Back to my regularly scheduled CCOW Activities.
I dabbled this week at some of the Week 4 activities. I skipped the advanced features activity because I have been trying to use some of Scratch 2.0s advanced features in previous weeks. I looked at some of the resources on the ScratchEd site for the Activity Exploration but I did not keep track of the ones I looked at.
My focus has been on my Personal Project to Pursue Programming in Python as a Pastime. As I delve into the resources, my focus is getting clearer.
1) I want to build upon my experience using Scratch to teach myself how to Code in Python.
2) I want to document my personal experience and explore how I can help my students make the transition from SCRATCH to real-world programming.
The focus for me is strongly on 1)– I (Sean McGaughey- life long learner, and dabbler in all sorts of creative endeavours) want to learn more advanced programming. I was thinking that because of this primary focus that my project might be beyond the scope of the CCOW workshop. I think I was mistaken. All the feedback I have had about this project has been positive. I was greatly encouraged when 2 of the facilitators (Ingrid and Laura I think) each mentioned my project on CCOW office hours yesterday. It seems that many people are interested in how to move from SCRATCH’s controlled sandbox into the big Programming Playground beyond. I hope as I chronicle my transition it can be helpful for other teachers and their students.
Reflections from my first few days working with python.
- I spent a lot of time researching IDE (Integrated Development Environments) for python. Think– word processors that also check your code for you, help you by automagically finishing what you are typing, and like scratch provide some kind of stage or window to show your code in action. Python comes with a perfectly good IDE called IDLE, but I investigated about 6 before I settled upon pyscripter for windows. It autosuggests commands and variables, it automatically completing brackets and auto-indents lines of code into blocks. This makes it easier for me to learn the correct use of spaces and indentation. It also has very intuitive syntax-checkers and debuggers which are also helping me understand how to structure code in python. *Next week I should write a blog post comparing the IDE of scratch to some of those available for python and other programming languages.
- Does anyone know of an IDE for python that has the same main features as SCRATCH– ie Stage to run the program, heirarchical lists or menus of available commands, editor to put the code in?
- Bah! The Training Wheels are definitely off. Python is fiddly– Spaces, punctuation, case, and indentation all have meaning. Make a simple error in any of them and the program will not run. (Fortunately a good IDE will help to make it easier to learn the ‘rules of the road’ for how code should be structured.
Resources I have used this week:
I have been trying to specifically use ‘python for kids’ books because they are aimed at beginners and because I want to know what is available for my students. I found 3 to be very useful.
All three of these resources are available for free online, but each of the authors also has newer revised editions of these books available for purchase as paper books or ebooks. I like the playful, humour filled style of all three authors and I am sure kids would enjoy them too.
Potential blog posts:
- Compare the object oriented nature of scratch (Sprites and Code blocks snapped together) with python (Functions, modules and libraries).
- Prepare some code examples in both Scratch and Python
- Make a bit of a graphical metaphor using buckets, boxes or something to show how python interchangeably uses variables, lists, tuples, functions, libraries etc… *Basically– anything you can give a name and value to can be used in place of any other thing that outputs a value– “If you know the correct syntax– erm ‘the magic words’ “.
That’s all for this week. I’m looking forward to spending more time with CCOW now that school is over.
My other week 4 posts: