Some define computational thinking in 4 parts and that is how I started my students with computational thinking - decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithms. There are two other ways of thinking about computational thinking. One is the one from MIT media lab (Creative Computing) that sees computational thinking composed of computational concepts (sequence, loops, parallelism, events, conditionals, operations, and data - which by the way looks a lot like the Scratch menu), computational practices (being iterative, testing and debugging, reusing and remixing, abstracting and modularizing) and computational perspectives (expressing, connecting, questioning). This is the framework I have been using to guide my students on their journey into coding.
The other definition is the one that had me stumped for a while - it's the one on ISTE's site, with input from CSTA and it is seems simple, at least on the surface:
Critical Thinking + Computing Power = Ability to make decisions and innovate solutions
I have been thinking about this one for a while and considering how to bring it to 3-4 graders. It came to me recently that I needed to go back to a few workshops I used to start out the school year on critical thinking and intellectual standards (being clear, accurate, relevant, logical, and fair). We had a class discussion about what computing power might look like with critical thinking and why the critical thinking piece is needed to make decisions and innovate solutions that help humanity and make the world a better place. There are many brilliant people who use computing power to further selfish motives, but that is not using critical thinking with computing power to make wise and fair decisions while innovating solutions.
Here are some thoughts from my students after our discussion:
"Intellectual standards are important when computing power, making decisions, and innovating solutions. When making decisions, you need to think, "Am I being clear, accurate, relevant, logical, and fair?" You need to consider others and how your decision will affect them. When innovating solutions, you need to think the same question. When you have computing power, you need to use Intellectual Standards to decide how you are going to use it."
"I think critical thinking is important because it helps a lot of people do things. To be a critical thinker, you have to have Intellectual Standards - be clear, be accurate, be relevant, be logical, be fair. When you are making decisions, you have to have intellectual standards. With the intellectual standards, you have to make sure you are making the right choice. You also have computing power when making decisions. You also have to use intellectual standards and computing power to innovate solutions. That includes thinking: "Should I be doing this? Am I doing this correctly? Will it work and can I improve upon this?" Having intellectual standards, computing power, and being a critical thinker will really come in handy later on."
"Critical thinking is involved with computational thinking because it takes the qualities of critical thinking to be able to understand computational thinking. Also, it takes computational thinking to make decisions and innovate solutions. If you are not accurate, something could go wrong. If you are not clear, someone may do the wrong think because of your instructions. You have to be logical because you might crash your systems instead of solving a problem. If you are not relevant then you could solve the wrong problem. You have to be fair in distributing work, otherwise people will be angry."
"To be a computational thinker means that you break problems down and that you are fair to people. Ask: What is the outcome of this? This will help you be logical. Computational thinking helps the world become a better place."
"Critical thinking gets you your idea and computing power helps you with it. Putting them together helps you make decisions and make solutions. Critical thinking helps you answer a problem accurately, state your answer, and basically help you revise."
"Critical thinking is important because you are not only fair to one another and public, but you are making decisions correctly. You also make solutions to your problems. You think about others when using critical thinking and computing power; not just yourself. A problem is that many houses do not have safe security that makes sense. Sometimes, this is a problem in not only your house, but in the mall, an apartment, a hotel, and many other places."