Growing Computational Thinking as a subject


Computational Thinking (CT) is the new kid on the block. For those of you who have been here for a while and whose children go to PYP, it might feel like it has been around forever, but after running a pilot for three years, CT only became an official subject last school year. 

By Kris Coorde, primary Computational Thinking Teacher

The subject really still is in its infant phase, and just like with any young child, CT is continuously changing because we are learning. While developing the CT curriculum, we are also thinking about the future of students at ISU. There is no CT in secondary, but a lot of the skills they are learning in PYP are being used in the Design classes. So, in our continuous development, we have started looking for ways to create a stronger continuum from Computational Thinking in PYP to Design in MYP.

That process started last year when design units were introduced in grades 3 and 4. The former designed and created a prototype for everyday solutions like an automatic pet feeding machine or an alarm for their secret hide-out; the latter learned how to make games in Scratch. This year, grade 1 designed a playground and build a model out of play dough and grade 2 will create an interactive story with Scratch, Jr.

Stronger foundation in coding skills

With this new development come growing pains. Students need to learn to deal with the steps of the design cycle - reflecting and improving is not their favourite thing to do, because it takes time – and teachers need to learn on how to best teach these skills and attitudes.

A colleague who teaches secondary Design recently said it became noticeable this year that students in Grade 6 who had CT for a couple of years in primary showed a stronger foundation in coding skills than previous cohorts. The next step is to have our students also develop better design thinking skills. this way both CT as a subject and our younger students can grow together.