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Today I just picked up my issue of EdDigest from the post office and quickly noticed an article on Critical Thinking Skills for the new workforce we are currently teaching. It is amazing, we are preparing students for jobs that have not even been invented yet. I thought about this upcoming school year. I immediately started thinking as I was reading the article, am I able to incorporate "(the four Cs)" they refer to, into my curriculum? I'm sure it's going to be pretty easy to incorporate the Effective Communication skill, as I am a Reading teacher this year. But, how are my colleagues fairing? It is very crucial for us as educators to keep abreast of current research trends for the future of the students we are teaching. It would be very disheartening to have taught a student 12 - 15 years and they are not able to use any of what they learned.

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Tags: Critical, Skills, Thinking

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Comment by Tom Jenkins on September 9, 2010 at 2:56pm
I agree that engaging the student should be a top priority. The modern student is used to being entertained and having choices. While, I'm not suggesting that we dress up and dance around for your classes (that's entirely up to you), it is very important to make the content relevant and if possible allow for student input and/or choice. Today's students are less likely just go full boar into something just because I say that it's important for them know. I have noticed that when I mention and discuss future applications of the content, student involvement and enthusiasm increases greatly. Additionally, preparing my students for "jobs that don't already exist" makes me focus on their process skills just as much as the end result.
Comment by Christi Whitworth on September 7, 2010 at 3:27pm
I think the major result of utilizing the four Cs in any curriculum is student engagement. Even informal science/STEM environments can incorporate and gather data on the effectiveness of activities by examining these components.
Comment by Mary Henton on August 18, 2010 at 9:28am
Thanks, Mary, for explaining how the four Cs look in your classroom. It certainly makes sense that students know these as explicit learning objectives.

Just occurs to me that each of these Cs could be a theme that a team or even the whole school weaves into curriculum (explicit and meta-curriculum) over the course of the year. For example, September and October focus on critical thinking and problem-solving. So in
- physical education, group problem-solving initiatives are used
- language arts, there is conversation around understanding themes in fiction (critical thinking) or characters resolving conflicts
- social studies articulates critical thinking in light of the particular historical period or culture under study
- advisory groups use activities and help students develop understanding about what critical thinking is, or what goes into effective problem-solving, or even introduces problem-solving models

I saw a similar approach several years ago in a school that was implementing balanced literacy throughout the school. Each month focused on a particular literacy skill (e.g., supporting examples, thesis or main point, summarizing). The identified skill was woven throughout every subject, so that students began to learn about, experience, and develop skills around that skill appropriate to that subject matter.
Comment by Dr. GBJohnson on August 17, 2010 at 4:54pm
I DO believe creativity is the one "C" that suffers due to high stakes testing.I do not have an answer to solve that problem right now. However, we as educators need to try to figure out a way to allow students to be creative. Because creativity is where new inventions and solutions are grown.
Comment by Mary LeFever on August 17, 2010 at 2:49pm
The four Cs are
* critical thinking and problem solving,
* communication,
* collaboration,
* and creativity and innovation.
For at least half of my units, I have students produce artifacts of evidence of learning/knowledge gained with very specific objectives and rubrics. I often insist they work with one or two others, and offer only suggestions on the kind of artifact they might produce. I often identify these 4Cs as some of the learning objectives along with content specific objectives. I always strive to have students on the highest levels of Bloom's taxonomy for these projects. In addition, over the course of the year we have numerous in-class activities where I explicitly state one or more of these 4Cs as crucial to the process and success. So I build a classroom culture where the 4Cs are constantly under development. I encourage any feasible ideas students generate and provide them with any words of caution I have from previous experience. Sometimes they find out the had a bad idea (too much work) or that it can be tough selling one's idea to other group members. Sometimes they find out they worked really well with someone they didn't know they could. Those are valuable learning experiences. I always provide opportunity for students to reflect on the process and determine which of the 4Cs were easiest/hardest and why. I get very honest feedback. Most students will say the projects are tough, but they feel they have learned and will retain more when compared to studying for/taking a traditional test. In addition, if I prepare the project information carefully, with clear objectives and rubrics, the grading is so much easier than a test that includes short answer, diagramming and essay.
Comment by Mary Henton on August 17, 2010 at 11:05am
It IS amazing to think about the fact that our students today will have (and create) jobs that don't exist and aren't even envisioned today. (Hmmmm....perhaps an interesting professional development activity would be to have teachers brainstorm a list of jobs today that didn't exist 10 years ago, or that didn't exist when they were in middle school. Might help to bring home that point!).

Anyway....back to critical thinking skills and the 4 Cs: I wonder if creativity is the one that suffers most today, especially in settings where pressure to prepare for tests is high.

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