Website review by James Denby, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2019

Code for Life

Comprehensive coding platform has impressive resources for teachers

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Grades
1–12 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Critical Thinking

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Pros: Great teacher resources; goes from the basics all the way to game creation with Python.

Cons: Puzzle format for early learning is repetitive for some students.

Bottom Line: This learn-to-code program has the breadth and depth required to meet the needs of almost any teacher.

Code for Life is a versatile platform for learning and teaching coding. Teachers can easily let students work independently on the Blockly puzzles -- especially as they begin to learn basic coding principles. Using the teacher dashboard, it's also easy to monitor skill development. 

The best way to use Code for Life, however, is to take advantage of its comprehensive lesson plans. These incorporate unplugged activities and suggestions for discussions to truly build students' conceptual knowledge. For students who aren't particularly interested in simply doing coding-related puzzles (a drawback of many learn-to-code platforms), these lessons are effective ways to go beyond mere skills and pique the interest of students who like collaboration, hands-on learning, and discussion.

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Code for Life is a website designed to teach coding for students in the primary grades through high school. Starting with the block-based coding language Blockly, the game Rapid Router begins with simple puzzles and progresses all the way through to Python. Code for Life offers a complete set of teacher materials for all levels (beginning to advanced) to support teachers not just in skills teaching but in conceptual understanding as well. Teachers can also create class groupings to monitor student progress. 

By incorporating Blockly into the platform, the Rapid Router game allows students to learn key coding concepts (loops, functions, etc.) without worrying about syntax and typing skills. Though Code for Life is aligned to the United Kingdom's Computing Curriculum, the progression of skills and concepts is suitable for schools anywhere.

Code for Life stands out among its learn-to-code peers. The breadth and depth of the teacher materials offered is impressive. Each level includes detailed lesson plans for teachers who want or need support in teaching coding. The lessons are well-thought-out and easy to follow.

There are plenty of learn-to-code options out there for learning and teaching the basics, and many use the puzzle format that Rapid Router uses in its early levels with Blockly. Code for Life, however, goes much deeper and not only introduces students to Python (a popular coding language) but is working on a new multiplayer game (AI:MMO) for advanced students. Though AI:MMO is still in preview, once it's fully available, Code for Life will likely be able to meet the coding challenge needs of most students in any grade.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

The use of Blockly for the beginning through intermediate levels makes it easy to learn basic concepts. For some students, however, the Blockly puzzles can get repetitive after a while. 

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Coding puzzles and lessons are closely aligned with the U.K. Computing Curriculum and feature well-designed lessons that reflect a range of learning preferences.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

A comprehensive curriculum with full lesson plans takes students from their first coding experience all the way to coding with Python.


Common Sense reviewer
James Denby Educator/Curriculum Developer

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