Are you looking to engage your upper elementary students and teachers in online learning activities? Then please consider participating in this popular Web-based simulations activity this term. Many of my past and current students work as behind-the-scenes mentors and role-playing respondents within the story activity — and it’s all free!
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Posted on behalf of UM’s Interactive Communications and Simulations:
Using web-based writing and role-playing, ImagineNation Matters brings to life the stories of significant events, places and ideas in our nation’s history, as well as in our lives today. We think of our project as a kind of embodied storybook, through which upper elementary students can explore a variety of stories ranging from tales of the Underground Railroad, to contemporary stories about healthy eating and physical fitness.
Faculty from the Schools of Information and Education jointly teach a class that runs in conjunction with ImagineNation Matters, in which we work with the University students who serve as ?mentors? to your students, as they in turn act as your teaching assistants with the goal of helping to nurture an array of writing and thinking skills.
Each of our modules is in the form of a story that involves protagonists of the approximate age of your students. As the students “turn the pages” of their virtual storybook, they are prompted with questions to consider and respond to. These questions typically connect a moment from the story with something familiar to the students, framed by an invitation to think critically or to analyze an event that has taken place. Here’s one such prompt from the Our Green State module: “Are there recycling bins in your school lunch room? If you wanted to convince your principal that your school should have recycling bins, what would you tell your principal?” The students’ comments are, in turn, responded to by the university student mentors, who speak in the voices of the characters from the stories. Our belief is that this element of imaginative play, in which students converse with a Great Lakes seaman, or talk with a boy trying to decide whether he’ll risk defending a new friend from the teasing of other friends, can create interesting expressive possibilities for kids, while also presenting them with an engaged, and an engaging audience for their ideas.
If you visit our informational website , you?ll find our story modules for 2012; we’re pleased to be adding a module about economics (“Bracelets, Partners and Economics”) that is based on around students engaged in charitable work. At this site you’ll find descriptive information about each module, including a downloadable document that lists relevant Michigan GLCE standards and benchmarks, and directions on how to view the actual modules and the teacher resources. You’ll also find a link to our public site, where you can view all of our modules in their entirety.
ImagineNation Matters will begin in January 2012, and will conclude in mid-April. You may start in January or later, as suits your schedule. You can participate at a pace that is comfortable for you…each password-protected “tour” is created for the exclusive use of your students and their UM student mentor. I would be happy to respond to any questions that you might have, and my colleague Maurita Holland and I would love to have you join us if you’re interested in doing so. There is no cost to participate–all you need is web access.
University of Michigan School of Education
Director, Interactive Communications & Simulations
Faculty, Educational Studies/Secondary MAC Program
stanz [at] umich [dot] edu