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The other answers are already very good, but I wanted to offer another suggestion:

Students need to start smaller, and work in smaller increments.

To oversimplify: students should start in Pong. Their first homework should be to make a simple change to Pong. You need to make sure every student understood the setup, expectations, and processes involved in that homework before you move on. Then ramp up from there, but make sure you work in small increments. Each step along the way, make sure you aren't losing students, and leave some room for review and getting everybody on the same page.

I gather that the literal Pong step might have taken place in a prerequisite class, but my point is that you can't dump students into a complicated project, know that they aren't following the homeworks, but continue expecting more complicated tasks from them every week. If a student couldn't do the assignment from 3 weeks ago, they certainly aren't going to be able to do this week's assignment, no matter how "motivated" they are.

If you said that 85% of your students were getting As, and 15% were getting Cs or Fs, then I'd agree that you might have a problem of motivation. But since your ratio is reversed, and 85% of your students are getting Cs and Fs, I think it's time for you to take a harder look at your lessons and expectations. It sounds like you're asking too much, and trying to build on milestones that haven't been met yet.

Hopefully it's not too late, and you can salvage the semester by going back to basics. When did you lose students? Start there. Maybe split that assignment into multiple steps, and have them do those steps one at a time. Every step of the way, your job is to make sure that students are looking at something they can handle. Keep it as simple as possible- this might be simpler than you or the teacher (or even the students) think is interesting. But keep working forward in small steps until they've built something larger.

Edit: If you're already doing all of the above, and you're sure that the students understand the assignments, and you're already working in small incremental steps and you're sure that the students are just being lazy...

You might have students demo their work.

After a big homework assignment, spend half a class period having the students come to the front of the room and show off their projects. You could even have students vote in different categories: best game, funniest, best art, etc. A little bit of competition goes a long way.

Or you could mix your homework assignments with "real life" game jams.

If you're unfamiliar, a game jam is a "contest" (usually with no prizes) where participants have a certain amount of time (usually a weekend or a week) to make a game around some theme that's announced at the beginning of the event.

Here is a list of ongoing game jams, and here is a similar list just for itch.io game jams.

The idea is that the assignment would be to participate in whatever game jam you choose, using the topics you discussed in class. My guess is that this would be much more motivating than a "regular" homework assignment.

The other answers are already very good, but I wanted to offer another suggestion:

Students need to start smaller, and work in smaller increments.

To oversimplify: students should start in Pong. Their first homework should be to make a simple change to Pong. You need to make sure every student understood the setup, expectations, and processes involved in that homework before you move on. Then ramp up from there, but make sure you work in small increments. Each step along the way, make sure you aren't losing students, and leave some room for review and getting everybody on the same page.

I gather that the literal Pong step might have taken place in a prerequisite class, but my point is that you can't dump students into a complicated project, know that they aren't following the homeworks, but continue expecting more complicated tasks from them every week. If a student couldn't do the assignment from 3 weeks ago, they certainly aren't going to be able to do this week's assignment, no matter how "motivated" they are.

If you said that 85% of your students were getting As, and 15% were getting Cs or Fs, then I'd agree that you might have a problem of motivation. But since your ratio is reversed, and 85% of your students are getting Cs and Fs, I think it's time for you to take a harder look at your lessons and expectations. It sounds like you're asking too much, and trying to build on milestones that haven't been met yet.

Hopefully it's not too late, and you can salvage the semester by going back to basics. When did you lose students? Start there. Maybe split that assignment into multiple steps, and have them do those steps one at a time. Every step of the way, your job is to make sure that students are looking at something they can handle. Keep it as simple as possible- this might be simpler than you or the teacher (or even the students) think is interesting. But keep working forward in small steps until they've built something larger.

The other answers are already very good, but I wanted to offer another suggestion:

Students need to start smaller, and work in smaller increments.

To oversimplify: students should start in Pong. Their first homework should be to make a simple change to Pong. You need to make sure every student understood the setup, expectations, and processes involved in that homework before you move on. Then ramp up from there, but make sure you work in small increments. Each step along the way, make sure you aren't losing students, and leave some room for review and getting everybody on the same page.

I gather that the literal Pong step might have taken place in a prerequisite class, but my point is that you can't dump students into a complicated project, know that they aren't following the homeworks, but continue expecting more complicated tasks from them every week. If a student couldn't do the assignment from 3 weeks ago, they certainly aren't going to be able to do this week's assignment, no matter how "motivated" they are.

If you said that 85% of your students were getting As, and 15% were getting Cs or Fs, then I'd agree that you might have a problem of motivation. But since your ratio is reversed, and 85% of your students are getting Cs and Fs, I think it's time for you to take a harder look at your lessons and expectations. It sounds like you're asking too much, and trying to build on milestones that haven't been met yet.

Hopefully it's not too late, and you can salvage the semester by going back to basics. When did you lose students? Start there. Maybe split that assignment into multiple steps, and have them do those steps one at a time. Every step of the way, your job is to make sure that students are looking at something they can handle. Keep it as simple as possible- this might be simpler than you or the teacher (or even the students) think is interesting. But keep working forward in small steps until they've built something larger.

Edit: If you're already doing all of the above, and you're sure that the students understand the assignments, and you're already working in small incremental steps and you're sure that the students are just being lazy...

You might have students demo their work.

After a big homework assignment, spend half a class period having the students come to the front of the room and show off their projects. You could even have students vote in different categories: best game, funniest, best art, etc. A little bit of competition goes a long way.

Or you could mix your homework assignments with "real life" game jams.

If you're unfamiliar, a game jam is a "contest" (usually with no prizes) where participants have a certain amount of time (usually a weekend or a week) to make a game around some theme that's announced at the beginning of the event.

Here is a list of ongoing game jams, and here is a similar list just for itch.io game jams.

The idea is that the assignment would be to participate in whatever game jam you choose, using the topics you discussed in class. My guess is that this would be much more motivating than a "regular" homework assignment.

2 added 100 characters in body
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The other answers are already very good, but I wanted to offer another suggestion:

Students need to start smaller, and work in smaller increments.

To oversimplify: students should start in Pong. Their first homework should be to make a simple change to Pong. You need to make sure every student understood the setup, expectations, and processes involved in that homework before you move on. Then ramp up from there, but make sure you work in small increments. Each step along the way, make sure you aren't losing students, and leave some room for review and getting everybody on the same page.

I gather that the literal Pong step might have taken place in a prerequisite class, but my point is that you can't dump students into a complicated project, know that they aren't following the homeworks, but continue expecting more complicated tasks from them every week. If a student couldn't do the assignment from 3 weeks ago, they certainly aren't going to be able to do this week's assignment, no matter how "motivated" they are.

If you said that 85% of your students were getting As, and 15% were getting Cs or Fs, then I'd agree that you might have a problem of motivation. But since your ratio is reversed, and 85% of your students are getting Cs and Fs, I think it's time for you to take a harder look at your lessons and expectations. It sounds like you're asking too much, and trying to build on milestones that haven't been met yet.

Hopefully it's not too late, and you can salvage the semester by going back to basics. When did you lose students? Start there. Maybe split that assignment into multiple steps, and have them do those steps one at a time. Every step of the way, your job is to make sure that students are looking at something they can handle. Keep it as simple as possible- this might be simpler than you or the teacher (or even the students) think is interesting. But keep working forward in small steps until they've built something larger.

The other answers are already very good, but I wanted to offer another suggestion:

Students need to start smaller, and work in smaller increments.

To oversimplify: students should start in Pong. Their first homework should be to make a simple change to Pong. You need to make sure every student understood the setup, expectations, and processes involved in that homework before you move on. Then ramp up from there, but make sure you work in small increments. Each step along the way, make sure you aren't losing students, and leave some room for review and getting everybody on the same page.

I gather that the literal Pong step might have taken place in a prerequisite class, but my point is that you can't dump students into a complicated project, know that they aren't following the homeworks, but continue expecting more complicated tasks from them every week. If a student couldn't do the assignment from 3 weeks ago, they certainly aren't going to be able to do this week's assignment, no matter how "motivated" they are.

If you said that 85% of your students were getting As, and 15% were getting Cs or Fs, then I'd agree that you might have a problem of motivation. But since your ratio is reversed, and 85% of your students are getting Cs and Fs, I think it's time for you to take a harder look at your lessons and expectations.

Hopefully it's not too late, and you can salvage the semester by going back to basics. When did you lose students? Start there. Maybe split that assignment into multiple steps, and have them do those steps one at a time. Every step of the way, your job is to make sure that students are looking at something they can handle. Keep it as simple as possible- this might be simpler than you or the teacher (or even the students) think is interesting. But keep working forward in small steps until they've built something larger.

The other answers are already very good, but I wanted to offer another suggestion:

Students need to start smaller, and work in smaller increments.

To oversimplify: students should start in Pong. Their first homework should be to make a simple change to Pong. You need to make sure every student understood the setup, expectations, and processes involved in that homework before you move on. Then ramp up from there, but make sure you work in small increments. Each step along the way, make sure you aren't losing students, and leave some room for review and getting everybody on the same page.

I gather that the literal Pong step might have taken place in a prerequisite class, but my point is that you can't dump students into a complicated project, know that they aren't following the homeworks, but continue expecting more complicated tasks from them every week. If a student couldn't do the assignment from 3 weeks ago, they certainly aren't going to be able to do this week's assignment, no matter how "motivated" they are.

If you said that 85% of your students were getting As, and 15% were getting Cs or Fs, then I'd agree that you might have a problem of motivation. But since your ratio is reversed, and 85% of your students are getting Cs and Fs, I think it's time for you to take a harder look at your lessons and expectations. It sounds like you're asking too much, and trying to build on milestones that haven't been met yet.

Hopefully it's not too late, and you can salvage the semester by going back to basics. When did you lose students? Start there. Maybe split that assignment into multiple steps, and have them do those steps one at a time. Every step of the way, your job is to make sure that students are looking at something they can handle. Keep it as simple as possible- this might be simpler than you or the teacher (or even the students) think is interesting. But keep working forward in small steps until they've built something larger.

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source | link

The other answers are already very good, but I wanted to offer another suggestion:

Students need to start smaller, and work in smaller increments.

To oversimplify: students should start in Pong. Their first homework should be to make a simple change to Pong. You need to make sure every student understood the setup, expectations, and processes involved in that homework before you move on. Then ramp up from there, but make sure you work in small increments. Each step along the way, make sure you aren't losing students, and leave some room for review and getting everybody on the same page.

I gather that the literal Pong step might have taken place in a prerequisite class, but my point is that you can't dump students into a complicated project, know that they aren't following the homeworks, but continue expecting more complicated tasks from them every week. If a student couldn't do the assignment from 3 weeks ago, they certainly aren't going to be able to do this week's assignment, no matter how "motivated" they are.

If you said that 85% of your students were getting As, and 15% were getting Cs or Fs, then I'd agree that you might have a problem of motivation. But since your ratio is reversed, and 85% of your students are getting Cs and Fs, I think it's time for you to take a harder look at your lessons and expectations.

Hopefully it's not too late, and you can salvage the semester by going back to basics. When did you lose students? Start there. Maybe split that assignment into multiple steps, and have them do those steps one at a time. Every step of the way, your job is to make sure that students are looking at something they can handle. Keep it as simple as possible- this might be simpler than you or the teacher (or even the students) think is interesting. But keep working forward in small steps until they've built something larger.