[Edu-sig] Python and pre-algebra

Litvin litvin at skylit.com
Fri Jul 1 16:26:49 CEST 2011


I think elements of Python programming would fit 
very nicely with fractions, probability and all 
the number sense topics you listed (as well as problem solving strategies).

Gary Litvin

At 09:43 AM 7/1/2011, mary.dooms at comcast.net wrote:
>Thank you to everyone who has responded to my 
>inquiry. I truly appreciate your willingness to help.
>Our math curriculum addresses the Illinois state 
>standards, however within the next 3 years we 
>will be moving to the Common Core.
>A breakdown of the curriculum is below:
>Advanced math (1 section) supported by McDougal-Littel Course 2 textbook
>Integers (order of operations)
>Algebra (1 and 2 step equations, simplifying, 
>distributive property, inequalities)
>Geometry (polygons, angles, surface area, volume)
>Ratios and Proportions
>Standard Math (3 sections) Supported by McDougal-Littel Course 1 textbook
>Problem Solving Strategies
>Fraction operations
>Decimal operations
>Number Sense (Prime factorization, GCF, LCM, Divisibility Rules)
>Our district is generally supportive to adding 
>new software to the school computers, however 
>requests are only honored during school breaks 
>(winter, spring, summer) as they want to keep 
>the computers available for student use and MAPS 
>testing. (http://www.nwea.org/)  :-(
>My plan is to begin with my advanced math students.
>On a side note, I have enjoyed reading the 
>personal stories you have been sharing. Mine is 
>that my first job out of college was working for 
>the now defunct Teletype Corporation, a part of 
>the now defunct Western Electric, a part of the 
>now defunct Bell System, a part of the perhaps 
>soon to be defunct AT&T?! I spent ten years in 
>public relations, took time off to raise 
>children, then returned to the workforce to teach middle school.
>Again, I appreciate your support, and I look 
>forward to collaborating with you.
>From: mokurai at earthtreasury.org
>To: "kirby urner" <kirby.urner at gmail.com>
>Cc: edu-sig at python.org
>Sent: Friday, July 1, 2011 1:32:45 AM
>Subject: Re: [Edu-sig] Python and pre-algebra
>On Fri, July 1, 2011 1:41 am, kirby urner wrote:
> > On Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 8:03 PM, <mokurai at earthtreasury.org> wrote:
> >>
> >> On Wed, June 29, 2011 7:15 pm, mary.dooms at comcast.net wrote:
> >> >
> >> > I teach 6th grade math and Python was suggested as a way to apply
> >> > pre-algebra concepts in a programming context. My programming
> >> background
> >> > consists of one C++ programming class. How do I begin?
> >>
> >> Python is one of several excellent options. Others are Logo, Smalltalk,
> >> and APL, all of which are available at no cost. I worked on a free APL
> >> for
> >> 8-bit computers before the Free Software movement got started, and I
> >> have
> >> friends working on APLs for current computers to put under the GPL.
> >>
> >
> > APL was my first love at Princeton, back when most people (including
> > me) had to use punch cards.
>You and jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan. He wants to create an APL-based
>computer music education program.
>At Yale in 1963 we only had octal and FORTRAN. Later on, Yale hired Alan
>Perlis away from Carnegie-Mellon to be Chairman of the Computer Science
>Department. He made APL the first language for all CS students.
> > It was the interactivity I loved, among
> > other aspects.  Logo the same way.  Grew into dBase later, always
> > interactive, a dialog.  Languages divide into those which respond,
> > conversationally, and those which must be looked at as non-conversational.
> > Python joined the ranks of the conversationals.
>LISP was the first. On the other hand, Waterloo University in Canada
>created a FORTRAN interpreter for use in classes, to go with its APL,
>Pascal, and others.
> >> Assuming that your students know no Python, you could use the Sugar Labs
> >> Turtle Art approach to math and programming to get started. Turtle Art
> >> was
> >> designed for children to use for math, programming, and art, and has
> >> natural ways to move to Logo, Python, or Etoys/Smalltalk. FORTH, too,
> >> but
> >> most people don't want to know that. ^_^ (FORTH love if honk then)
> >
> > I was a math teacher in a day school for humans of the female
> > persuasion, as one of the trusted male faculty (most were not male),
> > but this was long before the Free Software movement (GNU / GPL),
> > was still at the start of the first computer revolution.  No Internet
> > yet, at least not for ordinary civilians like me.
>My father was using timesharing, and allowed me on at 300 bps.
> > I dreamed of hypertext (read Computer Lib / Dream Machines
> > by Ted Nelson)
>I met Ted when he gave an invited speech at the APL91 Conference at Stanford.
> > and joined IGC with a guest account at New
> > Jersey Institute of Technology.  Proto-internet, pre-listserv.  In
> > the meantime, snailmailers were proto-typing listservs via
> > Action Linkage.  Anyone remember?  You'd mail your post to
> > the anchor, who'd photocopy the lot and mail back out to
> > subscribers.  The whole listserv phenomenon, happening
> > through snailmail.
>Pierre de Fermat operated as listserv for all of the top mathematicians of
>Europe before the journals got started.
> > Lots of ethnography as yet unwritten.
> >
> > Mid 1980s.
> >
> > 'A Network Nation' by Turoff and Starr Roxanne Hiltz.
> > http://web.njit.edu/~turoff/Vita/vita2005.html#a30
> >
> > I lived behind Loew's Theater on Journal Square, the main
> > PATH station in Jersey City.  By 1985, I was back in Portland,
> > having been raised there through 2nd grade.
> >
> >>
> >> The question is, which pre-algebra concepts? Do you have a curriculum
> >> standard or a particular textbook in mind? Are there other topics of
> >> interest?
> >>
> >> I can write TA or mixed TA/Python examples, and show students how to do
> >> the same, and we could work together on lesson plans to share in the
> >> Sugar
> >> Labs Replacing Textbooks program. There are others with an interest in
> >> doing this.
> >>
> >
> > Then I worked at McGraw-Hill (after some stuff in between), 28th floor,
> > Rockefeller Center, Manhattan, editing textbooks, testing educational
> > computer games, contributing curriculum writing (Logo, BASIC).
>We need you to do that again as we find out what children can learn with
>computer aid at earlier stages of development than we thought.
> > Back then, we thought computers were soon to take the math teaching
> > world by storm.  Little did we suspect that the North Americans would be
> > conquered by Texas Instruments, leaving the innovation vista to
> > other cultures and/or subversive counter-cultures still operational
> > in some areas.
>Thousands of dollars for a computer, under $100 for a calculator. No
>contest. HP was content with the engineering market and didn't want to
>challenge TI to a retail war.
> > OLPC (One Laptop per Child) was one attempt to break the TI lock
> > on teacher imaginations.  For the most part, it failed in North America.
> > The resistance was too great.  No breakfast cereal boxes featured
> > the XO.  Nothing on the backs of Kellogs or General Mills.  No
> > donated G1G1 commercials during Saturday Morning cartoons.
> > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFmQP3JimAE&feature=related
> > http://youtu.be/XSH_5YP0tU8
>Ah, but what will happen when we have free digital textbook replacements,
>so that netbooks cost less than printed textbooks? Better education at
>lower cost. Can politicians resist that?
> > Few ever got a clue.  Teachers fell further and further behind.
> >
> > The situation was so bad in Hillsboro (personal anecdote), home
> > of Intel in Oregon (Aloha plant) that the police got into the home
> > schooling business, tried to do outreach to tomorrow's gangland
> > by setting up a Linux Lab in West Precinct (where I came in, as
> > a contract instructor).
>I have an idea for going after homeschooling networks with OLPCs and
>Sugar, also.
> > The schools had proved incompetent to do their jobs (educating
> > for the future), so the Chief of Police was stepping in (he was
> > 2nd generation Chinese immigrant).
> >
> > I lectured about this Hillsboro experiment to the London Knowledge
> > Lab on my way to the Shuttleworth Foundation meeting with
> > Helen King et al, our benevolent dictator, Guido, another member
> > of our merry party (Scheme also represented).
>I met Guido at a BayPiggies meeting (Bay Area Python Interest Group) at
>Google, where I mentioned to the audience that both Guido and I were
>trying to compile sugar-jhbuild, and reporting to one of the mailing
>lists, and that I had not been able to do it. He chimed in from the
>audience that he had failed to build it also.
> > This was a meeting about South Africa, making long term plans even
> > then (government officials were part of Mark's entourage).
>The Shuttleworth Foundation funded development of a suite of digital
>learning resources for high school math and sciences for South Africa.
> >> > Are lesson plans and small programs available, for example,
> >>
> >> Probably. There are well over 100,000 digital learning resources on the
> >> Net. You can find some of them on pages linked from
> >>
> >> http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Open_Education_Resources
> >>
> >> We will need a substantial number of teachers to review them, compare
> >> them, and select those that do the best job making concepts clear in
> >> ways that will stay with students.
> >
> > The South African model was shaping up to serve auto-didacts.
> >
> > Kids who could self teach would stand the best chance.
>I would like to see how much of that we can help children learn, given
>that they learn languages and cultures, among other things, with no formal
> > The teachers were proving hopeless.  Adult teachers could not be
> > expected adapt to these technologies in sufficient time in sufficient
> > number.  Those were the facts on the ground.
>I don't think that that is necessarily so, and I intend to have our
>Replacing Textbooks project create a sufficient set of teacher training
>materials also. On some points, however, we might have to wait until some
>of our XO students enter teachers colleges.
> > It's not like anyone wanted it to be this way.  One had to make the
> > best of a bad situation.
> >
> >>
> >> > where students could write and
> >> > "drop in" a script that includes integers and the output would not
> >> only
> >> > calculate it, but see the relevance of it in a real world situation?
> >>
> >> There are many ways to do that. One of the weirder ones is my Turtle Art
> >> Turing Machine for addition. ^_^
> >>
> >> 
> http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Activities/TurtleArt/Tutorials/Turtle_Art_Turing_Machine
> >>
> >> More directly to your needs, Pippy is a Sugar activity that shows a
> >> number of Python examples that students can edit. For example,
> >>
> >> Fibonacci
> >> a, b = 0, 1
> >> while b< 1001:
> >>     print b,
> >>     a, b = b, a+b
> >>
> >> Changing the 0, 1 in the first line changes this from a generator of
> >> Fibonacci numbers to a generator of the related Lucas numbers. There is
> >> a Pascal's Triangle program. Plotted mod 2, it reveals a Sierpinski
> >> fractal.
> >
> > "Generator" also has a technical meaning in Python, such that one
> > might actually write a Fibonacci generator (of the GeneratorType).
> >
> >>
> >> Relevant Python resources include NumPy and PyGame.
> >>
> >> > Or, perhaps, the program controls a "wheelchair" robot and students
> >> would
> >> > write scripts to drive the robot at a certain speed considering the
> >> slope
> >> > of a ramp?
> >>
> >>  See the Etoys tutorial challenge for programming a "car", and the robot
> >> program in Uruguay with robots controlled by Sugar software.
> >
> > Alan Kay was at that Shuttleworth meeting in Kensington.  I'm sure
> > there've been many follow-up meetings which I've not been privy to, plus
> > I've continued to meet with Oregon-based colleagues.
>I met Alan Kay at the 40th anniversary of Doug Engelbart's Mother of All
>Demos at Stanford. I had met Doug previously, and was apparently the first
>to show him an XO.
> > I also work with an outfit in Sonoma County, where Python is concerned.
> >
> >>
> >> http://www.flickr.com/photos/christophd/4827926508/
> >> XO turned into a robot thanks to the Butiá project
> >>
> >> > As you can see, I am a novice, but I see great potential and am
> >> > willing to learn.
> >>
> >> Delighted to meet you.
> >>
> >
> > Ed writes a lot of good posts on many a math-related list.  I recommend
> > paying attention to his thinking (I know I do).
>Thanks, Kirby.
> > Kirby
> > _______________________________________________
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> > http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/edu-sig
> >
>Edward Mokurai
>&#1580;) Cherlin
>Silent Thunder is my name, and Children are my nation.
>The Cosmos is my dwelling place, the Truth my destination.
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