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Spent: Social Justice Simulation

What it is: I learned about Spent from my friend @ianchia last week on Twitter. Spent is a collaboration between McKinney and Urban Ministries of Durham to show students how the decisions they make affect their lives.  The Urban Ministries of Durham serves over 6,000 people every year.  Students have the opportunity to accept the Spent simulation and challenge to see if they can make it through a month of living expenses.  They have just lost their job, their savings are gone, they have lost their house, and they are down to their last thousand dollars.  Students must find a job, make decisions about housing, food, emergencies, and more as they try to survive one month on minimum wage. How to integrate Spent into the classroom: Spent is a social justice game simulation that helps students understand the tough circumstances that so many face that have caused them to be homeless and in need of outside assistance.  The game uses scenarios that are true to life and shows students how each decision that they make has consequences.  Spent would be a great game for students to play in an economics or social studies class.  Students can play the game individually and come together at the end of the game to discuss how the decisions they made affected their ultimate outcome.  Which students made it to the end of the month and which failed?  What decision(s) led to that outcome?  If you don’t have the ability for students to play the game individually, play as a class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Make decisions together as a class weighing the pros and cons of each decision as you go. Extend this online game by moving to a place of action.  What can your students do to help those in need?  Can they hold a school fundraiser to donate to the Urban Ministries of Durham? Can they create compelling call to action videos and post them to YouTube?  Let your students be creative and come up with their own solutions for making an impact. Tips: There are some great ethical scenarios in the simulation that should spark some interesting discussion and debate among students. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Spent 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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