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Learn to Program with Small Basic: An Introduction to Programming with Games, Art, Science, and Math Paperback – April 16, 2016
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About the Author
Majed Marji is a senior development engineer at General Motors and an adjunct faculty member at Wayne State University in Michigan. He is the author of Learn to Program with Scratch.
Ed Price is a senior program manager in engineering at Microsoft. He holds an MBA in Technology Management and has been a professor at Bellevue College. He runs customer feedback programs for Azure Development, Visual Studio, and Small Basic.
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So Microsoft has been working on that. And what they’ve come up with is “Small Basic.” I showed my son that he could download the program for free. He played around a bit, and came back to say that it looked good, and fun, but he needed some additional help. This book offers a thorough introduction into Small Basic. It’s laid out like a simplified text book. It’s not exactly easy reading, but it offers simple stories that introduce the programming basics that every language uses — if this happens, then do that — in fun and engaging ways. Once my son learns the “basics” of Small Basic, I think he’ll be ready to learn new ways to do the same things in other programming languages.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher to review for myself. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions posted here are mine and mine alone!
So often, computer programming books are filled with math-based challenges (count by 2s . . . now count by 3s . . . find the prime number . . . is the number a square) that would put a classroom of middle school students (and their teacher) to sleep. These challenges, on the other hand, keep their audience in mind. They are engaging and creative and appropriate for a middle school aged audience. Further, they leverage the website for the book to provide resources, hints and solutions. Readers can access comment-only “starter” files to get them moving and provide a roadmap for their projects or, if they get hopelessly stuck, can access solutions — all online. I particularly like the fact that the solutions do not appear in the book itself. That would make it too easy to simply page to the back and type in the solution. By requiring the reader to take the additional step of hopping online and navigating to the correct URL before seeing a solution, readers are encouraged to keep trying to solve the challenges on their own.
In Learn to Program with Small Basic, Marji and Price have accomplished something very difficult. They have created an outline of basic computer science principles that is appropriate for middle schoolers in a text based programming language. Many of the resources that are currently being produced are of the drag-and-drop, block-based graphical structure. While I believe that these are a great way to get younger students interested in coding, the Small Basic programming language and its intuitive IDE has worked incredibly well in my middle school classroom. In my end of course surveys, a strong majority of students (nearly 70%!) recommended that I limit the use of block-based programming languages in order to provide them with even more opportunities to do text-based programming with Small Basic. I am certain that Learn to Program with Small Basic will be a trusted companion as I expand this portion of my course and I am thrilled that such a resource is available.
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If you long for the days when you programmed on your Apple IIE or...Read more