7/25/13

{Crew Review} Homeschool Programming: Teen Coder C# Series

I first heard about Homeschool Programming several years ago but didn’t think my girls would be interested and I wasn’t sure I wanted to invest the money.  Lately, though Turtlegirl has developed a strong interest in computer science especially computer programming. I’ve also noticed that more and more colleges want to see computer science on an applicant’s transcript. How perfect that just when I need it, the Schoolhouse Review Crew has the opportunity to review several different products from Homeschool Programming. 

Homeschool Programming TeenCoder Logo

I listed the TeenCoder C# Series as our first choice. This product is for high school (grades 9-12) and there are two semester long courses in this series.  We were blessed to receive both Windows Programming (1st Semester) and Game Programming (2nd Semester).

What will I Get?:

On the website, Homeschool Programming offers a printed textbook kit that includes the physical Student Textbook and a CD. The CD contains both Student Files and Solution Files. According to the Getting Started PDF, an electronic alternative is sometimes made available however normally it’s the printed kit. The Instructional Videos are an optional component and are not part of the course materials, though they can be purchased as part of a bundle.

As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we received the electronic alternative. We downloaded a compressed/zipped file that contained the PDF versions of the Student Textbooks for both Windows Programming and Games Programming. Homeschool Programming sent us the physical discs for the Instructional videos.

What is TeenCoder C# Series?

The TeenCoder C# series is a hands on computer science course for high school students that teaches computer programming skills using the C# “language".  You need Microsoft Visual C# 2010 Express in order to complete the projects but information and instructions for downloading are included in the student textbook. Microsoft Visual C# 2010 Express is a FREE download.  You must register the software but registration is also free.

There are two ways to access the student and solution files, once installed on your computer. Both of these are explained in the Read Me file. For both Windows and Games you’ll find the following files on the menu interface:

Student Files:

  • Software Install Instructions
  • View Activity Documents
  • View Activity Starters
  • View My Projects
  • View ReadMe File
  • Visit Website
  • Contact

Solution Files:

  • Software Install Instructions
  • View Solution Guide
  • View Activity Solutions
  • View Tests
  • View ReadMe File
  • Visit Website
  • Contact

For both courses in the TeenCoder C# Series, you’ll find Chapters divided into 3 or four lessons, a hands-on activity for the student for each Chapter and a Chapter Review for each chapter.  (Some of the chapters in the Game Programming include more than one activity.)There is also a 10 question, multiple choice test provided for each chapter.

The Solution Guide PDF includes information for the teacher such as a scope and sequence and grading tips.

Windows Programming Covers (17 Chapters):

Although no computer programming experience is necessary before beginning Windows Programming, students should be familiar with basic computer use.

  • Introduction to Windows Programming
  • Fundamentals of C#
  • Windows Programming Concepts
  • Data Types and Variables
  • Basic Flow Control
  • User Input
  • List Boxes and Combo Boxes
  • Math Functions in C#
  • Working With Strings
  • Methods
  • Debugging and Exceptions
  • Collections
  • Object-Oriented Programming
  • Classes in C#
  • Sorting and Recursion
  • File Input and Output
  • Inheritance and Polymorphism
  • Final Project

Game Programming Covers (15 Chapters):

From the Student Textbook for Game Programming “You must have completed the TeenCoderTM: Windows Programming course prior to starting this course. The Visual C# and object-oriented concepts learned in the first course are prerequisites to learning and enjoying this game programming material.”

  • Introduction to Game Programming
  • Game Design
  • Graphics Concepts
  • Working With Images
  • User Input
  • Sprites
  • Completing Swarm
  • Animation
  • Music and Sound Effects
  • Game Physics
  • Maze Generation
  • Menus, Overlays and Deployment
  • Multiplayer Games
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Final Project

The Game Programming course requires the XNA Game Studio 4.0 software, a free downloadable plug in for the Microsoft Visual C# 2010 Express software. You do not need to set this up prior to beginning the course because downloading and installing the plug-in is the activity for chapter 1.

After completing this 2nd semester course, your student will be “well-equipped to begin writing [their] own games.”

Using TeenCoder C# Series:

I had Turtlegirl walk me through a typical-for-her week.  She starts by reading through the lesson(s) for the day.  If she needs help she will pop in the video.  (She informed me that she rarely needs the videos, but her older sister chimed in with the fact that she found them very helpful and used them most of the time.)  There is usually only one activity per chapter. She would spend 2-3 days reading the lessons and then spend 1-2 days working on the Chapter activity.  Every chapter has a chapter review and there are chapter tests available through the Solutions file.

Though Turtlegirl rarely needs the Instructional Video, I am glad that we have it. I would not be able to explain these concepts and we would need to find another resource. Both Tailorbear and BooBear have used them regularly. When either of them says “I don’t get it this lesson,” I respond with “have you watched the video for that lesson?” Watching the video usually clears up and confusion.

 

Note: The opinions expressed below are based on using the first semester materials for the 8 week review period.

Thoughts from Tailorbear:

I explicitly enjoy everything about this program. Minus one thing. I don’t like the grey strips of code you find in the lesson. The actual Visual C# programmer doesn’t work the same way the grey strips do. However once I worked with it more I figured it out. The activities although equipped with instructions, didn’t have anything visual for me until chapter four. THAT was  frustrating. I look forward to making more programs. This program is teaching me stuff that I really enjoy doing. Even if I’m not that good at it.

Thoughts from Turtlegirl:

I really like this program. I like how with the activities, there’s a base-line that you have to cover, but there is a lot of maneuverability for me. There’s lots of room for creativity. I like this program partly because I love computer programming (it’s something I’m considering pursuing as a career) and this is really good at explaining the basics for me. I cannot wait to begin Semester 2, when I will get to program my own games!

Thought from BooBear:

I enjoyed this program even though it challenged me. It was nice to learn so much about the computers that I have grown up seeing. I like to know how they are put together even if computer science is not my strongest point. This program offers much information on how to work with C# code. I think it is one of my favorite codes.

My Thoughts: 

I love that the TeenCoder C# Series is a self-study program. I do not have the background or experience to teach a computer programming class and thankfully with Homeschool Programming I do not have to!  Homeschool Programming was written by home school parents who do have the background and experience. I also appreciate that guidelines for grading activities as well as tests and answer keys are included. This means that I can have my high school students complete this course and give them a grade for the transcript.

I am impressed enough with the program and with how well Turtlegirl is doing that I am considering both the TeenCoder Java Series and the brand new KidCoder Web Design series. I do recommend TeenCoder C# Series if your student is interested in computer programming or needs a computer science class for high school.

TeenCoder C# Series

 

The Details: 

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about the different courses offered from Homeschool Programming.

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