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Susan Canaga Computer Science Teacher (Former Software Dev Manager)

Always look for opportunities to practice and coach troubleshooting. One came for me the other day with the classroom stapler...

A bright student in a hurry urgently asks me, “Mrs. Canaga, Mrs. Canaga...the stapler won't work!”

As thoughts rolled through my head (like...what has someone done to the stapler now?), I stopped and asked, “Well, have you tried to troubleshoot the problem?“

With an extemely annoyed look on his face, the student replied, “Troubleshoot the stapler?”

Mrs. Canaga: “Sure...what is the problem you are having?“

Student: “It won't staple my paper.”

Mrs. Canaga: “Did it work recently?”

The student now realizes he's been caught in a teachable moment and reluctantly responds, “I think so... maybe it needs more staples?”

Mrs. Canaga: “Did you check?”

Student: “How do I do that?”

Mrs. Canaga: “I don't know...have you examined the stapler?”

Student looks over the stapler, “Well it looks like there might be two ways.” After a bit of trial and error, he opens the stapler and finds it empty. A quick reload, and he's back to work with a stapled paper in hand and troubleshooting on his mind. He might have been mumbling something about me too, but hey...that's the art of troubleshooting!

Posted on Saturday, November 5, 2005 10:32 AM For Students , For Teachers | Back to top


Comments on this post: No problem too big or too small to troubleshoot.

# re: No problem too big or too small to troubleshoot.
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That's a great story, especially the line about "the student now realizes he's been caught in a teachable moment", I actually laughed out loud when I read that.
Left by Chris Williams on Nov 05, 2005 11:04 AM

# re: No problem too big or too small to troubleshoot.
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Charming story. It's a good lesson that an "annoying" situation can turn into a teaching opportunity.

I'd love to hear more classroom stories :)
Left by Uri Goldstein on Nov 05, 2005 11:25 AM

# Debugging more than just programs
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Susan Canaga has a post today that talks about teaching a student to troubleshoot a stapler. I love how...
Left by Computer Science Teacher on Nov 05, 2005 3:45 PM

# re: No problem too big or too small to troubleshoot.
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I think that too often we as teachers are tempted to take the easy way out and "just fix it." It's a lot better to grab that teachable moment as you did. Great stuff!
Left by Alfred Thompson on Nov 05, 2005 12:47 PM

# re: No problem too big or too small to troubleshoot.
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Great Post Susan! It is why I teach! With all the distractions: What makes teaching so wonderful is to have a few of those moments a day!
Left by David Jacobus on Nov 06, 2005 10:59 AM

# re: No problem too big or too small to troubleshoot.
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Hmm, maybe the problem was that he wasn't used to a that particular type of stapler. Who knows, maybe he had Mac stapler, and you've got a Win stapler ...
8^)
Left by Tom Indelicato on Nov 09, 2005 3:36 AM

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