Can You Name the 5Cs?

Can You Name the 5Cs?

If you are a parent of a student in the San Carlos School District, you have probably heard your student or your student’s teacher mention Habits of Mind or the 5Cs, but if you can’t name them, you are not alone and we want to change that!  Over the next few months we have planned a series of articles that explain the 5Cs and tell stories of the implementation of our Habits of Mind strategy in our classrooms.  Also, beginning this week, we will illustrate the 5Cs in action on social media using the hashtag #scsd5cs .

Parents are integral to our success as a district, so we invite you to join us in practicing the 5Cs and Habits of Mind at home with your students. You are invited to post photos or videos of your family engaging in the 5Cs at home, if you so choose as well.

What are Habits of Mind?

When the San Carlos School District adopted its revised Strategic Plan in 2015, it presented a vision for an innovative and engaged learning experience that fosters the development of the whole child.  The Habits of Mind are the foundation of a 21st century learning experience, and reflect values and educational goals we consistently hear employers desire of their future workers and parents have for their children, such as:

  • Ownership: To be engaged and focused on learning.  To persevere, self-reflect and recognize that mistakes are a part of learning.
  • Communication: To share ideas clearly and constructively, consider other ideas and perspectives and seek mutual understanding.
  • Collaboration:  To work together constructively, reflect on different perspectives, build on the ideas of others and take responsibility.
  • Creativity: To share ideas courageously, pursue new paths of thinking, refine prototypes, and design innovative solutions.
  • Critical Thinking: To be curious, motivated, self-reflective learners who ask thoughtful questions.
  • Citizenship/Stewardship:  To take care of myself, other people, and the environment, so that we can make a positive impact.







Are the The Habits of Mind unique to SCSD?

Many districts have chosen to focus on the 4Cs — creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication– as the key components in their strategy to implement the Common Core standards, but the The Habits of Mind, which adds a fifth C — citizenship — and “ownership”, was created by SCSD to reflect the culture of our district, which highly values citizenship, as well as teaching students to take ownership of their own learning.

How are Habits of Mind implemented in the classroom?

Teachers incorporate the 5Cs into their lesson plans, and every subject may touch on some or all of the 5Cs. For example, last December, 8th grade art students at Central Middle School created gingerbread houses made from clay and fired in a kiln. Teacher Joan Purcell explained that you might think the project was just an exercise of creativity, but students worked together in groups to collaborate on designing their houses, they needed to communicate with each other, and they used critical thinking to plan their houses using paper before moving on to clay.  Students exercised citizenship by helping each other, and ownership in taking responsibility for the creation of their unique project.  

“The 5Cs are just plain, good teaching practice,” said Central Middle School Principal Thomas Domer.  “Naming the 5Cs as part of our strategy ensures that we are intentional about focusing on each of these areas.”

Why are the 5Cs important?

Interim Superintendent Mary Jude Doerpinghaus explains that the 5Cs go hand-in-hand with a high quality rigorous education.  “In this world, we need every one of these skills — Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Citizenship and Student Ownership — to be successful both in and out of school.”

Ms. Doerpinghaus added that the 5Cs are the building blocks for the type of problem solving that occurs in just about every profession.  “Our district leaders and staff use these exact 21st Century skills every day in serving our students as we must communicate with our school community, collaborate with each other, use creativity and critical thinking to solve problems and exercise citizenship in serving as guardians of our outstanding schools!”