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The Secret in the Cellar

What it is: A few days ago I wrote about the awesome interactive Smithsonian Museum, today I found another great activity on the Smithsonian website called The Secret in the Cellar.  The Secret in the Cellar is an interactive web comic that is based on an actual forensic case of a 17th century body...

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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!

Paper Toys: Architecture to print and build

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Art, Create, Download, Geography, History, Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 12-09-2011

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What it is:  At Anastasis Academy we have several kids who are absolutely crazy for architecture.  Not only can they emphatically tell you that they want to be an architect when they grow up, they collect architecture Lego models, will tell you how they wish they could go back in history to meet Frank Lloyd Wright and will build and draw models any chance they get.  These are elementary students!  Today when I came across these Paper Toy models of famous architecture, I knew I would have to share with our students and, while I was at it, would share with all of you who may have your own budding architects!

On Paper Toys you can find and print paper models for:

How to integrate Paper Toys Architecture Models into the classroom: In addition to instantly reaching hero status among your architecture crowd, the Paper Toys Architecture Models is a great addition to the math, history and art classroom.   Students can put the models together digging into the different architecture styles, mathematical models represented by the architecture, and the history of the architecture.  Students can print and build the models (a great exercise in patience, perseverance and attention to detail).  Next students can attach their finished model to a base where they can surround it with math, art or history details they learned about the building to the base.  If they really want to get creative, they can twirl and swirl the words around using different color markers to create an informative landscape.

Students can dig in further and map the various models on a Google map.  If several students are creating models, they can compare and contrast architecture from different time periods, different geographic regions and identify the origins of the type of architecture.

Tips:  Be sure to check out the other Paper Toy models. Your students can build cars, monuments and much more.  New models are added every month!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Paper Toy Models in  your classroom!

On Demand Learning: Classroom Optional (Khan Academy and Academic Earth)

Posted by admin | Posted in Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials | Posted on 16-03-2011

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What it is: Tonight I was talking education with a fun group that is helping me think through my school design.  As we were talking one of the participants mentioned Khan Academy…some of the teachers in attendance had never heard of it.  I sometimes forget that not everything is common knowledge and even if it is common knowledge to most, there are still those who can benefit from the mention!  Khan Academy was started by Salman Khan quite by accident.  He tutored his cousins in math and when he moved away from them, they still requested support.  Sal began making algebra videos and uploading them to YouTube for his family, it has grown to over 2,100 videos and 100 self-paced math, science, and history exercises for students.  The library is extensive and comprehensive including algebra, arithmetic, banking and money, biology, brain teasers, calculus, California standards algebra, geometry, chemistry, cosmology and astronomy, credit crisis, current economics, developmental math, differential equations, finance, history, linear algebra, organic chemistry, Paulson bailout, physics, pre-algebra, pre-calculus, probability, statistics, trigonometry, valuation and investing, venture capital, and capital markets.  It is a pretty impressive collection!  I really like these videos because they provide students with on-demand learning and present the learning in a way that appeals to the visual and auditory learner.  The experience is so much richer than a textbook can offer. It is like having your own personal tutor.

Academic Earth is another extensive video library that lets students (and adults) take video courses from the worlds top scholars all in one place…for free!  The mission of Academic Earth is to give everyone access to a world class education.  Subjects covered by Academic Earth include art, architecture, astronomy, biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, education, electrical engineering, engineering, entrepreneurship, environmental studies, history, international relations, law, literature, mathematics, media studies, medicine and health care, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, religious studies, test prep, and writing.  Students have access to the learning happening at Berkley, Columbia, Harvard, Khan Academy, Maryland, Michigan, MIT, Norwich, NYU, Princeton, Stanford, UCLA, UNSW, USC, and Yale.  Did I mention all of that learning is free?  I know, amazing!

How to integrate Khan Academy and Academic Earth into the classroom: Both Khan Academy and Academic Earth provide students with opportunities for on-demand learning in their areas of interest or their areas of weakness.  Students can use these resources to support the learning happening in the classroom and to fill any gaps that students may have in their learning.  Video is a powerful medium because it appeals to a wide range of learners and makes it easy to pause, rewind, review, and share that learning.

Khan Academy would be a great tool to use for the “Fisch Flip” where the homework is to watch the lesson on video and class time is spent on working through the problems together.  Let that sink in…makes more sense doesn’t it? Students get support where they need it most, in the follow through and practice of the learning.

Academic Earth provides students with the opportunity of pursuing their passions, getting a feel for what type of study they would like to pursue in a university, and support learning.

Do you have students that could use additional challenge and are constantly searching for more learning? Set up an extended learning center in your classroom where students who need that challenge can self direct and extend their learning by using Khan Academy or Academic Earth.

Tips: Khan Academy is a great resource to pass on to families, parents are often looking for ways to supplement and support the learning happening in the classroom.  Math in particular is a challenge as many parents did not feel successful enough in higher math themselves to help their children.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Khan Academy and Academic Earth in your classroom!

Google Street View Gallery

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Fun & Games, Geography, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 03-03-2010

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What it is: Google Street Gallery is a must add bookmark for any classroom.  This is a collection of Google Street views of famous landmarks, buildings, and art, sport, and entertainment venues from around the world.  Landmarks includes places such as Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge, Space Needle, Gateway Arch, CN Tower, Tokyo Tower, Plaza de Cibeles, Eiffel Tower, Arthur’s Seat, The Colosseum, Arc de Triomphe, and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.  In Famous Buildings students can see the street view of Westminster Abbey, City Hall, St. George’s Hall, Coventry Cathedral, Sydney Opera House, Sagrada Familia, Chateau de Chillon, Belem Tower, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Taipei 101.  In Art, sport and entertainment students can tour Angel of the North, Coronation Street, Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth, Tate Britain, Wales Millennium Centre, Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, Guggenheim Museum, and The Louvre Museum.  Not only can students explore the street view of all these places, they can also see users pictures embedded right in the street view.  Each place can be viewed on Google Maps with the click of a button.   Students can also quickly find more information about any of the landmarks by clicking “more information”.  Students are taken to a Google Search that shows the location on a Google map, gives details, photos, videos, reviews, tells about nearby places, and gives more information about the place.  

How to integrate Google Street View Gallery into the classroom: Google Street View Gallery makes it easy to whisk your students away on virtual adventures around the world.  Bring your geography, history, and social studies lessons to life by letting students take a virtual field trip with Google Street Views.  Using an interactive whiteboard or projector, your students will feel like they have visited landmarks around the world during class.  Allow students to be the “tour guides” and navigate the street view and pictures associated. Make sure to view the Google Maps so that students can get a sense of where each landmark is located and practice their map skills. Google Street views can be used during math to study architecture shapes, angles, etc. in real world settings.

Display a Google Street View on your projector or interactive whiteboard and ask students to imagine they have just visited this landmark or building and write a story about what happened there.  The street views make excellent writing prompts.

Tips: I love using Google Street Views with an interactive whiteboard.  Students really get the sense of what it is like to stand on the street in the middle of Prague or London and take a look around.  It is fun to imagine the stories that take place every day on those streets.

Google Street View Gallery is not a comprehensive collection of available Google Street Views, it is a great collection of famous landmarks and buildings, grouped together for easy access.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Google Street View Gallery in your classroom.