Computational thinking—a set of mental and cognitive tools applied to problem solving—is a fundamental skill that all of us (and not just computer scientists) draw on. Educators have found that computational thinking enhances learning across a range of subjects and reinforces students’ abilities in reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Teaching Computational Thinking by Maureen D. Neumann and Lisa Dion offers a guide for incorporating computational thinking into middle school and high school classrooms, presenting a series of activities, projects, and tasks that employ a range of pedagogical practices and cross a variety of content areas.
Matti Tedre, Professor at the University of Eastern Finland, calls Teaching Computational Thinking “a clear and compelling presentation of computing’s disciplinary ways of thinking. The book will provide teachers and students with a window into the rich tapestry of skills and practices of computational thought.”
“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 relegate to a single subject,” the authors argue. “By inserting computational thinking into many different contexts, students will learn well before high school that computer science and programming has broad relevance.”
As students problem solve, communicate, persevere, work as a team, and learn from mistakes, they develop a concrete understanding of the abstract principles used in computer science 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 expressionist–style images; construct topological graphs that represent the relationships between characters in such literary works 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 to all) and Codesters (free to teachers). An accompanying website contains the executable programs used in the book’s activities.
About the Authors:
Maureen Neumann is Professor in the College of Education and Social Services at the University of Vermont.
Lisa Dion is Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Vermont.
Learn more about the book via the MIT Press website: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/teaching-computational-thinking