[Edu-sig] python for kids...

Matt K matt.kameron at gmail.com
Wed Oct 17 08:48:23 CEST 2007

My preliminary assessment is that its good. I'm going to try using it for
one of my Year 9 classes now (they've just started programming Python) and
I'm skipping straight to the chapter on turtle.

My initial comment is that turtle needs to come *even* earlier than you've
edited it to be. My suggestion would be:

- intro stuff
- variables
- ifs [at this point students can write trivial games like "what starsign
are you?"]
- functions [briefly]
- turtle
- loops

Most notably, I strongly suggest *not* talking about loops at all until
they've started turtling. The reason for this is that loops are completely
abstract. Most students will struggle to grasp loops at all, let alone
quickly. By giving them turtle they'll have fun with it. Furthermore, it is
extremely easy to justify the usefulness of loops in the context of turtle.
They will quickly see how they work *and* they can quickly break over the
biggest hurdle - loops which are *different* each iteration. In the case of
turle, you can make a simple spiral to demonstrate that.

While all my teaching experience is Year 9 and above (I've taught up to 1st
year university level), my experience also tells me that everything true of
Year 9 students is even more true of younger students. The level of
description and simplicity of writing in this book are ideal in my opinion
for my Year 9 class too (with a few exceptions, such as "You may not have
learned about degrees in school so far").

I'll be able to give you more feedback in a few weeks, once I've tried it


The only other comment I can give is that when running turtle, the window
doesn't refresh properly unless it is off to the side of the window. You may
wish to make some comment on that in the book, as some people may be
confused by why windows comments "not responding".

On 10/16/07, Jason R Briggs <jasonrbriggs at gmail.com> wrote:
> hi kirby
> Any feedback is useful.  As long as they're aware up front that it's
> written for a younger audience, then I'm happy.
> Thanks very much,
> J
> kirby urner wrote:
> > On 10/15/07, kirby urner <kirby.urner at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >> Thanks Jason.
> >>
> >> I'm starting a new Python gig at a local high school soon.  If you'd
> like an opportunity
> >> for feedback from real students in Portland, Oregon, I'd be happy to
> shoot them a
> >> declassified copy.  What's in it for them:  a new way to learn Python
> while thinking
> >> critically about what's maybe working, what's maybe not.  What's in it
> for you:
> >> feedback from the front lines.
> >>
> >
> > Adding:
> >
> > Some might consider your visual motifs a tad young for high schoolers,
> at
> > least in our neck of the woods, but that's no prob, as for feedback we
> just
> > say "would this be useful when teaching your younger sister, niece,
> cousin
> > or whatever Python?"  Lots of extended families, easy to find a test
> audience.
> >
> > Kirby
> >
> >
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