For those of you who might teach programming and are looking for a great beginner language, look into Small Basic by Microsoft. It is free, it is easy, and it comes with a nice, well-thought out curriculum that is down loadable as a series of PowerPoints or online. Further information and download is available here. Using Small Basic reminds me a little of my first programming class back at Davison Middle School. 32 students and two Commodore PET computers. Good times!
As always, here is a quick video:
A couple of things. One, the publish feature is pretty cool. Second, if you follow the curriculum, you graduate from text-based programs to graphics and the turtle, to controls. I teach an Introduction to Programming class using VB Express 2010 and I am going to use Small Basic as an introduction to programing theory to talk about variables, conditions, looping, etc. Then, move on to VB. I will let you know how it goes. Try it out. I think this would be awesome for a middle school beginning programming course.