How the ‘four Cs’ fit with the Common Core

The ‘four Cs’ are an integral part of the Common Core standards; here are free resources for helping to teach these important skills

Connecting students is a great opportunity to teach digital literacy and citizenship.

The 21st-century skills of communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking, often referred to as the “four Cs,” are an integral part of the Common Core standards.

Fortunately, there are an abundance of free resources and digital tools that empower teachers to lead by example and integrate these “four Cs” in meaningful and effective ways.


It’s remarkable to think that we live in a time when we can communicate with anyone, anywhere and any time. We also have so many choices in how we communicate: text message, instant message, video conference, conference call, eMail, snail mail.

Effective communication in our digital world requires new skills, and we need to choose the best tools for the purpose. The Literacy Capacities and Math Practices embedded in the Common Core standards, referred to as “Habits of Mind,” help us understand what students should be able to do. Specifically, students should be able to:

  • Adapt their communication in relation to audience, task, purpose, and discipline.
  • Be familiar with the strengths and limitations of various technological tools and mediums and can select and use those best suited to their communication goals.
  • Actively seek to understand other perspectives and cultures through reading and listening, and communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds.
  • Justify their conclusions, communicate them to others, and respond to the arguments of others.
  • Communicate precisely to others.

To help students become competent in these capacities and practices, we need to ask ourselves some questions. Do we need synchronous communication to brainstorm and share ideas? Would asynchronous communication allow us more time to explore ideas and develop solutions?

Many of our students have grown up with these tools available to them, but they rarely have opportunities to connect and communicate once they get to school. Here are a few of our favorite free resources for getting learners connected to experts, practitioners, parents, community members, teachers, and other students around the world:

Connecting students is also a great opportunity to teach digital literacy and citizenship, and Common Sense Media has free resources to help (

(Next page: Tools for fostering collaboration and creativity skills)

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