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Published
Jul 28, 2022

How 'Four Cs' Help Teachers Incorporate Tech Into Lessons

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Today, we seem to do everything online. We talk, shop, read, work, and even get our daily necessities online. And our online activity has only increased since 2020.

However, it was not simple of a transition for many teachers, professors, or students to adapt to the online-first world.

EdTech influencer Adam Juarez, a teacher on special assignment (TOSA) at the Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District, helps them succeed, however. He does this by training teachers to integrate technology into their lessons to enhance pedagogy and empower student learning. He also trains students on various tech tools that improve and demonstrate learning.

In this episode of EdTech Heroes, Adam gets into the importance of the 4C's (Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, and Critical Thinking) in designing lessons. He and host Nef Dukes discuss ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) events, Adam's own participation, and take a dive into some of his sessions from his time in New Orleans!

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Guest-at-a-glance

👋 Name: Adam Juarez

💡 What he does: Adam is an EdTech influencer and a teacher on special assignment (TOSA) at the Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District.

🏫 Company: Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School

✍️ Noteworthy: Adam Juarez is a teacher on special assignment (TOSA) who serves as the 6-12 technology integration coach for the Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District in California. In this role, he leads teachers in implementing technology into their lessons through one-on-one coaching, demo lessons, and professional development. Adam also trains students on Google Workspace and other apps. Previously, he taught World and U.S. History to middle and high school students.

📱 Where to find Adam: LinkedIn | Website

Key insights

"4C the Future: Lesson Design That Empowers" session. Adam led several sessions at ISTE, and one of them, 4C the Future: Lesson Design That Empowers, talks about the importance of the 4C's in creating lessons. As Adam points out, if teachers design their lessons using them, they automatically start using tech.

"The organic method springs out of the 4C's. So if I'm planning with the 4C's in mind, maybe I don't have the tech, but you know what, that's fine because I'm worried about what the students are doing and how they're going to engage each one of those C's. But as you connect with more people, you build your PLN; you learn more, your EdTech toolbox gets deeper and deeper.

As you start playing with the 4C's, you start thinking of ways that you can use different tech platforms and apps and strategies to meet a learning goal. So, it's more learning and learner-centered rather than tech-centered or teacher-centered."

"Rock the Shells With Google Classroom" session. One of Adam's sessions was about developing shells in Google Classroom, and he talked about how these class shells help departments and the PLC collaborate. According to Adam, a few years ago, he was using some Canvas shells to build a Canvas classroom, which inspired him to do the same with Google Classroom.

"There are three types of shells. There's one that's just for me — my templates. One that's shared amongst a department, where we have common assessments, so we can put semester finals in there. They have rubrics already built in and all we have to do is reuse them, and the rubrics follow along, our data stays separate from each other, and it just makes everything a breeze. 

The third kind of shell I talk about is one that's more curriculum-based — what I was coaching them in middle school: ancient history and medieval history classes."

Use Twitter for education. Social networks are part of our everyday life, and while they are mostly used for entertainment, they can also be used for learning. Adam agrees with that and shares that he learned the most on Twitter, where, among other things, he met his current wife.

"I'd been on Twitter for years, following the news, my favorite sports teams, and stuff. I never thought to use it for education. And teacher Twitter is just chock-full of free stuff. When I started jumping on Twitter chats, my whole outlook on PD changed completely; I would get more out of an hour-long Twitter chat than in any district mandate-forced PD that I ever got.

And I take control of my learning by being on Twitter. […] All I've accomplished in the last seven years is a direct result of me deciding to get on Twitter and connecting with the thousands of people that I'm following every day." 

Related episode

Learn how video helps students prepare for the real world with Renee Dawson!

Episode highlights

Adam's Tips for Overcoming Objections 🙋

"I hear from students a lot of times — the students will tell me, 'Oh, I don't like seeing myself on camera.' I go, 'You could turn off the camera. You don't have to put yourself there at the bottom.'

There are just so many ways that you can customize it, but be patient and have a clear focus on what you want to do. A lot of times, what I do is I'll tape, or I'll take some sticky notes and put talking points; it's on the screen so I can see it, but nobody can. That is usually pretty helpful. […]

I've definitely noticed a lot of people will get a little frustrated at the beginning, but you get over those beginning jitters and stuff. A lot of people are like, 'Oh, I'm not used to hearing myself. I sound weird.'

I go, 'Remember, you're the only one that thinks you sound weird. You're hearing yourself the way the world is used to hearing you.' And that's just a funny little thing people learn when they first start recording themselves."

Working Synchronously in an Asynchronous Manner 💻

"I haven't taught live lessons to human children for I don't know how long. I tried to do it at the beginning of last year, and I guess there’s still a pandemic hangover. Their attention span was just 15 seconds — they're off doing other things, and they couldn't focus.

So I'm like, 'All right, I need to pull back here.' So I went to what I knew. During the pandemic, I was recording a lot of all my lessons for asynchronous work. So, I figured, 'Why don't I try this? Why don't I have them work synchronously but in an asynchronous manner?' So what would I do? I would record, on Screencastify, three- to four-minute little clips with portions of a lesson, and I would then drop those videos into quizzes and lessons.

So each little video or each little segment had its own slide. And then, it had a series of checking-for-understanding questions that were built in and allowed kids to go back and rewind to go at their own pace. The kids who needed more time, they could take more time. If they're really good at it, they get through a lot quicker.

And then the checking-for-understanding questions that I built in were part of the accountability piece and helped them stay accountable for their learning."

Highly quotable

[06:50] "If you plan with the 4C's in mind, the tech will take care of itself. The 4C's are Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, and Critical Thinking. We built our philosophy out of coaching teachers to design their lessons using that."

[17:33] "I have like a dozen protocols that you could use — more than you could ever use in a week — but you can pick and choose. I added all those teachers as co-teachers, and then they can just pick and choose and reuse whichever ones they want to use based on the curriculum. So it's aligned to the curriculum. It's definitely the class shells, which are inspired by Canvas. It helps with the collaboration amongst the department and the PLC. So if I haven't done that for you, that's the work you can do in your PLC. Let's set up these common activities and assessments that we can all use. As my good friend, Joe Mark, says, 'Teaching is a collaborative sport.'"

[28:01] "You need to be patient because good quality content is gonna take multiple takes. I've seen a lot of teachers get frustrated. Like, 'You have a Screencastify thing, and I just can't get it right.' And I tell everyone, 'Like anything, it takes practice.'"

[33:22] "This is the YouTube and Netflix generation. They're used to having control over what they're consuming. They're always used to having a pause button. When I'm teaching a direct instruction live lesson to kids in the classroom, there's no pause button on me. A lot of times, people in our generation will scoff at kids like that. They can't sit still and pay attention. It's not their fault. It's just the world that they live in. And it's easier for us to roll with their punches rather than the other way around."

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