The use of Lego and video as part of teaching, learning and assessment

Written by Martin McCutcheon Monday, 10 September 2018

'The use of Lego and video as part of teaching, learning and assessment' is a workshop being run by Martin McCutcheon at #MathsConf17.


This workshop looks at how to support all abilities in accessing and enjoying mathematics through the use of Lego. Lego demonstrations can help give clear explanations, provide fun and creative classwork, and allow teachers to tailor the task so that all can achieve success.

Right from pre-school and early years, play and fun is a way of learning. The use of Lego allows most students to access a toy they already know and enjoy. The colour and creations can inspire further experimentation and involvement in the tasks: they build it, see it, hold it. (Of course we have to watch out they don't just want to build a castle or spaceship!). Attendees of this workshop will get a chance to play and create with Lego right from the start in the workshop and create demonstrations of mathematical concepts and objects, from fractions to tessellations, symmetry to expansion of brackets or anything else that comes to mind!

Tesselation

I will discuss how I have been using Lego in class with a few slides of examples of topics used in class, as listed below, with ideas to explore:

  • Fractions
  • Ratio
  • Symmetry
  • Shape
  • Tessellation
  • Measurements
  • Area and Perimeter
  • Square numbers
  • Algebra
  • Bar charts
Symmetry

Volunteers will have an opportunity to show to the workshop what they have created on the suggested maths topics or any they want to add:

  • Nth term (eg dog diagram, windmill)
  • Scale drawing/model
  • Similar shapes
  • Plans and elevations
  • Factors and multiples
  • Proof
  • Volume
Nth Term

Attendees will then watch a few YouTube clips of students work in class, from fractions and symmetry to algebra, and can discuss what works in class and what might need improvement.

Students’ enjoyment of playing with the Lego should enhance their learning, Lego demonstrations should add to the explanations and teaching, and the ability to see what students create a way to assess the learning with the teacher able to differentiate and adjust the criteria to meet the needs of the students.

Bar Charts

Following that we will learn how to make videos in class and post these on YouTube online, including talking about safeguarding. Some detail about equipment needed and editing will be given, and ideas for post-production will be discussed. And finally we will do some live uploads of attendees own Lego creations of mathematical concepts at the workshop.

Two chance events led me to this position, one I happened to find a box of Lego in my new classroom and thought why not try use it? And secondly, a tweet from a Jo Morgan said that the Maths conference was open for proposals, and I thought, why not?

Equivalent Fractions

Early in my teacher training and NQT years I was advised to keep experimenting to make sure I didn't get stuck in a rut and settle in my teaching ways as I got further into my career. So this led to several years of my worrying I wasn't doing interesting enough lessons with interesting enough activities! And then years later I found the Lego box. : )

The use of video has its inspiration long before I became a teacher or YouTube even existed, in the 1990s I used to watch the Learning Channel in South Africa, a TV show where questions were answered on TV from callers to the show, then while training we used recording software on iPads, finally I got a good smartphone and could start this channel.

Translations

At the end of the workshop I will briefly talk about how other subjects can use this format, from English to Science and also explore how else we can include fun and play from childhood toys, and look at other things like the maths in football or flags.

There will be opportunity throughout the workshop for attendees to ask questions, make suggestions and explore their own ideas in Lego and video. And lastly all attendees will get a MartinMaths sticker as thanks for attending!

Thank you!

About the Author

Martin McCutcheon

Maths teacher in Oxford. Loves Lego. and football. and travel. Previous career in Government gives ideas for application of mathematics in workplace.

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