Everytime I go into the kids' hard drive folders to see what new pictures they have taken documenting their work on the island, I am in awe. These students are gaining a much better sense of spatial reasoning by manipulating three-dimensional shapes in a virtual environment and that gives them a better sense of their own physical world. They are creating buildings from scratch with no patterns or formal blueprints. They "see" what they want to build in their heads and just go for it. They consult with their team members and whatever is happening is evolving from their process. If you walked into the room, no one would even notice you because they are so engaged in the process. (See video below)
Students in all three Lowell groups continue to make progress with the planning and building of the apartment complex and mall, the castle and forest, and the amusement park. Ramps were erected near the apartments, towers and intricate ramps with railings have appeared in the castle, and a ferris wheel now has one set of seats. Students are experts now at taking screenshots and saving them giving us a wonderful visual record of the process. Collaborative and organizational skills are improving as the students work together to create various sections of each build.
I am in awe as I watch the level of engagement. I spent my time moving around the media center watching the kids work so my avatar fell asleep. The kids thought that was funny enough to document. (See video below)
Three groups of students are now working on the island. The 27 advanced computer students at Lowell have had the most avatar time and have had time to work in their chosen groups. The smaller groups at Kenilworth and Edison have just begun to work in world, but work easily with their avatars. None of the students needed to learn how to walk, jump, fly, or chat. They multitask easily, switching from the Second Life browser to do screenshots and paste them into PowerPoints. The Edison students practiced some tutorial and math tasks. They will be working on a performance piece that integrates the cultures of WWII society, the Vietnam War era, and the 9-11 Iraq period. Students will compare and contrast in a 3D virtual setting the music, art, heroes, inventions, advertising, and more. (See videos below)
Today a few more students from Kenilworth came on board. The Kenilworth students will be located on the building platform until we get a better idea of what they will be doing. The first day I had 3 students and was going to have them teach this group but they were attending our gifted program so I had to orient this group. The interesting thing about this is that I did it all sitting at my desk in the district office location and the kids were in the computer lab of their school! Their computer teacher Ms. Gillam was in the room with them as well as my team member Mr. Kain. Both Ms. Gillam and Mr. Kain have spent time with me training in Second Life and are interested in this virtual learning environment. I foresee many more such situations where students are not necessarily in the same physical space as their teachers for various reasons. (See videos below)
Today the students took some screenshots and created a PowerPoint for storage of their island pictures. The students finished their Gimp Bling T-shirt files and next class they will be wearing clothing of their own design. Students also had to decide in which of the areas they will work. Students rank ordered special areas and the final choices were a castle area, a modern apartment building and shopping mall, and an amusement park. The engineering skills they will have to cultivate just building a roller coaster are incredible. The classes go by so quickly that we will not be able to do a fraction of what we really want to do, but since this is our first foray into this, we are just happy doing the exploratory work.(See video below)
Disclaimer: I did not know the internal mike was picking up my voice! Yikes!
Today the advanced computer students at Lowell Elementary got their avatars and a taste of what it will be like on an empty island. They had some orientation watching me do a few things prior to class and along with what they already knew of other virtual environments, easily walked, jumped, and flew. We weren't sure how many avatars we could get in at one time due to bandwidth limitations but we did get everyone in. We are running the software off of flash drives and that seems to work fairly well. I wish the video would have worked (most of it was ruined) but it was a pretty wild first day. The kids played around with making prims, and many not only added textures, but used the hollow, twist, and other tools to modify the basic shapes. Students acquired points for how much they experimented with their prims. Points will translate into Linden dollars earned. (See video below)