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Scholastic Story Starters

  What it is:  Story Starters is a fun site for students in kindergarten through sixth grade to use each day as a quick writing activity.  Students type in their name and select a grade to begin.  Students are taken to a special Story Starter machine that generates writing ideas for newspaper articles, letters, notebooks, or postcards.  They can get a new idea by keeping some elements of the idea and spinning again to change elements.   The site also features Scholastic’s Word Wizard which always floats on the webpage.  Students can type in a word or double click any word on the webpage and get a definition of the word. How to integrate Scholastic Story Starters into the classroom:  Scholastic Story Starters is a fun website to use with the whole class or as a writing learning center.  This is a great site to use with an interactive whiteboard or projector to generate ideas for free creative writing time.  Let students take turns being the ‘spinner’ that generates writing ideas.  Encourage students to share their writing, it is neat to hear all the different ideas that kids come up with from the same story starter.  This would be a great website to bookmark on classroom computers for students to visit as a writing center that they can visit when they are stumped for writing ideas.   Tips:  You may have to spin a category a few times to get a story starter that makes sense.  This is very quick and easy!   Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Scholastic Story Starters 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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