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The Magic of the Four Cs: Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking

The Magic of the Four Cs: Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking
Leslie Maus

Last week, students worked together to solve a series of riddles and questions to unlock several locked boxes and clues. The objective was to build students’ “4C” skills through the use of a breakout-style challenge! Students first had to find the physical clues that were hidden in various places around the classroom, arrange them such that a code was produced to open the locks and do all of that inside of 60 minutes. They almost did it! In fact, during our sixty minutes, I asked the solvers if they were certain that the students who were inputting the directions were doing so correctly. No one appeared to be writing anything down! They assured me they were. Eventually, they were unsuccessful at opening the very last lock in time.

However, during our debrief of the game, one third-grade student offered this golden nugget of wisdom: “They didn’t line up the code on the bottom where the blue line is.” This small, but significant comment taught everyone a very valuable lesson or three: everyone’s ideas should and need to be heard and kept in mind; effective communicators don’t take anything or anyone for granted; and they HAD deciphered the code correctly. They just didn’t know to line it up with the blue line on the cylinder! In this week’s photos, you will find the sad faces of students who were supremely disappointed that they didn’t break out in time followed by their exuberant faces when they found out they actually HAD broken out! It was a day of ups and downs. In the end, I was greatly impressed by their ability to persevere and think outside the (locked) boxes.

A glimpse into spelling pedagogy

When I was much younger, I heard the story of the legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi, who began every locker room season with this statement: “Gentlemen, this is a football.” Many people scoffed at his simplistic statement. They didn’t understand why he went back to the beginning lessons with the winningest teams! His vision was to start with the very basics each and every time he went into the coaching season.

This is how we began our spelling scope and sequence, too: the basics. The very smallest part of a word is the syllable and each one has a vowel sound in it. First, we learned about how a single consonant or more closes a vowel sound to make it say a short sound. If there is no consonant to close it up, it is considered a long vowel, or one that says its name. Next, we’ll move on to vowel teams and learn about the various placements of those sounds inside of words, such as /ay/ at the end of a syllable versus /ai/ in the beginning or middle. We use a soft or scratchy surface (think fine grit sandpaper) to trace the sounds. Then we say the sounds, see the sounds, spell the sounds, and practice working with those sounds. If we could eat them, we’d use all five of our senses! This multi-sensory direct instruction approach is well-documented and has a very specific scope and sequence to follow and build upon. As students acquire more and more sounds, the introduction of roots and affixes follow alongside to make decoding words and their meanings much more interesting!

Open syllables say their LONG vowel name. Closed syllables say their SHORT sounds.

Innovators and Makers

Finally, we ended our week together by designing and building a simple ramp. Students in Noio 1 are MAKERS! I am so impressed by their design skills and I’m excited about the possibilities that lie ahead of us in our creative endeavors! They used many building techniques and words such as momentum, incline, angles, steepness, velocity, and many other scientific force and motion terms! Many students incorporated game elements such as flippers, baskets, and goals. All of the students’ suggestions for improvements were fantastic. We may have to revisit this idea.

View more photos of Ms. Maus’ classroom

Upcoming events:

  1. Library lesson – Tuesday, September 26
  2. October 6 – no school for students - Professional Development Day
  3. October 13 – First Friday Free Dress day
  4. October 23 & 24 – Fall Conferences

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