Whether it is teaching statistics, software design or writing, I think you need to remember that everything is easier once you’ve done it a bunch of times. I was talking to a couple of teachers I know about the software design project we are doing with a couple of local high schools. The students have very good ideas about improving the games, and I’ve been taking notes on their comments as they play.
While this is helpful for our company, this is a class for which students receive a technology credit. Not only do they need some tangible proof of their participation but as a teacher, I strongly believe learning to write in a professional setting is a valuable skill.
One teacher suggested to me using sentence starters, like,
I’d improve the characters by …
Another teacher suggested giving examples for each type of recommendation students could make. Her point was that as experts WE know what we are talking about but students are often unsure of our expectations and how to meet them. When students ask for an example, they aren’t being lazy, they are trying to understand what they are supposed to produce.
Following this advice, while they were playing the games last week, I gave each student 3 cards, each with a sentence like, “A new challenge for the character would be”
The result was a change from none of the students providing any written feedback to 80% of them, and their suggestions were creative, specific, detailed and helpful.
So, I’d say the exercise was a success. It was also really easy. I bought a pack of business card stock at Staples, pasted the sentence starter and, in some cases, example, over and over. Hit print and I was ready for class. I don’t know if the students had fun writing their ideas but I had fun reading them.
Check out the games students are playing here. Buy for yourself or donate to a school.