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Teaching Unit- Introduction to Computer Programming
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richard
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Exclamation Teaching Unit- Introduction to Computer Programming - 04-12-2007, 09:11 AM

Hi All,

I'm a secondary science/IT teacher in Australia and think you have created a great development environment and community here!

I wanted to use Alice for an introductory programming course but unfortunately couldn't find any suitable resources. So I developed a unit of work to fit my needs, it still needs work but should be a good foundation to improve upon.

In the spirit of freedom I'm giving the unit back to the community under a CC licence. Naturally its designed for my school requirements and possibly not yours. However, the liberal licence should allow you to tailor the unit to meet your needs.

Here it is: http://tinyrock.com/resources/29714/Programming-Module

It is viewable on the site as iPaper or downloadable as PDF and DOC.

There are also a stack more of my teacher resources at http://tinyrock.com/resources

Would love some feedback or collaboration to develop this further. Hope you find it useful.

Cheers,
Richard

tinyrock.com - My Site
Termites - Free seating plan software

Last edited by richard; 07-19-2008 at 11:50 PM. Reason: Updated links
   
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DrJim
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Default 04-12-2007, 01:10 PM

A nice link - thanks.

How did your students respond to the introduction to Ruby?
   
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lanceA
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Default 04-12-2007, 07:31 PM

richard -
GREAT link. If you are interested in how others have formulated their curriculum try http://www.aliceprogramming.net/. You will find other teachers input at that site. There is a wealth of information for developing syllabii, etc.

Good luck and thank you for sharing.

lanceA
   
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richard
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Default 04-12-2007, 07:34 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrJim View Post
A nice link - thanks.

How did your students respond to the introduction to Ruby?

Thanks

Short anwser: great with significant scaffolding by the teacher.

Long answer:

Since the teachers who will be teaching this unit have no programming experience and little computer expererience I needed a development environment where the teachers could act as facilitators rather than the traditional chalk and talk. Additionally, most of the students are from a low socioeconomic area with limited access to computers or the internet outside school (its tricky because 30% of the students are IT selective!). At the current time Ruby dosn't have suitable resources, the most suitable was Learn to Program, by Chris Pine.

Initially, Ruby was the platform but no matter how I modified my teaching methods the students still found it frustrating. This is definitly not a fault of the language, its fantastic and I use it for most of my own projects now, but its a poor first exposure to programming in my opinion for the same reasons that C is.

That said, the students who make it to the extension lessons just love it, the challenge is high enough to maintain their interest and the syntax clean enough to avoid most of the frustrations inherient in other languages. However, they still need lots of hand holding and scaffolding of activities. Although Ruby has a clean syntax, it makes uses of some concepts that are useful and obvious if you are already an experienced developer but completly confusing if you arn't. Most of my time was spent explaining those gotcahs and fixing syntax errors. Thats why the extension lesson points to Try Ruby, the students just follow the instructions.

My senior software development class is using Ruby as their primary langauge at the moment and are beginning to become productive after 10 weeks. Even though the language is so concise they still manage to write incredibly inelegant code!

Cheers,
Richard

Last edited by richard; 04-12-2007 at 07:44 PM.
   
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richard
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Smile 04-12-2007, 07:44 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by lanceA View Post
richard -
GREAT link. If you are interested in how others have formulated their curriculum try http://www.aliceprogramming.net/. You will find other teachers input at that site. There is a wealth of information for developing syllabii, etc.

Good luck and thank you for sharing.

lanceA
No problem, thanks!

Yeah I considered that textbook before developing the unit. It seemed a bit advanced for what I'm trying to accomplish with the students at our school though.

That said, I'll be running the unit next term with about 6 teachers, and depending on how they respond I'll decide whether to buy a few of reference books for them.

Cheers,
Richard
   
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lanceA
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Default 04-12-2007, 08:01 PM

Wow!! You have 6 teachers for computer science? Congratulations.

Obviously there is a GREAT interest in the subject 'down-under'. Good luck.

I teach college-level computer science in a high school environment and we are experiencing sever recruitment issues. The use of ALICE has increased enrollment in the last 2 years by approximately 48%.

Good luck.
   
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lanceA
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Default 04-12-2007, 08:08 PM

If you are looking for texts for the very basics in ALICE try these:

ISBN: 978-1-4188-5934-3 - VERY basic

ISBN: 978-1-4188-3625-2 - more advanced

ISBN: 978-1-4188-3771-6 - nice for beginners

ISBN: 978-0-321-47515-2 - I just received this book and can not comment about its content

Good luck,
   
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richard
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Thumbs up 04-12-2007, 08:34 PM

The teachers are well out of their subject areas and not feeling very comfortable. Thats why Alice is so great!

It's a general IT course for Year 10 (15-16 year olds), the computer science part is just a one term unit of work.

Thanks for those ISBN's, exactly what I needed

Cheers,
Richard
   
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Teaching assistance
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Center for Visualization
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Talking Teaching assistance - 04-13-2007, 09:52 AM

Please look at the website www.aliceprogramming.org for assistance with lesson plans, etc. There is also The Alice Newsletter that is very helpful. Subscribe by emailing bconover@sju.edu, at the Center's office and for any questions.

Barbara
   
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DickBaldwin
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Default 04-13-2007, 01:56 PM

Hello Richard,

I don't know if this will interest you and your six teachers or not, but if you are short of textbook material, it might.

I am in the process of publishing a set of free online Alice programming tutorials designed for students who have no programming background at the following URL:

http://www.dickbaldwin.com/tocalice.htm

All but two of the following lessons are complete, and those two lessons will be complete within a week or two.

100 Getting Started
105 Setting the Stage
110 Objects in 3D Space
115 Setting the Stage Manually, Part 1
120 Setting the Stage Manually, Part 2
125 Your First Alice Program
130 The Program Development Cycle
135 Functions that Return Values
140 Data Types and Variables
145 World-Level Methods
150 Class-Level Methods and Inheritance
155 Syntax, Runtime, and Logic Errors
160 Expressions and Operators
165 Sequence, Selection, and Loop Structures
170 Relational and Logical Operators
175 Counter Loops, Nested Loops, and Sentinel Loops
180 Arrays and Lists
185 Event Handling and Interactive Programming

900 Appendix A, Behavior of Primitive Methods
920 Appendix E, Restrictions and Limitations for Alice 2.0

Your teachers may be particularly interested in Appendix A. As far as I know, it is the only document available anywhere on the web that attempts to explain and to illustrate the behavior of all twenty of the primitive Alice methods.

Dick Baldwin
   
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