Thursday, February 12, 2015

Build a Whole New World of Learning with Chrome

Today's blogger is Melissa Stewart, an eLearning Coach in Greater Clark County Schools.

When my son was younger he loved LEGOS. We had--ok, ok--still have toy box drawers full of them! One of his friends’ mom has even started a LEGO club. I’m sure many of you who are parents have experienced LEGOS, the joys of building. You’ve probably even stepped on a LEGO a time or two, remember the pain, and can relate to these:

Now, you can teach kids to play with painless digital Legos while also practicing, assessing, and enriching content in your classroom, elementary through high school ages with Build With Chrome. Build is the largest LEGO® set the world has ever seen. Developed with the latest web technology in Chrome, Build is a place for everyone to imagine, create and explore building with LEGO bricks online. Choose to build on any plot in the world across your laptop, phone, or tablet.

Below are suggestions for using Build With Chrome in specific content area.

Design Classrooms: As your students build their chosen place, you can have them research what architectural designs are trending in that area of the world and try to design a building that would best fit in that area. You can have them research architects and emulate that style in buildings of their own. You could have them design based on ideas that will be more ergonomic. There is also a "Build Academy" that is geared towards walking you through the basics and then having you build in more and more complex areas in your quest to become a master builder.

English/Language Classrooms: Integrate writing with your students Build with Chrome creations. Have them write descriptions and explanations of their designs. Your students can also write stories about events that may have occurred at the building they created. They can recreate scenes from whatever piece of literature you are reading. Assign your students different regions around the world and challenge them to build a cultural center for the area. Use the Google Maps interface to travel around the world as students create presentations to present information of their Build with Chrome building and the culture. Create your own town with the buildings created by your students. Create a newspaper for your town using a site such as Zinepal.

Government Classrooms: What is the government control like in an area of the world you are studying? What are the rules and regulations surrounding building in that area? If they are building in a rural area, it may not be allowed or socially acceptable to build a tall skyscraper in the middle of town or to build a barn downtown in a city. Some governments may also control the appearance of the building, allowing only a certain color of brick, etc.

Math Classrooms: How big can they build their building with only a set amount of bricks (you do have a limit of several thousand)? For geometry, build something that represents different geometric theories. Have your students build two dimensional tessellations or something that represents a geometric shape. Teach basic math concepts such as volume or multiplication by counting brick units. Use different block colors to create graphs.

Science/ Social Studies Classrooms: What is the ecology and climate like in the area that they are building? How does that affect their design? If it is a heavy snow area, then designing a flat roof probably makes very little sense. Nor would it make sense if it rains a lot. Challenge your students to build a design to fit that geographic environment. Your students can construct creations for humans or animals that live in that ecosystem. Encourage your students to locate and research different historical monuments or buildings around the world and recreate them using the virtual LEGO bricks.

Check out this YouTube video for an introduction by Google on Build with Chrome:

Tell me how you would use Build With Classroom for your content area.  Help others with ideas too! Tell how you could use it in English, math, science, or social studies classes.  What are some other ways to use Build for learning?

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