Friday, September 26, 2014

Teaching with Toys and Tech- Keeping Students Engaged

 Keeping students engaged and on-topic is never easy, especially middle school students. But....there is something about getting to play with Legos that excites them.

Last year, I needed some Lego blocks for a lesson I wanted to teach. I only needed some basic blocks, but I put out a call to my parents asking if anyone had some they could donate. Thanks to an extremely generous donation, I now have a collection. (I could still use more if anyone has some they want to rid themselves of.)

Today, the students finally got to play with them. My 7th grade class has been working its way through various lessons on ancient Greece. Yesterday, we used a worksheet lesson I purchased from that had them learn about the four governments and create a film strip drawing and caption for each of the types of government. Good! I wanted to take it one step further and help the ideas cement with them.

Using the Legos, the students were asked to create a scene with the Legos to show each type of government and then use the Haiku Deck App ( to create a presentation of their work. The kids were energized.

The worksheets from the previous day had served as a form of graphic organizer to keep their focus and plan their presentation. They had to decide on a way to best utilize their materials to represent the key idea of each type of government. Working in small groups, they had to synthesize the ideas each had created the previous day into a workable product. Publishing the production using the App helped them put a finishing touch on everything.

I couldn't have been more pleased with their work. The students each came up with unique ways. They worked together, stayed on task, and demonstrated creativity and understanding of the types of government.

The next step will have them present their creations to the class. This will add one last learning objective to the lesson and work as a way of reinforcing the key concept with students.

In addition to helping the students stay focused and engaged, I was amazed with the ease of Haiku Deck. I had never used it before, but the students had for another class. They were excited to show me some of the features, and a few times, I had to ask them to show each other.

Most of all the projects looked great as I hope the pictures below show. I would love to hear from other teachers on how you adapt lessons to keep students engaged. I'd also like to hear some of your best apps for student presentation and creation.

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