As a Sketchup nerd I like to think of new and different ways I can use it in lessons, and look at how I can get most from the pupils when I do. While it is incredibly easy to link it to Maths, looking at measure, direction, etc, I often find it hard to give literacy links. Today though I used it as a story telling tool. Pupils were shown the model I had created (below) and we had a great discussion building a story around it. Using it as a setting we decided on characters, plot points and who to build the story around. The descriptive language when describing the castle was great, and having it on the board as a visual learning tool worked really well. The fact there was nothing else but the castle also helped the pupils with their writing. They had the castle, but they had to decide where it was and what its surroundings looked like. Lower ability pupils were able to come up to board and move around the castle, imagining themselves and the centre of the building, while Higher ability look it as a stimulus and wrote pages!

When talking with the class, and having all this discussion it made me think of Epic Citadel. It felt like I had built my own and was getting the same reaction from the kids. They we engaged and enthusiastic about exploring the castle in the same way they are when using the app. Obviously I know it is nowhere near the same level of detail or scale, however it opened up a whole world of opportunities. I could do the same thing on any number of worlds or settings, going from a sprawling city to a visit on a space station. All created by me, to my specification, to get what I want from the pupils. Yes, it might take  bit of time and practice, but save it and you have it there for any lesson in the future.

Why not try describing a stay in an Anderson Shelter, or describe life on a pirate ship. You could even try your very own classroom!
       

The last few weeks of the half term are always a bit hectic in the build up to Christmas. Often pupils are busy preparing for their Christmas performances, or with year 6…SATs still! If you’re all APP’s out, or want to get a break from the making nativity props why not have a quick Xmas ICT session. Below are 5 quick lessons and activities that can be adapted to different year groups, and should bring some festive cheer into your ICT suite, even for the biggest techno-scrooge!

1. Make the kids do your Christmas Shopping!

Give your pupils a list of items you need to buy online and time limit to find them in. Pupils should use some web research skills to try and find the cheapest price. They can then choose how they want to present it, I tend to go for a bit of Excel so I can get another bit of database evidence for them! You could push you top pupils by giving them a list of people to buy for with a budget. Thinking about what they like and whether their choices are appropriate. Always a fun little lesson,, and you’re bound to hear a shout of ‘I found it cheaper!’ at some point!

Capture2. Build your very own tree (sort of)

Those who follow my blog will know I try to do as much as I can with Google Sketchup, I love it! So if I have even the smallest of opportunities I try to shoe horn it in! Last week with my year 4 pupils we had a go at building some Xmas trees, complete with a star on top and multi-coloured baubles. To challenge those with a higher level of ability why not try adding a helix (spiral) of tinsel around the outside. Very trick to do, but will keep the kids enthralled. If you have some pupils who find it to difficult get them to try drawing one in 2D on the program.

3. Save Christmas Game

If you don’t have 2DIY in your school stop what you are doing and go get it! One of the styles of game you can make is a ‘Collecting Game’. The idea behind the game is simple. You have a main character who moves around the board collecting points, but make sure you avoid the bad guys! Basically every game ever! With my year 2 class we had some fun making a game where a child was saving Christmas for Santa. The background was a wonderful snow scene, and the main character had to go around collecting all the presents Santa had lost….but watch out! There are some Grinch like characters roaming around doing their best to spoil the day! The conversation and sharing that come out of a lesson like this is fantastic. Pupils love having a go at each others games, and often engage in some great critical discussions without even knowing it!

4. Animations 

This half term I have been looking at a variety of animations with the pupils and it’s something they love. Why not spend the morning making a lovely Christmas video. Pupils could make their characters out of plasticine, or the cheats way are these awesome Christmas cones from the guys over at Twinkl. In a morning you should be able to throw something together, then on the last day of term why not have a Christmas Movie show with popcorn and everything!

5. Blogging fun

Blogging with the kids is something I have recently tried to do more and more, and I’m really trying to get the pupils to blog of their own accord. Over the holidays I like to set a blogging challenge for the pupils as an extra bit of homework. The school I work at is full of different cultures and our children spend their winter holidays in a wide variety of different ways. I try to get the pupils to share what they, and their families do for the holiday season. Those who excel at blogging have had a go at adding pictures and video clips to share with their friends. For those pupils who struggle it’s also a great space for them to just sit and have a go at some writing. They all know it comes to me before it gets published so let them have a go!

 

Hope you all enjoy your Christmas build up as well as your holidays! Hope some of these ideas have saved you a bit of time, and have some fun!

 xmas

Embedded image permalinkExciting  time ahead at school! This week we are organising the arrival of some living eggs.We ran this project last year and the kids took so much from the experience, the picture to the left is when our chicks were just a few hours old. They got to see this whole process, coming up and visiting the chicks during the day to see their progress. As usual we tried to add a little ICT to the mix by setting up a live stream via a webcam. This worked really well, with the classes checking the feed every morning during registration.

This year I want to add a bit more tech to the equation, and get the pupils using the experience more in the classroom. Applying the technology and making sure it is all up and running allows for the classes to make the most of the birds, and hopefully allow for some great learning to take place. Below I have listed a few ways that a school could use ICT to make the most of having living eggs, and some possible lesson ideas.

  • Set up a webcam with a live feed on your network. This can stream live on your school website for all to view. This could be used by pupils or parents at home. It could also come in useful for the member of staff who is in charge of the project, allowing them to have a look and check up throughout the day
  • Allow the pupils some time to work with the digital cameras. Pupils get the most from photography when they have an interesting subject to use. Allow them some time with the birds to try and get some interesting shots, then come back to the computer suite to do some quick photo editing.
  • Internet Research. Often it can be a couple of weeks before the eggs start to hatch, so keep the pupils interested and give them the opportunity to find out how the whole process works. Older pupils could research before taking younger pupils to see the chicks while explaining the process.
  • Google Sketchup. Anyone that follows my blog will know I’m a big fan of Sketchup, and using it with all ages. The idea of using it with this project came from a pupil last year who did it in her own time. She emailed me a file which showed a dream environment for the chickens to grow up in, all mapped out on Sketchup. The level of detail was superb, and the research beforehand to find out the ideal conditions was great. So I stole her work and got the rest of the class to do it!
  • Blog about it. Pupils could start a ‘Chick Watch’ blog, keeping other informed of developments and changes, the literacy coordinator loved this! Pupils can also learn to embed images to their work, and for the toppies they could embed the live feed or a video. On a similar note some pupils could create podcasts to broadcast on your website. These could be live updates or information on how they develop.
  • Literacy tasks. There are a whole heap of literacy based activities that could be done on the computers too. For example (big breath) letters of thanks to the farmers, descriptions, stories, newspaper reports, information booklets, instructions for care, day by day diary and invitations to parents.

 

Wow, as I was writing that I came up with a few more ideas that I originally thought! I can honestly say that having something like living eggs in your school can be a great inspiration and discussion generator. I can do nothing but encourage it! Please have a share or comment, and if your school is planning on getting some living eggs please keep up updated! I would love to link with another school doing a similar project.

Ok, so I know it’s a bit late in the day, but I thought I’d share a few of the teaching ideas I have used for Roald Dahl Day. One of my favourite days in the school calendar, where children get to enter some of the most fantastic worlds.

1. Character blogs – allow your pupils blog on your VLE as one of Roald Dahl’s famous characters. Get them to enter the minds of The BFG or Matilda and share their experiences and thoughts. Add some images to their text and share it online, you will be amazed with the feedback you get.

2. Gaming – Use some gaming software like 2DIY to make a Roald Dahl themed game. This year my class have been playing as Danny the Champion of the World trying to catch pheasants! Why not make a game where you get to collect Snozzcumbers or Fobscottle bottles? The possibilities are endless!

3. For older children why not try a quick hot seat using Skype. Get pupils to dress up in an adjacent room and Skype the rest of the class. Get the pupils to interview the character on their motives and emotions.

4. Character Creation – One thing Roald Dahl always got perfect was the creativity in his characters. They were always fantastically odd and never boring. Try to make some new ones with your class. You could you try and add them to one of his stories, maybe make a sequel! Use something like paint.net or 2Publish so that pupils can bring their creations to life.

5. I have saved the trickiest till last, for only the bravest of teachers! For those that don’t know Roald Dahl did all his writing in a little shed at the bottom of his garden. It was the perfect writing space for him, warm and cosy in the winter, peace and quiet, and a pencil and paper on his lap. Get your pupils to think about where they could write, what would be their ideal space? When they have come up with some different ideas get they to try and create it on Google Sketchup. Use the modelling software to make their perfect little hideaway!

 

‘Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it’

-Roald Dahl

5Recently I started using Google Sketchup with my year 4 class. The found the initial tutorial process hard, and it took them a while to get to grips with the complexity of the tools, but after a few weeks they became more confident in their ability and started to be more creative.

The task I gave them was to create their own ancient Egyptian scene, complete with pyramid, desert landscape, and ancient artifacts. They loved the challenge and set about think of ways to create this in Sketchup. As I have said in a previous post you have to get into the Google Sketchup way of thinking, and they certainly did this!

We had a class discussion about which parts we should make ourselves, and which parts they thought we should use the Model Warehouse. They we incredibly mature, with some pupils arguing that ‘If they worked hard they could make that’. Amazing to see.

The topic was rich in ideas to use with the pupils, and I can see us continuing for a few weeks with it. What has been your favourite Sketchup project? Any ideas or questions?

I think it’s fair to say that I am a MASSIVE Google Sketchup fan. I try to use it with as many topics as I can,  and like to get my pupils started with it as soon as possible. As a teaching tool it is fantastic for motivating pupils and get them excited about ICT, they are mesmerized by the ease in which they can create 3D shapes. Due to its nature the program can be used in all manner of topic, from creating vivid art galleries of their work, recreating Viking villages, or designs for a new space station. It’s really is up to you how far, and in which direction, you want to take your pupils with it.

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‘The Lego Bricks of learning’

 

Often to get pupils started I like to give them something the love. A Lego Brick. We loved them, parents love them (except when the get stood on) and our kids will love them. this little brick of coloured plastic can provide that real and tactile connection with the work on their screens.

They key factor in having the pupils create model Lego brick is the tools they use. It touches on most of the features, and uses them in a nice and simple way. It basically sets them up for using the product in future. Get the pupils to snap the top circle the same height, use the rendering tool, add 3D text, all useful in future projects.

The Google Sketchup way of thinking

 

When my pupils come into a Sketchup lesson they know that they have to change their mind-set. They know they should start thinking differently about their work. When trying to create something, or trying to add something they know that they are not going to get it looking prefect, but should aim for something that looks similar. Pupils can get easily bogged down in trying to achieve perfection in their models and miss out.

If you haven’t used Google Sketchup in the classroom yet give it a go, but be prepared to do some homework, it’s tricky for teachers to learn, never mind pupils! Before long your pupils will be creating wonderful graphic models really to be explored and manipulated.

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A model of our ICT suite created by Year 6 pupils

Below I have included a lesson plan and accompanying PowerPoint for your 1st lesson teaching the topic. Any questions or hints please get in touch.

1st Sketchup Lesson Plan

1st Sketchup Lesson PPT

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