First, the students get into groups of three. If you have more than three group members, it can get to be too many hands or one person winds up simply sitting and watching the others. I assign tasks: recorder, designer, and contractor. The students decide in their groups who will complete each task.
After the jobs have been chosen, I tell the students they have a very important job to do today; they have to design and construct a functional item with their LEGOS, but they also have to write very detailed instructions for other groups in the classroom to be able to rebuild it using only the instructions. You can immediately see their eyes light up! It is great! Those wheels are already turning, and they cannot wait for me to quit talking so they can get busy.
I have a classroom helper hand each group their buckets of LEGOS. The students can only work with the pieces they are given. The groups dump their pieces out in their assigned work areas. (Now, this is the part where my "everything has to be clean and tidy" characteristic has to take a backseat and let those little pieces scatter everywhere.)
Each student assumes his/her role. The recorder has the hardest job in my opinion because this person has to document every piece and sometimes those pieces change and the instructions have to be changed as well. The designer has to come up with the idea and tell the recorder step-by-step what pieces are being used and how they are being used.
The contractor gets to put the pieces together to see if it is all going to fit together. The designer works closely with the contractor and makes changes if needed. The recorder is still frantically trying to write down all they are doing.
The students work to make sure their item works properly and will serve a function.
This is a finished product. This group built a garage with a ramp to park their utility vehicle. I believe they used all but seven pieces out of the the ones they were given.
One thing that I love about this writing activity is the students are all fully engaged and participating. I have never had a student not want to participate in this activity. After each group is finished, the new items are taken apart. The recorder writes or types a final instruction manual. On the next day, the groups exchange buckets of LEGOS and instuction manuals. They construct another group's item to see if the instructions match the item.
It is a wonderful writing activity, and it is definitely an activity the students continue to talk about all year. What methods do you use to motivate your students to write?
I hope everyone has a HAPPY FRIDAY!