Monday, January 25, 2016

The 4Cs - New Way of Learning?

I was perusing Feedly the other day and came upon this post, The 4 Cs of Learning by Jeff Utecht on his The Thinking Stick blog.

Ahhh... 21st Century Skills and the 4Cs. You know 'em! P21 was founded in 2002 and has been promoting the 4Cs: Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking ever since. I pulled the image at left from the site which challenged Michigan ELA educators to use 21st century skills to provide sound literacy instruction in 2006. So, here we are, 16 years in. We can quit talking about becoming 21st century schools. We ARE 21st century schools. What do or should the 4Cs look like today in our classrooms?

Collaboration: The simple definition per Merriam-Webster is to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something. What does this look like in 2016? It is no longer students in the same classroom working together on a presentation they will give to only the other students in that same classroom. Take a look at some of these Flat Connections videos created by students across the world learning and working together. Interested? You can sign up for the 2016 projects or... start smaller and work with another classroom in your own building. Perhaps a social studies classroom working with a theology classroom during 6th hour or two Freshman English classes taught by the same teacher working on a project together. Either way, expanding the audience will get students more engaged!

Communication: People communicate. It's what we do. However, how we communicate changes over time. When was the last time you wrote a letter to a loved one that lived in another city? More than likely you sent them an email, Facebook, Twitter or text message. Yet most of these social platforms are taboo in our schools. Yes, I understand that they can be misused but so can a piece of paper and a pencil. If we teach our students to use social media properly the likelihood of misuse goes down. Become comfortable with these platforms yourself. Communicate with your students on platforms they use. Unsure of where to start? Read through this Social Media for Teachers Edutopia post that covers many different platforms and contains guides to their use. Learn to use social media for your own professional development and you'll discover uses for it in the classroom everyday.

Creativity and Critical Thinking: These two just go hand-in-hand. Students take the skills and knowledge acquired and apply that to whatever problem is before them whether it is creating a poster, a diorama or a presentation. They can take it even further to design and build a physical product as a solution to a particular problem. These are all forms of using critical thinking and creation. But, as mentioned in Jeff's post, in 2016 it's time to start teaching students to be not just problem solvers but problem finders. Last year our Girls Who Code team did just that. They discovered that there wasn't currently a simple means for local food pantries to communicate what supplies were needed most to their donors. The girls met with the various food pantries organizers, app designers and programmers and then began to design an app that would do just that. They moved beyond the walls of our school and began working with other professionals as they continued to learn the skills needed to complete the app. It was awesome to watch as the girls moved through the process, learning what was needed when it was needed and with very little adult assistance. Whether it's a physical product, producing a book talk video or writing a guest post for a theology blog, there's an audience for what you and your students are creating. Discover who that audience is and then share what your students are doing. You provide the structure & routines, assist with timelines and provide opportunities so they can choose why and what they are learning at any given time. Interested in learning more about design thinking? Our diocesan schools are being offered a unique opportunity to learn more about human-centered design thinking this July. Check with your department head, school administrator or instructional technology specialist for more information.

The 4Cs: Collaboration, Communication, Creativity and Critical Thinking. How are you utilizing them in your classroom in 2016?

1 comment:

  1. I especially like the idea: in 2016 it's time to start teaching students to be not just problem solvers but problem finders