Week 3 Robotics

Week 3: To what extent should we allow students to figure things out for themselves?

To what extent should we allow students to figure things out for themselves? I think you should give as much extent to the kids as possible to figure things out themselves. I think students will learn much more when they figure things out themselves. If we always rescue students from getting frustrated them they will not be able to handle situations where they have to figure things out on their own and they don’t have a teacher to fall back on.

Sydney Berman from the article, “What Is The value Of Letting Students Struggle” writes, “My position was that acquiring vocabulary is more meaningful when students do it themselves in context with what they’re reading and that learning to use resources available to them is more important than any particular vocabulary word.” I agree with her. I think learning to use resources if very important and it is a skill they need to know how to use throughout their school years. She also points out that if material is not assessable to students that they give up easy. I have seen this first hand in my classroom with assignments. A student will ask to know what something means. I tell them to look it up in the dictionary and they don’t want to. They want the answer right now. She also makes a good point about students more accustomed to struggling have the skills to tackle new material and less likely to give up.

It appears that in the interests of having students succeed, we sometimes spoon-fed our students too much information and ask for little in return (Seely, 2009). I see this with our students know and I am guilty of it as well. I often spoon feed my students because I want to make sure that they understand the directions and are not confused. I give them step-by-step directions and often do it with them so they can follow along. I don’t want my students to get frustrated and give up. I know I am helping some students but also disabling some students as well by taking away the challenge of figuring out things for themselves. So the question is when do I let them struggle and when do I guide them?

Seely (2009) writes, “The business community tells us the ability and willingness to tackle a problem that is not easily solved is one of the most important traits in the twenty century.” I want my students to be ready for the business world when they graduate. I need to find constructive struggling where I provide questions but not give them the answers. I need to let my students struggle some.

I know first hand that struggling helps the students to learn more and appreciate their learning more. When I first started my technology classes everything was new for me, from creating a blog, twitter, creating an infographic, and other assignments that I did. I was struggling and getting frustrated. Lee helped me but she was not there to show me. I had to struggle and figure things out for myself. It took awhile but I did not give up and finally figured it out. I was so proud of myself and now see the value of struggling. I just need to take what I learned and bring it in my classroom so my students can see the value of struggling. I want them to struggle some not because I don’t care about them and want to see them frustrated but because I do and believe they can accomplish it and succeed. Once they succeed they will have the greatest feeling of accomplishment and that is what I want for my students.

References

Seeley, C. (2009). Constructive Struggling. Retrieved May 31, 2015, from http://www.mathsolutions.com/documents/9781935099031_message17.pdf

Martinez, S., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Torrance, Calif.: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

What is the value of letting students struggle in class? Teachers answer. (2015). Retrieved May 29, 2015, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/04/21/what-is-the-value-of-letting-students-struggle-in-class-teachers-answer/

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6 thoughts on “Week 3 Robotics

  1. I agree with you that students need to learn to struggle and find information on their own. Like your example of learning new things with technology and your sense of accomplishment. During our maker space hangout on Wednesday I couldn’t get the parallel circuit to light up, so I tried and tried and moved stuff around and read through the book, then decided before I make myself mad to move on. I took a break from it, then Lee made the parallel circuit and I figured I needed to try it again. I started over and created the parallel circuit and finally it worked. As educators we need to teach these types of skills, how to take breaks from what is frustrating us or move on and go back to it. I also think that we need to celebrate students’ perseverance, especially with young students. They need to know that we are acknowledging that the task was complicated but they were able to over come it and learn from it.

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    1. I think that is a very important skill for them to know that at times they are going to get frustrated and that is ok. To let them know it happens to all of us and when that happens sometimes the best thing to do is to step away from it for awhile then come back to it. I think if we told them our stories of how we got frustrated with our classses and what we did then they can see that it happens to all of us.

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  2. I like how you pointed out that materials need to be accessible to students. You are right. Learning to use resources is very important. A math professor of mine said he puts us in groups to work on problems because in real life you hardly ever have to solve a problem in isolation. The same can be said about resources. Teaching students how to use resources to solve problems is an important life skill. I don’t know how many times someone will ask me for tech help and if I don’t know the answer I will ask if they “googled it”. Truth is, my tech skills aren’t any better than theirs. I just know how to find answers and try things out.
    It’s painful to see some students struggle. I am so guilty of spoon-feeding my student too much information. I need to work on this area because like you said, struggling helps them appreciate learning more.

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  3. It’s interesting that when we rescue or spoon-feed students that it’s because WE ourselves have difficulty with their struggle; we worry that they will give up and might even see that as a personal failure on our part. Your last two sentences stood out for me:
    “I want them to struggle some not because I don’t care about them and want to see them frustrated but because I do and believe they can accomplish it and succeed. Once they succeed they will have the greatest feeling of accomplishment and that is what I want for my students.”
    It may be that we can be more transparent to students about our desire for them to succeed through the struggle. Now, I know if I was struggling and someone stood there telling me that they aren’t going to help me because they want me to succeed, I might feel like punching them. 🙂 So fostering a learning culture early in the year that embraces mistakes and struggle as part of the process could be more helpful for you and the students. Helping them to self-assess their independence as learners can help them to see their progress in much the same way that you do. If they can see how much more confident and self-reliant they are after a semester, compared to the beginning of the year, they might start to believe it too! 🙂

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    1. Yes I agree with you on that we ourselves have difficulties with their struggles.I know I hate to see when they struggle. That is true that this learning culture needs to start at the beginning of the year. Yes I would feel the same way about punching someone in the face. LOL!

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