Global Math Department – The How and Why of Computational Thinking

I had a great time presenting to a group of good people last night at the Global Math Department meeting for the evening. Thanks to Michael, Megan, Jonathan, and the rest of the team that helped make it happen.

The recording of my talk is now available, so check it out when you get a chance. You can access that here:

Here’s an executive summary to discuss at the water cooler:

  • Let computers do what they do best, so that we can use our brains to do what they do best.
  • Numbers first, abstraction later. Computers serve to link concepts of specific numbers to the more abstract idea of variables.
  • We often use computation as a gate-keeper to get to the more interesting problem solving and higher level reasoning. Students can learn to use computational models and tools to get to that reasoning directly.
  • With spreadsheets, you (and your students) don’t have to know a programming language to get in the game.

What do I have wrong here? Computational thinking obsession continues

Another installment of my Hong Kong presentation titled ‘Why Computational Thinking matters.’ This is where my head is these days in figuring out how computers relate to what we do in class. My view is that activities like the one I describe in the video is more active than the way we (and I include myself in this group) usually attack word problems as part of our sequence.

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Help me flesh this out. I think there’s a lot here.

Why computational thinking matters – Part I

My presentation at 21CLHK yesterday was an attempt to summarize much of the exploration I’ve done over the past year in my classroom into the connection between learning mathematical concepts and programming. I see a lot of potential there, but the details about how to integrate it effectively and naturally still need to be fleshed out.

After the presentation, I felt there needed to be some way to keep the content active other than just posting the slides. I’ve decided to take some of the main pieces of the presentation and package them as videos describing my thinking. I’m seeing this as an iterative process – in all likelihood, these videos will change as I refine my understanding of what I understand about the situation. Here is the start of what will hopefully be a developing collection:

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[wpvideo PBc7xzdW]

I want to express my appreciation to Dan Meyer for his time chatting with during the conference about my ideas on making computation a part of the classroom experience. He pushed back against some my assertions and was honest about which arguments made sense and which needed more definition. I think this is a big deal, but the message on the power of computational thinking has to be spot on so it isn’t misunderstood or misused.

With the help of the edu-blogging community, I think we can nail this thing down together. Let’s talk.