Teaching Public Speaking with Legos

Legos offer an enjoyable and non-threatening way to teach public speaking. What are some of the benefits to gaining effective public speaking skills? 1) Improved communication; 2) Increased self-esteem; 3) Planning experience;  4) The power of persuasion. The skills children acquire in this pragmatic class will benefit them throughout their lives.

Public speaking is one of the most important and dreaded forms of communications.

Many studies show more people fear public speaking than anything else.  Here is some good news. I created and taught a class at our co-op incorporating Legos. Many kids are thrilled to do anything when Legos are involved.

Here is how the class works:

Each week I teach a brief lesson about a public speaking skill. Topics include making eye contact, projection, inflection, and speaking clearly. After each presentation, peers respectfully offer feedback as to how the presenter fared incorporating those skills into his presentation.

http://amzn.to/2b9DOR3

The Historic and Fairy Tale Minifig set from Lego Education has been extremely popular in my Lego classes.

 

 

My class has two Lego-building components:

  • Partner Build

The kids are given a very broad theme like nature. They are partnered up and build a Lego together. They then jointly get up in front of the class for a brief 1-2 minute non-rehearsed, impromptu presentation. They are required to work with all the personalities of the class over the course of the semester.

  • Home Build and Speech Practice

The kids are given a different theme for a Lego they will build for homework without a partner or team. They go home and build a Lego creation to bring and share with the class. Each student is given 3 minutes for his presentation. He prepares and practices his speech at home, integrating skills I have taught, ensuring he does not go over his time allotted. Peers offer feedback about how he did with incorporating the public speaking skills.

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My Lego classes also loved this Community Workers minifig set created by Lego Education.

 

21st-century skills developed in this class  include Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity.

I hope you found this post useful and can use it in your co-op, classroom or with a group of friends. Stay tuned for Part Three of this Teaching with Legos series.

For more ideas about teaching with Legos, you may be interested in Lego Writing Club:

Lego Writing Club

 

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Teaching with Legos to Develop 21st-Century Skills: Lego Writing Club

Teaching with Legos to Develop 21st-Century Skills: Lego Writing Club

I love to incorporate Legos into our learning!!! I have created and taught three Lego classes for our co-op. This post, the first in a series about teaching with Legos, will be about the Lego Writing Club.

 Kids delight in writing more when they have an audience of their peers and not just their parents or teacher.

Lego Writing Club incorporates the following 21st-century skills: 1) Collaboration and teamwork; 2) Oral and written communication; 3) Creativity and imagination; 4) Flexibility and adaptabilty; and 5) Technology literacy.

An excellent selection of minifigs is very helpful in generating imaginative stories. Lego Education developed two superb minifigure sets that were huge hits with my classes. LEGO Education’s Fairytale and Historic Minfigures Set as well as the Community Workers Set are both fantastic for this class!

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Here are some more details about the flow of the class:

  • All students are addressed as authors or writers. Each week we begin the class with  one or two “Featured Authors of the Week” reading their story.

All students are addressed as authors or writers.

  • I teach a brief grammar lesson that the authors incorporate into their writing. For instance, I taught a couple of weeks over the proper use of quotation marks in writing dialogue. I developed a cumulative checklist, similar to the IEW concept, that they used each week to incorporate the writing skills into their stories.
  • I give the class a very open-ended theme for the build, such as ocean or winter, and break them up into teams. They collaborate and agree on a setting, conflict and main characters before touching any Legos.  Sometimes they build three different scenes for the beginning, middle and end.
  • After the builds are completed, I take pictures of each one. Next, I  upload the pictures to our free class website on MeWe and also include the details of their setting, conflict and main characters. Any class website or page should work.
  • The authors write a story at home based on their build and upload it on MeWe. Parents assist in the revision process. It is interesting to see how the stories within each team differ once they go home and add their own unique twist. My kids loved reading their peers’ stories each week on MeWe. Peer feedback is encouraged.

I hope you found this post useful and can use it in your co-op, classroom or with a group of friends. Stay tuned for Part Two of this Teaching with Legos series.

Here are some other posts you may enjoy:

Fun Ways to Teach Writing Without Buying a Curriculum

Making Writing Enjoyable

Teaching Public Speaking with Legos

How We Homeschool 4th & 5th Grade

Find out how my kids learned to type using a fun and free program:

Fun and Free Typing Program

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Homeschooling is the Smartest Way to Teach Kids in the 21st Century According to Business Insider

Great article published yesterday in the tech section of Business Insider about homeschooling offering our kids a tremendous opportunity for gaining a 21st-Century education:

http://www.businessinsider.com/why-kids-should-get-homeschooled-2016-8

Many homeschoolers provide their kids with customized academics and are able to do it so efficiently leaving plenty of time for experiential learning, sports, free play and passions. Now you can find some of the best teachers in the world offering their courses and lessons online. Additionally, you can select curriculum and learning opportunities tailored to your child’s learning style. Furthermore, there is a massive infrastructure in place for homeschool families to participate in both enrichment and core classes as well as many other educational opportunities that are fun for the whole family.

alan surfer teaching
Learning about tides, waves and surfing at one of the most impressive surf spots in Southern Califonia. We love learning outdoors!

While traditional schools try their best to tailor lesson plans to individual students, teachers often still end up teaching to the middle. There are simply too many kids learning at different speeds for teachers to give each of them exactly what they need. Homeschooling, meanwhile, is personal by design.”

“The long-term effects of personalization are equally massive. According to a 2009 study of standardized testing, homeschoolers scored in the 86th percentile. The results held true even when controlling for parents’ income level, amount of education, teaching credentials, and level of state regulation. Research also suggests that homeschooled kids get into college more often and do better once they’re enrolled.”
Check out this series about using Legos to develop 21st-century skills:

 

For ideas on adding more structure to your schedule to allow more time for experiential learning, you may be interested in:

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning Part One

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning Part Two

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Homeschooling: The Road Less Traveled

While reading a book today about life’s critical choices, I was reminded of Robert Frost’s words and immediately thought of our family’s decision to homeschool. It is the road less traveled and that has made all the difference for our family.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

–Robert Frost

Here is a picture of our first day homeschooling several years ago. I pulled my son out of public school March of his kindergarten year. I remember the feeling of freedom and joy to be out in the world learning together as part of their education.

First day of our homeschool journey several years ago.

Some ways it has made all the difference for our family includes:

  • Family Bonds–My kids are best friends. We experience so much life together.  While they do have a tiff every now and then, they generally really enjoy one beach playanother. I observe this same pattern with our homeschool family friends. You just don’t see a lot of bickering amongst siblings in our community. 
  • Love Affair with Books–One of my favorite things about homeschooling is having plenty of time for reading aloud.  We travel on many book journeys together and engage in lots of conversation about what I read aloud. Additionally, we frequent a wide variety of libraries.  The kids are dying to get to one to find more books to bring home for their reading pleasure. Each library has its own personality and unique book selection.
  • Friendships–Our homeschool family friends are incredible people with shared values and vision for how we want to raise our kids. We have a blast doing life with them! I did not experience this same connection when we were in public school.
  • Love of Learning–We are able to learn in a wide variety of environments and from many different people. Yes, I am their teacher for many subjects. However, we are also out learning from park rangers, museum docents, business owners, scientists and more! We learn from passionate parents in our co-op.  We are not confined to one classroom and the same teacher daily. Additionally, I do not teach to a standardized test which can crush a love of learning.
  • Customized Education–I am an entrepreneur for my children’s education. Nimbly, we tailor the curriculum and learning opportunities to their learning styles, passions and our family’s priorities.

How has homeschooling made all the difference for your family?  Please click onto our Facebook page below and let us know. Your words may be encouragement for a family who is considering homeschooling or one wondering if they should stay the course.

Here are a few other links you may enjoy:

Benefits of Experiential Learning

I Like Being with My Kids

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning

 

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What Will You Change in Your Homeschool This Year?

Winston Churchill said, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

You greatly seize upon your homeschool freedoms when you adapt and change. You are not locked into a schedule, curriculum or rules like those in conventional schools.  You don’t have to go through a teacher, principal or bureaucracy to change what is best for your children. You have complete FREEDOM to customize your children’s education as needs and opportunities change. Additionally, change keeps learning and life fresh and exciting. 

You have complete FREEDOM to customize your children’s education as needs and opportunities change.

ferris wheel best day cheer
We took part in a weekly class at Disneyland this year that brought much joy to our family dynamic while also simultaneously being immersed in the creative and innovative genius of The Walt Disney Company.

Here are a few questions to consider:

Do you want to spend more time enjoying your kids?

Are you feeling burnt out?

Did  part of your curriculum often result in tears or frustration?

Do you feel you are are spending a lot of time nagging or being negative?

Would you like more homeschool family friends?

Are you looking to offer a greater variety of learning opportunities outside the home to your kiddos?

Would you like to improve your family dynamic?

Change keeps learning and life fresh and exciting. 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I urge you to evaluate what you should change this year. Now is the time for a fresh start! Talk to your spouse and kids. Ask them what they loved about last year and want to continue and what they did not like. Be in community with other homeschool families and learn from them. Seek out opportunities you never considered before. Pick the brains of parents who have great kids.

Seek out opportunities you never considered before. Pick the brains of parents who have great kids.

Take it from someone who was feeling burnt out about this time last year. I’m glad I made some pretty radical changes. They were a gamble for us but paid off big time on so many levels.   We had our most joyful, inspiring and memorable year yet, and I am now more passionate about homeschooling than ever. A big reason I created The Contemporary Homeschooler is for YOU. I want to share my experiences and insights with you as well as learn from all of you and be in community together learning from one another.

While homeschooling is not always easy, when we learn to adapt we can enjoy much success and happiness.

So I ask you, what will you change this year?

If you would like to learn how we changed our schedule this past year, then check out these posts:

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning Part One

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning Part Two

 

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Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning: Part One

We all want to be out doing this!

 

Instead of this! Math pic for blog 003

So, we need to knock those academics out of the way ASAP so we can have some fun.

Last year, we dramatically changed our schedule by being away from home 3 full days each week so we could be involved in a weekly program at Disneyland, another day sailing and another day at our co-op. This did not include other activities like extra-curriculars, field trips, park days, etc. I wondered how we would ever complete our academics so came up with a plan as a family.

This is a series on how to schedule academics so we have plenty of time to engage with the world. This is what we have done as a family and has worked for us. What type of schedule has worked for you?

  • SET EXPECTATIONS

Before signing up for all the activities, we had a family meeting. The kids had to give their commitment that they would need to be dressed and starting their math at 7:30 AM on days we were to be gone.  They would also do their required history/science reading for 25 minutes in the car en route to our activities. Additionally, they would need to do some math over the weekend. Prior to this, they never had school work on the weekend.

  • CREATE A CHECKLIST

I told my kids what needed to be completed and they used Google Sheets to create their daily check-off list. This had the added benefit of giving them practice with spreadsheets. We will talk about what that schedule looks like in detail in the 2nd post in this series.

  • YEAR-ROUND SCHOOL

We have always done year-round school. However, because we were out 3 days/week last year and plan to do the same in the fall, we are doing a little bit heavier workload over the summer than we did in prior summers. Sure, we take some days off completely and even a week here and there.  A writing composition teacher has come to my house on Fridays giving them assignments to work on each day. That has helped us to stay on track with writing as it is easy for me to skip on that over the summer.

Additionally, it is hot during the summer and crowded with all the conventionally-schooled kids out and about. I’d much rather be knocking out some school work in our air-conditioned house on some of those days and enjoy our beautiful and interesting places with fewer people and better weather.

How do you schedule your academics?

Find Part Two of this series by clicking on the link below:

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning: Part Two

Here were our curriculum choices last school year:

An Example of an Eclectic, Academic Homeschool Curriculum

For ideas on how to design your own writing curriculum:

Designing Your Own Writing Curriculum

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Homeschooling is an Excellent Choice for Making Neuron Connections

While reading aloud today, I came across the  passage below in our  book. After uttering the words, I told the kids that is exactly how we are homeschooling. Experiential-based learning with lots of reading is such a huge part of their education, and I know it is for so many of you. Such a blessing to homeschool where there are abundant opportunities to experience so many different things!

“Though you haven’t gained many neurons since you were born, the connections between the neurons you have continue to form all your life. The more you read and learn and experience, the more connections you’ll have, and the smarter you’ll be!”–Apologia Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology by Jeanne Fulbright and Brook Ryan