SOS: 4 C’s

Creative, research-based instructional strategies – presented by teachers, for teachers.


The Spotlight on Strategies series provides help, tips, and tricks for integrating Discovery Education digital media into your curriculum in meaningful, effective, and practical ways. The SOS series includes more than 150 different strategies you can use to engage students in active learning with digital media.

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4 C’s

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 The 4 C’s Visible Thinking Routine (Connections, Challenges, Concepts, and Changes) was developed in Harvard’s Project Zero. This strategy is used to help students develop synthesizing and organizational skills. According to the authors, the 4 C’s are used to guide students to make connections, ask questions, identify key concepts, and contemplate changes/consider the application of what they’ve learned.
We’ve adapted the 4 C’s strategy for use with digital media by including a graphic organizer, and by focusing small group discussion around specific “look fors” in the media. Doing this helps students process multimodal text/media to make sense of the content, and provide relevant evidence to back up claims they make about topics they are studying.

Materials: multimodal text (media such as video, audio, transcripts or articles), notebook paper, pencil or pen
  1. Prepare for using the 4 C’s strategy by having students create a graphic organizer by dividing a piece of notebook paper into quadrants.
  2. As students label each quadrant of the organizer, take a moment to elaborate on what goes in each box. For example:
    • Connections: What does the media selection remind you of?
    • Challenges: What questions or disagreements do you have?
    • Concepts: What main ideas do you need to remember?
    • Changes: What changes would you make, or how will you apply what you’ve learned from the media ?
  3. Share the selected media with students. Pause to allow students to record connections they are making with what they are seeing, hearing or reading and key concepts/ideas that are important to remember.
  4. Ask each small group to have a discussion where they share what they’ve recorded in their organizer. Encourage groups to dig deeper as they share and reflect by asking questions such as, “What makes you say that?” or “Could you tell me more about what you’ve just said.”
  5. Replay the media a second time, this time pausing to allow students to record challenges/questions they have about the topic and changes/applications for the new information.
  6. Ask students to once again discuss their findings, taking turns sharing what they’ve recorded and sharing evidence from the media to back up their claims.
  7. If desired, facilitate a whole group debrief by asking students to provide highlights of their group conversation.

This strategy encourages students to dig deep into text from several different angles, to explain or back up their thoughts and connections based on background knowledge and evidence from text, and to engage in scholarly
discussion.

Differentiate the use of this strategy by keeping in mind student abilities. The individual questions for each of the 4 C’s may be adjusted, as well as the complexity and length of the media selection. You may also want to only focus on one or two of the categories at a time.
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