As part of ramping up for GIR, we were broken into small groups of three and did mock 15-minute lessons for each other with a topic of our choosing. I talked about data types because that’s going to be my first technical lecture next Tuesday! We did this exercise twice, once yesterday just within GIR and again today with a faculty and GIR PMs.
I was pretty happy that I didn’t have to prep too much aside from making the lecture slides which I did a long time ago and basically just pulled from past GIR instructors, and it was really fun to teach. Yesterday’s session was really fun too because I really liked the teaching style and ideas of the other two GIRs for their topics. I realized I picked an easier topic to explain that didn’t really require coding along and exemplifying code, and I thought about changing topics for today’s mock lesson but didn’t end up doing so.
One of the GIRs from yesterday started with a blank slate and pretty much just wrote and drew things as he went along, incorporating coding too. He was really good, and he went with a method of proving why a mental model is correct over another one. The other GIR had slides and he also showed examples with code, and he was really good too. He was explaining about functions which is just hard to teach in general, and he started out by showing via code why we care about functions (don’t repeat code). In my functions lecture, I definitely say to not repeat code, but I don’t show what that means so I’ll probably borrow his idea. I just really enjoyed watching them explain concepts because it was different than what I originally planned on doing. It makes me want to sit in on different GIR lectures just to get ideas and see how people explain different concepts. It’s really fun!
For some reason, I didn’t feel like the GIRs I worked with today were as good as explaining. The first GIR didn’t really explain too well and the second GIR wasn’t interactive (he acknowledged this before he started though). I was surprised by the gap between yesterday’s GIRs and today’s GIRS, although the gap isn’t super drastic.
For my mock lesson, I start off my saying what our objectives are (learn about what data types are, why they’re important, and some examples of each), and then I make an analogy between learning a spoken language and learning a programming language, looping in data types. I pretty much repeat myself over two slides to solidify what data types are, because somewhere along the line, I picked up the notion that I have to keep repeating myself to get information to sink in. I also remember that back in junior high, I thought my Spanish teacher repeated things a lot of times but at the same time, it sunk in well. I think the book we read for GIR also said to do this. In any case, I then go into explanations and examples of integers and floats, making the distinction between values and data types as well. Afterward, I talk about why we care about the distinction between integers and floats, and then we do a practice activity where students vote on what data type they think an example is. I do this on Discord via a bot I found that helps with polling, and the poll doesn’t show how many students voted for each one. After I close each poll question though, I can see who voted for each one, and my plan is if most people got it right, I’ll call on someone who got it right to explain why it’s right. If there’s a split amongst some answers, I’ll call on a student from each answer to explain why they voted the way they voted. I do that for four practice problems, and for the other four, I’ll just cold call. After integers and floats, I explain strings and booleans with examples and do the practice again with just strings and booleans, and then I have a final practice slide with all four data types. Plenty of practice! Then, I talk about why knowing data types is important. Finally, I wrap up with a conclusion of what data types are, why they’re important, and a brief overview of each data type again.
In general, my feedback was good. Everyone really liked my slides because they were concise and not too wordy as I personally did not enjoy reading a bunch of words on slides back in college and even nowadays. They also looked good in general, hooray for being a front-end developer! The only technical feedback I got was to show why strings can be surrounded by single or double quotes, which I hadn’t thought about. The non-technical / classroom feedback that I got yesterday was to do practice after explaining what integers and floats are, again after strings and booleans, and then once for all of them. For yesterday’s, I basically went through all of the data types before doing practice for all of them, but I think this way, it solidifies the information more and theres’ more interaction as well. Another feedback I got was to ask “What questions do you have?” rather than “Does anyone have any questions?” because the former invites questions and normalizes. Once she gave me this feedback, I immediately remembered that our SPS PM always phrased the question the former way. I really want to remember that.
So that was really fun, it’s great!