A quick Google search returns a definition of persistence as “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.”
In Mrs. Visocchi’s fourth grade classroom, we say that persistence is,
Trying again and again, even when something is very hard.
Students begin coding lessons believing that learning the language or commands is the essence of their work. As our work progresses, they are begin to understand that the true challenge is determining what actions you need to have occur in order to solve a problem, not assigning commands to those actions.
Whether making their “angry bird” navigate a maze or filling the screen with a colorful design, students need to go through a series of steps in order to be successful.
Step 1: Understand the puzzle
Step 2: Create a Plan
Step 3: Perform and Perfect the Plan
Step 4: Check your work
And along the way, they will fail. And fail again. But with persistence and thoughtful application of strategies, they will move closer and closer to success.
On Tuesday, we put away our iPads and spent some time looking at how we address failure and persist in finding solutions. Given gumdrops and toothpicks, students were tasked with building a structure that would support two social studies textbooks.
And they failed. And failed again. But with each new iteration, students worked on their teamwork and problem-solving skills. While no group managed to meet the goal by the end of the period, every team made significant improvements in their designs and were able to reflect on what went wrong and what might work better.
These are the skills we will bring into their debugging as the puzzles and tasks increase in difficulty. These are also the skills we will continue to emphasize across disciplines and hope students will bring to problem-solving from math, to science, to social interactions, and beyond.