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FAQ and Technical Support

  • The BuildToExpress Teaching Process
  • A: BuildToExpress is a groundbreaking teaching process that combines a facilitative teaching method with hands-on manipulatives. The technique engages students in higher-order thinking by combining LEGO® model building with open-ended questions.

  • A: The best way to measure the success of BuildToExpress is to allow the administrators and teachers who are actually implementing the process to share their own stories. Here are some quotes from those who are experiencing the results of implementing this groundbreaking method.

  • A: Students are tasked with building models to illustrate their under-standing of various curriculum concepts – how they “see” a character in a book or how they visualize a historic event. This process of hands-on building combined with dialogue and reflection enables students to develop a deeper understanding of what they are learning.

  • A: It’s also an excellent way to boost classroom communication as the process levels the playing field and requires all students to take an active role, not just those who are already comfortable speaking out. With BuildToExpress, students learn from one another, think creatively, and cooperate to solve problems.

  • A: LEGO Education BuildToExpress is based on the LEGO SERIOUS® PLAY™ process, which was initially developed as a business tool for enhancing performance, improving strategic planning, managing successful projects, and building better teams. The program’s goal was to foster creative thinking through building metaphors of organizational identities and experiences using LEGO bricks.

  • A: In 2009, LEGO Education and a team of educational psychologists transformed LEGO SERIOUS PLAY into a program tailored for Elementary and Middle school. The process combines a unique teaching methodology with hands-on manipulatives, and the objectives are the same – to foster creative thinking and teamwork within the classroom environment across curriculum areas while focusing on a facilitation process that enables deeper student reflection and constructive dialogue. This combined effort resulted in a teaching process, professional development program, and a specially formulated set of LEGO bricks now known as LEGO Education BuildToExpress.

  • A: Schools that have implemented the program report that they have successfully integrated BuildToExpress across a variety of subject areas including social studies, science, mathematics, literacy, technology, English as a second language, character development, leadership, and conflict resolution, just to name a few.

  • BuildToExpress in the Classroom
  • A: A typical BuildToExpress classroom session takes about 45-50 minutes to complete. This allows enough time for the students to both build and share their thoughts on the subject at hand. Additionally, classroom structure and management is a topic covered through the professional development course. Our trainers will work with individual teachers to find a solution that fits their schedule.

  • A: On the BuildToExpress Guide and Activity Pack there are 30 ready-made curriculum activities. They are build up as 4-step challenge cards, which in itself secures a good process for teachers and students.

  • A: It is a basic rule that everyone participates in the process by building their answer to the Building Challenge and sharing what they have built through telling others about the model.

    It could be that some students have not understood clearly enough at the outset that BuildToExpress is all about expressing yourself, and a reminder of this might help. However, it is very important to let the BuildToExpress process grow on the students – they need to get used to this way of using the bricks, and they also need to get used to expressing themselves and expressing something personal.

    We suggest that you continue to encourage and show interest in students who are not yet giving personal responses. Experience shows that students will get used to BuildToExpress at different paces, but that they will all find a voice through their own models after a period of time, if the program is implemented consistently.

  • A: Yes, you can adapt the wording to fit your needs and class level. However, please note the guidelines for creating your own Challenge Cards (see the “Challenge Card Creator” section of this material), and follow these “best practice” recommendations.

  • Where to use BuildToExpress
  • A: BuildToExpress has been implemented not only across many subject areas but also in a wide variety of classrooms. Many of the schools have incorporated it into regular education settings, special education settings, upper grades, lower grades, and even a little bit into kindergarten. We have seen successful integration into gifted and talented classes, English as a second language courses, and foreign language courses, and we have even had counselors use it for behavioral management.

  • A: The BuildToExpress process is very flexible and can be adapted to meet the specific needs of any class. However, the method is particularly useful in learning situations where you want to enhance reflection and discussion. BuildToExpress has been used in both Special Needs education and Gifted and Talented Education, as well as in standard classroom teaching.

  • A: The BuildToExpress process can actually been used with students all the way up to the graduate level. The most important component of making it effective is ensuring the building challenge and questions regarding the models are at the appropriate grade level and used in a context where both the students and the instructor remain engaged.

  • A: The BuildToExpress process can be effective with special-needs stu-dents depending on their ability level. Students who are able to ma-nipulate the LEGO pieces and who can verbally communicate their thoughts will experience success with this process.

  • The BuildToExpress Set
  • A: The LEGO bricks in each BuildToExpress Set have carefully been se-lected to provide a broad spectrum of “ready-made-metaphors.” The bricks, colors and Minifigures inspire students and stimulate their creative thinking and imagination. This allows you, the teacher, to create an ideal environment for learning and discussion.

  • A: The LEGO bricks are crucial to the BuildToExpress process because they are used by students to make their thoughts and ideas visible and tangible in 3-D models. The bricks enable the students to fulfill their need to construct something external to themselves in order to learn about it.

  • A: No, each student should have his/her own BuildToExpress Set. The reason for this is that each student should have the same starting point as their fellow students when they begin building their responses to the Building Challenges posed. Getting exactly the same sets of bricks will help the students relax in the knowledge that they have all the bricks they need to build their responses.

  • A: Experience shows that when there are bricks available for sharing, students become concerned about bricks that they think they need (and that the other students have found) rather than about responding to the Building Challenge. Thus, extra piles of bricks for sharing between the students remove the focus from the Building Challenge and onto the bricks.

  • BuildToExpress Training
  • A: The material on this Guide and Activity Pack is designed to give you the guidelines and support you need to use LEGO Education BuildToExpress successfully in your classroom, experiencing the typical BuildToExpress learning outcomes with the students. We predict that as you and the students gain practice and experience with the process, you will discover more and more benefits of the approach.

  • A: Teachers may also find it useful to attend a face-to-face training course, either before using BuildToExpress or to take their skills to a higher level after some experience of using the method. In some countries, training courses are offered through local LEGO Edu-cation dealers.

  • A: These courses comprise one day of face-to-face training with a LEGO Education certified BuildToExpress Teacher Trainer, and are designed to optimize your skills in your role as the facilitator of a fruitful learning process using BuildToExpress. Building on the material in the Guide and Activity Pack, the courses provide participants with a profound insight into BuildToExpress and how the process can be used to achieve a wide variety of teaching and learning goals.

  • BuildToExpress Assessment
  • A: The way you choose to have your students’ document their work with BuildToExpress depends on the purpose you have for using BuildToExpress in the particular learning process. Often, students will use their models from the “Conclude” build, to explain to others in the class, what they have talked about in their group. Sometimes it makes sense for the learning process, to have the students take pictures of their own models and write explanations about the main parts of the model on the photograph (using speech bubbles, for example). These annotated photographs of the models will then be kept together with the other documentation the students keep of that particular learning process.

    In project-based teaching, the BuildToExpress models could often form part of an exhibition about the students’ work on the project – and the meanings of the models would again need to be presented in one way or another. Printing photographs of the models with explanations about their most important features could be one way to present them. Another way might be to show the actual models, and have the students write important keywords on small labels placed next to them. Some teachers post the digital pictures onto the classroom blog/web page. That way, the students can show their work to their parents and share the story again, which helps parents understand the process. It also helps students to do more than say that they ”played with LEGO bricks” today at school, and it reinforces the topic.

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