Feedback for the introductory Logo book "Let's Learn Logo"
This page is reserved for feedback for Let's Learn Logo. It is not wikified, but that doesn't mean that I am not interested in hearing about other people's suggestions and corrections. To the contrary, I very eager to hear what you think of it and what aspects of it that can be improved.
Also, the book will be released under a CC license, so if you want to to fork a wiki version of it, by all means go ahead. I am not opposed to applying the wiki process when writing books, I just haven't seen very good results with it yet, so I decided to take another route when writing this one.
Update December 10, 2006: The beta version of the book has been released. The big difference between this and previous incremental updates is mainly that it's a little more polished now, and all the small incoherent details have (or at least should have) been cleaned up. This is the version that will be on the demonstration laptops that are to be delivered soon. Please go have a look and offer feedback.
Update February 27, 2008: I was only recently informed about the server hosting the book being down. Sorry, I haven't checked up on it in quite a while. I will investigate the cause and try to bring it back online as soon as possible.
Comments, suggestions and corrections
Please go ahead and add anything that comes to mind.
The turtle drawing disappear after the concepts are explained, and can there be a kid's LOGO reference guide?
The turtle drawings are very nice, but eventually he disappears. Even if there are no new concepts in latter chapters of the book , he still could appear as a comic character? For example, on the chapter explaining how to do a circle, you could have the turtle continuously making a circle with the pen down, and getting dizzy from all that turning ? On the other hand, having him hanging around just for the sake of entertainment is a bit patronizing to kids, but putting him just a few more times wouldn't hurt?
- I agree 100% that the turtle should occur in the latter parts of book as well, and he will. The reason he doesn't already is simply because David (the illustrator) hasn't gotten that far yet. I don't think illustrations are automatically patronizing just because they serve no other purpose than entertainment. A few wacky turtles could certainly have spiced up a couple of computer science books that I've read... Lethe
As I understand it, the book's main focus is a guide to get into and learn the ins and outs of Logo. But it could also be helpfull to have a reference guide at the end (or as a different project), so that a children could have both ways of learning: Learn Logo using this teaching aid, following its steps; and explore on his own, and throughout his explorations, go for this reference part for specific help, guidance, etc. This would also give a good training/experience on how to access and use reference knowledge in our (the kid's) pursuits in his life.
- If the OLPC wiki standard permits it, the final version will have an interactive menu, where readers can click on a checkbox next to each chapter in the ToC which will tell them which chapters they have to read first in order to be able to read that chapter. Thus it will be simple for them to skip things they aren't really interested in. My intention has always been that readers should see the examples merely as that -- examples, and I try to emphasize that they can draw other things if they like, but maybe I haven't always been entirely successful in that.
- I agree that a more comprehensive reference work would be great as well. However, I doubt I'll have time for that (deadlines for this project are appearing left and right now!). Maybe in a future version?
- Also, I'd like to emphasize that the main goal isn't really to teach Logo per se, but a bunch of less easily quantifiable things, such as basic logical and visual thinking, that programming can be fun, that programming isn't scary etc. Lethe
- Ah, I see.
Keep up the nice work!
- Thanks, and thanks for the comments! Lethe
Oh, and I found about a freely redistributable spanish book called "Squeak: Un Mundo Para Aprender", intended for children as well, which might help in your book: Squeak un Mundo para Aprender .
- My Spanish is pretty poor (how did you know that I speak it at all?), but I'll have a look at it. Lethe
- I didn't :) I like the appealing look of the chapters, so that was the main reason I gave the link, it could inspire a more "spiced up" look for your book.
- Do you have any idea what Logo software will be used or is being developed for the laptop? I'm wondering about this because wouldn't it be excellent if the turtle program also used nice graphics like in the book? I like drawing myself, and, if in the future I can get more time (no promisses), I would like to do a top-view turtle with a pen on his hand (or attached to the back of his "shell"?), with the respective walk animation.
- You may find this unbelievable (I do), but to the best of my knowledge (which means: I heard it from Sammy Klein), there is no Sugarized Logo distribution and nobody is currently working on creating one. The same thing goes for the Logowiki JS implementation: its creators have moved on to other things with the interpretor left unfinished. Since Papert's ideas are fundamental for OLPC's goal, it is quite unthinkable that a working Logo version won't be included on the final laptops, but how that will actually come about is presently anybody's guess. If I had the time I would get to work on it myself, but I don't think I do.
- I think animating the turtle is a nice idea. It has to be easy to switch off though, because eventually such things start getting in the way. I think there are some Logo distributions which animate the turtle by default, but I'm not sure. Lethe
- When that time comes, I'll create a username in the wiki, and get in touch with you.
- Why not create one right away? Right now only you and I are writing on this feedback page, but if other people start to do it too, this dialogue will get pretty messy. That's why I sign every comment even though it's currently obvious that I'm the author of it. Lethe
- You mentioned deadlines as well. Do you know the "deadlines" for the logo software, so that I know if I can fit my idea/work before that time?
- The next versions of software and texts should be finished by December 10. These will be used on the demonstration laptops in five countries. Lethe
Clem Rutter's feedback
Clem Rutter has sent me some very valuable feedback privately. It is too extensive to quote in its entirety, but an (overly brief) summary might be something like: write simpler sentences, introduce "repeat" and similar things earlier, draw more interesting things, go easier on the math, suggest projects larger in scale sooner. (To be clear: that's me summarizing Clem's input, not him.)
I have taken a lot of this to heart and will try to do a lot of the suggested changes in the coming days. Thus, be on the lookout for updates, small or significant. Lethe
I started a thread here:
I'm not sure all they feeback has been made known to you.
--DanielAjoy 14:13, 1 December 2006 (EST)
- Hi Daniel! Sorry for replying so late. There was no action on this page for about a week, and with lots of other things to think about I just forgot about it entirely. In any case, yes, I am aware of that thread. I just haven't posted yet. Lethe
DanielAjoy 13:50, 1 December 2006 (EST)
I think this work you are doing is very valuable
- Thank you, that's always nice to hear. Lethe
The turtle wants you to help him draw things. He can't draw on his own. But he can draw very fast. He is a computer turtle, after all.
- I wonder if calling the turtle a HE is going to cause trouble when we translate the book to spanish. In spanish a turtle is "la tortuga" femenine.
- I suspect the same is true for most languages with Latin origins. Luckily, the solution is very simple: just let him be female in those translations. (Curiously, this has a well known precedent: the translation of GEB, another "computer book" aimed at a general audience which happened to feature a male turtle character, into French). There is no point in the book where the sex of the turtle is of any relevance.
- A digression: I have considered letting the turtle be female even in English, but it is an unfortunate fact that young girls find it easier to identify with a male protagonist than the other way round. One could argue that this is an effect of social norms, and that it is the duty of people who write for children to subvert such norms by means of language. It would then be a moral imperative to feature a female turtle. I am sympathetic to such arguments, but I am not willing to risk losing readers because of the turtle's gender. Thus he will stay male where possible. Lethe
Why 90 and not some other number? A long time ago humans decided that a full turn should be 360 degrees. A half turn was 180 degrees. That is when you turn around and face the other way. A quarter turn was 90 degrees. (A quarter is half of a half.) We have taught the turtle this.
- I would say, the turtle already knows this. Because who are we, the authority, I thought the kid was the master.
- Agreed! I will change this.
Now we write a [ sign: REPEAT 20 [
- You are explaining things here syntactically, but there is another way with give more insight into what's really happening:
- Repeat receives two things: a number and a list of commands (instructions?) to perform, with these two piaces of information it know to repeat the instructions a certain number of times. Lists are represented as a series of commands between brackets.
- But I don't know which one is best for kids, or if it's worth it to explain this thing (which is a little harder to understand) considering the scope of the book.
- I considered something like this, but decided against it. Einstein famously said that everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler. I think you're allowed to bend that rule slightly when explaining things to kids for whom even reading is probably a major challenge. The repeat command is introduced very early, and I believe any explanation which is not entirely syntactic would at this stage be confusing. There are many semi-inaccuracies of that sort in the book/tutorial, hopefully most of them intentional. Lethe
Why does the turtle call the first pen number 0 and not number 1? He just likes to start counting at 0. He's a little nuts that way.
Tell the turtle SETPC and then a number between 0 and 15
- I would always try to emphasize the meaning of those abreviated commands saying something like SETPC SETs the Pen Color
- Initially I didn't used abbreviated commands at all, but Clem Rutter changed my mind. He made the point that to the children he had taught these weren't abbreviated commands, they were simply new words. Children learn new words all the time, so to them it's doesn't matter if SETPC is an abbreviation. It's the word for changing the pen color and that's that. This is also how I present Logo: as a language the turtle speaks. Why should he speak a language that consists of abbreviations from our language?
- Another issue is that if you start explaining what the words come from rather than what they do, you will find eventually find yourself in the awkward position of having to explain something like "print" and other remains from earlier days of computing that won't make sense to the children.
- The third, and perhaps most important, issue is that you can't always count on the command set of Logo being translated alongside the book. Then explanations become worse than useless -- explaining what commands mean in another language the kids don't understand obviously adds a layer of complexity and confusion that helps no one.
- At least, that's my current motivation for not expanding the short form as part of the explanation. Lethe
- I like my Logo code colored. Example: http://mondragon.angeltowns.net/paradiso/ValorDePi.html
- Different colors for:
- to/end a strong contrast color with bold letters
- brackets,parethesis,and curly brackets
- numbers and words
- I like that too. Unfortunately, I don't yet know what Logo version will be included on the laptop, and I want the code in the book to look like the one the readers write themselves. If they can't color it, neither should I. Many Logo distributions don't have automatic syntax coloring. Hopefully it will be possible to color the code, but it is something I will wait adding until I know for certain. Lethe