Before integrating CT into curriculum, we hosted a professional learning day with staff to introduce the nature of computational thinking and computer science. The day was dedicated to exploring methods to engage our students in deeper levels of thinking and learning across subjects. Following this, we invited parents to share our experiences in an open and friendly environment. We introduced parents to CT and shared resources and games to enforce concepts at home.

Exploring cross-curricular connections

The key to successfully integrating a CT program is to start simple. We’ve found that basic data sets are a great way to introduce CT concepts to students. Data.gov offers information collected by the U.S. government in nearly every topic imaginable. Find more free resources here.

Curriculum Connector activities assist our staff in creating engaging lessons and tasks in which students learn to use the seven key CT strategies. Students are required to collect, analyze, and decompose data so that they can better understand large amounts of information. This helps them to see the larger picture to create designs that solve complex problems. Students are also encouraged to use models to design algorithmic computing methods to create a model or a simulation. For example, our eighth-grade students recently used CT to design a SMART tiny home to become comfortable with the “CT mindset.”

How to transform problem solving in your district

For educators looking to introduce CT concepts into curriculum, be prepared to make continuous changes to your lessons. Embrace the fact that CT is prone to change as technology changes. Leave room for adjustments in your curriculum from year to year.

Our 6th “C”: commitment

Computational thinking is a new way to process information within our school community, but we are excited to have embarked on this journey because we know that it is vital for our students to be successful thinkers, problem solvers, inventors, scientists, and divergent 21st-century leaders. We want to empower students with the confidence that they are fully capable of approaching an unfamiliar problem independently and solving the challenges most important to them. Through our continued work and partnership, we will sustain our priority to provide a modern and equitable education to all students.

About the Author:

Cheryl Capozzoli (@Web20Guru) is a district science/STEM coordinator at Harrisburg School District in Pennsylvania and a Pennsylvania STEAM Ambassador.