Failure – and Lunch with Two Young Friends


Not MY friends – I try not to be one of those elementary school people who calls every living being in the school “our friend”. These two 2nd graders are friends and I’m their school librarian.

We finally had school today after snow cancelled almost a whole week. It was a short day, with a two hour delay. After unloading cars, I came into the warm library (I love my library), took off coat, boots, gloves and hat and looked around to see 5 small leaks. Moan….find tubs to place on carpet… will supply you with anti-carpet rant (with Allergist quote re “cloaca of the modern building”) another time….

So, plowing though paperwork and processing and suddenly it was noon. I decided to walk down the hall and see if I could collect a small lunch group. After talking to a teacher recently about ways to challenge and connect with one of her students, I have been planning to include a 2nd grader or two in our Scratch lunch groups and Tech Helper lunch groups. She suggested a buddy that her student might like to include, so I asked the two boys, gave them a note for the cafeteria and went to get my lunch ready.

When the boys showed up, they were excited and didn’t notice all the tubs and drips! I told them to eat while I talked for a few minutes with the Building Services guy (AKA Mr. Roof) and showed him more leaks. Then I grabbed my laptop and told them I’d like to teach them to make screencasts. We talked about what screencasts are and they were a little hesitant – “What if I don’t have Quicktime at home?”, “What if I can’t remember all the steps?”. I reassured them that being a Tech Helper for me is optional and we have helpful 5th graders and how-to resources. I told them that I have a really bad memory but I don’t let that stop me! I love to try new things and fail; it’s a great way to learn.

Then I showed them how to open Quicktime, choose make a new screencast, check the tiny drop-down arrow to make sure the internal mic is on and then made a screencast in front of them – and got it wrong. I didn’t set it up to do it wrong, I just got confused and clicked record and stop recording too fast and my test video showed nothing. These second graders don’t know me as well as the 5th graders and I was secretly smiling at how they responded to my mistakes. I love to think aloud in front of students while I’m learning from what I do wrong. It’s kind of a sad commentary on education that experimenting comes off as “getting it wrong”.

Then I made another one, using the open tab in my browser, ad-libbing through the screencast and summarizing what I’d been reading. You can hear one student in the background deploring the word “failures” and you can hear the other one, right at the end: “Cool!”.

So this is a walk through a moment in my snowy Friday. The best moments at school today were with these students, talking to them about what they might do for me when they learn to make screencasts, and seeing their faces light up when they thought of some things they could make for themselves. The cool architectural engineering ideas happening on the website in the screencast? Icing on the cake.

Screencast for 99Failures

2 responses to “Failure – and Lunch with Two Young Friends

  1. Thanks, Kevin! I’ve been inspired by my Scratch classes, and I’m starting to see no need to limit entry to projects to only upper elementary. A few mistakes in this (of course!) – pretty sure the 99 Failures structure is not on a playground. Also, Mr. Roof was really Mr. Ceiling. Too icy to go look at the roof!

  2. Melissa
    This line is a wonderful kernal of truthiness: ” I love to think aloud in front of students while I’m learning from what I do wrong. ”
    Thanks for inviting us into your library (sorry about the leaks) for a glimpse of what you are up to.

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