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Aurora Institute

The 7Cs to College and Career Competency

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Lori Vandeborne and Stephen Fujii

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, Rethink Instruction

This post originally appeared at Getting Smart on December 16, 2015. 

Marion is small urban center in Northwest Ohio with a history of manufacturing. When Gary Barber took over as superintendent three years ago, the district launched a series of community conversations that led to aggressive reforms seeking improved academic performance and workforce preparation.

In addition to laying the groundwork for career pathways, Director of College and Career Success Stephen Fujii hired META Solutions consultant Lori Vandeborne (a former Marion administrator) as an instructional coach.

The superintendent outlines next steps in personalized and blended learning:

Faced with low achievement in Mathematics, Marion City Schools stepped up to the challenge to transform student engagement with more personalized instruction by providing immediate feedback. This feedback loop empowers students within the Next Generation Learning Environments to own their learning. Teachers integrate technology as a tool to promote individualized experiences scaffolded to match the learning pace and path for students.

Our conversations with teachers about their next-gen vision led to the development of 7C’s to College and Career Competency, a foundational model that can be used from the classroom to district level for organization of instruction to authenticate and personalize learning. They are outlined below with a case study that illustrates their application.

Leveraging Learning

Concert Learning

Concert Learning is a traditional, direct instruction model. The teacher has the knowledge and delivers content to a large group of students. The students are receivers of the knowledge. This is a passive form of content delivery. The teacher performs and the students listen.

Summary: Teacher action is high, student action is low


  • Provides a consistent message.
  • Ensures minimum content is covered.
  • Example- Traditional classrooms where knowledge is required.

Collaborative Learning

Collaborative learning occurs when the content is still controlled by the teacher, they control the content delivery. However they become more of a facilitator to small group discussions. The students begin to find their voice in the learning process while the teacher continues to control the content delivery. This can be whole group, small group, or team based.

Summary: Teacher action is high, student action is rising

Strengths and Opportunities:

  • Teacher is able to begin to release student action
  • Students engage with learning in safe, constructive environment
  • Example- Socratic Seminars

Conferencing Learning

Conferencing Learning occurs when students further develop their voice as well as begin to apply knowledge. The teacher ensures application is correct and formatively checks for understanding during conferencing periods. This is done in a small group or one-on-one, grouping students by need, topic, or interest.

Summary: Teacher action is reduced, student action is rising


  • This builds teacher and student relationships
  • Provides a window into student interests within projects
  • Example-Small group reciprocal instructional discussions

Coaching Learning

Coaching Learning occurs when the teacher provides construct and guidance however the student is the one who is driving the direction and the path that their learning proceeds. The student begins to comprehend by interacting and making meaning with knowledge and grappling with the questions that develop. The student is showing their learning and the teacher is coaching to improvement.

Summary: Teacher and student action are balanced

Strengths and Opportunities:

  • Is the strongest way to enhance teacher and student relationships.
  • Little structure as student begin to apply knowledge with teacher input
  • Example- The Guide on the Side
  • Science Experiments where teachers work students through Scientific Method

Connective Learning

Connective Learning occurs when the teacher has now released the majority of the learning so that student can begin to analyze the knowledge. The students are now developing connections between learning and relevant world of employment and the components needed for functionality as an adult.

Summary: Student action is rising, teacher action is reduced and community engagement is introduced and facilitated by the teacher.


  • Students engage in online instruction that is either of an adaptive nature or supplemental to the content that is being delivered in class such as Moresteam or ALEKs specifically to Marion City Schools.
  • The student must develop an intrinsic motivation and self monitoring to independently proceed with the learning process as well as problem solve through situations when the teacher is not present.
  • The teacher supports and monitors student progression and utilizes the data that is retrieved to modify instructional strategies and content that is delivered.

Community-Based Learning

Community-Based Learning occurs when the teacher allows or models synthesis of learning with partner organizations. The students not only see connection and are allowed to create their meaning to the work they interact and experience this within a limited scale of action.

Summary: Student action is rising, teacher action is reduced and community engagement is introduced and facilitated by the teacher.

Strengths and Opportunities:

  • This connection requires knowledge of teacher to school-based or outside opportunities for rigorous/relevant connections to authentic work like learning opportunities within the school or community.
  • Allows the teacher to model a group or class project with the knowledge learned. This also allows another adult (likely under teacher supervision) from the community to interact and engage with students.
  • Example- The Let’s Read 20 project embedded in the Global Logistics learning experience as highlighted in the narrative below. META Partner providing human resources through based support for the Lean Six Sigma certification process for our students.

Contributive Learning

Contributive Learning occurs when the teacher has released the curriculum and facilitates learning by encouraging students is to relate the learning to his/her educational needs as well as the students passions or pursuits.

Summary: Student action is high, teacher action is low


  • The student and partner organizations gain improvement through mutually beneficial relationships. Partner organizations provides students opportunity to evaluate their learning.
  • Example- When the Global Logistics Instructor and his group run Marion Intermodal Inc. or some other entity through a LEAN process to improve.

A Community and Contributive Case Study

The United Way of Marion County along with community partners such as META Solutions and Marion City Schools is dedicated to build a community of readers by encouraging everyone to read to a child for at least 20 minutes each day from birth through Elementary School. This project is supported by numerous community agencies through pledges, resources and time. The organization takes in donations of new and gently used books and sorts them by grade level and reading ability and then redistributes them to 20 different elementary schools and additional community events to promote learning. In the first 16 months of operation, the organization has collected 90,307 books with the goal of providing them to a target population of 9,622 children. This is a logistical learning opportunity.

The Let’s Read 20 campaign came to the Global Logistics program (a new career pathway) at the high school and asked for help in designing a distribution process to ease the strain of sorting and distributing so many books in a more efficient manner given the principles of Supply Chain Management. Marion Harding High School is operating the Global Logistics program as an Advanced CTE program and is the first such program in the state of Ohio. The students in this program are eager to share their knowledge in support of such a worthy endeavor.

The students upon hearing the organization mission and purpose of the book distribution took their learning to a Community and Contribution Level as defined by the 7Cs of College and Career Competency. The students then began to recommend that the Let’s Read 20 campaign consolidate the two warehouses from the region into one space. They petitioned the HS principal to gain access to a classroom in the high school where they could design a warehouse and distribution center. Then the high school Global Logistics students plan to collaborate with students in the Work Study program to develop a process of appropriately storing the books, separating the books into reading levels and work with district officials in the Facilities and Grounds department to distribute the books across the city.

Students are experiencing success in this class on projects like the Let’s Read 20 initiative. It is truly a Community Based, Project Based learning opportunity. However, the students have acquired their knowledge through the other 5C’s before this connection ever arose. Specifically, Mr. Ellis, (@PrexieLogistics) introduced supply-chain management through Concert Learning. Deepening the partnership, META’s VP of Operations and Legal Affairs, Adam Shank, a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, helped provide avenues and resources for the students to learn about LSS tools and methodology.

The class is in the process of applying the Lean Six Sigma DMAIC process. Students will then Conference with the teacher on these topics through a variety of logistics projects. This is when the teacher really began to act as Coach and provide strategic input to make each of the projects better and push students to a deeper understanding of content.

Finally, students were able to refine their learning through Connective opportunities. Students in this Global Logistics have also had the opportunity to gain on-line learning opportunities through a collaboration with and META solutions where students will gain “badging” or “credentialing” through a yellow-belt in LEAN processes.

Students are taking this knowledge and helping the Community through this learning project. Let’s Read 20 is impacting children in their reading (birth through 5th grade) and in their problem-solving and critical-thinking (Global Logistics). This process will lead to Contributive Learning when the students can take their individual passions and desires and impact a world with the knowledge they’ve gained through the continuum of learning.

See also:

Lori Vandeborne is Professional Development Specialist with META Solutions. Follow Lori on Twitter, @MrsVandeborne.

Stephen Fujii is Director of School Operations Marion City Schools. Follow Stephen on Twitter, @_StephenFujii.