U3 L22 Individual vs Group Project

This is the first time I have taught this course and we have not used pair programming yet. Is it a good idea to introduce this at the end for the U3 L22 project? If so, how to pairs or small groups program the same project at the same time? How many days does this typically take a group vs individual?
Thank you!
Kristen

I can put in my 2 cents, but I’m sure every teacher has their own way of doing this. I typically use pair programming earlier, and it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad time to start the pair programming, but it would have to be done in a thought out manner, in my opinion.

For starters, I personally don’t know that I would assign random pairs at this point as creating a game will most likely take multiple periods of class and making the game is something the kids get excited and passionate about and in my opinion, they do better work if they have more authentic choice, both in the content of their game and who they create it with. I do allow groups of two to work together, but I let them choose their partners personally. And others choose to do it on their own.

Also, there is a distinction, in my mind, between pair programming and a group project. Pair programming is explicitly controlled in the sense that one person is the navigator and tells the other what to code for a specific period of time. A group project would be less controlled, but still involves having two people work together, so for me personally, doing it as a paired programming activity wouldn’t fit my style of teaching because I think an entire class period is too long for one person to code and the other to navigate, and at the same time, I wouldn’t want to be calling out “switch” every 15-20 minutes for the duration of the project especially when there is a lot of time spent doing non-coding things such as finding the sprites, planning the strategies, etc.

You also ask about how long it takes. I think it depends on how much time you want to give them. I teach on a block schedule, so I give them 3-4 class periods (6-8 standard 45 minute class periods) and I find that kids who work on their own will also often put in time after class (not a requirement from me) whereas kids who do the group projects mostly work in class.

So, sorry for being so wordy and I would love to hear from others, but that’s kind of how I approach this project.

Mike

Thank you so much for this feedback! After looking over this project this weekend I think I came to some similar conclusions. I am going to allow them to choose their partner (or work independently). I also think if they choose a partner I am going to have them come up with the ideas together, but use separate computers and have each student program. They can work together when programming, but each will work in their own account (not paired programming). Since this project is in lieu of administering a final I hope I allocated enough time (6 traditional class periods). This first year has been a great success and I feel like I will be more confident the next time I teach this class. My small class of 8th grade students have risen to the challenges this semester and have impressed me with their hard work, perseverance, and how much they have learned about programming.

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