I will be teaching a Python class for dual-credit this Spring semester so I figured I ought to learn Python before then. No big deal, I am used to learning a language in a hurry to a level I can teach it, and there is no other way of learning the language. I worked through “Think Python” by Allen Downey which got the fundamentals out of the way. The book was OK but did a lot of string manipulation assignments which is about as exciting as watching grass grow. Oh well, the book is free which is the major factor in my textbook selection. I am now working through “Making Games with Python & Pygame” by Al Sweigart. Another freebee. This is a bit more fun but I am not too crazy about the approach. The author gives a program code at the beginning of the chapter then disassembles and explains the code. This would work fine for those motivated to learn the language. For high school kids it is not so optimal. I think I need to keep looking for a fun factor textbook.
After working with Python for a month or so I do not really understand the educational hype I keep hearing about the language. It is a perfectly good language but there are several out there that would seem just as good. It is definitely better than Java or C languages for an early language but for lower levels (middle school or intro high school) Small Basic is much more teachable. Working with Python has helped be design my programming curriculum. My Programming I will stick with Scratch, Small Basic and a very brief glance at Visual Basic. Programming II will be either Python or Corona, depending on who took what last year. Programming III will flip Python and Corona. Kids that hang in there for a fourth semester can be given a choice of what they want to do. I really need to nail this down so it is solid. I keep jumping all over the place (Codea, Alice, App Inventor, GameMaker, Lego Mindstorms, Arduino, Flint’s latest Great Idea) because there is always something new and fun to play with out there but I do not think that approach is best for the kids. Of course once I get this nailed down something new and cool will appear and I will have to mess with it with the kids. I just read an article about Microsoft’s Project Siena. Arggg! Just say no!