News at the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center, Westchester

LEGO® Bricks Provide the Opportunity for Students to Utilize their Creativity

6th January, 2014

Entry by Brent H. for LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester's Teacher Advisory Board.

LEGO® bricks provide the opportunity for students to utilize their creativity to engineer projects while building upon the automaticity of math facts with the use of LEGO bricks. As we continue to consider the important role of engineering in our classrooms, LEGO affords the opportunity to engage students with practical application by utilizing their procedural understanding of numbers and number relationships to conceptualize a product. As a K-8 principal, I would welcome the opportunity to serve on an advisory board that offers feedback specific to how LEGO bricks can be utilized in curriculum and instruction to meet the standards outlined in the Common Core. The transition to a new math curriculum this year has ensured that our students are being exposed to an appropriately rigorous curriculum aligned with these new standards. An important shift in math instruction under these new standards has been specific to application; students ability to choose the appropriate concept even when they are not prompted to do so. Carefully constructed curriculum with the use of LEGO bricks is sure to provide rich learning opportunities for students where they can apply their procedural and conceptual understanding to create a finished product, resulting in authentic product-based learning. Additionally, the use of LEGO allows students to consider the technical nature of construction and the thoughtful and precise language that must be used when communicating to a larger audience. Thus, the potential to foster and embrace this type of technical writing and communication also embraces many of the key shifts outlined in English/Language Arts; specifically, the exposure to informational text and the emphasis on academic vocabulary.

At the moment, our district has exposed our students to enrichment opportunities at the end of the school day, utilizing such organizations as Brick Kids. Additionally, we are evaluating and anticipate moving forward with the LEGO Mindstorms curriculum in our middle school. However, as curriculum and instruction is increasingly seeking to engage students with more authentic, product-based learning experiences, the opportunity to more readily infuse LEGO bricks in our classroom instruction continues to be explored.

With that said, I feel that I have the practical knowledge of curriculum and instruction, given my role as a K-8 principal, to be a thoughtful and helpful voice on the advisory committee. Ultimately, I envision our students sharing with the community a culmination of a LEGO construction, not unlike a traditional science fair. Students would be required to communicate their process, emphasizing their vision and its impact on spatial reasoning, basic geometry, and the structural integrity of a building. Our goal would be for this to become a group project at each grade level that culminated in a sharing of student products.

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