**Please join Autumn Ottenad @ssseason7 June 11 ^{th} at 7pm for a Twitter chat on making computational thinking accessible!**

Computational thinking is the ability to problem solve using four elements: breaking down a large problem into smaller pieces, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithms. All four of these elements are used in computer science. They are also a huge part of the math and science standards.

Math practice #1: Make sense of the problem and persevere through them. Students are expected to take a problem and make sense of it, including breaking into smaller pieces to understand it and begin to find a solution to the problem (element #1 in computational thinking).

Math practice #2: Reason abstractly and quantitively. Students are expected to have the skill to begin thinking abstractly to contextualize and decontextualize problems to solve the problem at hand (element #3 in computational thinking).

Math practice #7: Look for and make use of structure. This mathematical practice includes students looking at a problem and seeing if there is a specific pattern to the problem. Find the pattern and use it to solve the problem (element #2 in computational thinking).

Algorithms are taught throughout a student’s schooling. Different algorithms are taught at different grades to build their knowledge of when, how and why different algorithms work for different problems (element #4 in computational thinking).

A lot of the science standards include the words “develop a model”, “construct and interpret data”, and “conduct an investigation”. All of this is done around a phenomenon. A phenomenon that students question and begin to break down what it is and why it is (element #1 in computational thinking). Students use abstract and concrete thinking during the learning process to understand how and why science works and what lead to the phenomenon (element #3 in computational thinking). Students can use patterns during experiments when explaining why an event occurred once they have tested it multiple times (element #2 in computational thinking). Algorithms are used in the process for the details of the science content (element #4 in computational thinking). Once all the smaller pieces of the puzzle have been determined, the students then can determine the cause of the phenomenon bringing together all four elements of computational thinking.

Computational thinking to me is the thread that holds the mathematical practices and the science phenomenon inquiry together. When I was originally asked to write a blog about this concept because I teach these two subjects at my school, I was excited. I hadn’t heard of it and immediately went into research mode. I immediately began to break down the concept into smaller pieces of information for me to digest. I then began to think about how it connects to the standards. I felt like “I do this!” It isn’t another thing on my plate. It is simply being more intentional about signifying how I am using the four elements within the teaching of the standards. I used two of the elements just in my approach to the topic. Computational thinking is what we do! It is how we process information and how we find solutions to problems. It is something we all do regularly!

**Please join Autumn Ottenad @ssseason7 June 11 ^{th} at 7pm for a Twitter chat on making computational thinking accessible!**

Resources:

http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Practice/

https://www.nextgenscience.org/search-standards?keys=&tid[0]=106&page=1

https://computationalthinkingcourse.withgoogle.com/unit

### Alissa Brazil

I enjoy hiking in the summer and traveling around the state with my 3 children and husband.

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Douglas Ferguson says

Alissa, I love these connections. This is something that I’ve been thinking about a fair amount lately as I help teachers at my school implement basic programming instruction. We’ve been looking to a mix of the CCSS Math and NGSS for implementation. The math practices are something that has definitely come out and been highlighted during this process. Great thoughts!

Patricia Gustin says

Here is a link to Tools for Ambitious Science Teaching: http://ambitiousscienceteaching.org/

Ambitious Science is a good place to get started with phenomena-based science instruction.

Elizabeth Johnston says

This is just such a good life skill, let alone standards-based. I am going to try and think of ways to bring this into ELA/SS!

Erin Lark says

Alissa, you share this topic so well that someone wanting to get their feet wet can easily see the benefits of doing so. You are right, the math practices as well as the cross cutting concepts in NGSS all point to this method as beneficial to giving students long-term strategies to use throughout their day.

I’m wondering, what student examples from class you or another teacher has who use computational thinking? I’d love to hear how students realize the metacognitive benefits and application that extends to their other classes.

Alissa Brazil says

I actually haven’t used it intentionally quite yet. I am looking into doing stuff in the fall and having the elements be my driving force.