[K12OSN] Re: K12OSN Digest, Vol 27, Issue 19

pogson robert.pogson at gmail.com
Thu May 11 18:17:26 UTC 2006

On Thu, 2006-11-05 at 12:00 -0400, 
Petre Scheie <petre at maltzen.net> wrote:
 What programming languages are people teaching in K12LTSP environment

I believe PASCAL is a great first language. I use FreePascal from
http://www.freepascal.org. It can be used for procedural and OOP. I like
PASCAL because it was designed for the purpose and has a rather small
vocabulary. Students do not  need much more than the compiler and a
simple text editor like vim or gedit. For preparing students for the
workplace, C would be better, but it could be put in an intermediate or
advanced course. A first course should get them excited about
programming, not overwhelm them. With databases, I use MySQL. I also
teach HTML with a simple text editor and Bluefish. HTML is just the
beginner's level. That extends with PHP, javascript and CGI scripts.
Pascal is good for writing CGI scripts because it has simple, powerful
string handling. To set up servers, one pretty well has to introduce
students to BASH. Starting in grade 9 or 10 and extending to grade 12,
these languages will turn ordinary mortals into rabid computer geeks.

 I think it is important to start as early as possible and do easy stuff
at first. Keep it simple and use lots of examples. I have used the
curriculum in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, in Canada. Alberta is
the best. They have a large number of Career and Technology Studies
modules. Related to computers, one finds material on graphics, computer
hardware, networking and programming. The idea is to bring teachers
knowledgeable and excited about the field together with students who do
not know what to do with themselves and to give the students the idea
that they can do magic. I was once teaching a class in networking. The
topic was ethernet cabling and I was getting students to assemble
cables. A student visited the class on some errand and asked to join.
She became the superstar being able to install PCs, networks and servers
without ever having touched hardware before or having any idea that this
might be in her future. The modules are flexible. Students are evaluated
on accomplishments and keen students can finish a module and go onto the
next. See http://www.education.gov.ab.ca/k_12/curriculum/bySubject/cts/
The strands I have used are Information Processing, Electrotechnologies
and Communication Studies. Saskatchewan's curriculum is decent but not
as extensive. Manitoba has finally done a re-write from ancient articles
and is getting close. With the Alberta curriculum, a student could
accomplish all the objectives of the Manitoba curriculum for Computer
Science in one semester. Manitoba spends a year on warm fuzzy things, a
year on introductory topics and a year doing the real stuff. I think
they must be trying to bore the keen students to death... The main
differences are that the Alberta curriculum assumes the teacher is
knowlegeable and on fire permitting many things to be done in parallel.
That is, you teach the warm fuzzies about computers while students write
their first game or search engine. Manitoba seems to assume the teacher
is learning along with students and must plod. I wrote them and did not
receive a reply... I will be teaching in Manitoba this year, and my
students will not fall asleep. I will assume the Manitoba curriculum is
the minimum standard.
A problem is an opportunity.
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