Code Series

This is one of the most unique series I've seen in a long time. Besides being a fun way for students to learn some basics about the American presidents or history's notable thinkers, it provides lots of practice in critical thinking and reinforces writing, grammar, and math skills. Basically, each book features short biographies of 11-12 of the most notable presidents or thinkers from history. Lincoln Code and Obama Code focus on the presidents and Einstein Code focuses on historic scientists and other thinkers. Lincoln Code is for a slightly younger crowd. Each biography features a black and white photo of the person, birth, death, and presidency dates, a list of important ways they impacted history, and then several paragraphs telling about the person's life and contributions. Each biography is followed by a worksheet asking several questions, which focus more on fun and personal information about the figure, like naming their favorite pastimes or pets. The unique thing about this book is that the answers to these questions are not simply given in the biographies; students must find and crack codes within the passages to unearth the correct answers to the questions. There are different codes in every biography, but most require noticing some kind of grammar mistake or difference. For example, one code requires readers to find misspelled words and then the letters that correctly replace the wrong letters in those words will spell out the answers to the questions. In another code, each letter that requires a correction of capitalization is used to make up the answers to the questions. The Einstein Code focuses on giving math codes as opposed to grammar codes like the other two books and is a little tougher. Small numbers are interspersed throughout the passage and students must break various codes and sometimes do some basic math to find the answers. Codes vary in difficulty, with the level of difficulty identified, and a tip for cracking the code is included before each biography. A full description of each code, along with answers, is included in the back of the book. This is a very unique and effective way to introduce students to basic facts about the historical figures in a memorable way, especially for students who are typically more interested in cracking codes and solving puzzles than reading about history. Reproducible, 64 pgs, pb. ~Rachel

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