Computational thinking is an innovative approach to teaching that redesigns the STEM and ELA curriculums on a new framework. This framework focuses on turning students from consumers to content creators through game-based learning and computational thinking (CT) skills while developing their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Teachers all over the world have embraced the use of coding and programming in their classrooms, adapting the online materials for various subjects that stretch beyond the borders of STEM.
6 Digital tools that help educators teach computational thinking
The internet is full of valuable resources that teach you how to include computational thinking in the learning process, so I’ve collected six of the most used platforms with complex materials and guidelines to support educators:
Scratch is a free coding learning platform with a simple interface available in more than 70 languages. It promotes computational thinking, problem-solving skills, creativity, and collaboration. This tool also allows students to create digital stories, games, and animations.
Available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, Scratch uses color-coded bars that are placed in an interlocking command sequence. The website offers guidelines, plans, activities, and strategies for successful use in the classroom. Teachers can watch tutorials, print coding cards, and visit the Ideas Page for extra resources.
Also, through Google’s free curriculum, CS First, teachers and students can access over 1,000 instructional videos and lesson plans. There’s also Code Club with 30 free project modules dedicated to providing detailed instructions on how to use the platform.
Teachers can create accounts for their students to manage their projects and comments more easily using a Scratch Teacher Account.
Kodable is a coding platform that provides teachers with a complete K-5 curriculum to implement in the classroom. It helps students solve problems, work with a partner to reach the same goal, share triumphs and struggles, bounce back after a challenge and develop their creativity as they design levels, games, and characters.
Ozobot is an online tool that allows students to code robots included in their kits, which can be ordered online and offline. Ozobots are smart robots that help students learn robotics, math, and programming through using visual codes to follow lines or roam around freely.
The platform provides instructional video lessons on all subjects that can be shared on any learning management system (LMS) with students in third to fifth grade. The lessons integrate multiple subjects and help students analyze, communicate, solve and interpret their ideas effectively.
Roblox is a desktop design tool that allows students to produce their own immersive multiplayer experience. The website offers teachers free software and curriculum to teach computer science, digital citizenship, entrepreneurship, and more, to students of all ages.
With Roblox, students experience a new way of learning that breaks the traditional model of standardized curriculum. It fosters creativity and adaptability for the ever-changing workplace landscape.
Using prebuilt educational templates to customize game levels and tutorials, students learn complex concepts as they play — for example, chain reaction simulations, coding, animation, and digital citizenship.
MIT Full STEAM Ahead
MIT Full STEAM Ahead is a collection of resources that MIT has put together for teaching and learning online during the pandemic. They were meant as a rapid response to the need for online resources when schools transitioned to the online environment.
Teachers can access this learning website to collect resources addressed to K-12 and Higher Education students, updated weekly. From online to offline activity resources, from STEAM-related resources to complete MIT courses, this platform allows teachers to choose the best for their students.
Minecraft is a game-based world full of educational possibilities that promote computational thinking with in-game coding. Available for Windows, Mac, Chromebook, and iPad, Minecraft lets teachers explore hundreds of lessons created by educators around the world, for students of all ages. With Minecraft, students can learn and visualize scientific concepts, perform experiments, explore amazing worlds, recreate simulations, tell stories, and more.
Students can also learn math concepts like ratios and proportions, show their knowledge of historical times and places, create stage performances, display their reading comprehension by visualizing characters, plots, and locations.
Minecraft prepares students for the future as they explore real-world issues in immersive, imaginative scenarios, as well as build empathy and digital citizenship.
Computational thinking is a useful skill in today’s educational system. Students need to be familiar with the digital world and self-reliant in a society that is more and more dependent on technology. As a result, they become the creators by visualizing their ideas in a digital format through coding and programming.
Read more: Teaching Computational Thinking: In practice
With the help of the digital tools mentioned here and many more, teachers help students prepare for their future careers and help them navigate their reality through creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking.
Diana has been a teacher for over 10 years. She writes about finding that perfect balance between the same old teaching strategies and the ever changing tools.