Category Archives: four Cs

Let your students learn with a global focus

Let your students learn with a global focus by bringing the world into the classroom.  Any age student will benefit from visiting with and learning from experts around the world or students in a classroom far away or around the corner.  It doesn’t take a field trip to bring adventure and learning from a place away.

As a help to all teachers, SKYPE has provided a resource that you can use.  SKYPE in the classroom provides ideas and a place to learn from others.  Visit the website and see for yourself.  There is a great informational video describing the use of Skype and students visiting with an elephant care taker.  Quite enjoyable and a fun-filled 3 minutes.

Our students need to know about the world and function in a world that is much bigger than their neighborhood or city or country.  Many say the world is becoming “flat” because of our ability to interact with all parts of it through technology and travel.  Our challenge is to spur on their interest and creativity so their learning continues to help them be 21st century citizens and beyond.

Your students will be able to name questions they want to explore with their global partners if you give them a chance.  A few examples on the link include:  do other countries have the tooth fairy, how do potatoes grow, what season is it in your part of the world, etc.


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Are there novelists lurking in your classroom?

Are there novelists lurking in your classroom?  Do you think you and they could each create a novel in one month?

Many educators believe that the answer to both questions is YES!  In this Edutopia Blog Laura Bradley, an educator and blogger, explains how her middle school students accomplished this with oodles of excitement among the young writers – they were asking to write.  Those who are teaching Grade 8 students know what a feat this was.

Look at her blog and click on some of the links she used to help the process.  It is all part of a national project that you can learn more about by going to the National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo site.  This is for any age writer so elementary and middle school teachers take heart.  You can download free materials to help in the process.

Share your progress, your success, your challenges as you attempt this project in November!  If you are going to participate, you need to check it out now and plan your classroom activities leading up to the Big Write!


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Inquire within

Inquiring into life and everyday things can be a great way to expand your questioning techniques.  You can give it a try at almost any time.  A great example on the blog whatedsaid led me to another great blog with good ideas for inquiry in teaching.

The ideas help us develop 21st century skills in our students and get them to think deeper.  The trick is becoming better and better in presenting great questions.

Perhaps you can take a moment during this spring to check out the blogs mentioned.  Don’t forget to share your ideas and opinions on this blog post. 

Happy spring – or is it summer?!



From the mouth of a Twelve Year Old

St. Nick sent a great gift today!  A little snow to enjoy and a great post on whatedsaid my favorite educational blog for teachers.  The point was – what are the benefits for students when they do a blog for class? 

The students themselves compiled their own reasons and you can read them – there are ten reasons given.  I will give you one reason by a twelve-year-old student from Australia noted on the list: 

 ” It helped me as a thinker because when you look at other people’s posts on sometimes the same thing, they could be very different and it could change your thinking too. Because you realize the other side of what you are thinking. My comments now are very different to the start of the year because now I am thinking as a learner, but before I was more thinking about being a worker at school. This helps a lot because you want to get something out of what you do – that is what a learner does, a worker does it to get it done.” (Josh)

Wouldn’t you like to have your students say this about some activity within their class  I have heard numerous teachers and principals note that they just wish students found joy in learning and not just look for the grade!  Well do your own experiment and see what you and your students experience. 

It is my belief that we may keep learning from happening if we don’t reach for real learning experiences beyond our own classroom walls.  Of course that might be very difficult for a teacher to do if that teacher does not keep learning beyond their own classroom.  Open your doors and windows (not literally) and make connections for yourself and your students.  This may be where real learning happens and not just work!

If you have done a classroom blog with your students – what did they think about it?  What did you notice?  Did you keep it totally walled in for your class only?  Why?  Would you do it differently?

Have you had a conversation with your students regarding what they learned and what they liked in learning experiences?  Perhaps your comments to this post will help us all learn the importance of student blogs and other experiences.

Let us hear from you and create our own list of benefits or challenges.


Students Design Solutions, if You Let Them

Calling all teachers interested in project based learning and helping the environment.  There is an opportunity for you and your students to register to be part of the “Design Your Own Planet” competition Planet Challenge.  If your students’ project is selected, you receive $500 to help you carry it out.  Registrations due December 23, 2011.

There are many opportunities out there for “projects” developed by students like the St. Louis’ The Big Return.  The Disney Planet Challenge is limited to environmental projects and it seems to link very well with the curriculum.  What ever type of “project” you allow your students to develop, it is a great way to develop those 21st century skills.  Connect your lessons to real life and give students an opportunity to design their own learning vehicles.

Comment on this post and tell me and other teachers how your “projects” are going.  What great ideas have students developed?  Someone out there may want to help out and/or replicate the project in their classroom.  Students’ great ideas are worth sharing.


Do you know your neighbors – do your students?

I am quite excited about the opportunity that is described in this post in one of the blogs I follow.  It explains a great way for anyone to get to know their neighbors – around the world. 

In the classrooms of today it is absolutely necessary for us to give up worksheets and flat maps and learn from primary sources.  These primary sources can be the people around the world.  Let’s not have our students “read about” someone, let them speak to someone.  Even relatives around their own country to begin with is a beginning.

Are you working to develop 21st century skills – the 4 Cs (Critical thinking and problem solving, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity and innovation) – in your classroom.  Or are we still encouraging 20th century pen and pencil tasks?  We like to think we are, can we share how with other teachers?

Is there an educator out there that can provide a project for their students to ask their own questions and seek answers by connecting with students in another state, country, or continent.  Let’s hear from you.  Take up the challenge.  Skype is one way, there are others.  Money is not a deterrent here, because many of these “connections” are free.