OK, week 2 and I’m back in the lab. Saved, of course at the final second by Super Techieman who fixed the computers. But for some reason that neither Super Techieman nor TappedIn can figure out, the teacher computers cannot access the chat! So we adapt. Put one student computer on the LCD projector. HA!
The project that the students are working on within the virtual classroom is one of multicultural diversity. Something we do not have much of at our school. The students will work independently, then collaboratively and then co-operatively on various tasks. (They’ve been divided into 7 random groups of 4.) The research tasks will start with some independent work. That work will be used to create a collaborative group discussion post. Groups will reply to others discussion posts. The groups will create and upload a short PowerPoint and then the groups will work co-operatively on an art project, creating a world flag to represent their group’s view of multicultural diversity. Hopefully we can take digital pictures of the flags and upload them into the classroom.
With the assistance of two US teachers who passed information on to me through a Twitter companion I revamped the lesson. Made it much simpler. I posted the groups on the whiteboard in the virtual classroom and then posted the assignment. Independently, the students were to write a post telling what their cultural background is, and what family traditions they have at home. If they did not have any traditions related to their culture, they could write about any family tradition they had. Then they had to respond to one or more classmates posts with a positive comment. After that they were allowed to chat. SUCCESS! Thank you, Jeff, at TappedIn for this valuable chat advice – they have to earn the right to chat by completing their work – properly.
Problems? Of course! One student could not log on no matter what we did. Why? I didn’t figure it out until about 20 minutes after the class ended. I had misspelled his name. Jeez! I logged him on as me so he could still join in. Tech problems? None. Thanks Super Techieman. Owe you some chocolate chip cookies!
What did I learn? To keep the lesson simple. I talked to the students after and asked what they liked about the lesson. They really enjoyed reading about their classmates cultural backgrounds and traditions. Several found they had almost the same traditions. I asked what they liked about the virtual classroom. They loved the idea of being able to post replies instantly as it was different than in class because in class you have to raise your hand and wait to be called on, have to listen to others talk too much. They liked the idea of being heard right away. A good thing? Well maybe a double-edged thing: a sign of our high-speed Internet socializing and on-the-other-hand, shy students are willing to venture out and be heard, bouncy ADHD-type students don’t have to wait and lose interest.
We had one MAJOR learning experience that will be looked at next class. One student replied with an inside joke that was something that should not have been posted. She regretted this and gave me a note to see if I could delete it, ASAP. I checked the post reply. It was not hurtful, rude or anything along those lines. It was a play on words, the word being assassination. The context it was used in would be somewhat similar to jokingly making a bomb comment in an airport. The other students told this particular student that the FBI would be contacting her and she became deeply upset. I was unable to delete the comment. I spoke to her after class and she was in tears over the whole thing. Told her to ignore the other students, I’ll talk to them, but ask what she learned? She learned an awful lot about choosing your online words carefully! She gave permission to have the post put up on the projector and use it for a class discussion next class. I just cannot believe what pulling back that “teacher power” can do for student learning.
The chat. Needs more work. They discussed how people just kept saying Hi when not needed as the chat says who just joined the group. They discussed how the chat moves too fast and how it is hard to get a conversation going with so many people joining in. I need to show them some of the chat actions such as detatching it, increasing the text size and putting things on the pasteboard if they need to slow it down. I think we need to have a topic to chat about so the conversation has a purpose. This time it was just play. They learned much by just playing! Time to add a little structure to the play.