Think like a computer?

It’s not new, but lately Computational Thinking (CT) is cropping up in every education publication and on ed blogs all over. This New York Times article from today looks at where the movement started and where it is today.

In thinking about how to teach computational thinking, it’s important to go beyond “approaching problems the way a programmer would” as described in the article. For a better understanding, please check out this  practical definition of computational thinking created by the team at Harvard University that brought us Scratch programming (the language used by our fourth graders with Mr. Grant).

Below are some examples of lessons teachers in all disciplines are using to incorporate computational thinking into their classrooms:

  1. Sample lesson on drawing monsters from
  2. Sample lesson including “decomposing steps,” abstraction and algorithms from
  3. International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) maintains a project page with their own definition and presentations for teachers of all grade levels to add computational thinking to their lessons.
  4. Another ISTE blog post on 3 easy lessons

Are you still with me? Feel free to start a conversation by answering any of these questions in the comments section.

Where do you see computational thinking at work in our current curriculum? (i.e. the steps in a shop project)

Did you see any lessons or ideas that would be easy to incorporate into an existing project?



Hour of Code

This week is Computer Science Education Whourofcodeeek! The “Hour of Code” project is leading the celebration again. If you have time this week and you want to give your students a sampling of what it is like to program, then this is for you. We have done this for the last few years and the kids seem to enjoy it. Here is a link to this year’s tutorials.

They have the classic Angry Birds and Frozen tutorials and added more including one from Moana, the new Disney movie, and Make Music with Scratch.
If you want help trying this in your classroom, let us know. Also, these tutorials are available all year so you can try them any time you want, not just this week.

Renweb App & CSQ Databases


image-1Did you know you can take your morning attendance or look up student information, including a picture if you want to see what a student looks like, all without using your computer? If you have a smart phone or a tablet, there is an app for that! RenWeb has an app called “RenWeb Staff” (not “RenWeb Home” or ”RenWeb Alert”). Just go to your app store, download it and login with your usual RenWeb credentials and there you have it.

Cavendish Square Digital Databases

exploringancientcivilizationsCavendish has been a solid publisher of nonfiction
titles for years. Our library is full of their social studies materials and we are adding to our science and math titles this year. Like many publishers, they are moving much of their content online. After testing the waters last year, we have purchased access to two of their databases, Exploring Ancient Civilizations and Exploring the Middle Ages. Login for these resources is “applewild” and the password is “research”.

Who might want to use these?

  • Social Studies:
    • 6th Grade Middle Ages reports
    • 5th Grade work on Ancient Civilizations
  • Science
    • Scientific discoveries from ancient times
  • Foreign Language
    • 5th grade biographies
    • Latin projects
  • English/ELL
    • Anna of Byzantium context
    • Translation services make it a great tool for ELL students

Please explore and I’ll offer a guided tour and some tips at a Technophiles meeting soon. As always, if you need help sooner, please just ask.



Classroom Newsletter Tips from Corkboard Connections


Laura Candler over at Corkboard Connections (a favorite blog and resource collection) just posted a great list of Five Common Newsletter Flaws. If you’ve ever sent out a classroom newsletter (either print or online) and wondered if parents are actually reading it, this list is great for troubleshooting.

The key here is white space– too much text, graphics, and filler will make even the most valuable and exciting content hard to read. The article offers clear and specific ways to create more white space and make your newsletter a success. Plus, these tips are great for any kind of longform communication!

There is also a link to a free template download at TeachersPayTeachers.

Copyright Savvy: Public Domain and Creative Commons Images

In continuing our education on copyright, I thought I’d share this great chart of Google Images alternatives, created by Richard Byrne over at Free Technology forTeachers. When using images in their work, it is always preferable that students use images that are either in the public domain (meaning that their copyright has run out), or images with a Creative Commons license (which allows them to be used for free under certain conditions). Continue reading