Empowering Middle Schoolers w/Computational Thinking

A year and a half ago, I left my role as a Program Manager at Microsoft to jump head-first into the world of education. A brand new middle school, Excel Public Charter School, was hiring for a position that sounded better than any I could have dreamed up - "Computational Thinking Program Manager.”  Excel currently has grades 6-8, but we’re growing it to become a Grade 6-12 school, which is really exciting!

At the time, I had no idea what "computational thinking" even meant, but after a few months in the role I finally worked out a definition that didn't require five minutes to explain.   Computational thinking, at least to our students, means solving hard problems of all kinds using ideas from computer science. These include algorithmic thinking, decomposition, abstraction and pattern recognition. Computational thinking is also dependent on attitudes like confidence in the face of ambiguity, tenacity through multiple iterations and strong collaborative and communication skills – sound familiar?   

Hopefully one day the whole world will understand if I summarize those attitudes as "Do Learn" :)

Since beginning my role as CTPM at Excel, I've had a vague goal of sharing my favorite lessons and projects with other teachers and schools in an easy-to-implement format. Pushing resources and ideas beyond your own school walls is a key idea at many charter schools, and I wanted to honor that fully. Over the past month, I finally took some time to create a dedicated website for these lesson plans.  

My goal is to help as many teachers as I can empower their own students to be computational thinkers.  Feel free to share this site with any educators you know.  We can’t have too many young computational thinkers in this world!

Learn more about the impact Computational Thinking has had on my school here.  

Posted in: Alumni Speak