I am teaching Course 1 to kindergarten and 1st grade classes. Before introducing the course, I first have the students play with BeeBots which gives them a hands on robot to program. The Beebot does not walk sideways though. It moves forwards and backwards, but if you want it to go to the side, one must first turn it then go forwards. This is similar to the type of blocks one finds in course 2. To work through the maze, one must turn first before going forwards.
This is not the case with course 1 though. The arrows point in the direction that you want to go. I understand the reasoning, that this concept is easier for the younger students to understand, but it isn’t consistent with other programs.
It also makes the transition from Course 1 to 2 challenging. I am now teaching Course 2 with 2nd graders, and some are struggling with the idea now that they must first turn before they can move forwards.
I debated with just using Course 2 for K/1, but the CS concepts are more challenging. What I would really like to see is a modified Course 1 that has turns and not just move left/right. Keep Course 1 as is, but then have an optional Course 1b that uses turns instead of the left and right arrows to move sideways.