Saturday, March 18, 2017

March is for Making #18 - Making 3D Models for French Class

When I first watched Tony Galle teach fifth graders to 3D model I was so impressed;  I tried to jump into the lesson, but  soon realized I was a lot less 3D spatial than those fifth graders!  Not uncommon for many teachers!  Not long after I got to watch Tony teach a group of teachers to 3D model.  His skill with the 3D modeling tools was only surpassed by his skill and patience working with educators!  And that is exactly why we are so glad that he will be returning to Create Make Learn Summer Institute to help even more educators become 3D literate!

Thank you Tony for being a guest blogger for today’s March is for Making post!

Making Les Chateaux & Les Cathédrales de France (in 3D)

By Guest Blogger  Tony Galle

Last week, students in Rice Memorial High School's French III classes were tasked with researching and presenting about a chateau, castle or cathedral in France.  The research project was designed as an introduction to a key theme of the AP French course (Beauty and Aesthetics/ L’esthétique), and beyond the research (the who’s, what’s and where’s of the structure), they had to craft a virtual three-dimensional version of their structure to help showcase the construction.  

The project came about quite organically and illustrates my favorite way to work with Julie Lambre (one of the French teachers at Rice, and a frequent collaborator).  I sent her a pic I found online -- a miniature LEGO-built Notre Dame Cathedral.  I thought it was cute, and sent it her way.  She immediately asked if this was a project we could do with her kids.  This got the wheels turning.  

Lego Model by Alice Finch

We mapped out what it would take for them to successfully model a piece of architecture, and determined that the first job was to start with some research.  Images, dimensions, important features--all of this information would lead them to make better buildings.  Julie recognized the AP French connection, and proposed the following questions to help them frame their research:

  • How does the architecture reflect the concepts of beauty (form and function) of the era in which it was built? And the culture?
  • Why do you believe this castle/cathedral is a good model of contributing to the World Artistic Heritage (le patrimoine)?

My part involved picking the right tools for the job.  I decided to teach them about three different modeling tools

Each has it’s strengths, and in the spirit of differentiation (and exposure), I provided them with resources to learn any and all of them.  By way of introduction, I did a quick (5 minute) demonstration showing off some of the different features of each tool.  I also shared a slideshow with more in-depth tutorials and videos so they could teach themselves in a self-directed way.  

Then they got to work. I popped in throughout the week as they worked in class to help them with on-the-spot fixes and building-specific questions, and they finished up on their own.

I love watching kids (of all ages) learn with 3D modeling tools. Some students really struggle translating a two-dimensional photograph into a three-dimensional object, but that’s okay. There’s definitely value in the struggle. It takes rigor and perseverance, and yes, some skill, but it all challenges them to think differently.

I’m always impressed with some of the problem solving that goes into working with these tools.  There are some inventive solutions that come out of trying to figure out the best way to represent these places in space.  Whether it’s a student trying to emulate the scaffolding around the Centre Pompidou, or using an applied texture to represent the gridwork in the Eiffel Tower, these are all solutions that came from making, and the results (while not as perfect or polished as a photo from Google) are impressive in their own right.  


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