Announcing a new K-12 Computer Science Progression

24 Jun 2022 Computer Science Progression Banner

Computer Science (CS) is foundational knowledge, a “fundamental skill that all students should learn at a young age...with computational thinking one of a repertoire of thinking abilities.” (Peyton Jones) It offers our students the critical skills they need to thrive in a technology-powered world. That means knowing how to be safe online, creatively solve important problems, and being empowered to be creators not just consumers of digital media. These skills will open pathways throughout their academic journey into higher education and technology-infused careers.

CS is everywhere and for everyone. School systems are growing access to CS and expanding it across all stages of education, because research demonstrates that the earlier we can engage students in CS, the more opportunities they have to find it interesting and relevant to their lives. Learning CS offers students the skills needed to understand and participate in the world that surrounds them—most of which is powered by code. It's the most powerful tool we can offer our students to prosper.

The new Minecraft CS Progression and CS Subject Kit provide a standards-aligned set of resources for educators in K-12, supported by high-quality instructional support materials, online professional development, and a teaching and learning framework that addresses the whole learner. With hundreds of hours of content laid out in a clear progression, CS is more accessible and engaging than ever, offering many entry points for learners and educators, no matter what level of experience or previous knowledge.

The value of Minecraft in CS Education

Every student deserves the opportunity to learn CS in a way that’s relevant and meaningful to them. Code powers our world, and our world is diverse and dynamic, so it’s ever important that CS be accessible and inclusive. At Minecraft, we have made offering a learning pathway of highly engaging, accessible, and effective content and professional development part of our mission.

  • Engaging: Students perceive CS as difficult and not relevant. Minecraft makes learning FUN and appealing.
  • Accessible: Multiple entry points across stages and ages; content and supports address needs and interests that impact access.
  • Student-centered: Empowers students to become participants in their own learning. It’s hands-on, problem-solving, and inquiry based.
  • Gradual release: Providing students confidence through a supported learning journey offers many opportunities for skill development, content acquisition, and the emotional resilience to learn. Scaffolded instructional framework intentionally leads to independent learning (I do/We do/You do).
  • Progressive pathway: Builds mastery of CS content, skills, and mindset in clear steps.
Minecraft Computer Science informatic progress bar chart

Teaching CS with Minecraft

The Minecraft CS Progression addresses relevant academic standards as part of a logical, progressive teaching and learning framework. Students will learn, practice, and apply CS through developmentally appropriate learning experiences that easily integrate into existing curriculum. The content connects CS to topics students care about, such as animal conservation, the environment, space science, and the arts. The lessons gradually build competency in computational thinking and provide opportunities to practice and demonstrate mastery over essential computing skills and concepts.

Over 200 hours of standards-aligned CS content is broken into four stages that you can easily integrate across your curriculum. The lower primary (grades K-2) and upper primary (grades 3-5) stages introduce block-based coding as a simple introduction to CS. The content in the lower primary stage provides scaffolding for young students. These activities nurture early skill development, emphasizing responsibility, self-management, safety, and collaboration. At the upper primary stage, they’ll learn to apply coding concepts to real-world problems, build out their research skills and digital toolset, and get to know the ideas behind artificial intelligence.

In lower secondary (grades 6-8), learners move from block coding to text-based coding with the increasingly popular Python language, using the highly accessible Microsoft MakeCode editor. Transitioning from block to text is intuitive with the ability to switch easily between coding languages. Throughout ten units, they’ll encounter collaborative, team-based activities, guided practice to evaluate and improve existing code, design thinking, and programming before producing a final, collaborative artifact.

In the most advanced stage of the progression, upper secondary (grades 9-12), students take a deeper dive into Python with the notebooks style editor, developing familiarity and proficiency in Python using an IDE which empowers students to build their own programs using Python. We’ve built out the Python Library Reference guide, opening all the Python commands available for students to design and build their own programs—a great start to their own creator portfolios!

Code builder with working code

Online training for teachers

The Minecraft CS Progression provides onramps at each stage of learning, so educators and students can successfully start their coding journey regardless of their previous experience.

To help educators serve up this content, we’ve created new and exciting opportunities for teachers to gain their footing in the world of CS.

  • Four new courses through Microsoft Learn outline everything you need to know to teach coding with Blocks and Python. Join a cohort of educators from around the world and conduct your training as a community.
  • We’ve partnered with the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), EU Code Week, CS Ed Week, and Microsoft Education to provide a series of events in support of your teaching.
  • Download a curriculum guide that outlines the entire progression and learning framework in detail. Extensive lesson plans and support materials accompany each piece of learning content.

We’re excited to help students begin a computer science journey that will empower them to code with purpose and impact their world. Find lesson plans, resources, and everything you need to get started with the new Minecraft CS Progression here.