I work at Trimble on something that we call Project Spectrum. Project Spectrum is an extensive program covering all things related to our autism outreach. My favorite activity that I get to work on is the classes that we hold from time to time for students on the autism spectrum. We don’t follow a traditional curriculum but have found a slightly different method that works for the class quite well. I want to share it in case anyone finds it helpful.
When I hold a class I try to focus on teaching the tools in SketchUp rather than a project. I let the students individually decide what they want to create (within reason) and try to tailor the lesson of the each class to the tools that will be the most helpful in that project. I have had students decide to do all sorts of different projects, some of the more notable projects I have seen over the years are hotels, restaurants, campgrounds, and underground disaster shelters. By letting the students decide on what they want to work on for the next few class periods, they tend to be more motivated to create something new and unique.
Due to the smaller class size that I tend to have (usually less than 10 students) I am able to set aside a small block of time for the students to present their latest changes to their project to the class. This lets them show their classmates what they have added or changed in their models. This can drive innovation, if a student sees a technique or idea that they like, they sometimes will try and include it in their future projects. It also starts some small talk and other interactions (usually fairly rare with individuals on the autism spectrum).
Obviously, this is not an approach that will work for all teachers and students. Grading projects like this is not really something that can be done uniformly due to the unique nature of each student’s project.
If anyone would like to discuss what I consider the key elements to making a class like this a success I would be glad to expand on this post with a follow up and answer any questions that you may have. Just reply to this topic and I will be glad to respond.