Firstly, we received an introduction to rigging. Before our maya tutorials, I had a very vague understanding of rigging and its use for character animation, but wasn't aware of the applications for it that were shown. We were shown the joint tool (along with binding and weight painting), the IK handle tool for inverse kinematics, and also the hair dynamics tool in order to create a waving flag animation, which required baking in maya to achieve an animation as oppose to a dynamic polygon plane.
We also looked at advance UV mapping. Using planar projection, we cut edges the of a tree model and unfolded the planes. Here is my UV snapshot: