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The 4C’s

The number four made out of trees (leonard_c, iStockphoto)

The number four made out of trees (leonard_c, iStockphoto)

The number four made out of trees (leonard_c, iStockphoto)

The number four made out of trees (leonard_c, iStockphoto)


This strategy helps students think more deeply during text-based discussions.

Why use it?

  • To make connections after reading a text
  • To organize learning after reading a text
  • To encourage critical thinking about ideas raised in a text
  • To provide structure in group discussions

Tips for success

  • Encourage students to record their own thoughts on The 4C’s Recording Sheet reproducible before sharing with their group. This helps students clarify their thinking before sharing. 
  • Discuss examples of responses to each type of prompt before using this strategy for the first time. 

How do I use it?

  • After reading a text, students sit in pairs or small groups. 
  • Give each student a copy of the 4C’s Recording Sheet Reproducible.
  • Students record their own answers to the following prompts. 
    • Connections: What does this text remind you of in your own life or other parts of your learning?
    • Challenge: What ideas or assumptions do you want to challenge in the text?
    • Concepts: What important ideas do you need to hold on to from this text?
    • Changes: How does this text change your thinking or actions you may be considering?
  • Students discuss each prompt with their small group. 
  • After they’ve finished, students share key points back with the whole class. 


  • Students could record their answers to the prompts on sticky notes and place them on a sheet of chart paper. In a virtual setting, students could use a virtual board such as Jamboard
  • The questions for each of the C’s can be adjusted based on your specific content or area of focus. 
  • Differentiation suggestion: provide sentence stem options for each prompt to students who need additional support. 
  • Encourage students to identify places in the text that support their answers to each of these prompts. 

Using this Strategy

Create Your Own


Adapted from: Harvard Graduate School of Education. (2019). The 4C’s. Project Zero.