Two and a half years ago, I was sitting in our district library with a group of library media specialists trying to figure out what Osseo was going to propose for the EdTech ARRA grant that was currently available for application. After batting around several ideas, the group started to focus in on the idea of creating a professional development program and going for the Seal of Alignment with ISTE.

Earlier in 2009, I had proposed an idea called the C4 Model of Learning, which stood for Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity embedded to make explosive Content. I wanted to create a professional development program that was different than the just-in-time learning model that most teachers are accustomed. I wanted teachers to learn and integrate essential skills instead of specific technologies. In fact, the idea made a lot of sense once I heard Simon Sinek’s talk on Start With Why, before that I am sure that my colleagues thought I was crazy. Teaching teachers how to use a specific tool was at the ‘what’ level, teaching them a skill to integrate and then choose the tool that would best fit that goal would be at the ‘why’ level.

The ISTE NETS for Teachers are, in short, brilliantly written and designed and are built around the ‘why’. Yet, I had to breakdown the indicators to see what the goal of the standard was and then figure out how I could give teachers that skills. For so long I thought it was important to know that 2d. (the indicator that has to do with formative and summative assessments) was only a part of the standard ‘Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments’ and what I needed to do was create a class on Digital Age Learning. Boy was I wrong. Once I started reading the indicators closer, I realized that the twenty indicators were in fact connected in a completely different way. Instead of five standards, there was eight different themes. The C4 Model of Learning was built on those themes.

I did the first run through in the 2010-2011 school year and the participants gave great feedback for redesigning the program. They pointed out the holes and where extension activities could take place. In one example, while the original program had pounded formative and summative assessments, teachers felt that there would be value in teaching them how to unpack standards and understand the nouns and verbs contained within. When Tom (a member of the first C4 cohort) started in the fall of 2011, he was able to take that feedback and we completely redesigned that program from the ground up.

In January we got word from ISTE that our program had received alignment at the Mastery level. This is the highest level of recognition that ISTE gives professional development programs. Talk about validation of Tom and I’s work, yet more so the feedback of the first C4 cohort. I highly doubt that this program would have melded into what the Maple Grove Magazine label as joining the elite company of PBS, Intel and Verizon Thinkfinity without that first cohort.

So what is next? Hamline. In the fall of 2011, Tom and I proposed to Hamline a certificate program using the C4 model as our guide. Dreaming big we wanted to share the program with others, we wanted others to think beyond the tools and think about the teaching. In fact when asked after receiving the Seal of Alignment someone asked me, “I know what C4 stands for, yet what does it really stand for?” Having to think about it for a few moments I thought…

Teaching before technology and tools, in practice just like it is in the dictionary.

That is why I think C4 matters, it is about the teaching and not the technology and tools.

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