Giving Compass' Take:

Teachers are trying to integrate computational learning skills into their curriculum in order to strengthen students' computer and engineering skills without specifically focusing on coding. 

• Are your local school systems, are educators integrating computation skills in regular classes or do you have more formal coding classes for students to take? How do you think computation-focused skill building will enhance their learning and their future?

• Find out specifically how educators are utilizing computation skills to solve problems. 

Computer science education is not a new field. Much of what we know about the pedagogy and content for elementary students come from Seymour Papert’s research on teaching elementary students to code back in the 1970’s and 80’s.  But, as we shift from labs and one-off classrooms to a broad expansion for all students in every classroom K-12, we are seeing changes to how computer science is taught.

Over time, we have gone from a focus on coding (often in isolation) to a more broad idea of computer science as a whole, and now to the refined idea of computational thinking as a foundational understanding for all students.

In her book Coding as a Playground, Marina Umaschi Bers explained: “The notion of computational thinking encompasses a broad set of analytic and problem-solving skills, dispositions, habits, and approaches most often used in computer science, but that can serve everyone.”

Many teachers are finding that the best way to teach computational thinking is by integrating it into other subject areas. Integration creates a more authentic and interesting learning environment.

However, there are barriers to integrating computational thinking found around curriculum and teachers. For the past few years, we’ve seen new “learn to code” curricula and websites spring up like weeds. A majority of them promise to teach your students to code through puzzles.

In every other subject, we as teachers have to prove our content knowledge. It is expected that we know well beyond what we teach our students. In computer science, the mantra has been, “learn alongside your students.” This has served us well. It has empowered many educators to get started. But, we are now seeing educators hit a wall. They are finding their lack of content knowledge eventually becomes prohibitive, especially when they start trying to integrate computational thinking.

Read the full article about computational skills by Grant Smith at Getting Smart.