Category: 4C’s in STEM

The 4C’s in STEM: Creativity, Communication, Crticial Thinking, Collaboration

This series focuses on the 4C’s in STEM.  Although STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, there is much more that contributes to developing successful students than just these core content skills.

By focusing on the skills that employers are seeking, students can build, through technology, these 21st century skills to become well-qualified job candidates when they enter the workforce.

Here’s the round-up of the apps and software that I’ve talked about in this series:

The 4 C’s in STEM: Creativity
Infographics
Glogster EDU
Animoto
PowToon
Domo Animate

The 4 C’s in STEM: Communication
Padlet
MindMap Free
TitanPad
TwistedWave
TodaysMeet

The 4 C’s in STEM: Critical Thinking
Visual Ranking Tool
Google
Logic Puzzles
Wordle
Kudo

The 4 C’s in STEM: Collaboration
Symphonical
Google Drive
LiveBinders
Concept Board
Wikispaces

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The Four C’s in STEM: Collaboration with Wikispaces

Another one of my favorite tools, Wikispaces does not disappoint. Wikispaces Classroom is an ideal tool for both teachers to create a virtual space for team work.  In minutes, students can sign up for a free account and begin collaborating.  Perfect for school projects or even eportfolios, Wikispaces provides a lot of flexibility.

Using Wikispaces, students can create attractive “web pages” containing files, pictures, videos, links and other content to support their projects or eportfolios. Students can create as many supporting pages and upload as many supporting documents as needed as long as they don’t go over 20MB per file limit or 2GB capacity limit.

Students can leave comments and discuss topics in a discussion thread and teachers can easily monitor since Wikispaces saves all edits and revisions.  Wikispaces Classroom pages will even allow the teacher to organize students into groups, each with their own pages and permissions…perfect for collaboration!

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The Four C’s in STEM: Collaboration with Conceptboard

Collaborate visually with Conceptboard by creating an account and inviting your team mates to join.  No need for anyone else to even have an account.  Simply invite others through email or just share the link.

With the basic (free) account, students can chat with their teams and upload documents, screenshots and content from the web so that all project materials can be kept in one place. And Conceptboard automatically saves any work, so that progress won’t be lost.

This virtual whiteboard even allows students to comment and reply to anything displayed in their board to help the project move forward or just brainstorm ideas.

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The Four C’s in STEM: Collaboration with LiveBinders

If you are researching a specific topic, LiveBinders is an ideal place to collect all of the information you find including web sites, files, pictures and videos.

Users can create a free account, then assemble a virtual binder that can then be shared with others.  Students can invite collaborators to collect and organize their materials within their binder and even create different binders for different topics or collect binders from others using the “Add to Shelf” function.

Binders set up under a free account are limited to ten binders with a storage capacity of 100 MB, but paid accounts have higher capacities. Either way, students have plenty of space to research, collect, organize and collaborate!

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The Four C’s in STEM: Collaboration with Google Drive

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Google Drive.  I use it with clients all the time to share files and pictures.  If you’ve not experimented with it lately, I encourage you to as Drive is free and online and contains a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation platform, form creator and drawing creator.

With Drive, collaboration could not be easier.  Students can use their software of choice and upload their document to Drive, either in its native format or to be converted to a Google format. Or, start a new document in Drive.

Once the document is in Drive, students can share it to their team to edit and revise simultaneously.  By also sharing the document with their teacher, he/she can provide comments and feedback through the comment function. After receiving a comment, students can reply for clarification or resolve the comment, thus strengthening their digital collaboration skills.

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The Four C’s in STEM: Collaboration with Symphonical

Symphonical is an online tool that allows students to collaborate on projects and keep track of individual tasks. Organized in an easy to use grid containing categories for Not Started, In Progress and Completed, students create notes containing tasks to move around the board, thus showing visual progress. Any task that contains a due date can then be viewed on a calendar as well.

This application does require an account, but the basic service is free. Once one account holder logs in, other team members can be invited from within the app to collaborate.

An additional feature that facilitates collaboration is the ability to invite team members to a Google Hangout from within the app so that students can discuss tasks (which can be imported from Gmail and Google Drive) and priorities.

This simple and free platform can help students get organized, prioritize tasks to achieve success for the project and best of all…collaborate!

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The Four C’s in STEM: Critical Thinking with Microsoft Kodu

For kids who like to design and play games, Kodu from Microsoft is a high-interest way to help develop critical thinking skills.

Kodu, a free visual programming language, allows students to build, play and optionally share their own video games with other users online.  Since the software is downloaded to each computer (the only negative for our school district friends), there are no accounts or passwords to remember.  Students simply create and explore a world, then program their character or rover.  Students can edit and save changes to make their worlds better over time too.

Not sure where to start?  Microsoft provides five one-hour lessons and even provides support videos on YouTube to help students become familiar with the interface and hit the ground running with their critical thinking skills.  Then, let the coding begin!

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The Four C’s in STEM: Critical Thinking with Wordle

Critical thinking encourages students to look deeply into concepts and problems.  In striving to work towards the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, students learn skills to help them analyze, question and explain.

It’s tough for teachers to teach critical thinking because these skills can look like so many different thought processes in so many different scenarios.  So, how do we teach these then?  One way is to use tools like Wordle.

Wordle can encourage critical thinking skills by helping students to make predictions, identify main ideas, and focus discussions.  Word clouds also provide students the opportunity for reflection and evaluation of text or concepts.

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The Four C’s in STEM: Critical Thinking with Logic Puzzles

Logic puzzles are a fun way for students to exercise critical thinking.  Using a site like Puzzle Baron or Kids Korner, students can learn more about problem solving skills by examining the puzzle clues and thinking critically about what they mean (and, in some cases, don’t mean).

Critical thinking skills are tough to teach because they are not fact-based.  They require reasoning and deeper thinking and focus on the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Students often struggle with critical thinking because most problems posed in the classroom only require surface-level consideration to solve or answer.  By asking students deeper questions that help them to decide, judge, or solve a problem, students can learn to think more critically.

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The Four C’s in STEM: Critical Thinking with Google

Critical Thinking with Google? How can using Google (or Bing) teach my students to think critically?  Wading through search results can be a daunting task for an even an adult, so teaching student how to select good, reliable and reputable sites is a must.

Anyone can host a web page.  In terms of critical thinking, being able to discern a credible web site from a fly-by-night site is an important and necessary skill.

As students look at search results, they are naturally asking themselves internal question to figure out which link to click: What web site is this from? When was this written? What credentials does this person or organization have?  According to the UC Berkley Library, examining different search results or sources allows students to employ techniques and ask a series of questions to know which pages to trust and thus help to develop more sophisticated critical thinking skills.

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