Training teachers to integrate computational thinking into K-12 teaching

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

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Publication Title

SIGCSE 2016 - Proceedings of the 47th ACM Technical Symposium on Computing Science Education

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Computational thinking, Computer science education, K-12 teacher training


© 2016 ACM. Computational thinking (CT), which encompasses strategies for problem analysis and solution design, is highly applicable in all STEM disciplines, including computer science, for learning concepts as well as solving problems. Yet, the exposure of K-12 students to CT in many schools is practically non-existent. For students to acquire this important skill, teachers require in-depth knowledge of the problem solving strategies that define CT and strategies for integrating CT into their lesson plans. The proposed special session will be both a tutorial on CT and an interactive session for sharing the experience and results from a CT workshop held at Columbus State University for middle and high school STEM subject teachers. This workshop, offered as a part of the ACT4STEM (Applying Computational Thinking for STEM Disciplines) project took place in the summer of 2015. It brought together teachers from the metropolitan Columbus area in Georgia with priority given to teachers from high-need schools (as determined by the GA Department of Education [1]). The workshop introduced the participants to CT concepts and demonstrated how CT strategies of pattern recognition, generalization, problem decomposition and algorithmic thinking can be used to improve student learning of STEM concepts. The proposed special session will present sample CT modules and projects and lesson plans designed by participants during the workshop. It will include interactive, hands-on activities and discussions in addition to results from the teachers' actual experiences on applying these lesson plans in their classes. This special session will benefit K12 teachers of STEM subjects interested in improving their students' comprehension of discipline related concepts and their application. Moreover computer science faculty interested in helping K-12 teachers by organizing training sessions will gain valuable insights from the first-hand accounts of the presenters of their own experience with such an effort.

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