Friday, February 08, 2013

Improvisational Teaching

Yesterday I had a situation where several students were playing catch up after absences and the rest of the class had finished a programming exercise sooner than I had expected. It’s always nice being ahead of schedule but it brings up questions. Especially if some students are not up with everyone else. So I asked my students to get creative with the exercise. I asked them to add something to the project beyond the assignment and left the definition of something up to them. I did suggest that making single line if blocks into multiple line blocks would be on possible option. And that is where it got interesting.

Several students did start making multi-line code blocks which was just fine by me. I am happy to see them get more experience with nested if statement which we just covered (its week two of the semester). other students started experimenting a bit more though. One student discovered how to create menus in the GUI (we’re programming using C#, WPF and Visual Studio). I told him that if he prepared a lesson to present to the rest of the class I would give him extra credit. Experience tells me that students learn a lot while preparing to teach something they are interested in to their peers. We’ll see how this goes but I am hopeful to see more of this happening in future weeks.

Another student did the typical beginner move of copy and paste the have the same thing happen ten times. I suggested that loops would be a better way and he started asking questions about looping in C#. I gave him a clue or two and pointed him to his textbook. We’ll be covering loops next week and now I have an example of why to use them from a student project.

Other students asked about things like shutting down an application from a menu item or command button, changing the colors of objects (its different in WPF then Windows Forms which some of them had experience with already), or other GUI details. Students are experimenting with different GUI objects than I have time to cover in class as well.

Over all I am really pleased with the day. Students were finding things that made the project more interesting to them. They were motivated to learn things because they wanted to do something that they chose to do. They were happy. They were learning. And at the same time I was getting insights into the sort of things they want to learn and why they want to learn them. It was a good day.


Ed said...

Awesome!! I did something like that for one of my projects. Except, due to the foundation of the project, changing text color was really difficult. But I figured it out! :D

Learning about bees said...

And that's why you are a great teacher.