The last featured voice on the Mainstage to kick off the official start of ISTE 2019 was Mike Walsh, a futurist. Throughout his talk, he spoke about the importance of teaching children computational thinking skills to prepare them for a world that still has yet to be created. He wrote a book called The Algorithmic Leader: How to Be Smart When Computers Are Smarter Than You, which highlights what the future could look like with the impact of AI. (Which has now been added to my future reads book list.) As a third grade teacher, I need to think about these things, as I am at the front lines preparing future leaders and planting those seeds.
For the past three years, I have been presenting a poster session at ISTE with my friend Mary Wever called “Get to Know Computational Thinking.” Three years ago, very few people even knew what Computational Thinking (CT) was. To be honest, prior to 2016, I was pretty clueless about the term, and I thought it had to do with math fact fluency. In 2016, I was part of a team of educators that went to the Teach to Lead Summit in Baltimore. We intended to do a project to increase coding into schools, but Dr. Aman Yadav encouraged us to focus on Computational Thinking instead. From that point on, I have been tuned in and advocating for the integrating of CT skills.
Knowing that exposure to the vocabulary and basic ideas of CT was an essential first step in the process of getting teachers to wrap their heads around these skills, my friend Mary and I worked to break down the subsets of CT into activities that were familiar to most people. We created a poster that explains the skills with the lense of prepping and attending a conference. We will be presenting the poster again this year on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 from 8:00-10:00 am at the Terrace Ballroom Lobby Table 50.
Over the past two years of presenting this poster at ISTE, we have found that people are able to understand these concepts and realize most of them are things they already do in the classroom. This was our hope, and we are looking forward to reaching a whole new audience this year at ISTE.
Jennifer Bond teaches 3rd grade in Walled Lake, MI and just celebrating her 20th year being an elementary educator. She loves all things creative, innovative, and engaging to impact the hearts and minds of her students. She was honored this year as the MACUL K-12 Tech Using Teacher of the Year.