[Edu-sig] after-school python, age 11+

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Thu Aug 21 16:24:44 CEST 2008

Greetings Jeremy, welcome to one of the best discussion lists ever.

I've not published a book per se, do have a lot of teaching materials
on-line through my Mathematical Canvas project of the Oregon
Curriculum network.  I also had several weeks with 8th graders at a
Portland Public flagship in 05 - 06, which I wrote up for posterity
(see link below).

My take on "Hello World" is to morph it into a more contemporary
segment using Google Earth (world) where we zoom in on points of
interest (like the school itself), stick a push-pin, then look at the
XML associated therewith.  This leads to a discussion of latitude /
longitude and the beginnings of a Rich Data Structure involving cities
and their coordinates.  We even did a little XML-RPC against a server
(type in an address, get back a lat/long).

I'm a big believer in scaffolding, meaning I like students to eyeball
code that's above their pay grade, in terms of sophistication, like
when learning a human language it's a good idea to watch TV or read
the newspaper in that language, to get a feel for fluent styles.
Recall and

Recognition are quite different exercises, Recall being what you're
able to code on your own, Recognition meaning you're following someone
else's code.  Recall is harder.  In between is trying to debug or
enhance existing code, which is the entry point for a lot of working
geeks, i.e. the way we learn a new language is by inheriting some code
pile and needing to troubleshoot.  I work to simulate that experience
in my classroom.

In other words, it's not like I expect 8th graders to sit at a blank
screen and crank out the kind of stuff I let them play with (recall).

That being said, my goal as a teacher is to help bring them to a
higher level (different for each student), meaning they do of course
write their own code.  VPython has been a centerpiece of my several
classroom gigs with this age group (8th - 12th graders).

Here're some links:



2008/8/19 Jeremy Gray <jrgray at gmail.com>:
> Hi all,
> This is my first post to edu-sig, and its sort of long. In a nutshell:
> a) I have developed and posted a few new material for kids getting started
> with programming, e.g., for an after-school club, at
> http://afterschoolpython.pbwiki.com/  Its free (no advertising ever,
> open-source recommended), and will be so forever.
> b) I am interested in collaborating with or sharing notes with others, to
> make it even better.

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