Tuesday, 8 April 2008

A Personal Learning Network that works.

Second term has begun and after a two week break, classes are underway. My year eight bloggers are working away on their blogs and also completing a presentation for a grant of $1m. They have to workout how they would spend the grant for the benefit of the local and school communities and do a presentation for the whole class.Last year in the mainstream classes, they were in groups of four and had two weeks. This time , my guys have a week and only two or three in a group.
While sitting doing some planning work this morning , I remembered a programme that someone had mentioned that was a web based 3D drawing application. This class is full of really talented kids, could I find something to stretch them with this presentation? I couldn't remember where I had seen the app, looked through my tags on del.icio.us and the did the same on Diigo, but no luck. Did I forget to bookmark it?
So what does the well connected teacher do? Ask my Personal Learning Network!!
I tweeted the request and within a few minutes I had two answers, Google Sketchup!

Patrick Wegner and Susie Vesper were both finding an answer to my problem and I thank them as they demonstrate a very typical aspect of twitter. It is an invaluable source of support, both practical and emotional and is now something I rely on everyday. Yet how do I share this with others- they all say they are too busy and don't have time. Yet my tweet and the response took five minutes, I quickly downloaded the programme - it was free and had a quick play. Off to class after another ten minutes and while describing the task of the presentation to the class ,I mentioned Sketchup- several cries of 'Yeah I've used that' 'I know that..' came to me and instantly the chatter began and kids were discussing the programme and what it could do.
By the end of the double- luckily I had been able to get a lab booking- most groups were well on the way with their proposal for the grant and the majority were planning a 3D presentation of their plan. Some were even working out how they could bring a portable software app from home to use for the presentation. How exciting- and all because my network were there and the kids were able and willing!
While the kids were working, I had a play more with the programme and found the 3D warehouse and the search function. Seeing I am starting 'To Kill A Mockingbird' with Year 10 soon I wondered if anyone had done a map of the fictional town of Maycomb. Well two people have and the screencast above is of a fantastic one by Michael - a regular contributor. Sketchup is a very useable programme - easy to use and it allows you to walk through what you have made- great potential for spatial learners. I also am about to work on 'The Hobbit' and a quick search using 'middle earth' as my search term found all sorts of amazing structures. Google Sketchup is a great tool which could have enormous potential for teaching language- thanks network and my great kids!! I am looking forward to their products


Jo McLeay said...

What a great idea, using sketchup for studying Literature. Excellent. Will definitely try it when I get back. Like the idea of the creativity involved.

Pamelarvo said...

Very interesting - and inspiring. will try to absorb but fear you are leaving me FAR behind. Will need to devote more time to experimenting.I suppose we find the time for the things we really want to do so maybe i lack motivation - but I would like to be motivated...

3GK blog said...

How right you are about twitter being a great PLN. I always see so many people who take time out to lend a hand - it is amazing! As a teacher it's always good to know which applications students are personally interested in as well. Have your students told you of other programmes they use which could be included in class?
Grace Kat (gkat)

Anonymous said...

Although I love lots of the google apps, I have not used sketchup so must do so, when I have time to experiment. As to the staff, when they see a need and a purpose to using web2.0 they will come on board, but it takes such a lot of time and baby steps.