Coming Soon: CS Fundamentals Courses A-F

Teachers like you play a critical role in building our computer science curriculum for all students. We're getting ready to release exciting new updates to Computer Science Fundamentals Courses 1-4 for the '17-'18 school year.

Why update Courses 1 -4?

CS Fundamentals has been used by millions of students, thanks to the passion and dedication of tens of thousands of teachers. And our teachers have given us fantastic feedback on how to improve. Some feedback we’ve been able to add to the current courses, like text-to-speech for early readers, and the protractor tool for angle help.

Some changes, however, are bigger, and would significantly disrupt classrooms if released mid-year as part of the existing courses. We have been working on these updates separately.

The biggest update to CS Fundamentals is that content will move from four courses (Courses 1-4) to six courses aligned to each K-5 grade level (Courses A-F).

What stays the same?

Before we get into the big changes, we wanted to assure all teachers using CS Fundamentals Courses 1-4 that, if they wish, they can continue with exactly what they’re doing.

  • CS Fundamentals Courses 1 - 4 and the 20-hour accelerated course will not be going away, even for the ‘17-’18 school year. These courses are widely used and localized in dozens of languages, so we are committed to keeping them available. Although these courses will benefit from generic improvements to the overall Code Studio interface, the actual course content will not be significantly updated or improved going forward.

  • There is no special training or additional experience necessary to use the updated Courses A-F! If you are interested in piloting the updates and are comfortable with teaching the current version of CS Fundamentals, the updates will feel familiar. The courses still incorporate a blend of plugged and unplugged activities, and encourage persistence, pair programming, and computational thinking in students. There will, however, likely be more bugs and issues with the updates as there are many new puzzles. So please consider your comfort level with that as you decide whether or not you’d like to join the pilot!

Read on for more details about the updates!

Introducing Courses A - F

End-of-Course Projects for 4th & 5th Graders

Puzzle Scaffolding Updates

Eager to Get Started?

Introducing Courses A - F

The biggest update to CS Fundamentals is that content will move from four courses (Courses 1-4) to six courses aligned to each K-5 grade level (Courses A-F). This will address a number of pain points with our existing offering:

  • Implementation in elementary school: Many districts we partner with are interested in building a computer science pathway throughout elementary school. With Courses A - F, there is a clear entry point for every grade that builds on concepts learned in prior years.

  • Where to start? There is confusion today that Course 1 is an entry-point only for pre-readers, and Course 2 is the entry-point for readers no matter what age. With Courses A - F, teachers should start with the course that aligns to the grade they are teaching. (But what if students haven’t completed all prior courses? More on that below!)

  • Grade-appropriate content: With 6 separate courses aligned to each K-5 grade level, we can better tailor instructions to reading level, reserve complex angles for later grades, and create storybooks about persistence for circle time with little ones.

Also: Why the name Courses A - F if they’re aligned to the grades? We received feedback early on from our facilitators that while the courses might be aligned to specific grades, many classrooms might not be ready for their grade’s content yet. To stay neutral and avoid anyone feeling behind, we decided on Courses A - F.

End-of-Course Projects for 4th & 5th Graders

While the familiar puzzle-style levels will continue to feature prominently in our online stages, we have received feedback around incorporating open-ended opportunities for students to showcase what they’ve learned and take a project in a direction of their choosing. At the end of Courses E and F we created a series of stages that teachers will support students through to create an Artist or Play Lab project. These stages include exploring existing project ideas, planning the drawing or story/game, building the project, incorporating feedback, and presenting the project to their peers.

Puzzle Scaffolding Updates

We've created several tools that improve the way that concepts within a stage are taught and supported throughout the new Courses A - F.

  • Limited number of blocks: Many puzzles in Courses A - F now use “limited blocks” to only give students a certain number of times they can pull a block from the toolbox to use in their solution.

  • More hints: We now have the ability for students to receive hints on-demand rather than the system automatically giving them. With this, we can ramp up to more challenging puzzles in a stage but support students who need it with lots of hints that they can request.

  • New puzzle types: Some concepts can be tricky to motivate. Our new “Collector” puzzle type (left) lets students freely try to collect as much treasure as they can. After learning loops, students will find out how much more treasure they can collect with the power of loops. The farmer (right) is an old friend, but she now grows corn, lettuce, and pumpkins! With conditional statements, the farmer can be programmed to pick the right type of veggie.
  • Bridging Activities from Unplugged → Plugged: The lesson plans for plugged stages on Code Studio now contain new guidance and a paper block toolkit that can be used to practice coding with blocks with your students offline before bringing them to the online puzzles!

Eager to Get Started?

These courses are not yet promoted on the website, but can be accessed directly at:

To view the lesson plan for any lesson, you can click the View Lesson Plan button next to any stage:

When you’re ready to have your students access the course, you can assign the course to a section of students from the Teacher Home Page as you have with other courses. Just scroll down to the “Under Development: CS Fundamentals” area of the course selection dropdown, and pick the course that works best for your class:

Send us feedback!

If you see any issue while on a puzzle in Code Studio, just click “Report Bug” in the upper right hand corner. It could be an issue in the puzzle, or just your feedback that you think it’s too hard or too easy -- we want to hear it all!

Join the community

If you have questions about the course or have a great idea you tried out in your classroom, we want to hear about it, and so would your peers! Our forum is a supportive place to learn from others and share your ideas. Check out the CS Fundamentals Courses A-F Pilot forum!