Friday, 26 September 2014

Lego Learning Project

I am very lucky to work in a school where we are not judged on short lesson observations, but on a long term research project. Last year I took part in a research project using Google Forms which you can read about here and here. This year I will be taking part in a project with one of my colleagues Mrs Jones (Michelle) using one of our favourite things...LEGO!

Lego has always been an incredibly popular toy and was very important in my life growing it was in my mum's, dad's, brothers', friends'.... There is nothing that could make more excited as a child than getting a new Lego set, like my favourite Lego Castle. As an adult I don't think I have matured much as I still get as excited when I treat myself to Lego, (most recently a trip to Legoland, a Lego Calendar and a Lego City fireman set). As a teacher we are constantly trying to engage our students by making them excited about learning, so what better tool to use than Lego!

I used Lego a little bit last year, and have large storage Bricks and a Lego head full of Lego Bricks in my classroom. I've done a few small lessons, where I've set mini creation challenges or have had students playing team building games using Lego. However - it is now time to get serious!

I've collected Lego resources in this Pinterest folder and here on Google Drive. However we really want to focus on creating our own resources. Most of the resources available online are aimed at very young children, so we want to make resources suitable for secondary schools. We also will use some of the educational kits created by Lego, including the wonderful StoryStarter Kit. However, we may not use the educational kits in the way they are intended to be used - I assume Lego have some pressure on them to create educational kits which come with full teaching resources, but this can sometimes be restrictive, and don't always show the full potential of the kits. Often the kits aimed at older students are Mindstorms/Technics, but I want to mostly focus on using the traditional bricks in my teaching.

Michelle has some incredible ideas already and we are doing some work this week with our grade 6 students. They are doing a biography unit in English and Humanities and this week will be looking at the life of Gandhi. We will be using the StoryStarter Kits to show significant parts of his life - students will photograph several scenes and then they will present them to the class!

Last week, with the same grade, I also completed a few coding classes without computers. They loved the lesson and were so engaged. I am doing a town planning  unit later with an older grade and went to design a town, using different coloured and shaped Lego Bricks to symbolise different types of town. I'm doing another unit where students are designing a theme park, and we will be using LegoLand as a case study. I have purposefully planned only four units for each grade this year, so that I have a few weeks spare to throw in a mini unit - I want to use this to really focus on different approaches to learning, with a heavy influence on research - here I will get some students to complete research records about the history of Lego - I may also get another grade to work towards a debate with the motion "This house believes Lego shouldn't have introduced Lego Friends". (Michelle is also planning a gender unit next year, and I am trying to get her to talk about Lego advertising, Lego Friends and even Lego MiniFigures becoming gendered).

Our reading list so far:

I bought this already - Michelle is basically already doing everything in this book!

This book is great and gave me wonderful ideas for my little Lego challenges last year.

and finally...we may need

You will see lots of updates here! I am hoping to connect with other educators to share resources and ideas - if you are a teacher who uses Lego, please get in touch with me through Google+ or Twitter.