As part of its Serious Play initiative, Lego Education is releasing BuildToExpress, a new approach to learning using the company’s popular building block toys. The program makes it easier for kids to understand and integrate complex ideas, and makes learning simpler via “building, reflection, and dialogue.”
The new approach is not only applicable to all grade levels, and could be used for any core subject areas, it is also practical and non-verbal and can be useful even to ESL students and others who have difficulty with conventional communication.
The program uses carefully selected Lego elements within a curriculum-based context. Using a “build and share” model ensures that each student is given the opportunity to be engaged and heard in the classroom. It works like this: students are asked to build models that show their understanding of various concepts. For example, a teacher might ask students to use bricks to show how they understand an abstract concept or how they visualize a historic event. Students are encouraged to actively listen, think creatively, and cooperate to solve problems.
Jennifer Rising, a mathematics teacher at the Nueva Elementary School in Hillsborough, California, says that BuildToExpress helps her teach complex math concepts and allows her students to communicate their feelings about the subject. She added that the toys not only make class time fun for kids, they set up opportunities for students to express their emotions in concrete ways.
”Once they address their attitudes, they show greater focus and attention later during math instruction.”
Instructors who want to adopt the program in their own classroom can turn to the company for implementation guidelines, including a one-day course taught by a certified LEGO Education trainer. Those who attend the training can learn use all education tools provided by the company, and include “best practices” guidelines and real-world examples.
After years of implementation, it became clear the process at the heart of SERIOUS PLAY could extend its benefits beyond the confines of adults in the business world. In 2009, LEGO Education and a team of educational psychologists transformed LEGO SERIOUS PLAY into a program tailored for instructors. The program combines a unique teaching methodology with hands-on manipulatives, and the objectives are the same – to foster creative thinking and teamwork within the classroom environment across curriculum areas while focusing on a facilitation process that enables deeper student reflection and constructive dialogue. This combined effort resulted in a teaching process, professional development program and a specially formulated set of LEGO bricks now known as LEGO Education BuildToExpress.