Computational thinking, a set of mental and cognitive tools applied to problem solving, is a foundational skill that we all rely on (and not just computer scientists). Educators have found that computational thinking improves learning in a range of subjects and strengthens students’ abilities in reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Teaching Computational Thinking by Maureen D. Neumann and Lisa Dion offers a guide to incorporating computational thinking into middle and high school classrooms, featuring a series of activities, projects, and tasks that utilize a range of instructional practices and cut across a variety of subject areas of content.
Matti Tedre, professor at the University of Eastern Finland, calls Teaching Computational Thinking “A clear and convincing presentation of the disciplinary ways of thinking in computer science. The book will provide teachers and students with a window into the rich tapestry of computational thinking skills and practices.
“In creating this book, we are motivated by our belief that computational thinking, like written and oral communication and basic numeracy, is too important to be relegated to one topic,” argue the authors. “By inserting computational thinking into many different contexts, students will learn well before high school that computing and programming have broad relevance.”
As students solve problems, communicate, persevere, work as a team, and learn from their mistakes, they develop a concrete understanding of the abstract principles used in computing to create code and other digital artifacts. Teaching Computational Thinking guides students and teachers to integrate computer programming with visual art and geometry, generating abstract images in an expressionist style; construct topological graphics that represent relationships between characters in literary works such as Harry potter and the sorcerer’s stone and Romeo and Juliet; apply Newtonian physics to the creation of computer games; and locate, analyze and present empirical data relevant to social and political issues.
Finally, the book lists a variety of classroom resources, including the programming languages Scratch (free for all) and Codesters (free for teachers). An accompanying website contains the executable programs used in the activities of the book.
About the authors:
Maureen Neumann is a professor in the College of Education and Social Services at the University of Vermont.
Lisa Dion is a lecturer in the Computer Science Department at the University of Vermont.
Learn more about the book via the MIT Press website: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/teaching-computational-thinking
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