Monday, March 3, 2008


On Tuesday, we played the "guess a number game" where the kids thought of a number and I tried to guess it. We played several times and demonstrated experimentally that a binary search is more efficient than random guessing. (Barely! Sometimes random is more efficient, if you get it on the first try!)

Then we built the binary search algorithm in a flowchart, then I showed them the program. All that was good - we covered important ground. The students were Very Glad that I wasn't making them write the guessing game program, though, since they thought it was boring.

In class, they told me they've already used a website that randomly generates Shakespearean insults. So while they thought the project idea was kind of neat, and definitely better than the guess a number game, they were not as excited as I'd hoped. I pointed out that this was a program they would write themselves, but a number of them are just as happy using someone else's work rather than do the work themselves.

Then, and here is where the organization part comes in, we didn't get as far as I'd hoped in class. They got more confused by conditionals than I'd expected. So I slowed down and gave them an interim assignment, to finish a small program with a conditional in it.

The little conditional program is very similar to the Shakespearean insult program they're about to be assigned. I'm comforting myself that it is scaffolding, and for the students who need it, that is true. But for the students who are really bright, they're going to be bored.

I need to focus on being more organized, providing solid stopping points, and having very clear assignments that are logical. I wish I'd stopped earlier on Tuesday and given them a small assignment. Then we could have gone through conditionals on Thursday and assigned the Shakespeare thing on Tuesday.

Oh well. Better luck this week!

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