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  • Writer's pictureMegan Rodriguez

Is there a 5th C?

Your #STEAMByte for the week...

The skills of collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity are known as the 4 Cs of 21st Century Learning. Teachers need to integrate these skills into lessons to help prepare students for the world beyond school. In my school district we do not use the "4 Cs of 21st Century Learning" instead we use 5 Cs.

Is there a 5th C?

In the end there can be as many Cs as you want. The goal with any acronym is to develop an easy way to summarize and remember an idea. If we said the "15 Cs of 21st Century Learning" would you remember them all? Would teachers stop and TRY to implement them all? We both know the answer is no. No they would not.

Surveys of companies and colleges have pointed to the 4 Cs as necessary skills as has organizations like Batelle for Kids. But, I do think that 5 Cs is manageable. AND I do think that the 5th C that my district chose is meaningful. Our 5th C is CARING. I define it as showing kindness and concern for others. It is seen throughout collaboration. We have to care about those we work with. It is seen (or SHOULD be seen) when we communicate. We have to be careful about the words, body language, tone, etc. that we use so we can communicate in a caring way. We are caring when we are solving problems (critical thinking) in innovative (creative) ways. I explain this to students in the realm of engineering. Engineers solve problems and they are often solutions that make life better or easier. They have to have empathy for their clients.

A quick search turned up other school districts and organizations that have 5 or 6 Cs. Included were: character, compassion, citizenship, and community. As well as content and connect/connection. I get the reason for all of these. STEAM instruction needs to take students beyond themselves. We need our future, our students, to look into their community and display excellent character and compassion for others. These are valuable skills for our students to exhibit. We need our STEAM instruction to connect the content to the outside world. However, I might say that connect and content are definitely more specific for the type of learning opportunities that teachers should be setting up and less about the characteristics that we need students to embody.

So add a 5th C...or don't 🤷🏼‍♀️ But make sure we are raising our future with a caring disposition and empathy for others 💕


Want to be more intentional with integrating the 4 or 5 Cs in your classroom? Check out my signs that I use on the board in my classroom to set our intentions and objectives. Laminate, put magnets on the back, and then you are good to go! Grab your FREE set here.

FREE - Signs for 5 Cs of 21st Century Learning

Note from the author: this post originally appeared on before being transferred here

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