Sure we are all aware of the 4C’s: Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, & Creativity; however, are we fostering a 4C-aligned classroom when integrating technology?
As I mentioned in my blog on 8/29: 21st Century Risk Taking, one of my biggest passions involves integrating technology in the classroom; however, I often find myself frustrated that I don’t observe or note the 4Cs in action when I hear people talk about their practices, complete walkthroughs, conduct evaluations, or participate in collaboration meetings. It is my belief that the easiest way to achieve a 4C’s-aligned classroom is through a TRUE blended learning experience.
But what is a true blended learning experience?
Many think that blended learning is having students work independently on their computers while the teacher pulls for small groups or to work with individual students; however this is NOT blended learning! Putting students on a program like MyOn or XtraMath (which yes, is independent and differentiated depending on students’ ability and level) while a teacher works with other students is just another form of “substitution” with XtraMath replacing flashcards and MyOn replacing a leveled print text.
You might be thinking why isn’t this blended learning? “Blended learning is any formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace.” (www.blendedlearning.org). When you tell a student what, how, and when to do something you loose the blended learning experience even if you have the best intentions of creating a blended learning environment. “Technology shouldn’t be something else you have to add to your already full plate. Instead technology should replace and improve what you already do!” (www.ascd.org)
Blended learning is, at its core, the 4Cs in action!! Students work with the teacher on a skill, strategy, or concept and, at a different time, using technology, work independently or in groups to frontload, extend, or practice concepts they are working on at their individual levels. The teacher supports and encourages as a guide on the side!
There are countless ways to implement a blended learning experience while incorporating the 4Cs; here are 4 quick tips and tricks to get you started and research citing why these suggestions are important:
- Create a TED-ED lesson; use a “Today’s Meet” as a back channel for student to ask questions, make comments, and access support while working in groups or individually to complete the TED-ED lesson. (Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Communication)
- “To take advantage of online educational opportunities, people need to have a good understanding of how knowledge is constructed and how it represents reality and articulates a point of view” (Hobbs, 2010).
- Post a discussion board topic or essential question; have students respond to the question and to their peer’s responses with authentic connections/feedback. (Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Communication)
- “One of the most potentially powerful tools is in-class formative assessments that provide real-time feedback on what students know and understand” (Bushweller, 2014).
- Frontload vocabulary by having students watch videos and/or research various terms prior to a whole class or small group lesson. Students can show they understand what the terms mean in any way they choose such as through drawings, videos, examples, etc. (Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication)
- “In the real world there is often more than one route to solving a problem; likewise, with simulations teachers can create complex problems and allow students to find different ways through” (Bushweller, 2014).
- Students select a topic of their choice, research those topics, and then create a magazine, movie, presentation, piece of music, webcast, etc. to explain those topics. (Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication)
- “In an increasingly automated world, skills such as creativity, synthesis, and problem solving will be in great demand in the workplace (Pew Research Center, 2014).”
It is our job to prepare 21st century students for a global society. We can effectively do this through the implementation of the 4Cs and creating a true blended learning experience.
I would love to highlight/celebrate our amazing educators providing these experiences for our students. If you are a teacher who has a blended classroom or if you know someone who has a blended learning environment, please contact me! I would love to do classroom visits, interviews, and help connect resources for those looking for support in their journey of implementation!
Katie Algrim – Director of Innovative Professional Learning