Chasing the Fun Factor

Yesterday, a student informed me that class was no longer fun. Admittedly, I had changed the format to allow students greater choice in their projects.

Some students had expressed that they like the ability to choose what work needed done. But one brave student spoke up to share their uneasiness and I truly appreciated it.

When I gave the students a choice of project, I also moved to a high-score style points-accumulation method. That created for some, the sense of a looming deadline on the horizon which resulted in paralysis.

It made me realize some students need the freedom to choose WITHIN a smaller context. Then today another class mentioned that they really like working through Codecademy which only confirmed what I had recently learned. There, students can choose the topics of study (and one has switched mid-stream already) but everything is broken into bite-size pieces.

As I continue to develop my curriculum map for next year, I'm going to allow students to choose their projects but only give them limited choices in a shorter time frame.

View my current class framework.
View the beginnings of a modified class framework.

Redesign, Redux, Rewind

Sometimes an idea just doesn't pan out. Sometimes people lose interest. Redesigning to remain relevant is a major part of staying on the front edge. This is why Facebook continues to redesign homepage layouts, Twitter adds video feeds and no one uses an original iPhone anymore.

And so it is that I realize the longer projects have lost their luster. Perhaps it's a symptom of Spring or just that senioritis is starting to kick in. Either way, I need to shake up the programming class to keep everyone focused and accountable. That is why, starting immediately, we will switch over to

The students should already be familiar with this site. They will be able to log in with various personal accounts. They may work through any track that looks interesting. But I am requiring they earn at least 20 points a day, minimum (and minimum effort is not an "A"). Because the work lives on a web site, I know there will be days when someone thinks they can catch up later, but the reality is that they never do. A job half done is a job not done.

Each day students will share their point total with me and I will update their score. My goal is to keep a running current total so everyone can see exactly where they are and what needs to be done. If you have any questions, or want to share your own Codecademy scores, please don't hesitate to call.