Pedagogical Changes for Section Alpha (Part 1)

To appreciate the thoughts behind the changes I made while planning for section Alpha, I strongly suggest reading the 5 posts on the sessions with Beta - 4 session posts (one, two, three, four) + 1 post on the end-course feedback. This will allow you to compare and contrast my time with the two classes and understand the mindset and decision making process of a teacher! 😃

One great aspect of this ASSET Day Scholar Programme was being able to deliver the same course to 3 different sections. As a teacher, this allowed me to test the waters with the first section (for me, that was section Beta) and understand what went well and what could be improved. Having a couple of days between the end of my time with Beta and the first class with Alpha allowed me to reorganise a few aspects of the plan to enhance its effectiveness.

Some logistical information is given below that is an important backdrop to understanding the planning.

Section Beta
Section Alpha
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. on 20/4
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. on 25/4
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. on 22/4
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on 25/4
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on 22/4
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. on 26/4
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. on 23/4
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on 26/4

With Beta, I had the introductory session on Saturday afternoon and the remaining 3 sessions on Monday and Tuesday (beginning of the week after a holiday). Two of my 2 hour sessions were in the morning from 9 to 11 when the kids were fresh.

With Alpha, I had the introductory session on Thursday morning and the remaining 3 sessions on Thursday afternoon and Friday (towards the end of the week). Two of my 2 hour sessions were in the afternoon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. when the kids were relatively less fresh.

These distinctions played a role in deciding the puzzles we did in the sessions as you will see later in this post...

As a refresher, here are the key puzzles and activities we did in the Beta section.

Key Activities
Introduction with code + course expectations
Discussion of course expectations + Slitherlink + Dissection + session feedback
Kakuro + Logical Thinking Quiz + session feedback
Dominoes + Logical Elimination + end course feedback

With Beta, I had the luxury of reading their course expectations and noting down key points prior to the second session. With Alpha, I had the half an hour breakfast break to quickly go over what they had written and improvise a little on the fly.

Keeping this in mind, I set up the board as shown below in the window between 11:05 a.m. and 11:25 a.m. before the start of the second session with Alpha.

I would like to draw your attention to some aspects of the board design:
  • I wrote down, verbatim, sentences from their course expectations in the middle of the board so that they could see their voice/opinion up there as soon as they came in from breakfast.
  • The agenda at the bottom right corner is a staple of my class and has been so throughout my time as a teacher over the past 5+ years. It aids the children in seeing how we plan to spend our time together and also subconsciously conveys to them that I am planned and want to maximise every minute of our time together.
  • At the top left corner, I have put up the essential building blocks of the course - metacognition, strategies and thought process being more important than the final answer. These will serve as constant reminders once we get into solving the puzzles.
Notice that I have removed Dissection from the agenda and put the Logical Thinking Quiz in its place. The reason for this is that children in Beta found Slitherlink to be hard so I wanted to end the day with something more free flowing and light.

Based on the feedback received in Beta, I brought a set of toothpicks for the quiz and created 4 teams of 4 (thankfully, this class does not have 17 students! 😂). I gave each team a good number of toothpicks and time to build the shapes before putting up the question (refer this post in case you have forgotten the details of the quiz) and starting the timer. This made the quiz more kinesthetic and accessible to kids who may have otherwise had a tough time visualising the changes in shapes. The comments from children suggest that they liked the quiz and my own observations of the class during the quiz revealed that they enjoyed manipulating the toothpicks around and experimenting to arrive at possible solutions.

I will continue with the pedagogical changes made in sessions 3 and 4 for Alpha in the next post.