[Edu-sig] Edu-sig Digest, Vol 40, Issue 9

Toby Donaldson tjd at sfu.ca
Fri Nov 17 18:19:23 CET 2006

> I'd really like to do better.  I'm particularly interested in using Gregor
> Lingl's xturtle library.  I know that versions of turtle graphics have been
> around for various environments for a long time but I've only started to
> look at it, and it seems like it should be a lot of fun.  More specifically,
> it seems like if it is used wisely, it should appeal to more of the kids for
> a longer period of time, and still provide a platform for getting across the
> concepts.
> Does anybody out there have any specific experience with teaching Python to
> this kind of audience using turtle graphics?  Are there any books or lesson
> plans available that you can recommend as a starting point?  As a point of
> reference, the first time I tried to teach Python I thought that the
> Livewires course would be perfect but I quickly found that, as slow and
> gentle as it seems to an experienced programmer, it moves way too fast and
> has way too little hand-holding for most high school kids.

I've used turtle graphics briefly in short sessions with kids in grade
6/7, and they easily got it in just an hour or two. We walked through
a simple set of tasks that lead to a an interesting final result.

I think xturtle is very good; I've created a self-installing disutils
package for Windows et al to distribute to my students.

As has been mentioned, looking at Logo resources is probably the best
thing to do. Wikipedia's entry on Logo is a reasonable place to start:

My experience has been that most students enjoy turtle graphics, and
there always some students who quickly bump into the limitations of
the package. Even xturtle is not yet as flexible as a grade 6 student
would like. :-) I think the Squeak approach is much more interesting,
although its epic scope makes it difficult to do outside of Smalltalk.

Dr. Toby Donaldson
School of Computing Science
Simon Fraser University (Surrey)

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