4 Cs of STEM in First Grade
In first grade we practice the 4 Cs of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) each day. The 4Cs are communicate, collaborate, critical thinking and create. They help our students become effective problem solvers. Each day students participate in our Explore, Explain, Extend (3E) model for math instruction. The 3E model focuses on the 4CS each day, and the teacher becomes a facilitator of learning while guiding students' learning. In order to understand how we use the 4Cs of STEM learning during math, we need to understand what happens during the 3Es. The 3 parts of math block are Explore, Explain and Extend. Each day students start with Explore. During this time the class is given a math problem that goes with our math standard for that week. The students work in pairs or small groups and try to solve the problem. The teacher's job is to guide this part of the lesson by asking questions that might help students solve the problem, to encourage critical thinking and collaboration, and to help students communicate with each other.
Once the class participates in Explore time, the Explain portion begins. Students are chosen to communicate how they solved the problem and show their reasoning. The students chosen to share may or may not have solved the problem correctly. The purpose for this time is for the students to become comfortable sharing their thought processes and to help one another see different ways of thinking. We also want students to know that it is okay to fail because fail stands for "First Attempt In Learning". Their classmates are there to help them work out the problem even if that means helping them correct any fail.
The Extend portion of the 3Es is a time for students to practice these newly learned skills and work with the teacher. Sometimes students play learning games that are targeted to that day's skill, complete practice work, or work on a math site on their laptop.
The 3E model of teaching math not only teaches our students math objectives required by North Carolina, but also teaches them critical STEM skills - communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creation. These skills will make our students life-long learners who can tackle any problems that come their way.