Friday, May 31, 2013

The Six C's

We all know the 4 C's: Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity.  Each and every one of those skills are more important than ever.  The world is information rich, information dependent and information run.  If we and our students do not know how to work our way around this different world, we will see the tools that are meant to bless us become a curse.  I mean that this rapidly changing economy has created a changing job skill set, and our students need to be able to have those main qualities of learning and adapting that provide the basis for meeting the demands of jobs that have not even been create yet!

We see where the demands of the New Common Core can help all of us set up students for their success in meeting the above mentioned demands.  However, there are other sets of skills or qualities we all take for granted, and that has to do with two more "C's:"  Character and Citizenship

I submit the challenge, what good is it to be a good communicator with decent logic (critical thinker) along with having the wherewithal to work with others, and who is creative if that person has little to no sense of character, moral foundation and sense of responsibility to and for others?  I would respond much to C.S. Lewis's quote:

Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.

I see the necessity and the opportunity in student writings, discussions, reasonings, deliberations, project presentations etc. for students to learn and express moral, ethical and character based principles.  After all, we are requiring students to think through problems in every core area, and we are also setting up lessons for students to explain, justify and express the rationale and reasonings behind their answers.  What a powerful way to interject character and get students to use the principles of character and integrity to provide that foundation for thinking and reasoning!

Even though these added "C's" will not be tested per se, they need to be planned, taught and learned, and I would argue students will fair much better in their other 4 C's.  The reason?  We can tap into those very issues every student can be passionate about!  And, when we touch their hearts and their minds, students become more focused, energetic and willing to express their thoughts, feelings, ideas, and personal passions.  We can unlock those!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Kings Lake Students and 21st Century Learning

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to sit on a mock interview panel of our freshmen Block 9 students this past Thursday morning.  Kudos to Block 9 teachers Leslie Conley and Wendy Rivas who did a very good job of preparing students to succeed in an interview setting. 

It is always encouraging to see our young people excel in a very pressure packed and challenging setting.  This is a far different setting than the ones they have become used to on a daily basis.  We know the life of a young teenager is preoccupied with what would appear to be many more "interesting" things than preparing for job interviews.  To their credit, our kids did take it very seriously and did put some real effort into the process.

Here is why this type of learning and this type of exercise is so relevant today:

  • One of the four C's in 21st Century Learning is being modeled and taught in this process.  That "C" is communication.
  • Students learn to communicate in so many positive ways including learning to speak publicly under pressure, and to speak confidently to a group of strangers.  
  • They also learn to communicate in different ways such as coming to the interview dressed appropriately and they are learning to pay attention to their body language and how that can signal a weakness or a strength in an interview.  Even somethings simple like eye contact, and a firm handshake can make the difference in being considered for employment.  Of course, students also learn a bright smile makes all the difference as well.
  • They learn to communicate in writing, and they find neatness, skill, efficiency and proper use of words and construction of sentences can make all the difference even in an interview for cashier job.  

I look forward to these same students leveraging their confidence and ability to communicate to the next level through online resumes, blogs, and other writings to show off those skills that prepare them for the electronically rich world they are entering as adults.

The powerful aspect of this learning is these students not only learn these "interview" skills at a young age, and they can apply it to similar real experiences in the future, but most importantly, these young people can learn to apply these principles to their everyday lives!