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Computational Thinking Competencies

The ISTE Computational Thinking Competencies guide educators in integrating computational thinking across disciplines, with all students. The goal is to help learners harness the power of computing to innovate and solve problems. Discover how this body of work complements the existing CSTA K-12 CS Standards for Students and the K-12 Computer Science Framework.

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1. Computational Thinking (Learner)

Educators continually improve their practice by developing an understanding of computational thinking and its application as a cross-curricular skill. Educators develop a working knowledge of core components of computational thinking, such as decomposition, gathering and analyzing data, abstraction, algorithm design, and the impacts of computing on people and society.

1.a Set Professional Learning Goals

Set professional learning goals to explore and apply teaching strategies for integrating CT practices into learning activities in ways that enhance student learning of both the academic discipline and CS concepts.

1.b Learn How & When to Use Computation

Learn to recognize where and how computation can be used to enrich data or content to solve discipline-specific problems and are able to connect these opportunities to foundational CT practices and CS concepts.

1.c Leverage CT Experts & Resources

Leverage CT and CS experts, resources and professional learning networks to continuously improve practice integrating CT across content areas.

1.d Develop a Growth Mindset

Develop resilience and perseverance when approaching CS and CT learning experiences, build comfort with ambiguity and open-ended problems, and see failure as an opportunity to learn and innovate.

1.e Recognize Inequities & Opportunities of CT

Recognize how computing and society interact to create opportunities, inequities, responsibilities and threats for individuals and organizations.

2. Equity Leader (Leader)

All students and educators have the ability to be computational thinkers and CS learners. Educators proactively counter stereotypes that exclude students from opportunities to excel in computing and foster an inclusive and diverse classroom culture that incorporates and values unique perspectives; build student self-efficacy and confidence around computing; address varying needs and strengths; and address bias in interactions, design and development methods.

2.a Nurture Student CT Confidence

Nurture a confident, competent and positive identity around computing for every student.

2.b Create Culturally Responsive Learning

Construct and implement culturally relevant learning activities that address a diverse range of ethical, social and cultural perspectives on computing, and highlight computing achievements from diverse role models and teams.

2.c Foster Inclusive Practices

Choose teaching approaches that help to foster an inclusive computing culture, avoid stereotypes and equitably engage all students.

2.d Drive Equitable Student Participation

Assess and manage classroom culture to drive equitable student participation, address exclusionary dynamics and counter implicit bias.

2.e Communicate Impact of Computing

Communicate with students, parents and leaders about the impacts of computing in our world and across diverse roles and professional life, and why these skills are essential for all students.

3. Collaborating Around Computing (Collaborator)

Effective collaboration around computing requires educators to incorporate diverse perspectives and unique skills when developing student learning opportunities, and recognize that collaboration skills must be explicitly taught to lead to better outcomes. Educators work together to select tools and design activities and environments that facilitate these collaborations and outcomes.

3.a Formulate Computational Solutions

Model and learn with students how to formulate computational solutions to problems and how to give and receive actionable feedback.

3.b Support Student Collaboration

Apply effective teaching strategies to support student collaboration around computing, including pair programming, working in varying team roles, equitable workload distribution and project management.

3.c Collaborate to Create Cross-Discipline Activities

Plan collaboratively with other educators to create learning activities that cross disciplines to strengthen student understanding of CT and CS concepts, and transfer application of knowledge in new contexts.

4. Creativity & Design (Designer)

CT skills can empower students to create computational artifacts that allow for personal expression. Educators recognize that design and creativity can encourage a growth mindset, and work to create meaningful CS learning experiences and environments that inspire students to build their skills and confidence around computing in ways that reflect their interests and experiences.

4.a Design Activities with Data in Mind

Design CT activities where data can be obtained, analyzed and represented to support problem-solving and learning in other content areas.

4.b Design Authentic Learning Activities

Design authentic learning activities that ask students to leverage a design process to solve problems with awareness of technical and human constraints, and defend their design choices.

4.c Teach Human-Centered Design

Guide students on the importance of diverse perspectives and human-centered design in developing computational artifacts with broad accessibility and usability.

4.d Promote Varied Viewpoints & Agency

Create CS and CT learning environments that value and encourage varied viewpoints, student agency, creativity, engagement, joy and fun.

5. Integrating Computational Thinking (Facilitator)

Educators facilitate learning by integrating computational thinking practices into the classroom. Since computational thinking is a foundational skill, educators develop every student’s ability to recognize opportunities to apply computational thinking in their environment.

5.a Account for Learner Variability

Evaluate and use CS and CT curricula, resources and tools that account for learner variability to meet the needs of all students.

5.b Empower Student Choice

Empower students to select personally meaningful computational projects.

5.c Vary Instructional Approaches

Use a variety of instructional approaches to help students frame problems in ways that can be represented as computational steps or algorithms to be performed by a computer.

5.d Use Alternative Assessments

Establish criteria for evaluating CT practices and content learning that use a variety of formative and alternative assessments to enable students to demonstrate their understanding of age-appropriate CS and CT vocabulary, practices and concepts.