We have all heard the words, “don’t give up!” It is a constant reminder to keep going, to persevere in tough situations and when things aren’t working well, try again.  Frequently, students in my programming class get frustrated when working on a project and debugging code. As a teacher, how do you keep them inspired to work through their challenges?

I struggle with this thought when I see expressions of defeat on some of their faces after working on code that keeps producing errors. Some students will dig deeper and truly use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to find an answer, but others may give up, convinced that they just can’t do it.

As part of the new MA Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards, teachers are required to use lessons that allow students to use their “critical thinking and problem solving skills.” These skills are usually embedded in their daily teaching environment, but there is no guarantee that students use them effectively to attain their goals.

How do we motivate learners to use these skills and not give up when they are challenged with a difficult task?

Motivating learners is a key element in teaching and we are well versed on all the methods to introduce topics and start lessons with attention-grabbing techniques. But after we wow them with our “essential questions,” eye-catching videos, and icebreaker games, how do we keep them focused to use those critical thinking skills to solve a problem?

(Next page: An assignment that turns students into teachers–with success!)


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