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Tools to Boost Creativity, Critical Thinking, Community, Communication & Character

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By Tom Vander Ark and Caroline Vander Ark

Good schools have a common intellectual mission. They prioritize, encourage, measure, and discuss important outcomes.

This week we had the privilege of spending time with educators at Valley Christian Schools in Cerritos, California. At VCS, the 5Cs translate their mission into practice.

Valley Christian Middle School recently implemented 1:1 iPads. Teachers have loaded their lessons and content on iTunes U and have been blown away by the amount of downloads both nationally and internationally (more on that soon). VCS students last year even created a science e-book, Southern California's Plants & Animals, viewed by classrooms around the world.

During our working session we discussed experiences and tools that develop the 5Cs. Following is a description of the outcome, a list of student roles that promote that outcome, and new tools and programs that support student learning. Also included are blogs on each topic.

Creativity: Develop and use abilities, appreciate innovation and creativity. Creativity is creating new career experiences for students.


Getting Smart blogs on creativity:


Critical Thinking: Analyze with discernment, strive for academic excellence.


Getting Smart blogs on critical thinking:


Community: Interact locally and globally; recognize/understand the order, cultures, diversity.

  • Collaborators: social learning platform Edmodo
  • Apprentices: best practiced by Big Picture
  • Learning coaches: peer coaching on Grockit
  • Performers: drama, choir


Getting Smart blogs on community:


Communication: Comprehend/convey truth effectively as speaker, listener, reader, writer, artist & performer.


Getting Smart blogs on communication:


Character: a worldview (for VCS, Christ-centered), living out one's place, reflective about calling, gifts, and joy.


Getting Smart blogs on character and calling


What would you add to our lists?

Disclosures: Pearson and MIND Research Institute are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners. Chromatik, Desmos, Edmodo, NoRedInk, ShowMe, are portfolio companies of Learn Capital where Tom is a partner.





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