My usual bag of tricks has not been extremely successful at my new school, especially in my engineering classes. I didn’t bank on the fact that middle/high schoolers don’t want to appear interested even if they are – and most things that I have to share with them are apparently not even worth sitting around and appearing disinterested, judging by the steady stream of students asking to go to the bathroom.
I even tried the Hour of Code with a group. But nothing I said could convince them that making games might be just as, if not more, fun than playing them.
It has definitely been a bit humbling. Sometimes depressing. Often humiliating. I’m still trying to convince a lot of these students they can trust me, and they become immediately suspicious whenever I introduce something new into the mix.
Our high school students went on a trip last week, so the 8th graders were stuck with me. I assumed (correctly) that they were not going to want to “work” (their current tortuous project is to design something in Tinkercad) while their classmates were kayaking. So, I decided to try a BreakoutEdu with them.
I chose a fairly simple challenge since I knew most of the students had never done one before. And I dangled the idea of a reward at the end. (A couple of chocolate candy Kisses)
I had two goals for them: collaboration and perseverance.
As I set them free to look for clues, I waited with bated breath for the inevitable, “This is too hard,” or, “This is boring.”
It didn’t happen.
The challenge took them about 30 minutes. Nobody fought. Nobody gave up. Nobody surreptitiously kept taking out a phone to check Snapchat.
And no one asked to go to the bathroom.
After they finished, and we were reflecting as a class, one student said, “This is a great way to learn. Every teacher should do this!”
But the kicker came from one of my other students, someone who always tries to figure out what’s in it for her before she applies any effort.
“Can we do this again?” she asked. “And you don’t even have to give us a reward,” she promised me. As she popped a candy Kiss into her mouth.
Now. That. Is. Huge.
For my first post on BreakoutEdu, click here.