Discussions about teaching Python, especially to children.
This will be led by David Handy.
Intro from David
3 people teaching python, up from 2 last year, 1 the year before. 16 people attending.
David Ahl (David is looking for the teaching programming book by David Ahl). It inspired him to learn how to program.
Teach people programming as early as possible, even if they don't want to become professional programmers.
His high school dropped their programming class, so the moire pattern print outs that he did were still hanging ten years later.
There isn't a book anymore which will teach a beginner how to program. He was looking for something simple and interactive like BASIC to teach his children. He discovered Python, but there wasn't an entry level book, so he decided to write one.
He's been working on it for 2 years. Writing a book is hard work. As hard as any coding work he's ever done. _Computer Prtogramming is fun_ Draft, 117 pages.
Lots of feedback on how to provide it to others, whether to put it on a website. Consensus was that the more there was on the web site, the positive word of mouth and the better potential sales might be.
Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner, Mike Dawson. 2003 isbn 1592000738. For anyone new to programming, not specific for children.
Want to promote more free documents under a license that allow people to work together
Josh Cogliati's tutorials are great. Game programming is very interesting to children.
The right way is less important than the way that works. Not too much emphasis on the theorically correct way, should have more emphasis on the way that produces results.
How to eliminate the barriers that are self-inflicted (I don't know how to do this). How do I make quake?
Math is not the best way to teach programming to children. You don't have to give them lots of details because kids like to experiment. But older kids get a lot of math in the course of regular schooling. For them, a mix of computer science and Python may help make the math a lot more palatable, plus expose them to math they probably wouldn't get at all in a traditional high school sequence.
You can go a very long way before you introduce the conception of function.
How important is a graphical environment for teaching Python (Altis) Pycard.
Alice 3d environment (no longer has much connection to Python)
8th and 9th grade with python, they use idle, because they only hav 5 days. They stay bare bones, because they want to learn the language not the tool.
user input, responses, they could do and show to their siblings and parents, having the interaction.
Lingo, mastermind for words.
Different people find different things more or less successful. There are lots of people who have difficulty with words and numbers, and found the gui more accessible. Try to reach people in all the different learning modes.
Pictures on the screen were important for learning. just because they're entertaining. but may not be true for everyone
Sound is a fun thing to learn how to do.
"Intruder alert" one of MichaelBernstein's first programs.
Programming classes are less available now than ever before.
2d is easier to do than 3d (there's too much math in 3d). However, a good 3d module may simplify matters, by providing the math as an included battery.
sound: oossaudiodev on linux (or something on windows) music module, write notes, to play sounds. He wrote a theme song for the book.
who'd the 12 year old: someone who's teaching themselves? yes. Give the book to the 12 year old, and let them have at it. They'd be more successful with a mentor. The mentor aspect was more helpful than actual instruction. They were interested and encouraging rather than instructional.
A chapter for the parents. How to help someone use this book. How to share this book with someone.
Computer club: after school club. Programming classes may mena they have no programming club. Adult guidance is important to change from ideas to reality. If you want to do this, why don't you do this first.
Jeff's high school has a users group, and his students wrote Guido van Robot. both as a side project, and as a class project. Student and adult mentoring. Kids have enthusiasm, and need a bit of guidance. call your local school and volunteer to mentor children programming.
There was also a discussion of making it easier for teachers to share and contribute programming lessons and exercises. Jeff Elkner talked about his work on the PyBiblio section of the Open Book Project. Everyone thought that Tim Wilson's Programming Problems posted there were good. Jeff wants to use Lore from the Twisted project to mark up the Live Wires material and to create a tool for teachers to do the same so that they can contribute material in the same format.
We also discussed using wiki's for the same purpose. Zwiki was recommended and that led to a discussion of wikis being used for similiar purposes. We looked and wikibooks.org and noted that their Python "text" could use considerable contributions.