Technology and the 4Cs: Part 2

by Sue Kientz, GPAEA Instructional Technology Coach

In the November Cornerstone, Jane Trotter shared an article about Technology and the 4Cs: Communication, Creativity, Collaboration and Critical Thinking.  If you missed this article, you can review it here.  Jane shared a real life example of how the 4Cs are part of her life.  In this follow up, I would like to take a look at the 4Cs and the perfect fit with Project Based Learning.  As Jane stated in her article, the 4Cs are part of the Universal Constructs found in the Iowa Core.

I recently discovered a video by Common Craft about Project Based Learning.  An evaluation copy of this less than 4 minute video can be found here.  If you are not familiar with Common Craft, they create easy to understand videos that cover many topics within technology and social media.  In this video, Common Craft first relates a scenario about a woman employed by a company that gives her team a project to create the most earth friendly soap possible.  She is given a budget, team to work with and a deadline to complete the project.  This is the world of work today and what employers want our students to be able to do. In the video, this real world work project is then contrasted to an example of project based learning in a school.  Students in a science classroom are asked why so many of them were absent with the flu at the same time after 50% of the class had been gone.  This led to a project to teach elementary students about how to prevent illness and to presentations being given at the local elementary schools.  The projects in both of these cases used communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.  Students learned by doing — the same ideas that have been presented in the Iowa Core.  If you look at the PDF’s provided in the Iowa Core for the standards, you will find sections such as Science as Inquiry that provides examples of Project Based Learning within ICLE’a Rigor and Relevance Framework.  One example is shown below:

Quadrant D will always be an example of Project Based Learning.   In true project based learning, students must be given a task with many different solutions and a chance of failure exists.  There must be opportunity for the students to “create” — they must use information they find and put it together with what they know, to create something new.  This does not mean they research a topic and create a powerpoint presentation simply giving us facts they found. For true project base learning to take place, students must create something new from the information they have learned / researched.  This requires students to use critical thinking skills while communicating and collaborating with peers and experts to create something new.  Project based learning is not something new.  It has been around for a very long time but it also isn’t easy to do.  It does take time and effort.  Students will not be able to do the 4Cs without help and scaffolding.  This article that appeared on the Edutopia website is a great place to start thinking about scaffolding and how to use it with students.  Some resources to begin thinking about Project Based Learning are listed below.

Project Based Learning Resources:

Boss, Suzie. “Good-to-Go Projects for 2014.” Edutopia. George Lucas Educational Foundation, 30 Dec. 2013. Web. 31 Dec. 2013. <;.

Boss, Suzie. “Perfecting with Practice: Project-Based Teaching.” Edutopia. George Lucas Educational Foundation, 22 Apr. 2010. Web. 31 Dec. 2013. <;.

Buck Institute for Education. Project Based Learning for the 21st Century. Web. 31 Dec. 2013. <;.

Donham, Jean. “Deep Learning Through Concept-Based Inquiry.” School Library Journal Monthly Sept.-Oct. 2010. Web. 31 Dec. 2013. <;.

Larmer, John, and John R. Mergendoller. “Seven Essentials for Project-Based Learning.” Educational Leadership:Giving Students Meaningful Work. ASCD, Sept. 2010. Web. 31 Dec. 2013. <;.

Moeller-Abercombie, Janet. “10 Steps to Managing Cooperative, Project-Based Learning Groups.” 1 to 1 Schools. Castle, 1 Apr. 2012. Web. 31 Dec. 2013. <;.

Valenza, Joyce. “50 Ways to Leave Your Paper.” Web log post. NeverEnding Search. School Library Journal, 04 Sept. 2013. Web. 31 Dec. 2013. <;.

Article Citations:

Alber, Rebecca. “Six Scaffolding Strategies to Use with Your Students.” Edutopia. 24 May 2011. Web. 31 Dec. 2013.

“Common Craft.” Project Based Learning. Web. 31 Dec. 2013.

“Iowa Core.” Iowa Department of Education, Web. 30 Dec. 2013.

Trotter, Jane. “Technology and the 4Cs: Communication, Creativity, Collaboration, and Critical Thinking.” GPAEA News. Great Prairie Area Education Agency, 19 Nov. 2013. Web. 31 Dec. 2013.

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