Turning Bugs into Breakthroughs – CoderZ

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Turning Bugs into Breakthroughs – CoderZ


“Ms. Bacon, I broke it!”

The call came from across the classroom, quickly followed by laughter from the rest of the students. It had become something of an inside joke for the class: breaking the code, making strange things happen with the program, and sharing surprising discoveries with the rest of the class. I couldn’t have been happier.

As educators, we want to empower our students to independently explore the world around them, make predictions, test hypotheses, and adjust understandings as the world throws them curve balls. Programming and debugging are powerful ways to put our students in charge of their own learning, building self-efficacy and resilience on the way.

Of course, when students first encounter bugs, they don’t always see it that way. They usually just want one thing from us: fix the bug. But in the computing classroom, bugs aren’t actually errors: they’re opportunities. Bugs allow us to support students in overcoming obstacles themselves, rather than just clearing the path for them. They are a chance to reaffirm student identity as programmers, to build effective problem solving skills, and to gain insight into student mental models.

Bugs can be funny, and bugs can be frustrating. But no matter how skilled we get at programming, we’ll always have bugs. So stay tuned these next few weeks as we dig into classroom strategies to take advantage of bugs to develop students’ computing skills while building their self-confidence and identity as programmers.

In the meantime, let’s celebrate the bugs, because they’re not just errors – they’re stepping stones to shaping the resilient and creative problem solvers of tomorrow.

Happy debugging!

Written by CoderZ’s Director of Pedagogy, Elizabeth Bacon

As a former classroom teacher and school administrator, Elizabeth designs computer science courses for students from 5 to 18 years old. She is an active member of the CS community as a volunteer and advisory board member for computer science pathways and presents workshops about teaching and learning computer science.

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