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Coding, Computational Thinking, and Computer Science for All

Computer Science teaches students foundational 21st-century knowledge and skills like how to analyze data, how to program an app, and how the internet can be harnessed for business. Wisconsin students now benefit from academic standards in computer science and information and technology literacy that help them understand fundamental concepts to further their skills in today’s technological world.

Embedded in both the new ITL and Computer Science standards are the concepts of computational thinking and coding. These are the trending skills and literacies that students need for careers today and for those that do not yet exist. It is crucial we understand how these concepts can integrate into schools across all content areas.

Wisconsin Hour of Code: Annual event 2nd-3rd week of May

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is sponsoring a new event, the Wisconsin Hour of Code, to keep coding and computer science alive year round. We are also happy to announce that our Public Library team is launching a program this fall with public libraries to offer coding resources and events for local students and learners of all ages. During this two weeks in May, we encourage educators to do the following activities:

  • revisit the Hour of Code activities for great resources, videos, and stories.
  • design one activity for students to use coding resources, interactive tools, and self-guided tutorials.
  • review activities for student summer programming and extension learning activities.
  • curate resources to integrate into summer lesson curriculum and design activities for the 2016-2017 school year.
  • learn about great statewide professional learning opportunities and networks as collaborative leadership, strategic partnerships and regional support systems focus on equitable learning opportunities. 

Register your events here

Tweet your activities, resources and professional learning activities to #wihourofcode

Hour of Code site offers year-round participation Professional Learning Training Support
(free to CESAs and Districts)

Workshops for our CS Fundamentals curriculum for all grade levels with educator access to standard alignment charts for activities, student self-assessments and more. If a school/district is interested in having 10+ teachers trained, they can contact:

Dennis Brylow
Milwaukee, WI

Amanda Werner
Janesville, WI

Teri Sue Hitchcock
Apple Valley, MN

Angie Kalthoff
Richmond, MN

Inspiring the Next Generation of Learners with Coding

Definitions of Coding, Computer Science and Computational Thinking

According to Digital Promise, Computational Thinking for a Computational World, computational technologies are impacting students in and out of the classroom. The impact of exposing students to these skills is preparing students to be future-ready, to engage in society, and to prepare for the changing world of work. These skills can go across all content areas and include a baseline of problem-solving.

Computational thinking:  a way of solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior that draws on concepts fundamental to computer science and mathematics...These skills are fundamental for all and include the following skills (ISTE and CSTA):

  • Formulating problems in a way that enables us to use a computer and other tools to help solve them
  • Logically organizing and analyzing data
  • Representing data through abstraction such as models and simulations
  • Automating solutions through algorithmic thinking (a series of ordered steps)
  • Identifying, analyzing and implementing possible solutions with the goal of achieving the most efficient and effective combination of steps and resources
  • Generalizing and transferring this problem-solving process to a wide variety of problems

Coding: the practice of developing a set of instructions that a computer can understand and execute

Computer science: Wisconsin defines Computer Science as "an academic discipline that encompasses the study of computers and algorithmic processes, including their principles, their hardware and software designs, their applications, networks, and their impact on society."

This working definition of Computer Science draws upon these five core concepts from the Computer Science Framework :

  • Computing Systems
  • Networks and the Internet
  • Data and Analysis
  • Algorithms and Programming
  • Impacts of Computing​








Wisconsin Professional Networks, Professional Learning Networks, and Associations

Wisconsin Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) : free professional organization membership and calendar of events. WiCSTA is part of the national CSTA group who has a great website full of resources, social media engagement activities and other professional learning

WISELearn G+ Coding, Gaming and Playful Leaning PLC

Hour of Code Communities of Practice


Literature Review

Wisconsin Academic Standards

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Wisconsin Standards for Computer Science. (Accessed June 20, 2017).

Resources and information can be found on the DPI Computer Science website.

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Wisconsin Standards for Information and Technology Literacy. (Accessed June 20, 2017).

Resources and information can be found on the DPI Information and Technology Literacy resource portal.


Artificial Intelligence (AI)


Coding, Computational Thinking, Computer Science

Digital Promise. Computational Thinking for a Computational World. (Accessed December 8, 2017).

This guidebook discusses the intersection of coding, computer science, and computational thinking to address the necessary skills and instructional practices to help prepare students for their digital futures.

International Society for Technology Education. Computational Thinking for All. (Accessed June 30, 2017).

The most comprehensive collection of resources for K-12 educators including handouts, video, teacher lessons. This project was completed in collaboration with the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA).

Google. Computational Thinking for Educators - Free Course. (Accessed June 15, 2017).

A free online course for educators to explore the leading K-12 Computational Thinking Resources for students. Additional resources and integration ideas are found at the Google Computational Thinking overview page.

Google for Education. Solving Problems at Google Using Computational Thinking. 2012. (Accessed October 2, 2018)

This video shares real-world examples of computational thinking components in use every day at Google, using Google Maps and Google Earth as an example.

Google for Education. Exploring Computational Thinking. 2016. (Accessed October 2, 2018)

Google's resource hub on computational thinking, complete with lesson plans, example problems, and instructional materials.

British Broadcasting Company. BBC Bitesize: Introduction to Computational Thinking.2018. (Accessed October 3, 2018)

The BBC has developed a computer science curriculum for K-12 students in Great Britain. This section focuses on computational thinking skills.

Valerie Barr and Chris Stephenson. Bringing Computational Thinking to K-12: What is the Role of the Computer Science Community? 2011. (Accessed October 3, 2018)

This research study attempts to clarify what the role of computational thinking is in K-12, define core skills, and connect these skills to what teachers are doing in the classroom.

ISTE. Computational thinking: A digital age skill for everyone. 2014. (Accessed October 3, 2018)

This video illustrates how computational thinking gives students the ability to recognize when and how technology can boost their own critical-thinking, creative and problem-solving skills in order to find innovative solutions to real-world problems.

Data Literacy

Data-Pop Alliance. What Is Data Literacy? 2015. (Accessed October 3, 2018)

This animation explains one definition of data literacy created by the Data-Pop Alliance, a collaboration of several universities exploring use of "Big Data" to determine ways to promote social good.

Google News Lab. The Age of Insight: Telling Stories With Data. 2015. (Accessed October 3, 2018)



Additional Resources: Hour of Code resources: standard aligned resources, teacher dashboard, grade level specific learning activities. The site continues to offer more resources and professional learning activities. vetted list of high-quality 3rd party resources Video Library

Elementary in Engineering

Google Learn Computer Science

Project Lead the Way-Computer Science

Graphite: Best Coding Tools for Elementary

Graphite: Best Coding Tools for Middle School











For questions about this information, contact Janice Mertes (608) 267-1054, Chad Kliefoth (608) 267-9289