Repeated Failure (with a dash of success)

The year is only a few weeks old, but failure and I have become pretty good friends.  In the past week or so, I’ve crashed and burned (repeatedly) at teaching longitude and latitude to 7th graders, re-furbishing old computers, and showing middle school newbies how to share their work on google docs.  Along the way though, I’ve learned a great deal.  And I think my students can now share a document about locating cities by their coordinates on a beat down computer running Linux – it just took a while.

A few weeks ago, Scott McLeod posted a slide that said something about how paper maps were stupid (summarized).  It received quite a reaction.  I didn’t comment on it, but I can say, for sure, that success (in my class) with longitude and latitude was not achieved solely with Google Earth or any other electronic map.  Though these tools (and another game) were good supplements, I didn’t reach the students who struggled the most until I had a small group tutoring session during study hall one day.  We used the same laminated maps and markers that we’d been using the previous 3 days in class, but the group shrunk to 4 instead of 15.  It took some individual attention with the simplest tools to get the point across – not an electronic map.

The story was pretty much the same for the computers I tried to resurrect with Linux (see Adventures with Linux).  Repeated failures eventually led to some breakthroughs and I got some re-furbished computers up and running in my room.  As for the docs tutorials that misfired on my first attempt, it only served as a reminder that students don’t really get things until they use them – several times.


One thought on “Repeated Failure (with a dash of success)

  1. Ha! I started reading your post and immediately thought of a game for your students. Then I read on and found you used it with them!

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