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Monday, July 16, 2018

Code for Teens Review

When I was a kid, we would play with and build things out of sticks, rocks, plywood, and whatever we could find out back, sometimes with a sprinkler added in. My kids also enjoy a little bit of stuff like that, but being able to create with technology is more their thing. They like drones, tablets, stop motion video, and all things with USB chargers. Being able to program is exciting for them. When my teens were offered the opportunity to review Code for Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1) they wanted to try it out. Being able to create computer functions from their own knowledge is rewarding and helps them develop problem solving skills.

This is a new book from Code for Teens that teaches JavaScript in a simple yet fun way. Okay, I hear some of you asking what JavaScript is. It's a programming language that is frequently used to develop software. It is used in over 90% of websites, and is commonly used with mobile apps. Back when I learned to program websites, Java was a neat tool that we used to add fun functionality to them. Now it does more than ever before, and believe it or not... teens and kids can learn it. How's that for preparing for their future?

The author states that he intended children and teenagers, or anyone who could read at a 6th grade level, to use this book. His goal was for the reader to to learn how to code, explain their own code, and build it from scratch. The author is a homeschooling father, and his wife is the illustrator.

Each chapter is set up in a logical and step-by-step manner. The great thing about using this book is that your student (or you!) can learn at their own pace. My kids used it 2-3 times a week, but since we're reviewing it during the summer we weren't consistent every week. Despite that, they have learned plenty and I'll have them finish the book.

There are plenty of opportunities to practice what is taught. Each page is set up so the student can work right along with the lesson. It teaches vocabulary and code in a step by step way, with each thing to do highlighted in gray. Blue text in gray highlights is what the student enters. Red text in gray highlights is what the computer responds with. The first chapter explains that it's just like playing follow the leader!

The student should be keeping a document called the Workbook as they progress through the chapters. This Workbook should contain their answers to the quizzes and drills. The student should be held accountable for their work and asked to show their Workbook to a parent or someone who can verify the student is completing the work correctly.

When my kids would sit down with this book and a computer, they would often come away from that learning session and tell me how fun the book is to use. They described to me what funny things the author had written in the chapter section they had worked on. And do you know what that translated into? This type of conversation with my 8th grader:
"Mom! That was hard, I had to try four times to get it right, but I did it! This book is so fun!"
"What was hard about it? Can you explain to me what you were learning today?"
"We had to assign kids where they would play FourSquare, it had to have four courts and sixteen kids playing. I had to type ..................... (Mom gets confused) ................ but I fixed .............. and then it worked!"
"Wow, that does sound hard. I'm glad you kept trying until you figured it out. I can see you're learning a lot!"

Now, don't worry if you're a lot like me and get confused with this stuff because there is an answer key in the back of the book with all of the answers for the chapter Drills, Quizzes, etc., and a Recommended Solution for the DIY projects (as discussed in the example above.) If your student would like to connect with other students using this product, they can visit the Code for Teens website and join the forum.

I asked my 10th grader what she liked about this book. She says it's fun, it's the funnest way to learn coding that she's tried. It also makes more sense than other methods. She likes the way this book teaches, it's written in a way that she can understand it right away when she reads it. Whoever wrote it is a really funny person, so if you read it thoroughly you'll get the funny jokes in it and want to read more.

The Conclusion explains why the book does not have the student create a webpage or build something to send to friends... it's because they would need to also learn HTML or even CSS. But if you've learned how to use JavaScript, those two will be a piece of cake! If your student enjoyed what they learned in this book, they can move on to Volume 2 and build web pages, games, begin to learn HTML and CSS, and much more! (At the time of this post, Volume 2 is not yet available)

By the way, we used this book with Windows 10 on a laptop with Chrome, as well as on a Chromebook. You can use any computer operating on Windows, MacOS, Linux, or ChromeOS with this book. But not a phone or tablet.

Do your teens or older children want to learn to code? This book is a great way to get them started, and I feel like it is a better start than other methods. Check it out today!

Where to find Code for Teens:

1 comment:

  1. This is fabulous! I have been looking for such a product for my son.