the news and we talked about a journalist’s job. Students had also practised asking questions in different tense in the Hot Seat game. This lesson was insofar different as we had a guest in the lesson. Well, more precisely, we were his guests 🙂
For the first time, I had no written lesson plan and wrote one after the class in order to upload it here. Which does not mean the lesson wasn’t planned. Dennis and I e-mailed about our plan and we also met before the lesson to make sure everything was set.
I believe it is very important to give students a lesson overview so they know what to except. This helps them to relax and to mentally prepare to what is expecting them. It can also help weaker students to understand much better what is going on.
Preparing for the visit
Students went to Dennis’ website to find out who we were going to visit and to brainstorm some questions they would like to ask him based on the information on his website. Then we teleported to a place near Dennis’ home. I chose not to directly teleport in front of his house in order to make our visit look more “natural”. We had to walk over a bridge towards Dennis’ house where we had set up a fire place and the presentation screen and where Dennis was waiting to greet us.
Sitting under the trees around the fire made such a difference to a more formal setting (classroom). This is one of the strengths of SL. Please, SL teachers, do not hold your classes in replicated RL classrooms. In SL, you can easily set the scene fitting the occasion. Isn’t this something we have often wished for in RL?
Dennis did a wonderful job keeping his it informal and involving the students during the presentation by asking questions like “Who do you think this is?” “When do you think was this picture taken?”. His being an English teacher made my job easier. I joined my students and was part of the audience. As I didn’t have to do the talking, I could provide definitions in local chat of some of the words that Dennis used without interrupting the flow of the presentation or conversation.
Dennis had the impression there had been too much teacher talking time. But this was partly due to the format we had chosen (a presentation) and to the fact that most students chose not to use voice (maybe they were too shy). That meant that Dennis was heard as the only one speaking while the others were typing in local chat. And after all, I was the teacher, and I didn’t talk much at all 😉
Students need time to warm up
It was unfortunate that we had to end the lesson as students were just warming up (as Dennis said, sitting around the fire) and becoming more comfortable with asking questions. They probably needed some time to digest what they had heard, reflect and then form their questions. I think, if I had let them, they would have stayed much longer with Dennis. So, if possible, it is a good idea to leave more time at the end to sit together …
Writing a letter to Dennis to either thank him, ask for clarifications about what he said, comment on his presentation or the visit or anything else they want to write.
I first wanted to go through the chat log and make a list of the new words that came up to post on the course site. Then, I thought: “Wait a minute. The students are at different levels and come from different backgrounds. They know much better which words were new for them. And reading through the chat log will not only help them remember the words better from the context it will also be a review of the lesson. Another bonus is that it will save the teacher time 🙂
In the first stage, I wouldn’t only ask students to read the information on the website and brainstorm questions but also to make predictions about the guest, depending on what information is already available (e.g “Why do you think did he travel so much?”, “Do you think he liked his job?”). This would give them a focus when listening to and watching the presentation and more things to ask about. Next time, I would keep the presentation a bit shorter and give students more time at the end to chat with the guest.
Having a guest added more variety to the course and gave students a chance to listen to someone with a different accent. This is definitely something I will try to include in all my courses. Second Life and online teaching makes inviting guests from diverse backgrounds and countries much easier than Real Life and one should take advantage of this.