As teachers, we believe that every child in America deserves an education that prepares them for life after high school, whether that be attending college or entering a fulfilling career. This education should be built on a foundation of technological skills that will bolster our students throughout their lives. For too long, the American educational system has not provided its children with the basic essentials for success that they need to be productive citizens in their communities and workplaces. Instead, they have relied on a hit-and-miss approach that has been unsuccessful for the majority of students and has provided no uniformity of content and skill. In an unprecedented and innovative move, our state has adopted the Common Core Standards, a unique and unified approach to providing a high quality education for every single child in America. As a result, there are four crucial areas that
must be learned and practiced by our children if they are to tackle the rigorous school work that the new Common Core Standards promote. It is through these 21st century skills that our young adults will find the power to be globally competitive in a worldwide workforce and find the ability to face career challenges in an ever-changing world of technology. These fundamental skills are gained through experience, and they include Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking. The 4 Cs Collaboration,
Communicatio n, Creativity, Critical Thinking Learning and Innovation Skills Learning and innovation skills increasingly
are being recognized as the skills that separate students who are prepared for increasingly complex life and work environments in the 21st century, and those who are not. A focus on collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking is essential to prepare students for the future.
Collaboration Collaboration has been accepted as a skill thats essential to achieve meaningful and effective results. In the past decade, however, it has become increasingly clear that collaboration is not only important but necessary for students and employees, due to globalization and the rise of technology. Collaboration is essential in our classrooms because it is inherent in the nature of how work is accomplished in our
civic and workforce lives. Fifty years ago, much work was accomplished by individuals working alone, but not today. Much of all significant work is accomplished in teams, and in many cases, global teams. Collaboration, literally, consists of working together with one or more individuals. What is Team Collaboration? Collaboration occurs when two or more
people work together to accomplish a shared, common goal-teaming up to meet that defined goal. Todays Business World Working in teams is at the core of many corporations today. The business world realizes that teams often produce better problem-solving results, thus superior solutions, than individuals working in isolation. Group
collaboration enables people to build on each one another's ideas and prior knowledge, resulting in new innovations. Team members often work faster and more cost-effective when working collaboratively. The old saying Two heads are better than one is often true. More knowledge, ideas, and creativity can be found in two, three, four, or ten brains than in one. Collaborative learning is an umbrella term for a variety of approaches
in education that involve joint intellectual effort by students or students and teachers. Groups of students work together in searching for understanding, meaning or solutions or in creating a product. Collaborative learning activities can include collaborative writing, group projects, and other activities. Diversity brings multiple individual and cultural perspectives into the collaboration. Not only does a collaborative effort create more holistic results than individual efforts, but it also creates knowledge for a greater number of people. As a result of students working
collaboratively, the group can generate more knowledge, making collaboration a key ingredient to student success in todays global society. In the Classroom Opportunities for todays graduates often depend as much on their communication and collaboration skills as they do on pure academic skills.
To build good team collaboration skills, students must learn to: Work effectively with different groups of people, including people from diverse cultures. Be flexible and willing to compromise with team members to reach a common goal. Demonstrate responsibility as a team member working toward a shared goal.
Communication Communication Expressing thoughts clearly, crisply articulating opinions, communicating coherent instructions, motivating others through powerful speechthese skills have always been valued in the workplace and in public life. But in the 21st century, these skills
have been transformed and are even more important today. Communication cannot be effective unless the message is received and understood. In the Classroom Students communicate daily by texting and posting on Facebook pages and other social media avenues to stay in touch with
friends. Teachers can help students make the connections between their recreational writing and the kinds of writing they need to become successful beyond the classroom. Its important to stay aware of the digital world students live in as we design learning experiences to cultivate important skills. The Importance of Communication Students must be able to effectively analyze and process the overwhelming amount of communication in their
lives today. Which information sources are accurate? Which ones are not? How can they be used or leveraged effectively? The power of modern media and the ubiquity of communication technologies in all aspects of life make teaching strong communication skills even more important.
To build effective Communication Skills students must learn to: ***Communicate using digital media and environments to support personal and group learning. ***Share information efficiently and effectively using appropriate digital media and environments. ***Communicate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively to different audiences using various media and formats.
These skills are at the core of every organization. It is crucial that we as teachers help students build this vital set of 21st century skills. Effective communication skills are important in many walks of life. Todays employers look for individuals with effective communication skills in reading, writing, speaking, and
listening skills. After graduation students will realize that these basic communication skills are essential in The shift from a documentfocused work style to a peoplefocused work style is a dominant factor in todays global economy. Communicating and working collaboratively with diverse groups of people, often at a
Creativity What Is Creativity? Creativity is the bringing into being of something which did not exist before, either as a product, a process or a thought. Creativity is the ability to produce new,
diverse and unique ideas. Thinking creatively means looking at things from a different perspective and not be restricted by rules, customs, or norms. Creativity is not simply a matter of coming up with new ideas. The kind of creativity that is valued is the ability to come up with new and useful ideas, ideas that serve an important need or creates a new trend that makes an
impact. Creativity is mainly about alternative possibilities-how to come up with new and useful ideas. A new idea might be a new theory, a new product, a new solution to a problem, or a conception for a piece of art. Creativity, along with innovation, are critical skills for achieving success in the 21st century workplace. Creativity and Innovation
Innovation is the implementation of creativity-the introduction of a new idea, process, or product. Creativity provides the necessary spark to get the ball rolling. Creativity in the Classroom In schools creativity should not be limited to just art and music classes. Anyone in any occupation can be creative in their work. That is the reason why we must provide opportunities for our students to be creative across the curriculum.
For many people, creativity is something reserved for scientists or artists. But this is to ignore the fact that we are faced with countless problems in our daily life, and it is precisely creative thinking that helps us come up with solutions to these problems. We need to make use of our creativity whether we are thinking about how to earn more money or how to make our ones happier. Many people also seem to think that creativity is a matter of waiting for inspirations. How inspiring ideas come about is however regarded as a rather mysterious
process, and it is just a fact that some people are more creative than others. But it would be a mistake to think that creativity is a passive state of mind. Creativity and Innovation Think Creatively Use a wide range of idea creation techniques (such as brainstorming) Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts) Elaborate, refine, analyze and evaluate their own ideas in order to improve and
maximize creative efforts Work Creatively with Others Develop, implement and communicate new ideas to others effectively Be open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives; incorporate group input and feedback into the work Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work and understand the real world limits to adopting new ideas View failure as an opportunity to learn; understand that creativity and innovation
is a long-term, cyclical process of small successes and frequent mistakes Implement Innovations Act on creative ideas to make a tangible and useful contribution to the field in which the innovation will occur In fact, we are all creative every day because we are constantly changing the ideas which we hold about the world about us. Creativity does not have to be
about developing something new to the world, it is more to do with developing something new to ourselves. When we change ourselves, the world changes with us, both in the way that the world is affected by our changed actions and in the changed way that we experience the world. Creativity is enhanced by the ability to detect connections
between ideas. Creative thinking involves creating something new or original. It involves the skills of flexibility, originality, fluency, elaboration, brainstorming, modification, imagery, associative thinking, attribute listing, metaphorical thinking, forced relationships. The aim of creative thinking is to stimulate curiosity and promote divergence. Creative thinking widens the
focus of thought. It involves generating new, varied, and unique ideas. Critical Thinking What is Critical Thinking? Critical thinking is investigating issues that are not always clearly defined and have no clearcut answers by asking significant questions and
exploring different solutions. Critical thinking helps evaluate ideas and add value to them by identifying the most reasonable ones or ones most likely to succeed. Critical Thinking Critical thinking involves logical thinking and reasoning including skills such as comparison, classification, sequencing, cause/effect,
patterning, webbing, analogies, deductive and inductive reasoning, forecasting, planning, hypothesizing, and critiquing. Critical Thinking in the Classroom Teaching critical thinking and problem solving effectively in the classroom is vital for students. Learning critical thinking leads students to develop
other skills, such as a higher level of concentration, deeper analytical abilities, and improved thought processing. Critical Thinking Critical thinking is a skill that we can teach to our students. It draws on other skills, such as communication and information literacy, to explore a problem, then analyze, explain, and evaluate it.
Critical thinking has long been a valued skill in society. Today, every student not just the academically advanced needs it. While critical thinking and problem solving used to be the domain of gifted students, Just as there are critical periods for learning the skills of
reading, writing, speaking, listening, there are tasks and milestones that evolve with the development of critical thinking. Critical thinking is mainly about correct thinking. Critical thinking is a literacy that evolves as we develop. Critical Thinking Todays students need critical thinking and problem-solving skills not just to solve the problems of their current jobs,
but to meet the challenges of adapting to our constantly changing workforce. The Importance of Developing Critical Thinking Skills Todays businesses must compete in a global economy. Students need a set of core knowledge, along with thinking skills that include critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making.
Thinking skills are identified in the US Department of Labors SCANS report as one of the three foundational skill sets crucial to success in todays workforce. Todays students need to develop critical thinking skills by learning to: Use different kinds of reasoning, such as deductive and
inductive, to understand a situation. Analyze complex systems and understand how their interconnected parts support the systems. Gather relevant information. Ask important questions that clarify points of view and help solve problems. Make decisions by selecting appropriate criteria and identifying alternatives to make reliable choices.
Critical thinking is quite compatible with thinking "out-of-the-box", challenging consensus and pursuing less popular approaches. If anything, critical thinking is an essential part of creativity because we need critical thinking to evaluate and improve our creative ideas. One skill universally beholden by educators is critical thinking. We all wish for
our students to leave our classrooms capable of analyzing complex situations. We intend for them to recognize multiple layers of problems and emerge with new ideas that will continue to inspire their thinking well beyond the last bell of the school day. With this as one of our primary objectives, we must then look to the Common Core to explore the ways the standards support our aspirations for students to become critical thinkers. A quick scan forces us to notice language like analyze how individuals, events, and ideas develop and interpret words and phrases and integrate and evaluate content. These wordsanalyze, interpret, integrate reflect the vernacular of critical thinking, suggesting that
the intent behind the Common Core isnt simply better scores on a particular test, but to impact the lives of students in meaningful, long term ways. Whether learners practice critical thinking while examining a piece of literature, a work of art, or a complex workplace or life problem, analyzing, interpreting, and integrating nurture critical thinking. In what ways do the Common Core Reading Standards support critical thinking?
Look at the language of the Common Core. What words are in the standards that really make you think, and even practice the habit of thinking critically? Notice words like interpret, determine, integrate, assess, etc. Critical thinking is not a matter of accumulating information. A person with a good memory and who
knows a lot of facts is not necessarily good at critical thinking. A critical thinker is able to deduce consequences from what he knows, and he knows how to make use of information to solve problems, and to seek relevant sources of information to inform himself. Critical thinking should not be confused with being argumentative or being critical of other people. Critical thinking can also play an important role in cooperative reasoning and constructive tasks. Critical thinking can help us acquire knowledge,
improve our theories, and strengthen arguments. We can use critical thinking to enhance work processes and improve social institutions. Critical Thinking Is The Ability To Think Clearly And Rationally It includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking. Someone with critical
thinking skills is able to do the following : understand the logical connections between ideas identify, construct and evaluate arguments detect inconsistencies and common mistakes in reasoning solve problems systematically identify the relevance and importance of ideas reflect on the justification of one's own beliefs and values Critical Thinking also draws on other
skills, such as communication and information literacy, to examine, then analyze, interpret, and evaluate it. Todays citizens must be active critical thinkers if they are to compare evidence, evaluate competing claims, and make sensible decisions. In everyday work, employees must employ critical thinking to
better serve customers, develop better products, and continuously improve themselves within an ever-changing global economy. Please Note! The teaching of collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking are not new concepts for educators. In fact, they are the basis of great teaching, and most teachers aspire to teach in a manner that incorporates these
strategies. It is clear that the Four Cs need to be fully integrated into classrooms, schools, and districts around the country to produce citizens and employees adequately prepared for the 21st century. If todays students want to compete in this global
society, however, they must also be proficient collaborators, communicators, creators, and critical thinkers (the Four Cs). Students need to master additional subject areas, including foreign languages, the arts, geography, science, and social studies. Educators must complement all of those subjects with the Four Cs to prepare
young people for citizenship and the global workforce. The 4 C s Critical Thinking Creativity Communication
Collaboration A special thanks is given to The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
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