“I spend a good part of my time sharing with families what originally drew me to Powhatan,” says Mrs. Scarborough, Head of School. “I especially share perspectives on our campus learning environment and reflecting upon teaching the skills and values the twenty-first century will require and value. The framework for what I see is wrapped around 21st Century Skills, what are often referred to as the 5 C,s.”

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

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

Critical Thinking:

Critical thinking and problem-solving are often cited by our parents as some of the most important skills we teach. The resiliency that that comes along with sticking with a challenge, along with having a growth mindset, allows students to approach learning in a positive way. The self-confidence that is gained by problem-solving and collaborating with classmates is critical in the development of children. The fifth grade ‘Escape Room’ activity is a great example of how we foster critical thinking:


There is plenty of creativity across campus. From numerous cross-curricular efforts to the weekly immersion in the arts through performance and visual/graphic arts, Powhatan students are constantly creating:


Public speaking is often referred to as the top skill that lays a foundation for success. 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”.

Resource: https://powhatanschool.org/pulse-blog/food-for-thought/exploring-the-5-cs-of-21st-century-learning/

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