Exploring the Five C’s

Published On: February 16th, 2018 | Categories: Food for Thought |

The winter months are the time of year for visits to campus by families interested in sending their children to Powhatan. This past week we welcomed 30 families to campus during our annual Pre-K and Kindergarten Assessment Days. During those days, Mrs. Scarborough, the Head of School, meets with the parents and spends a lot of time talking about the Five C’s of 21st Century Learning.

“I spend a good part of my time sharing with them what originally drew me to Powhatan,” says Mrs. Scarborough. “My perspectives on our campus learning environment and reflecting upon teaching the skills and values the twenty-first century will require and value.”

Technology and project based learning have changed how teachers are thinking about instruction and assessment in today’s classrooms. The essential components of an excellent education today embody much more than the traditional three R’s. Past President of NAIS, Pat Bassett, identifies Five C’s – critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration and character, as the skills that will be in demand and will be rewarded in this century. “I am a huge fan of his Five C’s and see them constantly across campus.”

The Five C’s
Critical thinking

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So what do the Five C’s look like in our classrooms? Here are just a few examples:


Critical Thinking:

The recent fifth grade ‘Escape Room’ activity is a great example of how we foster critical thinking:



There is plenty of creativity across campus. One of the highlights in the art department this year was our visiting artist program:



Chapel Talks are a capstone to the eighth grade year and showcase our student’s ability to conquer public speaking:



The Lower School Science & Innovation Lab is a perfect setting for collaborative work:



A centerpiece of the retreat is the Full Value Contract. Almost immediately upon arrival at camp the students begin to work on how they will make the most out of the experience. Students work in small groups with their faculty advisor to create written guidelines taking personal responsibility for how they will contribute to and make the most positive impact on the retreat. It reinforces expectations of good character, behavior norms and positive interactions at school. As Retreat comes to a close students are reminded that the Full Value Contract is not just for Retreat, but is a contract for the rest of the school year.

Powhatan’s teachers have embraced the Five C’s when developing curriculum and thinking about their daily teaching. When I go into classrooms, I see students solving problems and collaborating in small groups, teachers asking questions that inspire critical thinking and writing, and lessons designed to reinforce essential academic skills. Without question, they are modeling our pillars and guiding our students to make ethical decisions about their interactions with each other. The Five C’s are thriving at Powhatan and blend in beautifully with our time-tested motto to “learn for life”.


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(top photo credit: Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)

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