Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Talk to Me

One of our greatest dilemmas in teaching now is that there are too many resources.  I never thought in a million years that there could be so much readily available to us. What may seem overwhelming at times is always an incredible blessing of engagement for students (with our guidance, of course!) As I prepare for a STEM workshop I am doing this Friday, I have come across some of the most unique and plentiful resources to help teachers embrace Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. One stood shoulders above the rest and just knew I had to share it with you.  STEM education is a big educational “buzz” word right now, but a critical emphasis for our students today. When students design, build, explore and redesign, they ensure success in many areas of life.  This week’s “tuesdays” is for the classroom teacher and their friends who want to truly apply life skills to any subject area.

A creative website

Talk to Me is a robust engineering website that at first glance appears to be too narrative to be scientific. The design of the website is very attractive and holds several hidden clicks to surprises that include on online book that even looks like you are reading it on an iPad. Through a narrative guide, students learn what it’s like to be an engineer, interact with characters in the book and learn about engineering activities and more. Glenn Ellis is the project leader and an instructional designer for Talk to Me and Sonia Ellis is the author and the senior instructional designer for the Talk to Me project. With a small creative team, they have designed a very appealing form of reading, research, exploring and experimentation. I would love to hear from you if you try this site with your students. With the last few weeks of school approaching, this project offers some dreaming power to students at all levels.  After all we need a whole lot more students investing in STEM careers if we are to stay on the cutting edge as a nation.

An image to share  
Office online and “tweeked” with PowerPoint

A proverb

“Asian countries produce eight times as many engineering bachelors as the United States, and the number of U.S. students graduating at the masters and PhD levels in these areas is declining.”

Mark Kennedy

An encouragement

I know we throw the STEM term around a lot these days, but I want to encourage teachers of all subjects to look through STEM lenses, no matter what the discipline. STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics are woven into any progressive society seamlessly. I think that is why I was so intrigued with the Talk to Me project.  Through the channel of reading an ebook, the reader becomes immersed into what it is like to be an engineering student. This approach is not only different but the beauty of the website cries out for “click me”, “click me” throughout the interface. Probably my favorite place I would like to encourage you to check out if you only have a little time is the 8 step plan.  Though it is intended for engineering, it has potential for projects in any subject. It’s downloadable or clickable – your preference.

How do you do that?

How do you navigate this intriguing site? On the surface, it seemed that it was a reference to a hard back book and just by a few more clicks I had this giddy “ah-ha” moment when I found the online ebook.  So clever! It has the feel of Glogster and the power of an online game wrapped around an iPad looking ebook.  I would begin by clicking the Talk to Me icon in the upper left hand corner and then visiting all the characters in the book. The book itself can be navigated by just clicking the right arrows or using the drop down menus to get to all the chapters.  It’s a great design. You’ve got to try it or better yet, send your students there and challenge them to dig deep. Run a contest to see who can find the most resources within the site.  There are probably more than we can imagine.  I was even impressed with their unique bloggers within the site.  Well done, Talk to Me!

tuesdays with Karen” is a weekly newsletter/blog designed to encourage, equip and empower teachers to be creative with educational technology.

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

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