5 Activities to Boost Computational Thinking in the Library

computational thinking skills activity

At the National Association of School Librarian’s Conference in November, I had the pleasure of meeting Lorena Swetnam and Cynthia Johnson, middle school librarians at Blythwood Middle School and Longleaf Middle School in Columbia, South Carolina. They presented on how they’ve introduced computational thinking in their libraries. They’ve pulled together their story with some great example activities and photos. Check it out!—School and Library Publishing Director Jenny Krueger 

Working in a middle school means every day with our students is unique and full of surprises. In the last year, we have worked together to create opportunities for our students and teachers to tinker, create, and collaborate. These makerspace activities allow us to see computational thinking skills in action: logics, algorithms, decomposition, patterns abstraction, and evaluation.

In order to familiarize our school community with this approach, we provide an orientation using various low- and high-tech materials.

In addition to a makerspace orientation, both Blythewood Middle and Longleaf Middle participated in the Global Maker Day on October 26, 2017. This is an annual event in that provides time for students to intentionally practice computational and design thinking skills.

At Longleaf, three different teachers participated in the event. The game MockUp was used to “activate” their brains to think in an innovative manner. Students spent the rest of the class period working on specific challenges at different stations. At the conclusion of each class, components of computational thinking were discussed to show students how much they are able to do in just a brief period of time.

5 activities to boost computational thinking

Below are some examples of activities in the library that support computational thinking:

Teacher Makerspace Professional Development

Teachers tinker at different stations, using Legos, Littlebits, Snap Circuts, and Dash robot, with minimal directions. At the conclusion of rotating through a variety of activities, teachers identify which concepts and approaches related to computational thinking were used during each station.

Concepts:

  • Logic
  • Algorithm
  • Decomposition
  • Patterns
  • Abstraction
  • Evaluation

Approaches:

  • Tinkering
  • Creating
  • Debugging
  • Persevering
  • Collaboration

Breakout EDU games

BP7

Students are challenged to work together to open a variety of locks while provided with clues related to class.

Concepts:

  • Logic
  • Decomposition
  • Patterns
  • Abstraction
  • Evaluation

Design a City in a Sky Design Challenge

BP8

Students are challenged to work together to design a city in a sky while provided with guiding questions to help them think about what to include in their self-sustaining city in the sky.

Concepts:

  • Decomposition
  • Logic
  • Patterns
  • Abstraction

Author’s Tone through an Emoji

Students read a picture book and create an emoji based on the author’s tone.

Concepts:

  • Abstraction
  • Logic

Simple Machine Makerspace Activity

Students rotate through stations identifying and creating simple machines with a variety of resources.

Concepts:

  • Decomposition
  • Patterns

Thanks to Lorena and Cynthia for sharing their story! For makerspace resources from Lerner, check out this page on our website. 

Plus, read another post on how a teacher boosted maker education at her school here

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