Friday, January 10, 2014

Computational Thinking in 4 Parts

This starts a series of blogs on computational thinking (CT) and how I have been integrating it into my third/fourth grade class.  I started with a hands-on, "unplugged" activity from  The video from provides background on CT as well as lesson ideas on teaching it in the classroom.

Through decomposing, looking for patterns, abstraction, and algorithmic thinking (hence the CT in 4 parts), my students learned the terminology as well as the concepts behind CT in a hands-on and engaging manner.  They were able to label what they were doing with the monsters using the CT terminology.  It provided a great introduction in order to delve deeper into CT and all its applications.

Here are some student responses:
"Computational thinking requires problem-solving.  Look for patterns.  When we were working on the monster thing, each monster had its own parts.  We had to find new parts for each monster.  We had to take apart the monsters and make a set of directions to give to someone and ask them to put it together."

"We created monsters by giving one another instructions.  We decomposed and made algorithms when we broke all the monsters apart and created an algorithm of instructions for a friend to draw it.  Decompose, make patterns, and use algorithms in your life."

"When I did CT with my classmates, I was given 3 monsters and there was a set of steps to make up the monsters.  Our assignment was to recreate a new monster with an algorithm.  When we were in progress, we were decomposing the steps to make a new monster.  When we were done, we shared our steps with the teacher and she tried to draw the monster with our algorithm.  When our teacher drew the next monster another group made, we realized we were doing pattern recognition - identifying patterns, similarities, and differences.  We also realize CT can be done in everyday life.  I think CT is fun and good for thinking!"

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