Monday, November 28, 2011

Blocks Help Build Student Learning

Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
Technology has revolutionized the world of education. How students learn and what they learn is constantly changing, but that doesn’t mean that educators should throw out everything they’ve ever done in the classroom. Blocks, yes blocks are making as much of an impact as ever in the learning of young children. So why not combine the two?

Yesterday, Kyle Spencer of The New York Times published an article filled with the positive effects of blocks in today’s classroom. Block building is not about occupying time or finding a way to get kids away from a computer screen. Blocks are about exploration.

Jean Schreiber, a self-described “block consultant,” advised a group of parents to engage their children in building by photographing their work. “Don’t rush to help them with structural challenges,” she said. “You don’t have to ask them a million questions. Just sit with them and notice.”

Jessica Thies, a teacher at Chapin School on the Upper East Side, said her students photographed their block extravaganzas with one of the school’s iPads. Last year, they made a documentary about blocks using a Flip video camera and edited it during computer class. “It is very low-tech/high-tech here,” Ms. Thies said.

Sasha Wilson, co-director of the four-year-old Bronx Community Charter School, said his faith in blocks was solidified by a struggling second grader’s actions after an apple-picking field trip. “She went to the block corner and built an incredibly complex structure, a tractor engine, and she was able to talk about how all the parts moved,” Mr. Wilson recalled. He said he told his staff a few days later: “We need to be looking at this student in a very different way.”

Blocks may just be one more tool we can use to help students learn.
What do you think?

Read The NY Times article here.

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