Computational thinking and the new curriculum

Thinking, communicating, and collaborating to solve problems, address issues, and make decisions are key “doing” actions of the core competencies in the redesigned BC curriculum. The core competencies are embedded within learning contexts4-circle-venn-diagram-plain-2, and students employ the ability to think creatively and critically in order to meet the challenge of solving problems.  

Along with creative and critical thinking is the ability to engage in computational thinking. This is the process of reasoning out and actively finding solutions. Computational thinking strategies involve decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithms. Students find success when they are able to break down a problem into smaller chunks, find similarities of things and connect it to prior knowledge, remove unnecessary details to reduce complexity, and create a process to follow in order to find a solution.

Computational thinking is part of the Applied Design, Skills and Technology (ADST) learning standards but also applies to problem solving in any learning strand such as using manipulatives in geometry to help determine surface area or making a 3 point shot in basketball according to the location of the throw on the basketball court. Another activity that involves computational thinking is coding.

Coding not only supports computational thinking, but also fosters core competencies in communicating and collaborating. While students design a program to solve a problem or address an issue, they are required to make decisions throughout the process and are able to have greater success when they communicate and collaborate with their classmates. Coding is also required in the ADST learning standards.

There are many different ways to support coding in the classroom through unplugged and online activities. The Hour or Code website is an excellent resource and has many tutorials and activities for students to use. There are also links provided on the Digmore site under the “ADST” tab such as Scratch, Lightbot, and Hopscotch. Careers in computer based fields can also be found on Curiocity. Additionally, Glen Longley and I can provide support to teachers who would like to explore computational thinking in their classroom.

Laurie Petrucci