Nina's Notes

for Effective Teaching and Meaningful Learning

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The 3C Framework for Effective Learning


Learning and teaching are two different phenomena occurring in the classroom, thus just improving teaching doesn't always yield great learning results.


See the star in the picture on the right? That's where effective learning happens!


The change in how we understand learning and knowledge has been widely recognized by researchers, and today we refer to a knowledgeable person as one who is aware of knowledge, knows ways to find information and is able to construct knowledge from information (critical thinking, problem solving).  Simply memorizing lots of disconnected facts doesn't create strong academic competence, because understanding concepts and connections is necessary in today's world. 


Student achievement depends on their engagement and interactions with the learning environment and the content to be learned. 


Students' motivation to engage in learning is intrinsic or extrinsic. Classroom participation and real engagement over strategic or ritual compliance are important variables in student learning (here is an interesting infographic about engagement). In addition to interest in the subject, engagement also depends on students' aptitude and readiness to learn. To achieve excellent learning results we need to know the science behind the teaching and learning, and have a good understanding about how learning happens to support deeper learning in the classroom.  


The 3C framework can help you achieve this. 

This framework helps teachers to create the environment, structure and feedback systems needed for supporting students' authentic and independent learning. The framework can be adapted to any curriculum, and it can be used while teaching any subject. Basically the framework contains rules for good quality 21st century teaching and learning! 


The cognitive approach combined with constructive and  cooperative practices enable effective teaching and meaningful learning - with Common Core or any other approach or curriculum.


The cognitive approach creates the foundation, because students' thinking needs to change - not just their behaviour.


Cooperation guides the classroom management decision and help students engage in their own learning process.


Constructive tools focus on supporting students' learning process to make learning meaningful and increase motivation to learn[1].


3C framework also emphasizes using students' self-assessment in order to build feedback loops that support deeper learning. The underlying principle is to empower students to become independent life-long learners.


Here is a 2-page pdf about 3C framework. 




[1] Martin, A. J., & Marsh, H. W. (2006). Academic resilience and its psychological and educational correlates: a construct validity approach. Psychology in the Schools, 43, 267–282.

Confident, Curious and Capable Learners

Choosing How to Teach and 3Cs are making a difference in the lives of teachers and students.  The feedback I have received from teachers taking the professional development courses about the philosophical and practical changes has been wonderful! 

Here is another 3Cs to think about: as teachers we should try our best to ensure that graduating students are confidentcurious and capable learners, who will continue to learn on their own. These are the outcomes for using the model explained in the Choosing How to Teach - book.


We cannot think about education as a fixed 12-year long period of learning that prepares students for living in 21st century world.  It is just the beginning of the journey. Lifelong learning belongs into a large scale paradigm change in education. The way we perceive the nature of knowledge and learning, and the role of a teacher are starting to change to reflect the 21st century and the needs of information/knowledge society, where lifelong learning is a must. Growth mindset is one part of lifelong learning.

Imagine what happens if students leave the formal education system hating learning: they will be trapped in many ways because not only is the world changing faster than ever before, also employers require their employees to be willing to learn throughout the career.


So, how to help our students to become confident, curious and capable in learning?

  1. Use non-punitive assessment that emphasizes the value of learning from making mistakes and reconstructing one's own thinking.

  2. Make learning meaningful for students by embedding choices to pique students cognitive interest and curiosity.

  3. Lead students to understand the value of collaborative meaning-making by modeling it in the classroom.

The confidence and the positive academic self-concept grow from engaging in the learning process and refining one's own thinking. It is awesome to hear students to explain how they understood the misconceptions they had before! Using constructive practices in the classroom helps students to reflect their own thinking and learning.


Curiosity is very important for all learning, and an easy way to encourage the use of curiosity in the classroom is to embed informal learning to the formal curriculum. Does it really matter where students found the information if they can cite their source and justify using it?

Collaboration (both virtual and f2f) and being able to communicate about learned in writing or talking are big parts of being a capable learner. Students who engage in cooperative learning during their k-12 education learn to share their own ideas and pay attention to other students' ideas as well.   


  • Use non-punitive assessment that emphasizes the value of learning from making mistakes and reconstructing one's own thinking.
  • Make learning meaningful for students by embedding choices to pique students cognitive interest and curiosity.
  • Lead students to understand the value of collaborative meaning-making by modeling it in the classroom.
  • Use non-punitive assessment that emphasizes the value of learning from making mistakes and reconstructing one's own thinking.
  • Make learning meaningful for students by embedding choices to pique students cognitive interest and curiosity.
  • Lead students to understand the value of collaborative meaning-making by modeling it in the classroom.
  • Use non-punitive assessment that emphasizes the value of learning from making mistakes and reconstructing one's own thinking.
  • Make learning meaningful for students by embedding choices to pique students cognitive interest and curiosity.
  • Lead students to understand the value of collaborative meaning-making by modeling it in the classroom.
  • Use non-punitive assessment that emphasizes the value of learning from making mistakes and reconstructing one's own thinking.
  • Make learning meaningful for students by embedding choices to pique students cognitive interest and curiosity.
  • Lead students to understand the value of collaborative meaning-making by modeling it in the classroom.

  • Not all education reform is the same. There is a different model:

    The Fourth Way is a way of inspiration and innovation, of responsibility and sustainability. The Fourth Way does not drive reform relentlessly through teachers, use them as final delivery points for government policies, or vacuum up their motivations into a vortex of change that is defined by short-term political agendas and the special interests with which they are often aligned.Rather, it brings together government policy, professional involvement, and public engagement around an inspiring social and educational vision of prosperity, opportunity, and creativity in a world of greater inclusiveness, security, and humanity ( Hargreaves & Shirley 2009, p. 71).


    This is what The Finnish Way looks like:

    In the Fourth Way of Finland, teachers design and pursue high quality learning and shared goals and improve their schools continuously through professional teamwork and networks, from evidence, and from literature in their trade. (Sahlberg, 2011)

    Finland has shown the effect of this empowerment-based education reform in several consecutive PISA results.



    Hargreaves, A., & Shirley, D. (2009). The fourth way: The inspiring future of educational change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

    Sahlberg, P. (2011). The fourth way of Finland. Journal of Educational Change,12(2), 173-185.