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Learning Box Base 10 Blocks: Virtual math manipulative

What it is:  Today while I was doing a quick Google search for a place I could buy a set of base 10 blocks, I came across this AWESOME digital version by accident.  What a happy accident!  Learning Box has a virtual version of base 10 blocks that builds in a fun practice game.  Students are given a target number and drag base 10 blocks onto the paper to represent that number.  As students add blocks, a counter at the bottom of the page shows how many blocks are currently on the paper.  This is a great way for students to digitally practice place value, counting by hundreds, tens and ones. The outcome of my shopping trip for base 10 blocks: the digital version is MUCH cheaper (read:free) than the physical version (not free).  While I understand the value of the physical blocks, the digital version is a fantastic alternative for classrooms without the budget for each student to have a set or for students to continue practice at home. How to integrate Learning Box Base 10 into the classroom:  The Learning Box Base 10 blocks are a great example of a virtual manipulative.  They help students visually represent numbers and place value.  I like the way the slider and cups on the bottom of the page help track student progress as they drag blocks to the paper. When students get the target number, they don’t start with a blank slate, instead a new target number is given and students have to figure out which blocks to add or subtract. You can adjust the level of difficulty and place values practiced by clicking on the 1, 10, and 100 circle to the left of the paper. Learning Box Base 10 would make a great center activity in the one or two computer classroom.  Students can use the digital manipulatives with the built in game or to help them represent real-world problems. Start a whole-class game with the Learning Box Base 10 blocks using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  Students can take turns at the board solving the problem and “phone a friend” if they need some additional support. Tips: This Learning Box activity is flash based…I’m hoping that someone comes out with an app of manipulatives for the iPad (hint, hint). Please leave a comment and share how you are using Learning Box Base 10 Blocks 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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