We have been working in virtual worlds in both 6th and 7th grade this month and it has been a roaring success. It is a sign that you've hit it right on, when kids don't want to leave a lesson and groan when the bell rings, and this is usually what happens when we teach with virtual worlds.
This is the first year we have used PoraOra virtual world with any of our classes. Prior to this we had always used WhyVille to introduce our students to educational virtual worlds and to teach web safety and netiquette. The people at PoraOra have worked hard to build educational in-world activities that are linked to the British Key Skills for KS2. PoraOra is full of fun games that help students review and build their skills across subjects. For our 6th graders most of it is review and practice, and they have great fun doing it.
In 7th grade we are working with Reaction Grid for the second year running. Our 7th grade students are having a great time learning how to get around, exploring different regions and learning how to build in 3D with their avatars. We have even found a bit of time for shopping at Gridizen's market and customising avatars.
So far the building has been very simple as students learn how each basic shape can be modified, how to import textures and how to link prims together to create complex objects. Our objectives are many, learning how to get around, communicate and build in a 3d environment are core. Very soon however we will be applying these new skills in a very special way. Our students are going to research and then commence the construction of an environmentally friendly homestead. They will do so collaboratively with over 100 students working on it in total.
It is a very exciting project and the first time around for us in attempting something so ambitious. We will play it by ear and if needed, slow down and continue it next year. One thing is certain, the students and the teachers working in RG are thrilled with this project as were the 6s were with PoraOra, to the point of ushering a collective groan every time the bell signals the end of the lesson.