Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Here comes Ms. Whiting's Health Class...

Yet another SMS pioneer - Diane Whiting has approached me to develop some curriculum for her health class in SL! We met today and I asked her simply, "What is it you want your students to know or be able to do as a result of this project?" She blew my mind when she told me that the unit is a health unit examining BODY IMAGE and self esteem! WOW! How perfect is the virtual world to support this investigation! Some of the issues that Ms. Whiting explores in this unit are self image, factors that influence body image such as media portrayal, the different pressures for males and females, consequences of trying to fit unrealistic goals, and self-acceptance.

We have come up with a tentative plan: The first thing that the class will do is to watch the video: This is a movie produced by The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. It is powerful!

(We are considering having the students all hide their avatar names for this assignment - for complete anonymity)

Day 1: Login/join group "Reflections". Kids will then create their avatar IN THEIR OWN IMAGE (or as close to it as they are able.) The instruction will be to really try to make the avatar look as much as they do in real life. I will make as many skins, shapes, hair attachments, etc. available to them in a build we will call The Salon. They will then take a snapshot of themselves and save it to a folder entitled "Body Image" in their inventory and save the snapshot as "Myself".

So, we are accomplishing 2 things right off the bat- the kids are learning some of the skills they will need in SL AND they are creating their own perception of "self". They will complete the session with a short reflective piece about their appearance guided by questions provided in a group notecard.
Day 2: Ms. Whiting will now assign the kids each a number, and assign certain tasks to certain numbers in order to create heterogeneous groups. Again - we are striving for anonymity whenever possible.
Certain kids will be assigned the task of creating the most "attractive" avatar according to how popular media portrays beauty. Again they need to take a snapshot when they are finished and keep it in their inventory . This one is named "Beauty".

A second group of kids will do just the opposite, and create an avatar who is very unappealing - according to popular media, whatever that may be to them. Save it and name it "Beast" .

The third group will change gender and be as attractive as possible , naming their snapshot "beauty2".
The fourth group will change gender and create an unattractive avatar, saving snapshot as beast2.

The last twenty minutes of each class will be used for mixed discussions in the facilitator's pods. Members from all four groups will hold a discussion about how they look, how they react to each other and why.
All chats will be logged for reflection and assessment of the topics that are addressed.

At this point, scheduling is open as we can't really predict how much time will be needed until we get to see the skill set of the group, but the next step will be for everyone to once again create a "beautiful" avatar - and see if their criteria has changed-I will ask them to place their first snapshot of "beauty" on one side of a prim and the second impression of beauty (post-discussion) on the other side of the prim. The prims will rotate for effect. (Of course the kids will have options to display their snapshots in any manner they choose) We will then host these in a location for all to visit.

The final day will be the avatars as themselves - however they want to appear and a final reflection.
This is just a rough draft but we welcome ideas, suggestions, feedback...

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