I have now taught for 2 days, which means I have also met all of my students (140+) with the block schedule. During the first two or three days of the quarter there are lots of schedule changes, so I was advised to not teach anything too important. I resurrected an activity we did in college called The Lego Hotel to focus on group work. Last week I spent a couple of hours digging through bins full of kennects mingled with lego pieces, trying to get as many legos as possible for the activity, until my hands were raw. I came up with this creation:
I then built four more just like it and put the pieces into bags. Each class was broken into four groups and handed a bag with the task of recreating my design exactly, down the color of each piece. The catch? The model was in another room and only one person from each group could look at it at one time and the only notes they could take was in their mind.
My first class failed miserably. No one got close in over a half hour. The second class had a group done around 27 minutes. The next at 22 minutes. And the last class had a group finish at 17 minutes! Although most enjoyed the activity (“This is my favorite class ever. I hope we get to play with legos every day!”) it was quite an insightful way for me to get to know my students. A couple of times throughout the different classes I went over to some students that were playing on their phones or watching movies and asked them to join their group. While they initially resisted and grumbled, it didn’t take long before each one was enthusiastically trying to figure out where the pieces went. One of the boys came up to me at the end of the day when all the other students were gone and sincerely apologized and explained his behavior (increased medicine today) and we agreed that when he was having similar bad days that he let me know and we can work something out.
At the end of this activity we discussed group work and watched an IDEO clip about how their company runs and applied the principles to working in our classroom. I’m not sure if the kids quite saw the vision, but I don’t think it hurt them any at the very least. The coming weeks will be an adventure, and I am looking forward to tomorrow when we start web design!