What Is A Placemat Instruction? 171

What Is A Placemat Instruction?

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Placemat instructions are a simple, one-page brief for a design challenge that can similarly be used in multiple ways to scaffold student and teacher participation throughout the activity.

The paper rectangle often placed under your meal at a restaurant is great for a quick game of tic-tac-toe, doodling while you wait, or just keeping messy eaters from staining the table below. Placemat instructions are a simple, one-page brief for a design challenge that can similarly be used in multiple ways to scaffold student and teacher participation throughout the activity. Each placemat instruction has five zones: (1) title zone, (2) example zone, (3) building zone, (4) coding zone, and (5) extension zone. An example placemat instruction is shown below.

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Each zone is designed to offer a different level of support for learners.
  • Zone 1 (Title Zone): Prompts students to apply knowledge from STEAM subjects and beyond in constructing their solutions to an engineering design challenge.
  • Zone 2 (Example Zone): Inspires students with three different example ideas about how they could solve the challenge without implying that there is one “correct” solution.
  • Zone 3 (Building Zone): Depicts more detailed images of example solutions to help students who may initially want to replicate an existing build for further iteration or need some hints for getting started.
  • Zone 4 (Coding Zone): Provides students with an example code that they can use to get started and shares ideas for how to modify that code to help students
  • Zone 5 (Extension Zone): Gives teachers and students ideas of where to go next once they have completed the challenge.


Want to learn more?

The format for placemat instructions is the result of multiple years of classroom testing and iteration. You can read more about placemat instruction and some of the research being conducted at the following links:
Blog LEGO® Education Educator Tips and Tricks 10/27/2021 9:00am EDT

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2 Comments

That is great idea 💡 Thanks for sharing

Will lego provide us with a couple of placemat instructions that can be used in class? I think that it would be helpful to have a couple to use and build ideas off of for my own placemat instructions.

Hi Robert. There are a few placemat instructions (aka: Activity Briefs) on the website here: SPIKE Prime Support | Everything You Need | LEGO® Education.

We've got a post coming up in this content series with more detail on creating your own as well. If you do build on these ideas and create your own placemat instructions, I'm sure other educators would love to see them. You can always share on the discussion page.