We all want our kids to become better programmers. The best way to help them learn to code is to actually help them learn how to debug their code. Debugging is a great way for kids to actually find how to solve their problems and work through their code. Experts will say when you find the problem and figure out a solution, it’s actually the best way to learn.
One of the hardest parts about teaching is watching kids struggle. However, those struggles are part of their growth. It’s ok to be stuck and not know the answers right away. As educators, we need to teach kids some important ways to work through getting stuck. I have a quote on the wall of my room which reads “It’s OK to make mistakes”. I reinforce this every day. When kids are stuck and work through a problem on their own, I will often stop the whole group and talk about how I watched the youth work through their problem. I ask them to tell the whole class how it felt to solve the problem. This is one of the best ways to cultivate growth and confidence. Because coding is new to so many students, they often don’t feel comfortable when they first start. They are unsure of what they are doing and every step they can complete on their own helps to build that confidence more and more.
The debugging process helps kids learn how to solve their problems. The video, How to Debug highlights the best way to help learn the debugging process. Students talk about how debugging helps them become great coders.
- Describe the problem
- Hunt for bugs
- Try out different solutions
- Write down what you have learned.
Kids learn important debugging skills through books and music. Books can give us another way to help kids understand problem-solving. There are many books that help kids understand the struggle. One of my favorite books is More-igami by Dori Klecher. Origami is a great way for kids to learn persistence and perseverance. As a group, we work on creating an animal or object following directions using origami. We always like to add in music when we are learning new concepts. My favorite debugging song is called DeBug It. It’s a fun upbeat song that helps kids learn about debugging. The best part is the animation is all created by kids too.
The bottom line, debugging is something that computer programmers do daily. We need to help students cultivate that love of persistence and perseverance to become better programmers.
Lisa Bohaty is a Computer Science Teacher and Tech Integration Specialist for East Butler Public Schools.