When students raise their hands and ask your for help it's likely that you won't know the answer. Maybe its about a challenge you've never worked on or about a problem you've never seen happen. Or maybe you do know the answer after all. Either way your approach to this situation should be the same: broker help, don't answer the question. Below are some strategies to help you embrace this practice that have been sourced from real FUSE classes around the country and world!
The Ng Method
As a teacher at an alternative education high school in Chicago, Jeff Ng was worried that his FUSE students would struggle with weening themselves off of his help. To aid in this process Jeff developed a clear system that we've come to call the Ng Method. Here's how Jeff describes it:
“In my class I let the students know that there are two kinds of questions: teacher questions (like the wifi won’t connect, I forgot my password, etc) and student questions (everything else). My students learned to never ask me a student question.”
Jeff implements this practice with a healthy dose of humor. Students who ask him a 'student question' are redirected to find the answer from their peers. Over time students really get into it, even negotiating with Jeff to show why something is a 'teacher question' after all. This approach recognizes that there are some issues that students will need your help resolving because they do not have the power to do so themselves but, in most cases, they can rely on themselves and their peers for help.
The Boss Board
Okay, so now your students have stopped asking you for help. But how are they going to find good, reliable help among their peers? One answer is the Boss Board. Here's how it works.
- As students get into FUSE some will quickly take to certain challenges or pieces of technology and develop what we call 'relative expertise' in that subject- they have enough knowledge about something that they can act as experts for their peers. Have these students volunteer to be the "boss" for that challenge or technology.
- Post these students' names on a white board along with the thing they are the boss over. For example you might have a Game Designer boss or a 3D printing boss.
- Encourage students who have a question to look at the Boss Board to find a relevant boss who can help them.
The Help Finder
The Help Finder displays Studio Activity so students can find peers working on Challenges. Students can see 'live' activity—which students are online and what they are working on—as well as past activity by Level completion. The Help Finder is available in the Navigation Bar for students and from the Dashboard.