Terra Forma and the 4Cs


The National Education Association (NEA) and their initiative of teaching the 4C’s for 21st Century Learners are skill sets our current students need to battle through and develop for their long term success in academics and the working world. The 4C’s of Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication and Creation and Innovation flow with the process of Terra Forma Cards and each catalyst question.

Think of this question from Level 2 of our Science Edition if the students are learning about electricity, patents, visual representations or US History:

How can I CREATE A CARTOON to show that INVENTOR FRAUD is connected to ELECTRICITY and JOSEPH SWAN (Light Bulb)?

Critical Thinking: Because the student process of TFC and the students’ final products are non-googleable the student must be able to take information they learn (through independent or teacher led research) and make connections to other entities. Through this process students learn to think in a non-linear and rote fashion. Not only is the student having to develop the ability to decide which products fits their interests most they now have to connect various components and across different academic disciplines. 

Collaboration: Because the TFC process is modular students have the ability to work independently or collaboratively within a group. While working collaboratively through their catalyst question, students can jigsaw the gathering, learning, and teaching of information for the final product. Additionally, students will learn to communicate with each other as the plan on how best to answer the question and then how best to effectively communicate their findings and ensure that it is audience appropriate.

Think of this question from Level 4 of our Science Edition when students are learning about the conservation of energy in physics or the conservation of mass in chemistry or energy consumption in biology and connect it to historical contexts learned in their ELA or Social Studies classes:

If I could travel back in time, how could I use FUEL SYSTEMS in ENERGY CONSUMPTION and/or CONSERVATION OF MASS to address a historical problem or disaster?

Communication: Because the above question does not have a final product built into the question the products can be fully student autonomous or manipulated by the teacher. How the students communicate their findings with their audience effectively becomes a fringe life-skill and can also work well when differentiation of student learning is being evaluated or directed by an IEP. 

Creation and Innovation: Because each catalyst question is built to allow students the ability to determine their categories (or can be manipulated by the teacher as needed) they are led through a process that allows them to be as creative in thought and product as they want. The teacher, who has now become a facilitator to the students’ learning, can prompt the students deeper in their exploration of the why, the how and the what to each question in a bid to create stronger connections and a fuller educational experience.