New “Basic Skills” Computational Thinking Unplugged

Students will explore and practice the four key computational thinking skills and connect those skills to their future-ready toolbox.

Grades 9-12 95 min Resource by:

Build our students’ economic mobility and economic skills.

Computational thinking skills are noted to be the “New Basic Skills” that should be added to students’ toolboxes to prepare them to be active citizens who can navigate the ever-changing real-world challenges. Schools are preparing students for a workforce with jobs that may not even be invented yet. The four key computational thinking skills that will be focused on in this lesson are decomposition, algorithms, abstraction, and pattern recognitions.

According to Seymour Papert, an early pioneer of computational thinking, the focus of computational thinking should not be on the machine but on the mind. Ultimately, the goal of computational thinking is the ability to problem-solve and forge new ideas that will continue to better our world.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will explore and practice the four key computational thinking skills.
  • Students will connect the computational skills to their future-ready toolbox.

What You’ll Need



  • Productive struggle
  • Problem-solving
  • Growth mindset
  • Curiosity and open-mindedness
  • Planning and organizational skills
  • Effective communication and collaboration

Students will work in groups to complete “unplugged” stations that allow students to explore key computational thinking skills.

  • How are you using this computational thinking skill?
  • Where else is this computational skill important or being used?

For Students

  • Connect with an elementary teacher and have students create their stations to share with an elementary classroom.
  • Reading: Ask students to write a mystery story using the four key computational thinking skills.
  • Math: Have students create a problem or scenario and then switch with a classmate to try to solve the problem or give solutions to the scenario, making sure to identify which computational thinking skill they are utilizing.

For Teachers

      • Students could engage in a Jigsaw of the computational thinking skills stations. Each group (expert group) could complete one station, and then teach the rest of the class how they utilized computational thinking skills to accomplish/complete the station’s activities.