Along with a small group of brilliant educators, I have been on a journey to learn more about computational thinking, and explore ways to integrate into our daily instruction. Little had I anticipated, this journey was going to take me on the curviest roller-coaster ride, challenge many beliefs that I held inherently, and lead me to the next challenge in my career as an educator.
Curviest Roller-Coaster Ride
I started the journey equating Computer Science to Computational Thinking and falsely assuming that if I incorporated coding into my instruction, if I collaborated with my Library Media Specialist in participating in the Hour of Code and set aside 20% of my classroom time to Genius Hour, then I would be hitting all the necessary points to claim that computational thinking was part of my instruction. These were well-intended assumptions although very naive in the way that I now understand we should approach integrating computational thinking into our instruction.
Inquiring into computational thinking
Over 30+ weeks of immersing myself in the realm of computational thinking, engaging in discussions around each element that makes up the process, unpacking standards around what it means and how to incorporate into instruction, I finally feel like I have a grasp on truly integrating into curriculum and designing units of study based on the principles. With that said, I feel like I am just at the beginning of my learning and cannot inquire into it more deeply as I continue on this incredibly rewarding learning journey.
The A-HA moment
After closely studying computational thinking and its intersection with design thinking, I created a project-based learning experience for my fifth graders. In our PBL unit of experience, my learner will design and build a basic robot, with autonomous capabilities that can self-navigate around obstacles. They will craft their own journey towards finding how they can develop a programmable machine that can self-navigate around obstacles. This was my a-ha moment of realizing that computational thinking is embedding into our everyday actions, we just need to name it, highlight it, and make it visible in our teaching and learning.
If you’d like to tinker and play with the idea, you may want to take a look at my unit of study for resources just like I looked at many others’ works for inspiration.