Grammar + Lego = Learning
I have seen lots of people using Lego recently in lessons as story starters, in fact, we had Lego at one of our conferences and they will be delivering a workshop at our Lincoln Conference in March. I like the story starter packs and I have been trying to get my hands on some but the school budget won't allow it. I was playing with my little boy and his (our) Lego recently and wondering how else it could be used rather than just as creating settings to enact stories in.
I thought about which lessons are often most boring; often but not always are those grammar lessons where you need to introduce a new concept.
I have been thinking about which concepts Lego could be particularly useful for and thought of prepositions. A friend of mine taught a lesson recently in which she asked a single child to sit on a chair, stand behind a chair etc to introduce the term preposition. One child was pretty much active at a time and this was a problem, yes all children could take part at once and you could play some games like Simon Says. If we were to use characters sitting on and standing behind something then we would have prepositions in context of a narrative.
This is where the Lego figures come in. They are not cheap to buy new but can be picked up cheaply on eBay.
So this is what I thought lets get some Lego figures and additional props and then see if children can come up with their own prepositions once the concept had been explained.
Below you can see in, on and behind.
In, on and behind can be developed into clauses. in the house, on the ice and behind the robber. The children can develop these into sentences.
The boy was in the house. The girl was on the ice. The policeman was behind the robber.
Below (that is a preposition too) we have 3 more
Near to the car, between the fences and infront of the barrier.
We can perhaps develop these into a short narrative that the children can come up with themselves. For example; The police man spotted someone looking suspicious near to the car. He ran infront of the barrier and between the fences to catch up with him.
Fantasy Lego characters can be great for this too.
We have the Wizard is on the bridge or crossing the bridge.
The Wizard is above the Orc or the Orc is below the wizard.
The Wizard is under the bridge.
These can become a narrative in the Fantasy or Legend style like this: The old wizard strolled ACROSS his drawbridge towards the castle when he spotted an Orc in the moat BELOW him. He cast a spell, jupmed down into the moat and slayed the terrible creature. He waited UNDER the bridge to check that no more Orcs came. This could be developed by use of description, changing the order of the clauses and the preposition etc.
One game you could play with a single Lego man between two people is a variation on battleships. One player using just a cube and a lego man creates a scene. e.g. Man behind the cube, on the cube, under the cube etc. Player B guesses the preposition child A creates aiming to guess it in under 5 goes to get a point. Swap and repeat.
The possibilities are endless, but dependent on the Lego that is available. Perhaps you could ask children to bring in their Lego people but look after them very carefully.
Please come back to see some more LEGO Grammar soon.
Appreciate comments, even if they point out spelling and grammar errors (sorry I dashed this one off quickly)
If you would like to respond in private firstname.lastname@example.org
After seeing a tweet by @teachertoolkit and then reading Dr Debra Kidd's book * and joining in with and reading lots of discussion on here and on twitter about learning objectives or intentions recently. I have come to the conclusion that I am for sharing learning objectives so that children know what they are learning. However there are a few problems that I have with them.
I have seen LO: I can tell the time.
Then looked at the learning that has taken place within that lesson. The children had actually learned to tell the time at O'clock and 1/2 hour increments only. At the end of the lesson can the child tell the time? As stated in the learning intention? In my opinion no.
I have seen arguments saything that it shows progress over time. So if the LO was 'I can tell the time' would it show progress if in lesson one they learned O'clock, lesson two in 15 minute intervals, lesson three in 5 min increments etc? I don't think so.
Well you might say that the learning intention was too vague and should be: I can tell the time in 5 minute increments or as I have witnessed use a context.
LO: I can tell the time.
Context: 24hr clock notation.
I can see how this is useful in class so that children know what they are learning.
In English I see the same I can write a narrative opening. However if a child in Year 6 writes: 'Once upon a time there lived an alien called Zarg' for a narrative set in space will they be meeting the learning intention? Probably not. We need to make sure we are sharing success criteria with pupils. Then discuss and model responses to these success criteria so that children can achieve them, rather than making them copy down learning intentions which are often too vague or over complicated.
On twitter a number of arguments for learning intentions copied into books was so that children could review the work that they had carried out. In my 10 years of teaching I don't think I have witnessed any primary school teachers reviewing work in books beyond the previous (occassionally the previous two) lessons so that surely can't be the reason, the pupils should remember what they learned in the previous session.
Another argument for having LO in books is so SLT or other 'scrutineers' can see the learning that has taken place. By looking at an LO someone cannot tell what learning has taken place. They can tell what teaching has taken place but not the learning, for this to occur they need to take the time to look at the work in the books and see how well the pupils have grasped the concepts. They can link the date of the work with the LO in the planning in order to match the teaching intention with the learning that has taken place.
In summary I can see the benefits of sharing concise and specific learning intentions with children along with success criteria, however I feel that copying them down in every lesson may be a waste of time in most situations. Especially in those practical lessons where pupils are forced to open their books, write the date and learning objective before closing their books and getting on with the practical activity.
Your Comments are welcome!
Happy New Year
I have dashed off this blog at speed, please excuse spelling or grammatical errors or point them out in the comments.