The 4C’s for Literacy Instruction


Recently I attended a one-day professional learning event for our school district’s work on our new strategic plan.  The facilitators led our department in some very rich discussion around Twenty First Century Skills for student learning.  A large part of our day was spent discussing the 4C’s of Learning.   So what are the 4C’s?  Partnership for 21st Century Skills defines the 4C’s as:

Collaboration – working together to reach a goal – putting talent, expertise, and smarts to work.

Communication – sharing thoughts, questions, ideas, and solutions.

Creativity – trying new approaches to get things done equals innovation and invention.

Critical Thinking – looking at problems in a new way, linking learning across subjects and disciplines.

How do teachers incorporate the 4C’s into their classrooms for Literacy Instruction?   Over the last few weeks I have done several classroom walkthroughs (10 minute observations) in a couple of schools and approximately 20 different classrooms.  I have seen some great examples of the 4C’s integrated into the content and pedagogy in classrooms.  It isn’t really enough to understand and utilize the 4C’s as learning tools in isolation.  The 4C’s have to be integrated with good literacy instruction.

I have seen collaboration integrated into literacy instruction with the use of literacy stations or centers.  In one classroom, I observed fifth grade students working together on poetry.  Each student in the small group had written a poem and the other group members listened to it being read and then worked with the writer to make the poem even better.

In several of the classrooms I observed, I saw great examples of communication.  Students were practicing reading, writing, listening and speaking.  One small group of fourth grade students was working closely together to prepare a report in social studies.  They were honing their speaking skills to deliver the information to the rest of the class.

There were lots of lessons where students were engaged in creativity.  In one class of first grade students, the teacher read Little Red Riding Hood from Red’s perspective and Little Red Riding Hood from the Wolf’s perspective.  Then the students talked about the two perspectives and were able to choose the center or station they wished to work in that morning.  Several students chose a center with puppets to act out the story from two perspectives.

Another class of fourth grade students was working on a science experiment.  In their experiment, they were given several different types of bird beaks represented by clothes pins, tweezers, spoons and chopsticks to match with different types of foods represented by string, marbles, and seeds.  The class was broken up into several groups and students were to guess which type of beak worked best with which food.  After they worked on their guesses, students were to try out the beaks and the foods to see if they were correct.  As I listened to the discussion students were having, it was obvious they were using critical thinking skills to determine which beaks worked best with which foods and why.  After they completed the experiment, they had to reflect on what they did and write it in a journal.

These are just a few examples of how the 4C’s can be incorporated into literacy instruction.  There are many other ideas.  Edutopia offers more ideas in How Important is Teaching Literacy in All Content Areas?  Hopefully, this will give teachers a great place to start integrating the 4C’s into literacy instruction.




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