Dexter Park teacher seeking grant for LEGO use in classroom
Dezarray Murray, Tyler Chapman, Keagan Sicotte, Landen Cortright and Autumn Wright use LEGOs to learn multiplication with teacher Jayne Fleck on Friday at the Dexter Park school in Orange Elementary.
Dezarray Murray, Anthony Morse and Sammy Cardona use legos to learn multiplication with teacher Jayne Fleck at the Dexter Park School of Orange Elementary on Friday.
ORANGE — Jayne Fleck is a special education teacher for third- and fourth-grade students at Dexter Park. Recently, she started a hands-on way to get her students excited about and in engaged in learning through the use of Legos. Fleck says she saw the positive results right away when she used the blocks to teach a fractions unit in class.
“One of the children had what I call a light bulb moment,” Fleck says.
Each student had a flat Lego plate and attached 16 Lego blocks to the plate to make their whole. Then, removing eight of the pieces from the plate, she demonstrated the remaining blocks would be their half and removing four more blocks would be a quarter.
“I have two nephews who are Lego addicts,” says Fleck, who has a master’s degree from Lesley University. “I was actually online looking for gifts for them when I saw Lego and Education on the Lego website and started reading through it. I thought it would be perfect because it’s so hands-on.”
Fleck says as she started using the Legos for the math lesson in class the students immediately took interest, unlike if she had tried to do the lesson as a lecture.
“The kids were trying to figure it out,” she says.
The girls and boys, equally engaged and working with the Legos and Fleck, learned about fractions, probability and number sense. Using different colors for addition and subtraction, Fleck would pose a problem.
“If I have three red and add two blue, what’s my total?” she asked. “It’s visual, they can see it. The more visual it is, the better off they (the students) are.”
Fleck has a special needs stepson and struggled with learning disabilities herself growing up. She is always looking for the best way to get her students to absorb lessons. In researching the Lego Education Program further, after her initial success, she found the website education.lego.com, geared specifically towards educators and classrooms. Fleck says she approached her school principal, Jennifer Haggarty, with the concept and was given full support to go after a grant to fund Lego use in her classroom.
Fleck’s dream is to incorporate different activity packs available through Lego to develop cross-curricular learning. Some activity packs are available for language arts so students can build and then write stories about their creations. Another is a Wild Animal Activity Pack with a social studies tie-in. The cost for the Lego classroom packs range from $100 to $500, depending on number of students and educational focus. Lego also has certified instructors to go into the classrooms and work with the teachers and students to implement the program.
Preparing for the grant writing process, Fleck who is currently in her 10th year of teaching at Dexter Park, has enrolled in an “Intro to Grant Writing” course at Mount Wachussett Community College. She hopes to apply for the appropriate grants next year and is devoted to seeing the idea come to fruition.
“I know once the other third- and fourth-grade teachers see this in my classroom, they’ll want to use it in the Common Core curriculum. Since right now it’s just a pipe dream, I haven’t really spoken to them about it.”
Fleck says she’s very passionate about making the dream a reality and that it would be a triple win because students will learn, teachers will educate and it won’t cost the district additional funds.