And we’re back! I must say I’m pretty happy with the beginning of this year. Having set some really good systems in place before I left it was really easy to jump right back into the routine of things. I also want to thank all the families for all your support. It’s so great to see so many old faces and to watch your toddlers become kids, kids become teenagers it really means a lot to be in their lives for so long.
I love finding teacher created content online and testing it out in my classes. Not all of it is created specifically for LEGO so it’s fun to twist them a bit to include LEGO. This week the main content for our toddler class was buoyancy using LEGO Education’s Early Simple Machine kit. I like to mix up theat class with a combination of Duplo and Classic brick models, but since it’s hot and our first week, I went with the provided sailboat to use our imaginations to beat the heat to a beach.
The older ones (as seen in the picture above) worked on renewable energy and made a little LEGO windmill using WeDo.
First LEGO League
My First LEGO League team Blockbusters started practice again this week (as will the mini JR. FLL). I’m really stoked for this year’s theme Into Orbit. I even started reading Scott Kelly’s Endurance, a Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery to prep for it.We’re pretty curious what the project will be this year and wondering how the girls’ are going to be able to improve a space related issue.
A lot of people don’t realize that I also teach full-time during the day as a classroom teacher. I teach LEGO WeDo, NXT/Ev3 to classes 4-7. It’s been an interesting journey from a classroom teacher, special education coordinator to now teaching over 200 students a week. There is a massive difference from having the same 30-40 kids around to new faces changing every hour. It took a little getting used to, because one thing I really love doing is getting to personally know my students. This was a big paradigm shift, getting to know 200 students was overwhelming and I still need to learn all their names. The content was first for so long and I realized neither the kids nor I were having fun. I was excluding them for content. I decided one day to scrap the content, sit with every class in a circle and get to know them. We did an “Everything is Awesome” activity. The kids told me one-by-one what made them awesome, which I wrote on chart paper and will hang up (oops) for everyone to see. It was just a fun icebreaker to bring back the human element back into the class.
I teach a lot slower, we have one main topic for the day and once the students finish they’re free to create (and they LOVE that!). For the first time in my teaching career I realized I didn’t have to worry about standards, GRADES, pacing, reports, exams, testing or teach useless content. I could teach with happiness being the main objective. I didn’t have to rush them through a million standards, I could go at my own pace and theirs. We jam pack so much into them at such a young age and place so much pressure on them to be number one, we’re forgetting that they need to play and be happy. There’s a time and place for disciplined rote learning, I’m not fully against it, a disciplined mind is very important, but there definitely has to be a balance with experiential learning.
I’ve noticed the class feels lighter as I teach slower, the kids remember more of the main content and they leave everyday happy, I feel happy. I love how proud they are of their own creations, I love playing and interacting with them, I like to see them get in zone as they create. It may not be much, but it’s a lot for them.