Category Archives: technology

Learning Tech and Coding Skills with Simply Coding ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Simply Coding is a company that has created a huge number of classes over topics related to learning to write code for computers and learning technology skills that will benefit everyone. Coding for Kids Annual Membership gives access to everything on the website for one year. They have a 10 day free trial to find out more. But let me tell you about the company, what they offer, and our experience.

Simply Coding is a company that was born out of the understanding from the founders that everyone needs to have a background in technology and some basic code writing skills. Computer science is growing and changing before our eyes and these guys recognized it. Setting up a “summer camp” for their nieces and nephews, they tested their idea and curriculum. Thus, Simply Coding was born and it continues to grow and thrive through summer camps, in school and after school programs, and with online pathways.

The mission of Simply Coding is this: to prepare youth with the core principles of how all software is created so they can feel confident and able to contribute to technology of the future.” – on the About page from the website

In order to fulfill the mission, Simply Coding has over 40 courses that members can access. The site says it is for ages 11 – 18 but there is a lot on there that adults could benefit from, also. There are four areas these courses fit under:

1 – Simply Coding – how to work with various code languages, building websites, using Java, creating games and apps, and more.

2 – Simply Media – classes on photography, videography, different Adobe programs, and more.

3 – Simply Tech Essentials – different application programs, particularly Microsoft but also Google applications and Prezi, plus some general introductions to computers

4 – Simply Tech4Kids has a number of options that will help younger students get into some different technology areas that might be more interesting than the programming websites and such. This includes electronics, blogging, photography, and keyboarding skills, in addition to creating a YouTube channel. Lots of interesting things that I wish we had found earlier! This seems to be materials directed more towards the younger end of the age range for the Simply Coding site.

With the variety of materials on here, it seems there would be something for everyone. The classes run in different formats, depending on what you are learning. I started the photography course and it is simple. An instruction video runs (a few minutes up to 10 minutes per video) and then there is a short quiz to see if you were paying attention. After a few videos, it was time to upload some projects. I was disappointed that I couldn’t go further without uploading projects because I was wanting to learn more about photography but I don’t have a DSL camera. Since I couldn’t upload the projects, I could not continue. Maybe sometime soon. . .

Miss J is 11 and thought that learning to code a simple website would be fun. She started the Intro To Websites course. It us a fairly straight-forward navigation but you must be on a computer that you can download and save to. Which means this is not a portable program for us but we knew that ahead of time. ūüôā

Each section of the lesson lists what it is at the top and you can navigate there through a sidebar to get to where you were working. You read the instructions and the work in the box on the right to complete the task being asked for and see what it does. This clear example is very helpful. If you need a video to teach you what is on the screen, the green button top center will do that for you. This was helpful for Miss J several times as she worked with the program because she just had a difficult time following the instructions. They just didn’t make sense to her. These video reviews really helped.

While this is a great skill to have, it quickly became obvious that Miss J was just not going to enjoy learning to code. This was not a good fit for her. I also struggled with using this program but it had more to do with my time at home on a computer that could work with their coding program.

Simply Coding is a strong company and the way they handle instruction is very good. The variations in styles of instruction varies with instructor and course, which is good. Different courses need different styles of instruction. The video based instruction runs from a video of the actual instructor (photography), to a video of animated instructors (Blogging For Kids), to an audio over a video of the computer screen showing what actions need to be taken for that programming/coding step (Intro to Coding). This variety does a good job of fitting the type of audience the course is aimed at and the type of instruction actually being given/what is needed.

Many students will benefit from Simply Coding and the courses they offer. There is much to be gained from this site and we are going to continue to explore some of the other course options that are not programming. Perhaps one of the girls will want to use the Blogging For Kids course, which is only 5 modules. Or maybe the photography or keyboarding classes.

Any family can gain much with the many different options available on Simply Coding for learning any number of technology-based things.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about other families experiences with Simply Coding because a lot of them have had great success with this company and it was a terrific fit for their tech interested students.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

CompuScholar ~ a Crew review

CompuScholar.jpg

In our digital world, there is great need for everyone to well versed in how things work. Because this is an area I am not strong in, we were really excited to get to review a course by CompuScholar, Inc. that teaches the fundamentals of basic computer understanding and usage. Digital Savvy is designed to help students gain basic computer skills and to become more adept users of technology.

CompuScholar, Inc.
CompuScholar, Inc.

CompuScholar was founded by people who wanted to help students learn to love technology and to be comfortable using it. Previously known by the name Homeschool Programming, this company has a lot to offer. From basic computer science lessons to learning the professional programming languages, the company is working to make these lessons accessible and interesting to students and educators alike. The mission is to publish computing curriculum for use in all learning environments and their vision is to draw on real world experiences to help prepare students for computing jobs of the future.

Their available courses include:

  • Digital Savvy
  • Web Design
  • Windows Programming
  • Java Programming
  • Unity Game Programming
  • Game Programming With Visual Basic
  • Android Programming

CompuScholar, Inc. Digital Savvy
Digital Savvy

Digital Savvy is a course that is designed to teach 6th-12th grade students the basics of information technology. This online course is designed to take up to one year (two-semesters) and reaches both auditory and visual processing learners. Video content is coupled with written text to teach the information in each lesson. The information is the reinforced through a quiz. Each chapter culminates in an application project.

You can find the topics in the course by visiting the CompuScholar website for the Digital Savvy course. Click on course syllabus on the left hand side of the page. This will give you not only the topics but the schedule of study and projects.

The course has 25 chapters. Each chapter has several lessons, a project, and a chapter exam. Within each lesson, there is a lesson video, a lesson text, and a lesson quiz.

The projects vary in what is required. There is often an online submission of the project so that the teacher can grade it.

teacher screen

The instructor side of the program is very well laid out. The instructor will see the same set-up as the student for the chapters and lessons, with the addition of a teacher guide for each lesson and the lesson quiz answer key. The instructor also has an activity solution for the projects. Each project has a rubric to help manage the grading. It took me a bit to find this, though, as it was at the bottom of the page after the teacher has clicked on the submit activity button. But, once I found it, grading the projects was a breeze.

The other main difference between the instructor account and the student account is the Teacher Menu. This is where the grade book is found, as well as tutorials and professional development videos to help with instructing the classes. This menu is also where the instructor manages the students in the class. The grade book is a nice feature that automatically inputs grades from quizzes and graded projects. Percentages are figured for you and it gives you yet another way to see how the students are understanding this course.

Digital Savvy video

What does the student think?

Miss E is just about to turn 13 and is in 7th grade. She has been using the program at the pace of about 2 lessons per week and has completed two and a half chapters. Miss E says:

I do not like watching the video and reading the text but I really feel like need to do both. The text often has things in it that are not covered in the video. I feel like both of these do a good job of explaining the information.

I like the lessons themselves and I actually like the quizzes. The lessons are interesting. Some of it, like a recent lesson, is really interesting, talking about the future of technology. I knew about the self-driving cars but not the self-piloting drones. I like learning new things and these lessons are definitely doing that. I have always been a little bit interested in technology and I like that I am getting to learn that. For the most part, the quizzes are not hard and the questions are fairly simple.

Doing one lesson a week seems kind of slow to me. I think two lessons a week is a good pace. But one lesson a week would allow you to do more research on the subject.

welcome screen

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I am pleased with the course. I wondered about a few things before we began this course so I will share a couple of those with you.

  • As a homeschooler, the student does not have to have access to email for this course. If this were used in a different setting, I do believe the student would need that email access for submitting and receiving feedback from the instructor.
  • One of the¬†questions that I had before we started this course was “would my student have to actually use social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)?” The answer is no. The course does a great job of informing the students about HOW to use these sites without actually using them.
  • There is actual programming work that will be covered but it seems to be just enough to find out¬†how interested the student might be in learning more.
  • There is information covered on how to be safe online and about the digital presence that lingers after a student begins having an online presence.

This is a course I am going to be very glad that Miss E has gotten to use. I will be looking at Miss L taking this course, as well, in a bit. The general computer skills and information technology that is taught about in a methodical way is invaluable.

At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read the reviews of other families using courses from CompuScholar: Digital Savvy  and Web Design and Java Programming.

Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews} 

Crew Disclaimer 

2 Electronic Art Resources – Middle School Monday

electronic-art-resources

I know most people would think we are soooo behind the times. However, we love our Wii game system. Yes, the original. I don’t even have a clue how many new versions have been released since this one was created but there is so much that we enjoy on the Wiielectronic-art.

One of the girls’ favorites is Wii Draw. Miss E has recently been using it a bit more. You can create or color or . . . I honestly don’t even know what all you can do on it but she sure does enjoy it. Art is a favorite for her so any new or varied way of creating art is a joy. She sat here the other day for quite a while working on several different pieces.

Another favorite recently has been the snowflake maker on the Google Santa Tracker games. It is simple coding (drag and drop sort of stuff) and makes lovely snowflake designs. All three of the giggly girls have absolutely adored it and spent hours creating and recreating snowflakes. The only thing is – we have no idea how long they will leave this activity active! We are hoping for a long time because the girls sure do enjoy it.

Do you have any favorite art programs?

At Home.

Linking up with the Virtual Refrigerator Blog Hop! Join in with your art posts!

Virtual Fridge Link Up

Favorite Kindle Apps

**Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and choose to download and/or purchase from that link, our family will receive a small payment from that purchase.**

We don’t use lots of technology for schooling. That being said, there is definitely a place for it and we do use it some. Here are the apps that are on our Kindle Fires.

Favorite Kindle Apps

  • Bible– A free download that is used most every day. Miss E has been doing all of her Lads to Leaders daily reading on it. Simple to use and some of the versions have audio.
  • Math Slicer Free– We have enjoyed having this game for the girls to work on their math. They loved it when we first had it but it has kind of worn off a bit now. Still, I think they enjoy it some when they use this app.
  • Stack the States– $1.99 at the time of this writing and one I would gladly spend money on. It is played often by the girls. I have even been known to spend time on it.
  • First Grade Learning Games (Full Version)– $1.99 at the time of this writing for the full version.¬†There is a free version but it only has a couple of the games. My first grader enjoys this even now, though we used it primarily when she was a kindergartener.
  • Frozen Memory Game – The one we have is no longer showing up on the Kindle store so I don’t have a link for you but it was great when Miss J was 4 and 5. She still uses it sometimes.
  • Bible for Kids– This is a fun one that will read the story to you. It is a storybook Bible, not a standard translation. We have had a couple of conversations due to the phrasing of some of the stories so do be aware of it. They seem to be adding to it periodically.
  • Stack the Countries– $1.99 at the time of this writing. Totally worth it for us. Miss E loves Stack the Countries almost as much as Stack the States.
  • Kids Measurement Science – Length, Weight, Time and Money games– $1.99 at the time of this writing. This is another that we have used a lot. Very much worth the cost in my opinion. Good application of these concepts.
  • BT Handwriting– $1.99 at the time of this writing. Miss J loves this even though she now knows all of her letters and numbers. She still enjoys using this app and has lots of fun with it. And it will still help her handwriting.
  • Mahjong HD– This free app is one that is “just” a game. We all need just games once in a while but it is one that Miss J enjoys using. It really works on visual acuity and matching minute details. Truth be told, this is probably my absolute favorite app for myself.
  • Audubon Mammals: A Field Guide to North American Mammals– $3.99 at the time of this writing. This is one I found as a freebie and we have enjoyed having it. We have used it a number of times in science studies. I am on the lookout for more of these. We’d love to have one on birds.
  • IXL Math Practice– This is free but it is not the full IXL program. There are a limited number of math problems per day. It is still a fun way to practice math.
  • Bible Quiz – Who Am I?– This free download is a fun way for the girls to practice some Bible knowledge. Miss E and Miss J enjoy working together with this app. Sometimes, they pull At Home Dad in as well. We have found a couple of incorrect answers so just be aware.
  • Bible Trivia– This free download is tons of fun. It gets the whole family involved. We have found a couple of questions that are incorrect so just be aware.
  • Dictionary.com Dictionary and Thesaurus Android– This is a free download that we have put on Miss E’s Kindle, as well as mine. She tends to have work that requires consulting a dictionary and while we have a pretty good dictionary, she sometimes still has to hop on the computer to look a word up that isn’t in our dictionary. As she grows, it will be good for her to have it and it will get more use.
  • Quizlet– This free download is tied to my free Quizlet account and the kids have access to all of the quiz sets I have made. They use this daily to practice their memory work for church, as well as to practice for Lads to Leaders Bible Bowl.
  • Duolingo: Learn Languages Free– A free app, this has more than one language to help you learn. I have been using the Spanish. It is pretty fun and is a challenge for me. Not for beginners but you certainly don’t need to know a lot to get use from this free app.
  • World Geography Game– This is a free download. It is a game that will help with geographic location as well as capital cities and more. It is pretty new for us but seems like it will be fun.
  • Enjoy Learning U.S. Map Puzzle– This is another free app that is pretty new to our family so we don’t have a lot of experience with it. I have played it a few times and it is fun to drag and drop states where they go on the map. Simple enough for fairly young users.
  • Enjoy Learning World Map Puzzle– This free app is one I have not played with hardly at all and I don’t think the girls have even opened it. It is another game for learning world geography.
  • Geography List Countries Capitals Flags Maps Currencies– I grabbed this free download because it has all the flags of the different countries separated out by continents. With out geography boxes going on this spring, this fits well with Miss J needing access to flags.
  • BrainPOP Featured Movie– This is a free download that gives you access to the short video that they make available for free each day. It is not the full BrainPop site but is neat and the videos have been pretty interesting.
So that is a run down of what you will find on the Kindle Fires our family owns.¬†Do you have some favorites that your family uses? I’d love it if you would leave a comment telling me what others you love.
At Home.

 

 

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