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Python

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by Bateman8936, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. Bateman8936

    Bateman8936 New commenter

    First post!
    So, I'm a PGCE ICT student with a degree in Computer Science. With all of the hype at the moment about what's going to happen to ICT and Computer Science, my view is that both of the disciplines are extremely valuable and both have a place in schools.
    Anyway, before Christmas, during my first placement I was speaking with my HOD and we both had similar views, valuing ICT but seeing the value in increasing technical demand. As such, we decided that the SoW that I have to plan for my return to the placement after Easter should be something along the lines of a brief introduction to Computer Programming for KS3. I've been toying with a number of ideas for this and I'm keen to avoid Scratch as this is already taught in another unit. So, after numerous conversations, I've been looking at Python. Has anyone used this for any KS3 lessons and how did it go?
    I'm just looking for some general tips and advice really as this is my first scheme of work planning something new to the school.
    Thanks in advance for any help!
     
  2. Bateman8936

    Bateman8936 New commenter

    First post!
    So, I'm a PGCE ICT student with a degree in Computer Science. With all of the hype at the moment about what's going to happen to ICT and Computer Science, my view is that both of the disciplines are extremely valuable and both have a place in schools.
    Anyway, before Christmas, during my first placement I was speaking with my HOD and we both had similar views, valuing ICT but seeing the value in increasing technical demand. As such, we decided that the SoW that I have to plan for my return to the placement after Easter should be something along the lines of a brief introduction to Computer Programming for KS3. I've been toying with a number of ideas for this and I'm keen to avoid Scratch as this is already taught in another unit. So, after numerous conversations, I've been looking at Python. Has anyone used this for any KS3 lessons and how did it go?
    I'm just looking for some general tips and advice really as this is my first scheme of work planning something new to the school.
    Thanks in advance for any help!
     
  3. madcat

    madcat Occasional commenter

    I'm a big fan of Python and have tried using it with various age groups .
    Yes, it is great and kids find the basic/initial structures and code pretty easy to grasp.
    But what it needs is some sort of child friendly IDE - all the ones I've managed to find look either very dull or daunting. - usually both.
    Which immediately puts off the non techy ones esp. the girls
    Small Basic has a great interface - attractive look; bright colours; contextual help; graphics window etc - and Game Maker is also pretty good
    I'm sure that Python would really take off if someone could produce something similar for it.
    Maybe it is already out there, but to date having looked at dozens of them I haven't found it.
    So for the moment, I'm sticking with Small Basic. It is not perfect by any means but it gets over the general ideas of coding and the turtle graphics are nice link back to early work with Logo
    Come on Active State , produce a nice skin for Komodo add a bit of contextual help , you'll make a fortune

    I
     
  4. madcat

    madcat Occasional commenter

  5. You didn't say how many hours you were planning, but here are some suggestions that you might consider.
    Actually, if your pupils have already done a Scratch unit, you're in a perfect place to move them onto higher level concepts with BYOB (Scratch interface, more powerful). BYOB will allow them to try subprograms (functions, procedures) and recursion. You could do some classic Logo type drawing exercises (shapes, trees) because they already know how to make the sprites draw. That means you can concentrate on helping them learn to break problems down and debug their algorithms, not work the buttons on the interface. You don't always have to teach a "new" tool to facilitate learning.
    If you want something "new" but visual with a bit of challenge look at GeomLab. It's a functional language approach with typing at a command line but the output is a visual picture. Treat it as an independent learning exercise. Show them a few basics and see if they can construct more complex images. It provides facilities for subprograms and recursion. The key is to get the pupils to "look" and "think" about the results of their instructions.
    Good luck with your new placement!

     
  6. Much as I love Python - if you;re after a learner-friendly environment you could do far worse than CodeAcademy. It holds your hand through the exercises pretty well, while still giving you some challenge and you can use the skills to create simple web-apps. Allowing the kids to write code that launches dialogue boxes can be strangely motivating, and if your school will let them sign in with their Facebook account then the badges they earn for completing tasks will also popularise programming with all their friends there too.


    Await a barrage of trolling and criticism of me suggesting we use Facebook as a force for good, but it's an idea, isn't it?
     
  7. tjra

    tjra Occasional commenter

    CodeAcademy seems great but won't bloody work in Internet Explorer. On asking the technicians if we could have an alternative for the students (Chrome! Chrome!) I'm simply told it isn't feasible and won't work. ARGH!
     
  8. tjra

    tjra Occasional commenter

    On topic, I've looked a bit at YouSRC. It's had some good feedback from other users and CAS have mentioned it too. I'm looking at it as a serious option for when we start our Computing GCSE in September. The guy running it has been very helpful and friendly when I've e-mailed him.
     
  9. sianey

    sianey New commenter

    I know you said that Scratch was being 'done' in another Unit, but you can't really 'do' Scratch if you think of it as being a programing language you don't really 'do' C++.
    Try concentrating on the concepts you want them to learn and then decide which package offers them this. If you want to teach them about loops and procedural programming then Scratch is very good for that, so use it. OR I often use logo for teaching loops - you can produce fantastic spiral patterns and they understand the benefit of using the loop once they start doing it one command at a time. Even start by doing the same pattern with a compass and pencil - no class of mine has ever failed to enjoy doing sprials in logo.

    I would personally stick to Scratch, Logo or VB. These cover every programing concept you might want to cover and there is no benefit to learning many different packages, one for each concept. Try and think of a unit like 'going loopy' and explore loops in different packages and ways.
     

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