I have taught my 5th graders about the earthquake using this simulation last year. When the 9 Richeter scale earthquake hit Japan on March 11, 2011, I brought my 4th graders to the earthquake simulation sim to 'feel' the tremor and destruction. During the simulation, my students learned how to survive an earthquake. They learned that "triangle of life" could save their lives during an earthquake.
This "Ask the Expert' idea came from professor Bill Shields from Department of Geology, Illinois State University. He thought that technology can bridge the time and distance barriers that prevent students to learn from experts all over the world. Imagine to be able to interact with experts from every corner of the world in a click away.
I believe it doesn't take a village but a whole world to raise the next generation. So the idea of 'Ask the Expert' session is brilliant. Kids should not depend their learning on just one teacher.
Our first 'Ask the Expert' session was with a hydrologist because my 5th grade students were learning about water. Because of the time difference (we all live in Indonesia and the professor live in the US), the session could only be started at 9 pm Jakarta time but my students were excited and forget their sleepiness. I was the moderator for a minute before 'Iron Woman', one of my students, took over my role (and keep me aside. lol).
My students agreed that they would ask just one question about water to the professor but as soon as the session started, they asked more than one question and they were competing for their chance to ask. It was a great night. Here are some of my students' questions:
- How old is water?
- Will water cycle stop?
- How did we get water on earth?
- Why isn't there water in other planets?
- How can water conduct electricity?
- Can we make wter out of substances that is not water?
and many more....
Every teacher has that teaching moment....it's usual and we all have it but when my students did a presentation project about plant parts, I didn't get my teaching moment but I got my TOUCHING moment.
It was 7.30 pm and my class in SL that night was 30 minutes to go. I was not feeling well. I got a fever and felt dizzy so I decided to cancel the SL class for the night. I logged in to tell my students that I would cancel the class but they didn't want to. Instead they told me "We will take care of everything. What you need to do is just sit down and listen to our presentation."
Immediately, one student rezzed sofas for the class to sit. One girl made a special sofa just for me. Other students organized the Pres-O-Matic boards and the presentation. All went well, very well. That night I did nothing for my class besides sitting, relaxing and listening. It was better than spa. Thank you kids for being so kind and independent.
I was wondering if kids could learn science by making movies. Since my students knew the techniques of making machinima, I offered them to do a project of making science fiction machinima during spring break. The spring break hasn't started but some of my students have begun working on their science fiction project. This particular team was inspired by The Tron Legacy. They made the outfits themselves, including the neon lights. It is exciting to know that my students do not just consume knowledge but are also able to produce something out of it. They learn not because they want to get good scores, they learn because they are excited doing it.
I don't usually celebrate my birthday. I don't get birthday cake or any presents in my birthday but this time was a bit different. My students prepared a birthday party for me and it was a surprise one. They are all nomads in SL but they managed to set a room in a sandbox. They decorated it and they prepared presents that they built themselves. The happy birthday letters were very touching. I can imagine the amount of time they used to prepare it. Thank you all kiddos
It wasn't just lots of creativity, it was also lots of work, dedication and patience from my grade 5 and 6 students. They spent hours with their team to plan the script, to hunt for places and costumes for best shot, to edit the snapshots, to add text, to make them into flip book in SL and to exhibit it to the world.
Would people still dare to say that they didn't learn anything just because they were having fun doing it? Would people also still dare to say that they didn't socialize because they were in front of their computers?
The instruction I gave to my grade 5 students was quite simple: "Read your texts about water cycle, do internet research and make a presentation in SL. Then we will make an experiment about the water cycle." I allowed my students to do whatever they wanted with the project although I was actually expecting them to just make plain rectangular boards of posters. I was WRONG!!! When they showed me their works I was stunned. I couldn't stop saying "How did you do that?" Through this project I learned and believed this "Give children tools to learn and lots of freedom then they will show you their creativity."
A unit about understanding lunar landscape is in our curriculum. While reading about it is a great thing, being in it is SUPREME. So I sent my students to a mission to the moon to exprole and collect moon rocks with MOON WORLD.
I don't always reach what I plan teaching in SL. My students are always full of surprises. Watch the video and you will know what I mean.