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A...B...CT! Computational Thinking as a Basic Skill in Early Learning

Explore and create

Explore and create : Creation lab

Tuesday, December 1, 11:30 am–1:00 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Gail Lovely  
Wendy Oliver  

Computational thinking provides ways of thinking and problem solving strategies and skills for young learners (3-7 years old). This session will share CT strategies and activities which can be facilitated by educators and families in face-to-face, blended and family-based learning.

Audience: Coaches, Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: NOT Required, but useful:
iOS Chatterpix Kids App
Book Creator App
Chrome browser
Topic: Innovation in early childhood/elementary
Grade level: PK-2
Subject area: Language arts, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
  • Create learning opportunities that challenge students to use a design process and computational thinking to innovate and solve problems.
For Students:
Empowered Learner
  • Students articulate and set personal learning goals, develop strategies leveraging technology to achieve them and reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.
Additional detail: ISTE author presentation, Session recorded for video-on-demand
Influencer Disclosure: This session includes a presenter that indicated a “material connection” to a brand that includes a personal, family or employment relationship, or a financial relationship. See individual speaker menu for disclosure information.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The purpose of this session is to grow educators’ insight into CT as a powerful basis for critical thinking, problem solving and learning skills which are a basis for mathematical thinking and literacy as well. The session will provide opportunities to explore examples and firsthand experiences with CT. Together we will discuss challenges and successes, and bring focus to the intentional, purposeful integration of CT with young learners in a variety of environments (face-to-face, blended, tech and no tech and family-based).

Participants will be able to personally define CT and to explain what it includes with young learners.
Participants will be able to describe a way they could intentionally integrate CT into learning experiences or lessons within their setting with their learners.

Participants will be provided experiences, examples, discussion and explore tools to bring focus to the intentional, purposeful integration of CT with young learners in a variety of environments (face-to-face, blended, tech and no tech and family-based).


Initial Activity, Sharing Who is Here and Why
Defining Computational Thinking Through Shared Experience - (hands-on activity with participants)
Research and Basis of Computational Thinking - (interactive discussion/lecture with examples)
Seeing Computational Thinking in Action - (Sharing examples and experiences via image/video/story)
Intentionally Integrating Computational Thinking into Common Learning Settings/Experiences - (sharing methods of integrating CT and working together to add CT to a lesson/experience)
Brainstorming/Sharing Ideas for Computational Thinking into Early Learning
At a Distance
Blended Learning
Family-facilitated Learning
Next Steps - Committing to Trying Something New (or refining something well-loved). - (Using Padlet to share ideas and our own next steps)

Supporting research

Bers, M. (2017) Coding as a Playground: Programming and Computational Thinking in the Early Childhood Classroom. Routledge.
Papert, S. (1980). Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas. New York: Basicbooks.
Resnick, M., & Robinson, K. (2018). Lifelong kindergarten: Cultivating creativity through projects, passion, peers, and play. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
“Coding as Literacy Teaching Programming as a Literacy of the 21st Century.” Coding as Literacy, DevTech Research Group, Tufts University,
Williams, Heidi. “Introduction to Computational Thinking for Every Educator.” ISTE U. 2019.

More [+]


Gail Lovely, Suddenly It Clicks!
Wendy Oliver, Kamehameha Schools

Wendy Oliver is a Senior Instructional Technology Specialist for Kamehameha Schools in the state of Hawai'i. She supports preschool teachers throughout the state with technology integration. She graduated with a BA in Geography from California State University Fullerton and earned her elementary teaching certifications in California and Texas. She is a former second and third grade teacher and Technology Integration Coach. She is a member of the ISTE Early Learning Network Leadership team.

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