What to do for Students who Join Class Later?

Hello,

This is my third year teaching CS Discoveries. I’ve never been able to do a good job accommodating students who join the class later. They really struggle with the later lessons because they don’t have the background knowledge from the earlier lessons. But I don’t want to “reset” the whole rest of the class to allow those students to catch up. I DO want to give some whole-class instruction at the beginning of each lesson, so I don’t just want to set everybody free to work independently.

What are some other solutions for these students?

Hey Jeff,

Are you referring to students who arrive late to class or are dropped into your class mid-term? This is always a struggle and was a common occurrence in my old school - what unit are you in and whereabouts are you? I might have some suggestions!

Wendy

Hi Wendy,

Thanks for the response!

I’m talking about the second one: students who are dropped into my class mid-term.

Because my school runs Creative Coding as a half-year class, I begin in Unit 3, to make sure students can complete a game before the semester ends. Right now, we’re just beginning Lesson 6, so it’s not quite a problem yet. I’m trying to be pro-active about this this time.

Our population is highly transient, so it’s common for new students to get shoved in here when the rest of the class is on Lesson 8 or higher. So then I’m giving a bit of whole-class instruction for Lesson 9, and these poor new kids are completely lost and confused.

So yeah, any thoughts you have to offer on this topic would be welcome.

Cheers!

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Hi Jeff,

Happy to try to help! That’s definitely a trickier proposition when you’re in Unit 3 where that background knowledge is so foundational. In my experience, a lot depends on where you’re at in the unit (like you said, the later you are in the unit, the more challenging it is to play ‘catch up’) along with the student and his/her abilities.

If you’re not too far along and can have the student complete the earlier lessons mostly independently (would obviously depend on the student), you could create a new Code.org section for that student and release those lessons as they complete them independently, checking their progress as they go. I use my own instructional slide decks in class that I’ve given to students to use independently, but you could also give them access to the Code.org instructional slide deck to use in conjunction to them going through the lesson if it helps. If the student can move fairly quickly through them, you could encourage them to do some work outside of class in order to catch them up.

If that’s just not possible based on where you’re already at or based on the student and you need a totally different plan for that student, some ideas that might work:

-Express Course (totally self-paced and would still help to build some of those Unit 3 skills)

-Code Break (from Spring of 2020 when the pandemic started…weekly lessons with the founder of Code.org and special guests exploring topics of CS and accompanying lessons)

-Have the student work closely with another student (if safe to do so) whereby the student can be supported…almost in a paired-programming type of setup. You’d obviously have to have the right kind of student to lead who is strong enough to be a quasi-helper/instructor for the new student.

It’s definitely not an optimal situation, but you can only do so much as one person leading a full classroom and trying to divide your time to support all learners. I hope this helps in some way…others may chime in with other ideas as well.

Wendy