Teaching Python: Adapting to Diversity

Discovering one size does not fit all when teaching programming using Python was more of a shock than it should have been. Unfortunately, the end point has to be the same for all students (pass the Standard!) and the time to get there is usually invariant. This talk will cover my different experiences in teaching different genders and different socio-economic groups over a three year period in Auckland schools. The classes shared only a few things in common – classes were after school, one day a week, I was there for a term and I had some help in the form of tutors from a local IT company. The interesting part is the ways in which the classes varied and as a consequence, how I had to adapt teaching.

Presented by

Margot Phillipps

Margot Phillipps trained as a secondary teacher after a number of years as a commercial programmer. She taught Computing in polytechnics for 18 years and then taught in a co-educational school (Mathematics and Computing) . As students taking Programming at the school were disadvantaged by the qualification system, she began advocating for Programming to be a subject worthy of academic credit. She was co-author of a Computer Society published report which arguably led to the introduction of formal standards in the Computer Science strand of Digital Technology. She served on Teachers Subject Associations in the US and New Zealand (CSTA and NZACDITT) and founded New Zealand as a participant in the International Olympiad in Informatics. Phillipps served for several years as the Executive Director for the IOI and still serves as Chair of the New Zealand Informatics Olympiad. Phillipps also co-founded the Programming Challenge 4 Girls, which at its height had 22 universities or schools internationally running a day long program for year 10 girls to introduce them to programming in a success-oriented day. Currently employed at ACG Sunderland, teaching Computer Science and Mathematics she also served as the chair of the International Committee of CSTA. Since the introduction of the NCEA standards she has taught teachers and students at other schools for 3 years, supported by volunteer staff from a local IT company.


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