# Exploring Computational Thinking

## Professional Development

This section is provided to help teachers quickly learn the basics of Computational Thinking (CT), and determine how to incorporate it into their own teaching and lesson plans.

Why do this? There is a hypothesis that CT is a critical skill for 21st-century students. The hypothesis states that not only is this skill critical for our students and ultimately our population to use computing and technology effectively, CT also supports and enhances the learning of more traditional curriculum. In the 21st century, our students need to develop CT skills, along with "reading, writing and arithmetic".

How to start? An important part of bringing CT into the classroom is finding opportunities to highlight patterns; generalize rules and algorithms from those recognized patterns; and optionally, formalize the rules and procedures into a simple computer program. Helping students see the value and importance of this process by making it explicit is key.

Another aspect of CT is "data skills", that is, being able to collect, analyze and represent data in meaningful ways. Helping students become adept at working with large, sophisticated data sets is an important skill no matter what area they choose for a career.

Where to apply it? The majority of our current examples are in math and science, since this is where patterns, algorithms and data are most naturally found, and can be most easily formalized into programs. But there are many opportunities in other topic areas. For example, data skills can be developed in social studies when students study battle statistics or population data, identify trends and summarize their findings.

When a teacher can connect the data skills used in social studies or math with the same data skills used in science, it reinforces their importance, and helps students understand that it’s the same set of skills applied in different domains. The same is true with patterns and algorithms - It’s the same thought process with different applications.

#### For teachers teaching Algebra, Geometry or Calculus, with no programming experience and/or no access to computers in the classroom.

Time Required: 1 hour

2. Study the following examples showing integration of CT into some Pre-Algebra topics:
3. Study a more extensive example: Area of a Circle (Example 1 and 2 only)
4. Identify opportunities for incorporating CT into your current class topics and post these ideas on the Math ECT Forum.

#### For teachers teaching Algebra, Geometry or Calculus with some programming experience and/or access to computers in the classroom.

Time Required: 3 hours

1. Work through the Intro to Python worksheet.
3. Study the following examples showing integration of CT into some Pre-Algebra topics:
4. Study a more extensive example: Area of a Circle
5. Run some Python programs to see how they can support teaching Algebra topics (Choose "Program" under "Types")
6. Identify opportunities for incorporating CT and programming into your current class topics and post these ideas on the Math ECT Forum.

#### For teachers wanting to develop basic data skills, with some programming experience and/or access to computers in the classroom.

Time Required: 3 hours

1. Work through the Intro to Python worksheet.