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Branches of Government Interactive

What it is: The Branches of Government and their roles can be tricky to learn.  Branches of Government interactive is a good way for students to familiarize themselves with the branches of government.  The activity is a simple one, students are given a leaf and must decide which branch of government it best describes.  Students receive immediate feedback about their answer.  If students dragged the leaf to the correct branch, it will stick.  If not, the leaf returns to its original location at the base of the tree.   How to integrate Branches of Government Interactive into the classroom: The Branches of Government Interactive is a great one for interactive whiteboards.  As your students are learning about the different branches of government, they can practice what they are learning with this interactive.  I like to make everything into a game, students are more engaged in the activity and must work together to solve problems.  Split your students into 3 teams (one for each branch of the government).  When a new leaf comes up, teams discuss if they believe that the leaf is describing their branch of government.  If they believe it is, the team sends one team member to the board if they are correct, the team earns a point.  If teams send up a member incorrectly, they lose a point.  The team with the most points at the end of the game wins. Branches of Government Interactive could also be set up for students to play as a center activity on classroom computers.  The activity is self directed and provides students with enough feedback to navigate it quickly and independently. Tips: This would be a good way for students to study for a test on the branches of government. Be sure to send a link home with students, parents always appreciate help in the studying/homework department! Please leave a comment and share how you are using Branches of Government in your classroom.

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Maxwell for Google SketchUp

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Art, Create, Math, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Software | Posted on 21-11-2011

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What it is:  If you aren’t familiar with Google SketchUp-you should probably start here and here.   SketchUp is an incredibly powerful, FREE 3D modeling software that lets your students create impressive 3D models.  Maxwell takes SketchUp to a WHOLE new level.  Maxwell for Google SketchUp brings students advanced rendering in an easy-to-use package for free.  The best part: Maxwell is fully integrated so that you don’t have to export or use an external application to render an image. Rendering happens in “real-time” so as your students are adjusting their SketchUp models, they can see the changes in Maxwell.  Maxwell is compatible with Windows and OSX!  With Maxwell students can create materials, set lights and cameras and render 3D scenes.  These are incredibly powerful tools…I cannot believe that they are free (I’m a little nervous to say that too loud in case they decide to change their minds!).

How to integrate Maxwell for Google SketchUp into the classroom: Maxwell takes student work in Google SketchUp and polishes it up to a professional level.  Truly, the results are akin to what the professionals turn out!  The SketchUp/Maxwell combination are wonderful for graphic art classes, math and geometry modeling, advertising lessons, engineering classes, architecture, science models, etc.

Don’t let the impressive results fool you, I’ve had 3rd grade students who made some amazing models using SketchUp.  I look forward to introducing them to the Maxwell plugin so that students can see their work come to life in ways that they couldn’t do before.

At Anastasis Academy, we have several students from 2nd through 8th grade who are extremely interested and passionate about architecture.  Google SketchUp is where I send them!  Students can plan, create and build.  Maxwell will allow them to visualize their creations in totally new ways.

I don’t understand why more schools don’t put these types of tools in the hands of students more often.  Exposing students to tools like this, gives them the opportunity to explore their passions and interests.  The tools are getting easier and easier to use and the number of tutorials is astonishing.  You (the teacher) don’t have to know how to use these tools inside and out, your job is to let your students know they exist, and help them find the resources to use them.  No excuses!

Tips: Using rendering tools teaches students about materials, light sources, shadows, etc.  Use Maxwell to teach students these science concepts!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Maxwell for Google SketchUp in  your classroom!

Comments (1)

Totally agree, Kelly. I hope more and more teachers embrace the role of guide on the side, as parents make it clear to the policy makers this is what they want for their kids. Maxwell sounds fascinating!

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