Former president Barack Obama captured the essence of the challenge many educators are facing today when he stated, Computers are going to be a big part of our future and that future is yours to shape.

The quote communicates the power and importance of taking a more thoughtful approach to the intersection of education and technology pointing to the need for students to learn far more than how to navigate an app or a computer’s desktop. Actively shaping the future requires students to create, and innovate with computers, as well as considering the implications of these changes and choices.

As a result, schools are placing an emphasis on robust concepts like computational thinking in addition to learning programming. Educational challenges seem to always involve addition, not subtraction. Students still need to master writing, and improve their reading comprehension. Teachers have to be experts in pedagogy around these subjects, and now additionally, computational thinking.

Algorithms in Computational Thinking, just published by Carnegie Mellon University attempts to assist teachers as they embrace these subjects and begin infusing their lessons with computational thinking by creating some of the same frameworks that teachers are familiar with using in other subjects.

“With its relatively new inclusion in the traditional classroom, the subject of computational thinking (CT) has yet to benefit from a collective perception that often develops over time, or the learning milestones that define proficiency in subjects like math and reading. 

These milestones can be as simple as sight words that illustrate reading gains or the deadline of the end of third grade as the time marker for knowing basic multiplication facts. In addition to aiding in the identification of delays in learning, milestones such as reading grade levels can help teachers challenge students who are getting a little too comfortable with where they are at in their cognitive development as a reader. With computational thinking occupying more and more space and place in the lives of students and educators, it’s time to offer up these same milestones and interventions, at least in an area algorithms – we can all agree is core to the CT model.”

Access the complete paper, Algorithms in Computational Thinking, at this link or under “Other Notable Research” here.

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