Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Getting Organized for the FLL Season

I have found nothing more effective in teaching than the power of modeling. "Teach, model, and practice" is the core of my pedagogy. This motto goes for my FLL coaching as well. I am starting my modeling early this season with something simple, organizing our mission model LEGO bricks.

Each FLL season we kick off our first practice with opening up the field set up kit and having a massive LEGO sort. This enables the team members to get familiar with the mission models and the LEGO parts that make them up. It's also a great team building exercise that is fun and authentic. However, during the sort activity we always run into questions like, "Where should this go?" and we often answer with, "Where do you think it makes sense for this to go?" After the parts are sorted we hear, "I can't find this part!" and, "Where can I find...?" and we often answer with, "Where do you think it makes sense to find this part?" This year I wanted to better re-direct these inquiries and model how to find materials in a concrete way.

We will be having two FLL teams (maybe three) at my school this season. I ordered two field set up kits for the first time to help simulate the actual competition set up in my classroom. Having two kits will enable me to use one as a model and the second for the team. I will model how to sort the elements (in a very cool Real Organized™ 39 Drawer Storage Cabinet I found at Lowes - yes there is one in New York City) and keep an inventory on a print out of the parts list to show what parts go in each drawer. This will make both the sorting and finding of LEGO parts concrete. Now I can answer, "Where can I find...?" with "Let's look at the parts list to see."

After our first session of organizing the LEGO parts, my co-coaches and I will build one set of the mission models as a "model" for the team. I also often hear, "How is this supposed to look again?" Now I can answer with a concrete "model."

Sorted LEGO elements in drawer#1 and parts list showing where to find them

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