#47 – Computational Thinking: A Conversation with Tammie Schrader

Unpacking Education July 7, 2021 26 min

How can we shift students from being solely consumers of technology to helping them build the future-ready skills needed to produce and create with technology? When our students develop computational thinking skills, they are able to articulate a problem and work through a series of steps to solve it logically. Computational thinking helps them break down complex scenarios and predict possible solutions. It also provides them with the skills they need to explore cause and effect, analyzing how their actions or the actions of others impact a given situation.

Computational thinking is most often taught through the four cornerstones that we explored in last week’s podcast episode: abstraction, algorithms, decomposition, and pattern recognition. Along with their use in computer programming, each of these components has real-world applications that can be readily introduced to students starting as early as elementary school.

Join our Digital Learning Specialists as they chat with our special guest, Tammie Schrader—a regional Science and Computer Science Coordinator for Educational Service District 101 in Washington—about how to introduce computational thinking into the classroom to foster real-world problem-solving, creativity, and curiosity, while building students’ self-confidence.

As Tammie reminds us, it is important to remember that everyone is capable of computational thinking. It’s a skill, and like all skills, it can be acquired, practiced, improved upon, and refined. Tammie shares how we can make computational thinking fun and engaging for all students. By nurturing this skill, students will learn how to create, innovate, and automate. They’ll learn to think outside of the box, test boundaries, and conceptualize new ideas.

Paul Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist
Rena Clark
Digital Learning Coach
Pamela Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist

I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer, should learn a computer language, because it teaches you how to think.

Steve Jobs, American business magnate and industrial designer


The following are resources available on AVID Open Access to explore this topic in more depth:

Conversations About Computational Thinking

In today’s episode, we chat with Tammie Schrader, who brings her passion and energy into the classroom to share computational thinking skill-building with students. As students develop these skills, they also learn teamwork, persistence, deep thinking, inquisitiveness, information analysis, pattern recognition, and resource management.

Computational Thinking Across the Curriculum

Our students encounter problem-solving situations every day. Typically, we don’t call out the steps that we take to solve the problem. Computational thinking has us break down each component of the process into steps to help students create clear connections—a systematic process that can be used across the curriculum. As teachers, how might we use computational thinking to help students gain awareness of how their brain works to solve problems in any subject area? Join us to hear Tammie’s stories about how you can bring these skills to your students to help them become better problem-solvers and critical thinkers. In this episode, we explore the following questions:

  • What is your personal definition of computational thinking?
  • How did you become interested in computational thinking?
  • What value does computational thinking hold within disciplines outside of computer science?
  • How can computational thinking support work around social justice and “techquity”?
  • How might you support educators who are just dipping their toe into the computational thinking water?

Computational Thinking Resources

  • Scratch (Tips) is a programming platform and online community that can be used to create presentations, simulations, games, art, and so much more. Teachers can integrate the use of Scratch into any subject in order to increase voice and choice in their classroom. Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively—essential skills for life in the 21st century.
  • PhET (Tips) provides teachers with access to simulation-specific tips and video primers to support the implementation of the 160 free interactive simulations and close to 3,000 teacher-submitted lessons.