For several of the programming assignments, labs, and projects in CSE 231, we have been using the Turtle package in Python. I think the resource worked *very* well when we used it for the early labs and projects, because students were intrigued and excited by the idea of drawing with a Python program.
Some of my output drawings that my students came up with for their Project 2 are included below:
But, I think there is such a thing as using a teaching tool too much. For Project 4, which emphasizes the writing and use of functions, students will be using Turtle yet again – this time to draw an American flag. I’m worried that this repeated use of Turtle is actually going to limit their programming creativity by failing to present them with other interesting types of programs they could create. Turtle is so easy to employ as a teacher; it takes the pressure off of us to create artistic project ideas from scratch: creativity and visual learning are built-in with Turtle. But, if we don’t diversify our activities that our students are doing, they won’t realize the vastly different ways we can apply programming.
I’m having trouble finding literature about what is *too much* use of a teaching tool in computing. I know there must be some out there… There is a whole group of people who are anti-Scratch or anti-Alice, so I’m sure there’s publications out there somewhere. Must continue looking.