Computational Thinking at Excel

We’re three weeks into our inaugural year here at Excel Public Charter School, and every student can already define computational thinking.

Every single student.

Their definitions aren’t canned sentences they were asked to memorize and recite. Students are not only aware of what computational thinking means – they’re living it. In English Language Arts, sixth graders learned how computational thinking applies to breaking down complicated ideas and structuring their notes. In Computer Science, seventh graders used algorithmic design and abstraction to programmatically create intricate designs on graph paper. And starting in a couple of weeks, all of our scholars will have access to our STEAM Room, the Makerspace we’re building to bolster our students’ creativity, design thinking and engineering skills.

Computational thinking is much more than writing code, and equipping our students with these skills doesn’t mean we at Excel want or expect them all to major in software engineering. Skills like pattern recognition, decomposition and abstraction can be leveraged just as often in a history assignment as they can while programming. As my colleague Taylor Williams put it in his recent article for Teach for America, “when schools emphasize computational thinking in interesting contexts and not just traditional computer science, all students can be empowered by computing.”

The Computational Thinking board featured prominently in Mr. Williams' classroom.
The Computational Thinking board featured prominently in Mr. Williams’ classroom.

Our academic mission at Excel is to provide all students an academically rigorous, STEM-focused, college preparatory educational program that will help them achieve both academic and personal success in college and career. Our students will use computational thinking each and every day they’re here at Excel. This blog will serve as a living record of their journeys: documenting new manifestations of computational thinking in and out of the classroom, highlighting student projects and STEM-centric activities, and transparently discussing our accomplishments and our flops along the way.

Follow us on Twitter for more frequent updates, and check back soon for a sneak peek at our STEAM Room!

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