Computational Thinking? Yes, but how do I teach it?

Briefly put, computational thinking is a problem solving process that combines critical thinking with the computing power and as such it represents the foundation for creativity and innovation (ISTE).   Because computational thinking can - and should be applied to all aspects of life, it is an important skill that our students need to master.   But how can we teach it to our students? Are we teaching it already without being fully aware of it? Yes, we are!

I have just stumbled upon a course by Google for Education that provides an excellent explanation as well as lots of resources on how to teach computational thinking.

First of all, to fully understand what computational thinking really means, the course authors break it down into the following four elements:

  • Decomposition: Breaking down data, processes, or problems into smaller, manageable parts
  • Pattern Recognition: Observing patterns, trends, and regularities in data
  • Abstraction: Identifying the general principles that generate these patterns
  • Algorithm Design: Developing the step by step instructions for solving this and similar problems
As mentioned above, computational thinking is not computer science, but application of computing to all the disciplines. Here are some examples how computational thinking can be applied to literature, economics, culinary arts, mathematics and chemistry:

Plenty of excellent and very useful examples for Decomposition, Pattern Recognition, Abstraction and Algorithm Design are given for teachers of different subjects to try out and experiment (= play) with in order to fully understand the concept before teaching it to students.

After you are done, proceed to the list of ready-made lesson plans, choose your discipline and you are all set to teach computational thinking in the classroom. And what's more, you'll see that you already ARE teaching computational thinking - with or without computers!

Before you go, watch the video below. Here are some thoughts that deeply resonated with me:

Computational thinking is not an extra topic that needs to be taught at school, and it shouldn't be a burden for teachers either. Quite to the contrary, it should be regarded as an enhancement to our existing curriculum
 All students should learn computational thinking regardless of subject or age group.
 By integrating computational thinking skills in all of our subjects, we're preparing our students to contribute new solutions to seemingly impossible problems in a creative way.

Check out  Computational thinking course by Google for Education here.

Check out the whole series of my posts on web tools that can be used to teach computational thinking:
 Tech Tools To Boost Visual Thinking Skills
 Tech Tools To Boost Verbal Thinking Skills
 Formulate Problems In A different And Fun Way
 Tech Tools To Recognize Patterns
 Tech Tools To Teach Abstract Thinking: Scavenger Hunts and More
 Tech Tools To Teach Algorithm Design