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creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking

4C’s Come to Life Through Digital Tools

Mar 27, 2020 2020-03-27

By Wendy Wolfe

Super skills, twenty-first century skills, best practices—whatever you want to call the 4C’s (creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, communication), they are an integral part of the student experience in our classroom. Even so, sometimes a pathway to incorporate the 4C’s may seem evasive or like it takes too much time. Adding the following tools and ideas to an instructional toolbox can support a seamless incorporation of the 4C’s into our teaching and learning for all students.

Digital Resources
For creativity, Big Huge Labs is a gem. It focuses on telling a story with images. This can be a great application to support formative assessment, unique graphics for student-generated media, and more. With Big Huge Labs, my students easily and quickly created the following:

• Motivational posters with quotes from or about history.

• Trading or business cards for historic figures.

• Magazine covers and calendars featuring historic events.

But it doesn’t have to be just history. Envision a billboard advertising a periodic element, an ID badge for an author, or check out the more than 15 products Big Huge Labs supports. How can they support your teaching and learning? (Plus, no account is required.)

Another treasure, promoting both creativity and collaboration, is Canva. Even young creators can jump in and individually or collaboratively create beautiful products. For example, my students used Canva to create a postcard about prohibition as a formative assessment. They also utilized a menu template to “dish up” the current events of the day. Each of Canva’s more than 50 categories of templates (newsletters, infographics, invitations, and brochures) can be created independently or collaboratively.

Sharing Out
Once the creating is finished, students can save their images or copy image links and submit their work to the teacher. They could also add their work to a shared slide deck, such as Google Slides or PowerPoint via Office 365. With a shared deck, students can view and discuss the work of their peers, share out to the school, or post to a website or blog for the world to see.

Closing Tips
When designing a lesson or learning activity using sites like Big Huge Labs and Canva, a few intentional acts can increase the richness of learning for our students. First, know the learning objective and be sure it is communicated to students. Second, as each web tool offers so many options for design, try to incorporate student choice. Third, prior to the students’ completion of their work, practice capturing a creation on the device your students use to smoothly guide them through that process. Finally, as both resources can rely heavily on images, consider providing your students links to ethically sourced photo galleries or teach them how to search for copyright-clear images. These actions will help decrease potential anxiety about the creation process in your students and increase their engagement and enjoyment.

Let the creation begin!

Wendy Wolfe is a technology integration specialist, presenter, and former middle/high school social studies teacher with 27 years of 7-12 classroom experience. She coordinates and teaches for Concordia University, St. Paul’s MAED program in Educational Technology. Wendy is a re-emerging blogger at with the occasional tweet @wwolfe105.

21st Century Themes Educational Technology Professional Development Digital Literacy

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