Inquiry into the 4 C’s: Collaboration

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the Four C’s of 21st Century Learning. For more, click here.

The last in this mini series of posts on the 4 C’s of 21st Century learning. Collaboration can be a tricky one, especially when students equate it with group projects where only one kid does the work. But authentic collaboration is nothing like those group projects. Done right, it can be inspiring, fulfilling, and world-changing. Share these resources with students to help them inquire into the true nature of collaboration.

Resource #1: The Globemakers: Craft with a Modern Spin by Great Big Story

Resource #2: Filmbilder Animanimals videos: Ant & Crocodile

Resource #3: Mozart Symphony No. 40 by Berliner Philharmoniker

Resource #4: ÖVERALLT – IKEA collaborating with African designers by Ikea Today

Resource #5: Carl & the Meaning of Life by Deborah Freedman

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Provocation Questions:

  • What is collaboration like when it works? What is it like when it doesn’t?
  • How can collaboration help the individual? How can it help the group?
  • What are is the responsibility of the individual when collaborating? What is the responsibility of the group?

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Inquiry into the 4 C’s: Communication

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the Four C’s of 21st Century Learning. For more, click here.

Does anyone else find the concept of communication fascinating? Its history? The way it’s evolving? The way people seem to bend it in new ways to meet their needs?

That’s why I hope you enjoy this provocation with your students. There is so much to think about beyond just the stereotypical, “Can you clearly convey your ideas?”

Resource #1: The Evolution of the Desk by Harvard Innovation Lab via designboom

Resource #2: The Science of Science Communication by the Duke & the Duck

Resource #3: Vonage – Communication is Everything by Steve Savalle

Resource #4: Satirizing ‘code-switching’ on screen by Newsy

Resource #5: Picture books ~ Say Something by Peter Reynolds & The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet by Carmen Agra Deedy

Provocation Questions:

  • How is communication changing today? How is it compare to the past? What is the same and what is different about communication now vs. communication throughout human history?
  • What are examples of modern communication?
  • What is the connection to social justice and communication?
  • How does code-switching work in communication? Why is it significant?

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Inquiry into the 4 C’s: Critical Thinking

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the Four C’s of 21st Century Learning. For more, click here.

Critical thinking can be exceptionally difficult to describe, even for adults. Why is this? How might giving students resources to investigate it as a concept help them develop their own views on what it really means to be a critical thinker?

Resource #1: What’s Going On In This Photo photoseries by NY Times

Resource #2: How to Spot a Pyramid Scheme by TED Ed & Stacie Bosley, via The Kid Should See This

Resource #3: Anti-Racism Experiment on Oprah (note: 2:32, the “N” word is used to describe racist thinking)

Resource #4: Except If by Jim Averbeck

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Resource #4: The Girl Who Thought in Pictures by Julia Finley Mosca & Daniel Rieley

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Provocation Questions:

  • Why can critical thinking be hard for us to define?
  • What might be some differences between critical thinking and ordinary thinking?
  • Why is critical thinking important today? How does the massive volume of information available online make it even more important?
  • What is the connection between critical thinking and addressing racism and social injustice?
  • What is our personal responsibility to develop our own critical thinking? How can it impact our lives? Our communities?

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Inquiry into the 4 C’s: Creativity

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the Four C’s of 21st Century Learning. For more, click here.

By far the most helpful way I’ve found to help students foster their own creativity is to openly and continually discuss my own messy and imperfect journey toward creativity with them. Until our students see its authentic application in those they trust, they will likely continue to see it as something just for those artist-type folks.

Meanwhile, these resources may serve as part of those discussions, and to help students consider what it really means for them!

Resource #1: Creative Types Personality Quiz by Adobe Create

Resource #2: Large Domino Chain: Small Actions, Large Results

Resource #3: Student Design Award Winner – Curiosity: Exploration & Discovery by RSA

Resource #4: The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken & Hum & Swish by Matt Myers

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Provocation Questions:

  • Why does creativity matter in our world today?
  • Why does creativity matter for you personally? How can it impact your life? Your family? Your community?
  • How might creativity look for different people?
  • What is the connection between risk-taking and creativity?
  • What are the different perspectives on creativity in various jobs?
  • How does honoring our own creativity impact the world?

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Inquiry into the 4 C’s of 21st Century Education

Now that I’ve completed the series of provocations for the Sustainable Development Goals, I am moving on to a new mini series! This time will be the 4 C’s of 21st century education:

  • critical thinking
  • communication
  • collaboration
  • creativity

The National Education Association started out with more like 18 standards for 21st century learning in a longer framework, but they quickly realized that it was too complicated. In their words,

“To resolve this issue, we interviewed leaders of all kinds to determine which of the 21st century skills were the most important for K-12 education. There was near unanimity that four specific skills were the most important. They became known as the “Four Cs.””

An Educator’s Guide to the Four C’s

Here are some resources to help introduce your students to the 4 C’s, and to provoke inquiry.

Resource #1: The Adaptable Mind

Resource #2: Afternoon Class by Seoro Oh

Resource #3: MIT Media Lab Knotty Objects: Phones by m ss ng p eces

Resource #4: Connected Learning by Connected Learning Alliance

Resource #5: Picture books, The North Star by Peter H. Reynolds & They All Saw A Cat by Brendan Wenzel

Provocation Questions:

  • What is education like today? How is it different than the last century?
  • What modern innovations allow us to approach education differently today?
  • How might critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity impact an individual in our modern society?
  • What is our responsibility to approach learning differently today?
  • What other “C’s” or qualities do you find important for the modern learner?

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Inquiry into SDGs: Climate Action

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. For more, click here

Today’s provocation centers on the global goal of Climate Action, that is, the need to take “urgent action on climate change and its impacts.” Use the resources below to help students consider what this might mean for them!

Resource #1: HiCamp – A Letter to Congress By Christopher Newman

Resource #2: SciStarter Citizen Science video

See also the Earth Challenge 2020 & video here.

Resource #3: Planet Under Pressure by Moth

Resource #4: Climate Action Plan by Squint/Opera

Resource #5: What Can a Citizen Do? by Dave Eggers

Provocation Questions:

  • What is climate?
  • Why does our climate require action?
  • How does global citizenship connect to climate action?
  • What is our responsibility to take action for our environment?
  • How can one person make a difference?

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“Where’s The Mom?” #TeacherMom


Sure, they may be building independence, problem-solving, time-management, confidence, physical health, risk-taking, and more. But the neighbors don’t see any of that. What they see & think is, “Where’s the mom?”

Never mind that when we were kids, such unsupervised play with a pack of neighbor kids was the norm.

Never mind that contrary to popular belief, the world is actually safer today than it was when we were kids.

Never mind that outdoor play actually addresses dramatically more threatening issues our kids face today, such as anxiety and diabetes.

When a someone recently told me that “Where’s the mom?” is the question asked when they see my kids play, it led me to revisit the way unstructured, unsupervised play has declined since when we were kids (sidebar: what about “Where’s the dad?” If we’re going to be judged, at least let it be equal opportunity judgement!). I have started to wonder whether this is less about protecting kids and more about protecting ourselves from judgement (offline & online) from other adults.

Ultimately, we need to find the courage to set aside those fears and focus on kids’ needs. We have been told, “You can’t be too careful when it comes to kids’ safety.” But the truth is that “an obsession with safety carries its own risks,” not least of which include a child’s diminished sense of autonomy. (see “Child Safety Up, Child Anxiety Up. Hmmm.“).

As a teacher, this seems to have direct parallels in the classroom as well. Both teachers and parents are pressured to make all the decisions in the name of safety or future success. Both are put under such an intense microscope, challenging the status quo is risky business. Both face an ever-present risk of severe judgement.

As a result, child autonomy is suffering, but we have the power to change that. We can:

And of course, it always helps when we find our tribe! There are many Facebook groups (one example here) and Twitter hashtags (#StudentAgency & #studentchoice) where you can find supportive teachers and parents who are similarly working toward childhood independence.

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