Why Publishers Should Pay Attention to the C3 Framework

While Common Core and NGSS have been filling up Twitter feeds, the C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards has quietly been a guiding force for the revamping of dozens of states' and districts' social studies standards since its release in June 2013. From increasing the rigor around college- and career-readiness to establishing guidelines for global citizenship, the new framework for social studies standards has important implications for educational product developers. Here Alice Reilly, Coordinator, PreK-12 Social Studies for Fairfax County Schools and a panelist on the PreK-12 Learning Group Master Class webinar on the Framework, discusses the changes happening in social studies education.

What is the biggest change publishers should be aware of in how the C3 Framework approaches teaching social studies?

From a school district perspective I would say that social studies is no longer about using only one resource (a textbook) with all of the facts in our required state curriculum for students to memorize as the only resource for instruction. Teachers are looking for a variety of readings or documents that can be used promote higher order thinking and historical thinking skills. In the age of “Google”, information is at the fingertips of students anytime, anywhere. Instruction needs to shift to helping students develop the thinking skills needed to know how to research efficiently and effectively, how to evaluate those resources for validity and reliability, and how to analyze and synthesize information from multiple resources to reach a conclusion supported by evidence and then communicate that conclusion in some form to others. These are lifelong skills that we use in our everyday lives as we research what car to buy or credit card to apply for. 

This also aligns with changes being made by other educational organizations to promote “evidence based” learning, such as the revised SAT and recently released AP Historical Thinking Skills by College Board. The C3 Framework represents this inquiry approach to learning and understanding the content in a similar way as other contents.

Even if not all states are formally adopting the C3, why should publishers be paying attention to the new framework?

While states may not adopt the C3 Framework formally...the C3 represents an alignment to the shift in education that is being called for by many educational reformers. The C3 Framework really focuses on the development of skills in the different disciplinary areas that make up social studies, such as civics, economics, geography, and history. It encourages the development of these disciplinary skills to learn the content in a more student-centered manner that focuses on understanding the content rather than just memorizing and regurgitating content. It shifts the instruction from the teacher being a “sage on the stage to a guide on the side” and helps teachers to do that.  So, I would say that as educational reformers call for increased student engagement, the development of College and Career Readiness skills (which include collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, and communication), student-centered, personalize learning, and digital literacy, the C3 Framework aligns with these very well.

Also, the C3 Framework is flexible enough that it overlays with the required standards in each state, which may be more content focused.  This helps to avoid the political controversies about specific topics and names being included or not.

Learn more about the Master Class webinar, What the C3 Framework Means (and Doesn't Mean) for Social Studies Product Development (October 6).

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Educational Standards