Finding the Why Series -Part One: Introduction to the 4 Cs

In the weeks leading up to the May 28th Technology PD day, we wanted to be sure everyone understood the “why” behind this work.  So often we talk about the how…how does this device work… how to use an iPad…how to use a specific tool or app…how to manage devices in our classrooms.  However, before we can effectively understand the how-we MUST understand the WHY. Why integrate technology? Why do students need it? Why should teachers step out of the box to try “one more thing”?  These are the questions we hope to address in the coming weeks.

We ask that you take 5-10 minutes to read through the posts and watch the videos included.  We wish we had the time to meet each one of you in your buildings to engage in conversations together-but since it is testing season and end of the year activities time-we decided to get the message to you utilizing technology.

If you aren’t willing to ask what if….
Then you will always be left with what is.

“If there are no new ideas, there is no innovation.  And if there is no creativity, there are no new ideas.” -Max McKeown The Innovation Book

What are the 4Cs?

A great company, P21, came on the scene in 2002.  

P21, The Partnership for 21st Century Learning (formerly the Partnership for 21st Century Skills) was founded in 2002 as a coalition bringing together the business community, education leaders, and policymakers to position 21st century readiness at the center of US K-12 education and to kick-start a national conversation on the importance of 21st century skills for all students.

Through this organization a Framework for 21st Century Learning was created.  In this framework the 4Cs were introduced under the Learning and Innovation Skills category: Critical thinking; Communication; Collaboration; and Creativity.

This blog post will look at the 4Cs as a whole group.  In each of the following blogs in this series-we will explore each of the 4Cs in depth.

The 4Cs-an overview

First, take a moment to watch these videos.  They do an amazing job of explaining the 4Cs and giving examples of what it looks like in various classrooms. (If you do nothing else-you MUST watch these videos! They are sooooo good!)

I’ve had the privilege of attending many technology integration conferences.  There is one picture that keeps surfacing over and over again.  You can see it below.

pope comparison

The first picture was taken in 2005 with Pope Benedict’s election announcement.  The picture on the bottom was taking for the same reason with Pope Francis.  Notice anything?  You can count the devices present with one hand. (Anyone see the flip phone?)  However-in 2013, just 8 short years later-it might be easier to count the individuals without a device.  In the bottom everyone has some sort of mobile device.  Think about the years you have been teaching.  I bet it looked similar to the top picture-but if we met our students outside the school walls-they would resemble the bottom picture. It is time to meet our students where they are.  It is time to adapt to how technology is changing our culture.  If you give a device to any child-even ones that can barely speak-most of them would have no problem swiping the screen and access the apps to engage.  However, this is a piece that is missing in many classrooms not only here-but across school districts in our nation.

A Fellow Blogger’s Thoughts

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach is co-founder of the Powerful Learning Practice and an internationally-respected author and speaker. Here is a link to her blog.

In her blog post You Can’t Give Away What You Do Not Own-I think she summarizes the “WHY” beautifully:

Technology, used correctly, has the ability to level the playing field and open doors for all children, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, life experiences, background, or exceptionalities. And so I find myself driven to ensure that all policy makers, educational leaders, teachers and parents with whom I work have the technological vision and skills they need to unleash the unlimited potential in the children under their watch.

We can’t educate students who have been raised in a world of instant, interactive information by simply thinking up clever ways to use computers in the typical row-and-column classroom activities. What Roland Barth calls the “cemetery method”… neat rows and very still.

We have to ask ourselves what principled changes are we making in our districts, schools and classrooms that guarantee we are developing the #futureready  skill set these students will need as they face the challenges of the future- their future.

Are the current curricular strategies we are using helping those we mentor become future scientists, historians, mathematicians, technologists, risk takers and imagineers who will problem find and solve the social ills of the society of the future?

Are we developing skills such as: 

  • Personal and social responsibility on and offline
  • Planning, critical thinking, reasoning, and creativity expressed in both traditional and contemporary means
  • Strong communication skills with a global emphasis
  • Cross-cultural understanding
  • Visualizing, design driven problem solving and decision-making

The truth is none of us can give away what we do not own ourselves. Spilling out rhetoric you hear others say on Twitter or at your favorite tech conference will not change anything on the global scale needed in your district, school or classroom. Rather you have to own it, personally first.

Ask yourself, How important is it for someone in your position to model technology use? How do you do that? Do you understand effective ways to learn using social media, digital tools, and devices? Can you share/show how to embed deep learning into transparent use of technology and other connective tools in a classroom setting? If not, why not?

As future ready leaders you need to be present guiding, celebrating and nurturing the culture of change you want to see established. But first you have to own it, then you can give it away to faculty and they in turn can give it away to their students.


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