The Debugging Wall

Hi there everybody,

I’m having trouble executing a physical version of the Debugging Wall as the instructions in the lesson plan are quite a bit different from the standalone guide. For example, it states to give students several sticky notes regarding rules like “Are there semicolons?” but does not give clear instructions on how it incorporates with “The Error Messages” and “Unexpected Results” headers.

Does anyone have a picture that they’d be willing to share of what they did with the sticky notes/board?

Thank you!

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@aj_mancuso - I am also interested to see what folks add in this thread. Thanks for starting this thread. Last year I used a debugging wall with poster paper in a full class discussion format.

Essentially students would share out errors they got at the end of the hour in small groups and then we would share them in the full group and I would add them to the debugging wall. As participants shared their errors we would talk about if they were syntax or logic errors - I started using different colors for the different types of errors, but eventually I just started writing them down. I personally liked this as an end of hour activity to normalize making errors in code. I have a picture of what our posters looked like in February last year.

Again, this isn’t perfectly what you are looking for but this was my first year using a debugging wall and I appreciated having that structure for normalizing bugs and to make error making visible. Even the most proficient student could contribute to the debugging wall because they made errors too. It was a good culture setting tool in the room.


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Thank you for sharing, Kaitie! Much appreciated for the thoughtful response!

Hi, thanks for starting a conversation about how to use a debugging wall!

I had to be out for a week this year, and have tried to set up a debugging wall upon my return-- we only have a few items on it so far.

My room is kind of small and doesn’t have much wall space students can walk up to- their desks are right up to the walls on the sides. So, I have students put post its on the door on their way out, and I then group them and we add to this digital debugging document. I’ve only done this twice so far this year, but hopefully this gives some ideas to get you started. Right now we are focussing on error messages, I haven’t gotten many in the unexpected results.

I’m curious to hear how others set up their debugging walls!

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Sharing an image of my student’s wall. I picked common errors and have them “solve” them.

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Thanks for sharing an image of your Debugging Wall in real life, Sylvia!

It’s helpful to see these actual physical manifestations of how our teacher community implements this practice in their own classrooms. If anyone else has a picture of their wall that they wouldn’t mind sharing, it would be inspiring to see what you and your students have created.

A thought that came to mind as I looked at this picture: perhaps there could be some type of a tally system where students make a mark or add a sticker next to the row associated with a particular error whenever they squash a bug. This helps to normalize the idea that all of us, as computer scientists, need to debug our code. It could become a celebratory act! Squash a bug, add a sticker, and the teacher dances the floss in front of the class (or something equally fun and silly). It would also be informative to see which of the errors is more prevalent as well so that students as well as instructors train their CS brains to internalize the most common mistakes.

In case you missed it, here is the Resource Guide to the Debugging Wall.

Keep those images and ideas coming!
-Erik

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