Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Organizing Student-Centered Learning

As I have "flipped" my classroom from a teacher-centered learning environment to a student-centered one, I found it helpful to have a framework. A few years ago I came across a great one that is tailored to a history classroom using Common-Core standards. But I think this framework could be used in several disciplines.

It is called the C4 Framework and was developed by Glenn Wiebe (@glennw98). One of his main purposes in developing it was to help teachers help students to move beyond memorizing content. Here are the fours steps:

Collect: Content is in so many places so for the first step, students should go out and collect as much of it as they can. As a teacher I may set up a list or folder of suggested resources. These resources may also include lectures that I have recorded or other YouTube content videos. I may also have student "specialize" in an area they are collecting information about, for instance, the Pacific Theater of World War II.

Collaborate: Typically at this stage I have student pool their information together. They can decide what is the most important information and what isn't necessary. They can fill in nay gaps they may have missed. But this can also mean a Socratic Seminar about the topic or some kind of interaction with others about the contents. The C4 website has some cards you can purchase for ideas about each level. This may be a stage where I could use a little help.

Create: Students must gather the information they collected and create something with it. Ideally, they create something that answers a driving question, with supporting examples. The possibilities for a product are endless and the choice is best left up to the students. This step is so much more valuable than memorizing a fact and spitting it back out on a test. It is more important that students know how to use facts to support and argument.

Communicate: This is the 21st Century and learning should not be contained to the four walls of a classroom, let alone a private exchange between the learner and teacher. New learning should be shared. I think classroom blogs are a great avenue for this. Students can publish their work on the blog and reflect on their learning. The online publishing opens up the possibility for authentic feedback beyond the teacher.

This framework has really helped me plan out inquiry-based, student-centered lessons. Please check out the website for more information and ideas. Glenn's blog is also a great resource for teachers, especially history teachers that love technology!


  1. Kaelyn,

    Thanks for the C4 Framework referral and my site! I appreciate it. We're still working on making the Framework as useful as possible but we've been getting positive responses from teachers.

    If you contact me at glennw@essdack.org, I'd be happy to ship you what we've created so far - 32 C4 cards.

    Thanks again!


  2. Wow I really like it. It's simple but it definitely is how learning should be framed in a history class. I'm going to share this with my peers.

  3. Very interesting post. Although I don't teach history some of these key principles can definitely be applied in any discipline. Keep up the great work!

  4. Kaelyn: Nice job! I also switched to student-centered lessons in math about 4 years ago and I will never go back!! It is more work initially, however, the payoff is more students learning a lot of information. Thanks for sharing! - Angie