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Skratch Track

What it is: Skratch Track is an amazing virtual bookshelf for primary students.  It uses the same idea behind Shelfari, giving students a virtual bookshelf where they can track which books they are reading, rate the book, write a little synopsis of the book, and even turn in a virtual book report to earn Skratch Track awards.  The interface of this site is very easy for primary kiddos to use independently.  Students can keep up to 15 books on their bookshelf at a time (for free account).  Parents or teachers sign up for an account and add children accounts to their head account.  Parents and teachers can then receive reports about what books kids are reading, and a copy of the book report they complete.  The book report asks students questions such as: was this book real or make believe?, How did you complete the book? (someone read it to me, I read it by myself), genre of the book, favorite characters in the book, new words learned, favorite part of the story, moral of the story, how hard was the book to read?, how did the book make you feel?, did the book remind you of something that happened to you in real life?, and did the book remind you of another book you have read?. How to integrate Skratch Track into the classroom: Skratch Track is a great alternative to the paper reading log.  Students will be proud to show off their virtual bookshelves and awards on their Skratch Track account.  No more keeping track of the reading log between home and school, no more extra copies, or ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuses.  Skratch Track is a great way for students to show what they are reading, how it was read (independently or with help) and makes it simple to keep track of what your students are reading at home.  The mini book reports help students to check comprehension.  They can rate the book, think about genre, record new words learned, write about their favorite part of the story, rate how difficult the book was to read, and make connections to their life and connections to other literature.  Each time a student completes a book report or earns an award, teachers or parents are notified by email and on the parent account page.  Skratch Track keeps teachers and parents connected to what children are reading so that they can begin to gauge comprehension and writing levels. Tips: The free Skratch Track account allows a parent or teacher to sign up 2 children, record up to 15 books, and earn the first 3 awards.  To record additional books, earn all of the available awards, or sign up more children is $19.99 annually.  Skratch Track will work with educators, schools, and libraries to make bulk accounts available and affordable.  If you plan on using this with students as a reading log, it may be worth purchasing an account. Leave a comment and share how you are using Skratch Track 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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