Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sketchup at MassCUE

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the annual MassCUE conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. This is a great conference to connect with other tech-minded educators from around the state and beyond. I was very fortunate to be able to attend both days of the conference with colleagues from my school district.

In past years, I’ve attended sessions that helped me learn ways to support my colleagues with technology integration or enhance professional development delivery. This year, I was especially interested in attending sessions on topics I could use with my elementary students. One session that immediately drew me in was “Sketchup Ketchup.” This session was adding an Augmented Reality (AR) element to the Sketchup program. I had explored AR this summer when I discovered the String App (AR Showcase) and Aurasma Lite. I was giddy with excitement about the possibility of connecting Sketchup and AR.

The presentation was given by Crissy Donoghue and Donna McDonnell, instructional technology specialists from the Billerica Public Schools. The two colleagues did a wonderful job presenting an overview of Sketchup and demonstrating how the drawing program can be utilized by all grade levels. Their Slideshare presentation was great and they very graciously allowed me to share it in this post. I really loved how they used Sketchup with second and third grade students! Ms. Donoghue and Ms. McDonnell included directions on how to make a basic house using Sketchup which will be very useful when introducing the program at any level.

I had used Sketchup with 4th and 5th grade students last year to create 3D houses and I’m now rethinking when to introduce the program. I think if I start earlier with basic drawing techniques tied to math concepts such as shapes, angles and measurement, it will allow for more advanced creations in the upper grades. I’ve posted a few of the student creations from last year on my screencasting channel on and plan on adding additional samples from this year’s students.

Crissy and Donna introduced AR Sights as the Augmented Reality component that ties into Google Earth and Sketchup. You actually have to install the AR media plugin for Sketchup which will then allow you to “hold” your own Sketchup model. The process requires you to print markers off of the AR Sights website and you need to have a webcam to showcase the hologram models. This could be a potential obstacle if your computers don’t have built in webcams. The presenters developed step by step instructions for everything you’ll need to get started. I haven’t tried utilizing this AR piece yet but I look forward to doing so and will be sure to write an updated post once I do.

I want to thank both Crissy Donoghue and Donna McDonnell for their great presentation that has energized me to try something new with Sketchup this year. I also must thank Maureen Devlin ( @looksforsun) for inspiring me to write my first real blog post! Thank you ladies!

Monday, October 29, 2012

It's All Good

I’ve been thinking about blogging for a long time. I actually created this blog back in 2009 during a tech course but didn’t take the time to write any posts. I’ve always focused on developing a website to use with my students but didn’t see the importance of linking a blog to it; until now. I have Twitter to thank for that. Let me explain. I’ve become hooked on Twitter over the past six months and have found amazing educators to follow. These inspiring folks blog regularly and I have learned so much from them. I’ve started to tweet more and have gained a few followers. It was when one of these amazing educators asked me, “Have you blogged about it?” referencing a tweet I posted. That’s when it hit me: I should blog about the things I’m doing to share my experiences with others. Maybe the things I’m doing aren’t earth shattering or new to some of you out there. But maybe blogging will help me learn and grow as a teacher and my posts may help others as they try to utilize technology in education. Thanks Maureen ( @looksforsun) for inspiring me to finally get started! I look forward to where this blogging experience will take me because I truly believe “it’s all good” when learning and sharing with technology.