Are you curious about teaching computational thinking in the classroom? We’ve curated all the resources you’ll need to get started.
The most important thing to remember is that computational thinking is, at its core, a problem-solving technique, whether it’s used for coding or not. And understanding how to approach problems like a computer is a vital skillset that all students will need for their future, so let’s get started.
Computational Thinking Basics
Computational thinking is a set of skills and processes that guide problem solving.
What makes this especially different from other problem-solving processes is that it, in the end, results in an algorithm, which is a series of steps a person or computer uses to perform a task or solve a problem.
Computational thinking is a shift in how students approach problem solving. With a formulaic process, students can navigate complexity and stay focused on what is important without losing site of the solution amongst all the noise.
The process teaches students how to approach complex and ambiguous problems, think critically, work iteratively, learn from failure, pursue inquiry, and make informed decisions.
The Four Key Concepts
Decomposition is the process of breaking down complex problems into smaller, more manageable parts. With decomposition, problems that seem overwhelming at first become much more manageable.
Pattern recognition occurs as students study the different decomposed problems and recognize connections among the different pieces. This concept is essential to building understanding amid dense information.
Abstraction filters out the extraneous and irrelevant details in order to identify what’s most important when connecting each decomposed problem. Abstraction enables students to navigate complexity and find relevance and clarity at scale.
An algorithm is a process or formula for calculating answers, sorting data, and automating tasks; and algorithmic thinking is the process for developing an algorithm. This approach automates the problem-solving process by creating a series of systematic, logical steps that intake a defined set of inputs and produce a defined set of outputs based on these.
To see all these in action, here are four computational thinking examples you can use in your classroom.
Computational Lesson Plans
In order to help you get started addressing computational thinking in your classroom, we’ve curated grade-level lesson plans you can download.
Computational Thinking Lesson Plan for K-2
Students create a classroom poster that details the directions for a classroom task or procedure.
Computational Thinking Lesson Plans for 3-5
Students develop a written algorithm to guide a partner in drawing a mystery animal.
Students take on the role of an architect and use modeling to create a bedroom blueprint to use for designing a new room, while also managing a budget.
Computational Thinking Lesson Plans for 6-8
Student create a flowchart that decomposes the task of seeking community approval for the park.
Students collaborate and follow an iterative design process to design solutions to for an egg-drop experiment.
Students create algorithms that build empathy and compassion by educating others about what life could be like with a disability.