To say that how students learn today is radically different from how students learned 50 years ago is quite the understatement. The world is no longer local and analog, but rather, global, digital, and unescapably connected. In lieu of paper and encyclopedias, we have computers and Internet access. Education must reflect these changes.
The National Education Association (NEA) puts it best: “All educators want to help their students succeed in life. What was considered good education 50 years ago, however, is no longer enough for success in college, career, and citizenship in the 21st
So, the NEA developed a new framework for 21st
century learning in 2002, and refined it in 2012, calling it the “Four Cs”, which encapsulate the skills that are most important for a K-12 education in a global age: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.
In this blog post, we outline practical examples (based on grade level) of how to use educational technology to help students master the "Four Cs". Take a look:
- the ability to make decisions, solve problems and take action as appropriate
Students read a short book that has a main character, a plot that contains a problem, but no solution. The book has blank pages at the end, and the students are asked to finish the book. They must solve the main character’s problem, and illustrate the pages they have written. Once complete, students read one another’s books, and tell the class how about the student’s story ends.
Students work their way through the levels of the popular game Minecraft
. Encourage more advanced students to help those who are struggling. This Edutopia blog post
is a great resource for those wanting to utilize Minecraft in the classroom; it outlines four steps to incorporating the game into your curriculum.
In small groups, students create a plan for involving students in making technology decisions in the school. The process may include gathering student input from surveys, establishing a student advisory committee, using students to help provide tech support or other services to the school, evaluating cost/value ratios, and fundraising proposals to support their recommended strategies. These plans should be used in a presentation to the principal or the school board.” (From the NEA's Guide to the Four Cs
- the ability to synthesize and transmit ideas in both written and oral forms
Students split into partners, and each pair is asked to record themselves reading aloud different passages. The partners then switch recordings with one another, listen to the short passage their partner recorded, and answer open-ended questions based on the material.
"Students interview local scientists about the ways in which computer models inform their work. Students create a digital gallery of images from the different models accompanied by audio files of the interviews." (From the NEA's Guide to the Four Cs
A high school partners with a high school in a different country to work on a group project about their day-to-day lives. This project allows both classes the opportunity to learn about a foreign country, including what their school life and home life is like. The students learn about one another by pairing up and interviewing each other. (Inspired by Oregon Episcopal School
- the ability to work effectively with others, including those from diverse groups and opposing points on view
Students are tasked to write a short essay within their Google Drive account. When complete, each student shares his or her essay with another student, and is responsible for editing the essay and providing helpful feedback to his or her peer.
Students break into small groups in order to complete the Marshmallow Challenge
(which has been wildly popular since being featured in a TED talk). The challenge is pretty straightforward: “Teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top.” May the most creative team win!
Students collaborate with a family member or friend to bring their personal journey to life in a "digital storytelling workshop
". The students create a video based on interviews with their subject. The video should contain images, music and recordings with the subject. The class as a whole then views and critiques each student’s video, providing helpful feedback.
- the ability to see what's not there and make something happen
Students pair up with one another and gather several magazine and newspaper articles about a trending topic in the news. They work together to decide on the stance they take on the topic, and then express that point in a poem made entirely of phrases and words in the articles. Using the cut-out words and phrases, the pair creates a “found poem” and presents it to the rest of the class.
As a class, students plan, write and execute a play based on a scene from a novel they have recently read. This scene can stay the same, but the era in which is happens must be different. For example, the final scene in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities
could be recreated for the 21st
century. How would the scene be different? How would it be the same? How would technology be involved? When ready, the class puts on the show for the whole school.
Students are tasked with coming up with an original work of art that shows their creativity and talent. The project is completely up to the student: it could be building a website, painting a portrait, writing a poem, making a video, etc. The class will work as a team to put together an art show at the end of the project, during which each student must explain their piece to attendees.
These are simply a handful of examples of how easy (and fun!) it is for students to use technology to master the “Four Cs” in education. One of the great benefits of having tech in the classroom is how much more engaged students are as a result. It’s an exciting time to be an educator and a student, as long as both embrace the new world we live in.
Read what Joe Morelock, Director IT and Innovation at Canby School District, and Brad Baugher, Director of IT at Oregon Episcopal School, have to say about the challenges and successes of implementing edtech in the classroom.