#uasrobotics Week 3

Essential Question:  To what extent should we allow students to figure things out for themselves?

This week’s essential questions comes down to knowing and understanding your student’s strengths and weaknesses. To what extent should we allow students to figure things out for themselves? I would argue that it depends on the individual student and what is being “figured out”. I have worked with many students who have the never give up attitude and thrive on figuring things out for themselves (in certain subject areas). I have also worked with students who work hard, but then at some point hit a wall in their frustration level, then they shut down and become unwilling to work on anything with or without my help. My point is as an educator I need to be able to make the decisions about how much I can let my students struggle in class. I am in the classroom as a facilitator, coach, and mentor. It is my job to scaffold for students who need it and some students may need a lot, some my need very little, and some may think they need help even when I know they are more than capable of figuring it out on their own. As stated by Weimer (2014), “When they [students] have to come up with examples, answers, or solutions, that’s more work than being told by the teacher, and there’s the added stress of not knowing whether the examples are good, the answers are right, or the solutions correct.”

In the article Does Teaching Kids To Get ‘Gritty’ Help Them Get Ahead? Tovia Smith offers advice for changing student mindsets and helping teach perseverance. According to Smith (2014), “The focus is always more on putting out effort than on getting the right answers. Teachers have been trained to change the way they see students, and how they speak to them.” If educators truly want to help teach their students “grit” or perseverance it needs to be a process set up from the first day of school and students need to be aware that they may struggle and fail. Also teachers need to explicitly praise students’ hard work and effort (Smith, 2014). According to Weimer (2014), “Weaning students from their dependence on teachers is a developmental process.” It’s an important skill for students to learn to figure things out for themselves, but it has to done developmentally and gradually into the classroom environment, so students don’t feel like they are being set up for failure.


Edutopia. (2014, April 29). Grit curriculum lesson: The perseverance walk. Retrieved June 2, 2014 from http://www.edutopia.org/research-made-relevant-grit-perseverance-walk-video?utm_source=youtube&utm_medium=endslate&utm_content=video&utm_campaign=grit

Edutopia. (2014, April 29). Grit curriculum lesson: The perseverance walk. [Video] Retrieved June 2, 2014 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=13&v=F6BZ-boSKts

Martinez, S., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

McDade, M. (2013, February 21). Children learn better when they figure things out for themselves. Retrieved June 2, 2014 from http://news.psu.edu/story/265620/2013/02/21/society-and-culture/children-learn-better-when-they-figure-things-out

Smith, T. (2014, March 17). Does teaching kids to get ‘gritty’ help them get ahead? Retrieved June 2, 2014 from http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/03/17/290089998/does-teaching-kids-to-get-gritty-help-them-get-ahead

Weimer, M. (2014, September 10). She didn’t teach. We had to learn it ourselves. Retrieved June 2, 2014 from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/didnt-teach-learn/


5 thoughts on “#uasrobotics Week 3

  1. Ali- That is a good point you make about knowing your students’ strengths and weaknesses. I do believe it does depend on the individual. As a teacher you know what they can handle and if they are trying their hardest. I too have seen students who have struggled and shut down. That is not what we want. We want them to be successful. I too agree that from the first day of school you need to teach them perseverance and tell them they may struggle and fail. Weaning students is a good point so they don’t feel like they are set up for failure. That is a good lesson on the Grit. I think this would be a good lesson to do in the beginning of the school year and can relate to any subject. I think it is such a good lesson that I downloaded the lesson plan and video. I think I will do this as the beginning of next school year. Thanks for it!


  2. I am very glad you brought up that it’s the teacher’s job to scaffold for the students who need it. You wrote “… and some students may need a lot, some may need very little, and some may think they need help even when I know they are more than capable of figuring it out on their own.” This week in Calculus, while working on a problem in class (which I had to present to my classmates) I found myself stuck and stressed not knowing if I was even heading in the right direction with my solutions. Perhaps it was my mindset. Maybe if I wasn’t worried about getting the correct solution I wouldn’t have given up so to speak. I also had very limited time so I was not able to use the resources to really dig it out for myself. Bottom line, it was so nice to be able to ask the professor for help and not to have to struggle in isolation. He recognized my weakness. That information the professor gave me then became a resource that I could use to problem-solve on my homework.


    1. Cynthia,
      I understand how you were feeling about Calculas. I had to take it last summer and I had a fixed mindset. I was so worried about getting the right answer, because I did not want to be incorrect in front of my other classmates that were high school math teachers. I was so frustrated and I knew that those feelings I had of anxiety and wanting to quit are ones that our students often have when they are not successful the first time.


  3. I think it is important to start from the first day of school discussing the importance of a Growth Mindset. We need to have those conversations with them that it is OK to struggle and make mistakes and that is how we learn. We need to use that vocabulary with them: Growth Mindset, Fixed Mindset, perseverance, stamina, and determination.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I reread your blog from a student’s perspective and I thought about how helpful it would be to hear that from a teacher at the beginning of the year. To not have this strategy be “hidden” from students but to share with them your intent in allowing them to struggle as part of the learning process. At any given point throughout the year, students will struggle but that you will use what you know about each of them to be able to step in and help when needed. It won’t look the same for everyone and it won’t always happen right away, but that it is part of your design, that they learn self-confidence and independence in figuring stuff out. I don’t always agree with using catch phrases or vocabulary (grit, determination, perseverance) unless a student has had context to understand how it applies. I don’t view them as qualities that you “have” but rather as your ability to demonstrate that quality when it is needed or appropriate. So that students aren’t just determined as a trait, but they can demonstrate determination when the situation calls for it!


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