Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Mama Day, Gloria Naylor, and Teaching Novels in Second Life

The DeSales Contemporary Fiction class spent its last night working on the novel Mama Day by Gloria Naylor. It should be noted that Gloria Naylor is my favorite American writer; her use of classical literature, the intertwining of novels through characterization, setting, attention to details, language....really, we could be here all night.

Wednesday, we move on to explore Linden Hills - another novel by Naylor - that is based off the premise of Dante's Inferno. Both will be built in Second Life, and students will, again, work to create content.

So....how did it go?

Well, I learned A LOT about teaching literature inworld. Students need basic directions and minimal distractions, and, since the classes are open to anyone and everyone, that can be kind of rough. Also, it is important to remember that the students can not be graded on the use of technology; the writing is what counts.

But what did they think?

Here are their anonymous assessments - unedited, passed through Eloise, and compiled.

The story relates to some mysteries which I don't get it. The fact
Mama Day tells George go to the chicken coop & he does that is
unrealistic. I also don't like the ending since it's sad. Good people
should have happy life. Sacrifice something needs to be returned by
something else. Even it's not perfect, I like its beginning when
Cocoa has interview with George. She shows her view while choosing
working & family. I believe in her situation, family is more important.


I enjoyed the reading. I have always been interested in life in the
southern states for some reason and this gave me a new perspective on

The dialogue was difficult to follow at times because of my
unfamiliarity with it. Once I was more familiar it was much easier
though. I did have to re-read many sections because of this.

Gloria Naylor has a way of bringing a mental picture into the head of
the reader. I was able to visualize the homes of Abigail and Miranda
including the chicken coup. It was easy to visualize George playing
cards with Dr. Buzzard and the others because of this ability to

This is a book I would enjoy reading again. I would rank it up with
"To Kill A Mockingbird" which is one of my favorites


The book, Mama Day, is a good book. It was interesting and every
character brought something different to the story. You can
definitely understand the way they live through the technology we use
in class. I think recreating the scenes was a good thing. You
understand the characters a little more and can get a visual in your
mind about the characters and what they might look like. The only
thing negative I have to say is that there are too many people in
second life while we are trying to understand the assignments.
Sometimes those people can be distracting and take away from the
learning experience. It can get confusing and frustrating.


I enjoyed recreating the scenes from Mama Day. It was neat to see
what others saw when they read the book. Making fiction reality in a
way. The time frame seemed to pass by quickly almost to the point of
not enough time to truly get all of the detail it deserves. This
is a good way to learn fiction.


So far I have enjoyed our projects for Mama Day, a little bit
confusing at times, but fun none the less. This platform allows us to
get involved in the book a bit more. The only problem the I thought
of was we learned about these projects after we read the book so we
had to go back and try to pick out info that we could find. If
informed of them before reading we could of made notes and proper
documentation, rather then going back skimming for info. All and all
for what its worth its a fun time.


I think at first it was very difficult and I really didn't enjoy it
because I was having a hard time grasping everything. but I'm
starting to understand it better and I'm liking the projects were
doing.I enjoyed tonight class using more of our imagination then
anything and I also liked the class that we had to decorate our
houses. the only one I didn't enjoy was when we had all the people
from everywhere join in with us on the activities because I was really
lost and had no idea what was going on. i enjoy it better when it's
our little group from class. but I also didnt enjoy the book so
maybe that's why I didn't really want to get into the assignments.


When we first started working on Second life i was not a big fan. I
am not comfortable with the virtual environment, but as we continued
to work with it, i am becoming more comfortable. I enjoyed the
decorating of the house and i really enjoyed the gravestones. To be
honest i did not think i would enjoy this, but it really makes you
think about the book more. At least when i read the next book i will
observe more of the detail and really think about what i am reading.
The activities have been fun and meaningful, and i am sure that when i
become even more familiar with Second life i will see how this all
comes together.


Sl for mama day was difficult because of the technology and not
understanding that technology. I think that SL could be a great
teaching tool if you know what you're doing. It actually made trying
to learn more about the story and characters more difficult because
we were too busy trying to learn SL and what to do in it and when to
do it.

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