Saturday, April 30, 2016

Let Students Struggle

Image by Krissy Venosdale

Last week I visited one of our third grade classes and we used the chromebooks to code using Scratch.  I showed the kiddos a few things as they had used Scratch before to code our LEGO WeDo creations.  When I let the students go, I told them they would have to play and figure things out, and help each other.  I also informed them that their teacher and I would not be able to help them as they worked.  What ensued was interesting and provided a learning experience for all.

It took the students about 15 minutes of working on their own to start getting up and looking at other students' creations.  They were trying to be sneaky like they would get in trouble for moving and working together.  A few students came over to the teacher and I and asked questions.  I had prompted the teacher to say, "I don't know, go figure it out."  It was difficult for her to say and difficult for her students to hear.  I would back up the teacher by telling the student to go ask a friend/classmate.

The room started getting louder as the students shared and helped and worked together, with the exception of one student Greg.  Greg was a gifted student who was used to getting the answer to things quickly and without much effort.  Greg happens to be friends with my son so I knew I could push him.  He came over and asked for help from his teacher a few times and she told him to go figure it out and/or get help from another student.  From across the room I noticed Greg had had enough.  When I walked up, his chromebook was closed and he informed me that he was logged out.  So I started my questions.  Greg, you're done, you give up?  He replied with a long well...  I smiled and said, "okay, put the chromebook away and get other work out.  I'm surprised Greg, I know you and I know you can do this, but it is your choice."  As I walked away, he called out, "I can log back on..."

I walked around looking at what the students were creating and within 10 minutes, Greg ran over with his chromebook and showed me his animation and it was awesome.  I gave Greg a little pep talk reminding him that because he did this on his own, he would now remember.  I wanted to teach him to fish not give him the fish and he figured it out.

There are times that we all need to let students struggle and balancing the fine line of persevering rather than giving up.  If I had not known Greg, I probably would have been more helpful by asking guiding questions.  You also need to know your students and when to jump in to keep them going rather than giving up.

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