“So who did their homework this week?”
“I did but I left it at home.”
In my first block, only two of the 30 students had their lego-language homework to turn in. I honestly wasn’t sure what to do at this point. If this were a class of undergrads, I’d admonish them for not coming to my office hours or emailing me if they didn’t understand the assignment and give them all zeros. But these are eighth graders. I don’t exactly have office hours they can attend, and I’m not sure they would think to email me to ask questions. The fact that an overwhelming majority didn’t do the assignment means they either conspired to test whether I was serious or, far more likely, they didn’t understand how to do it.
This was a bit surprising to me, since my perception was that the first block understood my lesson the best. Mrs. Trauthwein was frustrated as she had been reminding them all week to do my homework. In the end we decided to give extra points to those that turned it in that day, and extend the assignment by a week for everyone else. I then threw together a quick example of what I was looking for, in the form of a program to build the word ‘HI’ in lego bricks, which we worked through as a class.
Before going through the ‘HI’ example, I put the code up and asked them all to sketch what they thought it would look like when built. One of my students said: “it’s going to be flat, because the second coordinate is always zero”. What an amazingly astute observation! Maybe all was not lost! We also discussed different ways to define the coordinates, in search of something that was more intuitive to them.
My later blocks had better completion rates. Roughly half the students in each class turned in something. It turns out quite a few students didn’t do their regular math homework that day either, so maybe this isn’t out of the ordinary.