Daily Archives: October 30, 2010

Halloween – from a Virtual Student’s Point of View!

Learning about Halloween virtually

Fridays continue to be ‘treat’ days for my year 9/10 ICT class. This one was no exception – the four students who had not gone on a class excursion were treated to a presentation by a young student from Boston, Jim, telling them about Halloween. This included how he, his family and friends celebrate Halloween. (Halloween is not big in Australia, and is virtually non-existent in our rural area).

Our last linkup with Lorraine Leo, had suffered from voice delays, and video lag. To see if the problem could be overcome, the video frame was made smaller and any images uploaded for the presentation, resized to a very small size. It was decided to connect again with discoverE and that Lorraine would talk to my students about Halloween. To our delight one of her  grade 6 students was our presenter. Jim spoke like a professional presenter, competently sharing images and telling us about:-

  • the origins and events of Halloween
  • how he celebrates Halloween
  • the role of pumpkins and how to carve them
  • the games that are played
  • some of the costumes etc
  • the tricks and treats (lots of candy, although we call them lollies!)

My students were able to ask him questions in the chat and he capably answered them as soon as they appeared. He used the video camera effectively to show us the implements used to carve the pumpkins, showed us some of the toys and props used for Halloween. He showed us his head costume and put it on etc What better way to learn about the festivals of other countries than from a resident and even better from a student! My students wrote a blog post reflecting on what they had learnt. Thanks Jim and to your family for helping with the presentation. It was 8:30pm when Jim presented and a Thursday night. For us, in Australia, it was 11:30am and Friday morning! Also thanks again to Lorraine Leo for sharing with us and organizing this.

nb The video and audio showed worked, with no time lag this time. Students were on desktops and I was still on wireless internet on my laptop.

When I went grocery shopping that night, I noticed that some Halloween costumes, pumpkin baskets, lights etc were on display and up for sale!

On our supermarket shelves1

Ideas for teaching students successfully in elluminate – a virtual classroom

As our two pre-service teachers, enter their virtual placement week, it is necessary to have as much scaffolding in place for them. They will be teaching a variety of year levels and age groups – from 13 years through to 17 years of age, using a number of tools, but mostly elluminate.

Therefore, it is time to reflect on what they need to do before their online class, during the class and finalizing class and have a running sheet set up for them, to use as a guideling. Following are some tips and hints on teaching successfully. What has been left out? How  could it be improved?

Planning for the lesson

  1. Book an elluminate room
  2. Organise your powerpoint slides
  3. Work out features required:- polling,media, app sharing, breakout rooms. 
  4. Plan a running sheet with times allocated for each activity
  5. Use as much interactivity as possible
  6. Consider an ice breaker
  7. Place the participants’link on your blog or in an easily accessible space.
  8. Seek another moderator to help you (if need be.)
  9. Use the chat and the whiteboard.
  10. Vary the activities
  11. Use busy images as much as possible
  12. Think about a discipline plan
  13. Set up a backchannel eg twitter or skype if there is a supervising teacher with the class.

Prior to lesson

  1. Enter room, test audio.
  2. Test, test and always test.
  3. If time practise any special features to be used in class
  4. Move the ‘start recording’ button to the side.
  5. Load powerpoint slides
  6. You may wish to start with a graffiti board, where students can play while others are getting into the room.
  7. Check the number of mics, the connection setting, tools allowed etc
  8. Create a timeout room folder (for those who are misbehaving), Create any breakout folders required
  9. Open any urls that you might wish to app share
  10. Send any files that you may need to share
  11. Make moderators of selected participants
  12. Go through a code of conduct with the students.

During the lesson

  1. Students should test their audio through wizard upon entry, may be allowed to graffiti or ‘Play on a clean whiteboard’ until all are in.
  2. Warn that you are about to start the recording, clean up any whiteboards, ensure class is silent and ready, then press record.
  3. Remember to speak deliberately s..l..o..w..l..y and clearly.
  4. Welcome the class/ give a general introduction to the lesson
  5. Briefly run through the virtual classroom tools
  6. Start with an icebreaker
  7. Use the timer constantly – short sharp activities
  8. Use images, little text
  9. Use polls where possible
  10. Get them to answer a question in chat, don’t press send until told, use a green tick when completed. Then get them all to send response at once (stops cheating)
  11. Use the chat, the whiteboard and encourage the use of emoticons for feedback.
  12. Vary the activities and make as interactive as possible
  13. Use busy images as much as possible
  14. Save the participants list (this is a valuable type of roll marking)

Disciplinary actions

  1. If discipline is required, use capital letters to raise your voice in the chat, send students to timeout room for a warning, keep them there for predetermined time, remove any tools that they have, send back to main room when ready.
  2. If student is constantly misbehaving, keep them in the timeout room. If you remove them from the room, they may still have the link and will just keep coming back in.

To assess student progress during the lesson

  1. Maintain video image on the working class, get some students to individually application share their work so that you can see how they are going.
  2. All questions should be placed in the chat, so virtual teacher maintains control

To complete the lesson

  1. Share any closing activities
  2. Allow sufficient time to pack up any gear eg headsets, netbooks/laptops etc
  3. Set up a whiteboard for feed back or have a preset survey link for students to complete
  4. Dismiss students

Finalizing the session

  1. Switch off the recording
  2. Make sure all participants are removed from the room before exiting
  3. Save the chat
  4. Save the whiteboards
  5. Find the recording link, (usually in an email of person who booked the room) and save it
  6. Share the recording link back on your blog so students can go back to it for revision etc

Enjoy virtual teaching!