A lesson for Losers!

For the past few weeks I’ve been teaching a bunch of losers, and they’ve loved it!

I’d say the hardest challenge for me when teaching computing is the resilience and determination of the kids. They just don’t have it. They give up all to easily, and want to have the answers or solutions spoon fed to them. It’s a weekly battle I seem to rage to get the kids troubleshooting and problem solving for themselves. In my opinion this is something that seems to be getting worse year on year. I’m not sure what it is, but it does seem to be getting worse!

So this week I planned some of my lessons around the children being losers for the day! I planned activities I knew they wouldn’t be able to achieve on the first attempt, and yet they could see that it was achievable with some work and grit.

I’ve started doing this with my year 6 kids. They’re a challenging bunch at the moment, they’re starting to get SATS-itus, so I’m trying to make their lessons a bit different and engaging to keep them on side. For the past few weeks we have been playing with the BitBot attachment for the Microbit. It’s a great little piece of kit if you can get your hands on a few, recommend from me!

bitbot blurred

Their challenge was to navigate a maze on the floor by programming the BitBot. Genius in its simplicity as it only takes 3 blocks of code to do. Start, Move forward and turn. The tricky part comes when they have to work out how long it goes forward for, or how long it turns for. This lead to investigations and trials by the children, but more importantly it lead to failures. They got it wrong. Again and again! Perfect! Each time they had a go at the maze they lost, evaluated the mistake, and went back to the computer to try and rectify it. The learning and buzz in the room was great to see and the kids became more and more determined to beat my puzzle. And that right there is the beauty of the activity. It’s wasn’t hard to program or complex in it’s coding, but it was infuriating an challenging for the kids, and pushed them out of their little bubbles. They

This activity was also perfect for my kids to take part in something we have been trialling more at our school, Peer Coaching. They worked in pairs on the challenge and this really helped them. They were able to talk through the problems in their code, ask questions, and build relationships with the children in their class. It goes beyond paired programming, and really pushes the children to develop themselves as coaches for the other children in their class.

Click on the tweet below to see the maze in action!

After a few weeks or running similar activities I have started to see an impact in my lessons. At first the kids found this HARD to adapt to and get on with. Their immediate response was to ask for help, or have a defeatist attitude when it didn’t work first time. After some coaching and tough love they’re starting to come out of the other side with this activity. They know that they can ask for the answer, but they also know I’m just going to tell them to go and work it out for themselves! As part of this whole process I’m trying to use some key vocab that goes along with it, I feel like I need a sound box that shouts Troubleshooting and Debugging otherwise I’m going to lose my voice! The tricky part for me has also been working out whether they need help because they don’t know what they’re doing, or whether it’s just them being lazy and wanting me to do it for them!

I’d love to hear some feedback from you all on your opinion of resilience in your pupils. Is it as low as I think, or am I going mad? What strategies do you use to overcome this? Comment and share!!

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