We have all sorts of goals for our students. We want them to be strong at reading and arithmetic. We want them to know more than just memorized facts and figures. And we want them to be creative, collaborative, resilient people who can learn how to learn everything they need to in their lifetimes.
We know contentContent Content is what the learner is expected to know or be able to do by the end of the learning period (Course, Unit, etc.). matters. But just as important are the conceptsConcepts Concepts are the key ideas that CCR has identified in each discipline as the most important for students to understand so they can make connections and meaning. that allow learners to think like an historian, a scientist, or a mathematician. And we know learners need competenciesCompetencies Competencies are the skills, values, and mindsets necessary to flexibly acquire, activate, and apply knowledge in real-world contexts. too—like critical thinking, courage, and a growth mindset—to activate, apply, and make meaning of their knowledge.
Finally, we know contextsContexts Contexts are situations to which learning activities are applied. are necessary to bring these pieces together in relevant, real-world ways. Whether by teaching exponents through the spread of diseases, chemistry through gardening, or the idea of justice through the life and autobiography of Nelson Mandela, real-world contexts turn abstract knowledge into interesting and engaging activities and projects.
Learning standards like Common Core or Next Gen Science Standards often are a mix of all four of these curricular goals. But each goal requires different teaching and learning strategies—there are distinct methods to help students be curious (a competency) and to use the Pythagorean theorem (content)! Our team researches, analyzes, and promotes the tips, best practices, and approaches for each of these distinct goal types. Then, we break down standards into these curricular goals so our resources can be used for each and teachers can fit all these different pieces together in effective activities, lessons, units, and courses. Leaders then can work within and across departments and disciplines to design scopes and sequences that effectively promote the progression of each goal.
With relevant content, concepts, contexts, and competencies mapped and infused into the appropriate learning experiences, classrooms and schools can feel confident knowing that they are intentionally building a 4D Education.
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