Incorporating 'Computational Thinking' into the Grade-school Classroom (15w2187)

Arriving in Banff, Alberta Friday, January 16 and departing Sunday January 18, 2015


(University of Canterbury)

Sean Graves (University of Alberta)

Geri Lorway (Thinking 101)


Jeanette Wing, MIT, calls “computational thinking” the fourth “R” in learning. She has identified a number of attributes we can use to begin our inquiry as we take up her challenge: “fellow faulty members, students, researchers, administrators, teachers, parents, principals, guidance counselors, school boards, teachers’ unions, congressmen, and policy makers, to work together to help make computational thinking commonplace."

1.) To set the stage for our inquiry Tim Bell will lead the group through some exploration and experiences of the CSU (Computer Science Unplugged) tasks. These tasks have been tested in the real world of classrooms, colleges, universities and public events so those who come hoping to leave with some ideas for their classrooms will get their wish. (Access to a variety of other tasks will be provided and participants are invited to bring information about or examples of any they already know)

2.) We will begin the task of developing working definitions for the terms “computational thinking” and “coding” and a variety of other specialized vocabulary. The group goals will be to make clear and explicit connections between the thinking skills being identified as critical to computational thinking, to use language that can be understood by parents, students and teachers, and to include both “technical” and “real world” examples to bring more clarity.

3.) We will work to make clear and explicit connections between terms, concepts, skills and attitudes identified as important to the development of “Computational Thinking". We will discuss the expectations for what knowledge, skills, attitudes and thinking skills our students are intended to develop. (Participants will be directed to bring sample curricula specific to their local context and areas of interest. In particular we will look at science, language, mathematics, social studies and the ARTS.)

By making connections and developing the competencies needed to become a responsible, reflective, self actualizing citizen of the 21st century we can help teachers introduce “computational thinking” within their own teaching.