Alright, the title might be a little facetious. They weren’t really THE great Lego challenges but they were a fantastic way to start a new school year with students who are new to me.
September started with me in a new school and yet in a similar role to my last – prep teacher, teaching STEM. As with many teachers in my position, I was trying to think of what might help me to get to know students better; to see what skills they bring; to see what they might enjoy. With a whole bunch of Lego available to use, I thought we would start the year off with a couple of Lego challenges and it was definitely a great decision.
During our first session together, students were tasked with creating the first letter of their first name or creating something that starts with that letter. Students were given my basic design and I shared with them that my name was Ms. Lambert and that I absolutely love plants and that’s why I chose to add a variety of plants to my letter. It was incredible to see the variety of designs created and it was a great way for students to introduce themselves to me and potentially new classmates. Students jumped right in and exceeded my expectations with how creative they were.
Once the individual challenge was completed, students were then tasked with building the tallest, free-standing structure in groups of 3 or 4. I admired in some cases how students were methodical in how they were going to design their structures. I watched as they discussed what they would need to start off their build. I think I admired this because I’m a huge planner and I recognized this trait in some students. This was important for me to identify as I’m trying to be more intentional about what I do and why. Just because it’s my thought process when building, doesn’t mean that it will be the same for all students and there’s no greater value because I think this way. Don’t get me wrong, I always think there should be some sort of plan in design but I might have been the person drawing out the base before picking up the materials.
That said, the pressure was on, especially for the older grades. Many jumped in and were amazingly flexible as they built and met up with challenges. I loved how each group kept going no matter what challenges they faced. And there were many. Structures got too heavy on top and fell over. Students turned in the “wrong” direction and structures came tumbling down. Pieces seemed to fit and then didn’t. The challenges were endless.
During this process, I also appreciated that groups were willing to share their design ideas with one another. All-in-all, I would have to say that it was a great chance for me to sit back and observe students in action. I made notes as they progressed and asked questions about their designs. Although each class from K to 5 was given the same challenge, it was incredible that no two structures looked the same. Groups added their own flair and made the structures their own.
I’m not quite sure what this year will bring in terms of challenges but I have to say that I have an incredible group of students that I get to work with and I know that they will be up for whatever challenge is thrown our way.
I hope that you’ve had a great start to the year!