Curriculum Values

While Code.org offers a wide range of curricular materials across a wide range of ages, the following values permeate and drive the creation of every lesson we write.

Computer Science is Foundational for Every Student

We believe that computing is so fundamental to understanding and participating in society that it is valuable for every student to learn as part of a modern education. We see computer science as a liberal art, a subject that provides students with a critical lens for interpreting the world around them. Computer science prepares all students to be active and informed contributors to our increasingly technological society whether they pursue careers in technology or not. Computer science can be life-changing, not just skill training.

Teachers in Classrooms

We believe students learn best with the help of an empowered teacher. We design our materials for a classroom setting and provide teachers robust supports that enable them to understand and perform their critical role in supporting student learning. Because teachers know their students best, we empower them to make choices within the curriculum, even as we recommend and support a variety of pedagogical approaches. Knowing that many of our teachers are new to computer science themselves, our resources and strategies specifically target their needs.

Student Engagement and Learning

We believe that students learn best when they are intrinsically motivated. We prioritize learning experiences that are active, relevant to students’ lives, and provide students authentic choice. We encourage students to be curious, solve personally relevant problems and to express themselves through creation. Learning is an inherently social activity, so we interweave lessons with discussions, presentations, peer feedback, and shared reflections. As students proceed through our pathway, we increasingly shift responsibility to students to formulate their own questions, develop their own solutions, and critique their own work.

Equity

We believe that acknowledging and shining a light on the historical inequities within the field of computer science is critical to reaching our goal of bringing computer science to all students. We provide tools and strategies to help teachers understand and address well-known equity gaps within the field. We recognize that some students and classrooms need more supports than others, and so those with the greatest needs should be prioritized. All students can succeed in computer science when given the right supports and opportunities, regardless of prior knowledge or privilege. We actively seek to eliminate and discredit stereotypes that plague computer science and lead to attrition of the very students we aim to reach.

Curriculum as a Service

We believe that curriculum is a service, not just a product. Along with producing high quality materials, we seek to build and nourish communities of teachers by providing support and channels for communication and feedback. Our products and materials are not static entities, but a living and breathing body of work that is responsive to feedback and changing conditions. To ensure ubiquitous access to our curriculum and tools, they are web-based and cross-platform, and will forever be free to use and openly licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Pedagogical Approach To Our Values

When we design learning experiences, we draw from a variety of teaching and learning strategies all with the goal of constructing an equitable and engaging learning environment.

Role of the Teacher

We design curriculum with the idea that the instructor will act as the lead learner. As the lead learner, the role of the teacher shifts from being the source of knowledge to being a leader in seeking knowledge. The lead learner’s mantra is: “I may not know the answer, but I know that together we can figure it out.” A very practical residue of this is that we never ask a teacher to lecture or offer the first explanation of a CS concept. We want the class activity to do the work of exposing the concept to students allowing the teacher shape meaning from what they have experienced. We also expect teachers to act as the curator of materials. Our curricula include an abundance of materials and teaching strategies - too many to use at once - with the expectation that teachers have the professional expertise to determine how to best conduct an engaging and relevant class for their own students.

Discovery and Inquiry

We take great care to design learning experiences in which students have an active and equal stake in the proceedings. Students are given opportunities to explore concepts and build their own understandings through a variety of physical activities and online lessons. These activities form a set of common lived experiences that connect students (and the teacher) to the course content and to each other. The goal is to develop a common foundation upon which all students in the class can construct their understanding of computer science concepts, regardless of prior experience in the discipline.

Materials and Tools

Our materials and tools are specifically created for learners and learning experiences, and focus on foundational concepts that allow them to stand the test of time. They are designed to support exploration and discovery by those without computer science knowledge, so that students can develop an understanding of these concepts through “play” and experimentation. From our coding environments to other non-coding tools and videos, all our resources have been engineered to support the lessons in our curriculum, and thus our philosophy about student engagement and learning. In that vein, our videos can be a great tool for sensemaking about CS concepts and provide a resource for students to return to when they want to refresh their knowledge. They are usually packed with information and “star” a diverse collection of presenters and CS role models.

Creation and Personal Expression

Many of the projects, assignments, and activities in our curriculum ask students to be creative, to express themselves and then to share their creations with others. While certain lessons focus on learning and practicing new skills, our goal is always to enable students to transfer these skills to creations of their own. Everyone seeks to make their mark on society, including our students, and we want to give them the tools they need to do so. When computer science provides an outlet for personal expression and creativity, students are intrinsically motivated to deepen the understandings that will allow them to express their views and carve out their place in the world.

The Classroom Community

Our lessons almost always call for students to interact with other students in the class in some way. Whether it’s simply conferring with a partner during a warm up discussion, or engaging in a long-term group project, our belief is that a classroom where students are communicating, solving problems, and creating things is a classroom that not only leads to active and better learning for students, but also leads to a more inclusive classroom culture in which all students share ideas and listen to ideas of others. For example, classroom discussions usually follow a Think-Pair-Share pattern; we ask students to write computer code in pairs; and we strive to include projects for teams in which everyone must play a critical role.

Our commitment to free curriculum and open source technology

All curriculum resources and tutorials we author will forever be free to use and openly licensed under a Creative Commons license, allowing others to make derivative education resources for noncommercial purposes. If you are interested in licensing our materials for commercial purposes, contact us. Our courses are translated for worldwide use or by speakers of different languages. Our technology is developed as an open source project.