How to Integrate Computational Thinking Into Your Curriculum
Society now demands individuals have computer skills to be successful. Therefore, it is imperative that teachers find ways to integrate computational thinking into the classroom. While teachers have hesitated because the terminology is unfamiliar, more teachers are embracing the tools necessary for incorporating this type of thinking into their lessons.
What is Computational Thinking?
According to Jeannette M. Wing, "Computational thinking involves solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior, by drawing on the concepts fundamental to computer science. Computational thinking includes a range of mental tools that reflect the breadth of the field of computer science." In other words, computational thinking focuses on problem-solving skills and trial and error exploration.
Therefore, you need to understand what computational thinking is - and what it is not. Often, people confuse "computational thinking" with coding and programming. While coding requires computational thinking, advocates believe that computational thinking can even be done without a computer.
As International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) explains, "Once educators recognize that computational thinking is not confined to the specific study of computers but is a skill to enhance deeper thinking and discovery, it becomes a catalyst for exploration, the vehicle of curiosity."
Use the CSTA Standards as a Guide
If you are just beginning to use computational thinking in the classroom, it is a wise idea to start with the Computer Science Teachers Association standards. The standards cover all grade levels (beginning in preschool) and build year-upon-year. In addition to the standard, they also have several examples and activities that are designed to teach the standards in the classroom.
Have the Technology in Place
To integrate computational thinking into your lessons, you must have the technology. This technology will vary depending on your end goals. However, many schools are developing STEAM labs and Makerspaces specifically to encourage computational thinking. Therefore, schools must have building supplies, computers, mobile devices, computer programs and apps, 3-D printing, and more.
Integrate Computational Thinking into Lesson Plans
Once you have the technology in place, it is time to begin integrating computational thinking into lesson planning. You should begin to consider different ways your students can work on problem-solving while utilizing technology. For computational thinking beginners, you should also visit Google's Exploring Computation Thinking for a wealth of resources to guide you through adding various computational thinking components to your regular activities, as well as CT specific classroom ideas and lesson plans.
Ultimately, computational thinking is a great tool for preparing students for future success and using the technology students already know and love.