Object-oriented programming (OOP), or any other type of computer programming, is not normally associated with spending time outside. Yet, in my experience as a tertiary instructor, a high school teacher and a parent, I have found that relating programming concepts to the outside world makes a lot of sense.
High School students are growing intellectually, emotionally and physically, it doesn’t take a genius to see how uncomfortable (and bored) some students get after sitting in classrooms all day. Why not take them outside occasionally? I have written about teaching outside before: Outside Classroom.
Last Friday during the last lesson of the day (students are exhausted!) I was teaching Year 7 students one of my favourite topics: the fundamentals of OOP, specifically classes, objects and inheritance. The students had read related content prior to the lesson from my website (flipped-classroom technique) and I discussed it with them giving real examples while they wrote notes. I wrote the main points on the whiteboard, linked examples and students came up with the “Cat” inheritance example.
After about 20 minutes into the lesson I looked around and saw very tired looking students. Have they understood the content so far? We had discussed Classes, Objects, Attributes (properties), methods (behaviours) and inheritance in a variety of ways. I asked them if they understood; “Yes!” But they looked so tired!
I took them OUTSIDE! 🙂 The fresh air, the sunshine and just the change of scenery made everyone look so much healthier, alert and happier! They had paper and a pen, and I asked them to look around and find real examples of objects. They had to find examples of objects and define their attributes and methods. They were asked to find real examples of inheritance and aggregation. I learned very quickly that applying what they said they had learned was actually very difficult for them. Eventually, after some confusion about the differences between attributes and inheritance, all students were able to identify objects, consider Classes and define inheritance correctly. They did all of this in the sunshine with a smile on their faces; win-win!