In the beginning of the school year, we set our objective for the lesson of Informatics together with our students: how to create teams where all members collaborate effectively with each other and use their skills within a common framework of values, in order to acquire new knowledge and skills or further develop the skills already acquired?
All members should get to know each other well in order to become more efficient for the benefit of the team outcomes, limp their differences without altering the creative aspects of their personality and find the best and most effective way to communicate with each other. This process should take place in a playful, pleasant, creative and efficient environment.
Constructions with structural elements simulate the relations described above as accurately as possible.
This is a project that helps students understand that they may start to create a deliverable for a purpose other than the final one. In the meantime, it may be included in a wider project, which can be altered or transformed partially to serve a different purpose.
This project can follow eight specific steps:
Step 1 (Preparatory stage):
The teacher choses fifteen (15) different LEGO structural elements randomly with no specific layout and places them into a small container or a transparent bag. This procedure is repeated as many times as the number of students participating in the activity.
Step 2 (Individual Work – Individual Construction)
Each student receives randomly one container or transparent bag and empties its content. He/she has five (5) minutes to create the best construction possible using all the structural elements available as well as a story, which should include this construction, using his/her imagination.
Step 3 (Individual Presentation of the Construction)
Each student has thirty (30) seconds to present his/her story to the plenary describing the construction in the most imaginative way.
Step 4 (Searching for a close partner)
Students are divided in groups of two with no particular selection specification (random selection) and try to combine their constructions switching the position of only three structural elements. Then, they should use their imagination to create a new story or fairy tale for their new construction. They have one (1) minute to make a joint presentation of their new construction to their peers.
Step 5 (Creating a Team)
According to the similarity or common elements of constructions or stories, students create teams of four (4) or more members (up to six). The teacher gives them the opportunity to change members between teams and even allows them to switch the initial construction between members, provided that their arguments are convincing.
Step 6 (Teamwork)
At first, the members of the new group discuss how they can use the constructions they have already created (two or three constructions depending on whether there are four or six members in the team). The new construction will result from the two or three previous ones by switching the position of three structural elements only from each one. Team members exchange arguments, design, note the main elements of the new story and collaborate to create their final construction.
Step 7 (Group Presentation)
The members of the group present the final construction and the story they created to their peers. Presentations are assessed by the plenary according to six (6) main criteria (using the Likert five-step scale):
1. Compliance with specifications at all stages of construction
2. Homogeneity of construction
3. Device originality
4. Originality of the story compared with the construction
5. Level of collaboration between team members
6. Presentation skills.
At the end of each presentation, the teacher encourages two pupils from the plenary to express a substantiated view on how this project could be improved.
Step 8 (The Joy of Creation)
Students attend the assessment of all constructions and stories developed by the teams. They are rewarded with positive feedback from the teacher. They enjoy their organised, creative and imaginative work.
Vassilis Economοu