Thoughts on the C3

The C3 Framework is, essentially, the response of NCSS (The National Council for the Social Studies) to the Common Core. The 3 "Cs" of the title refer to College, Career, and Civic Life. The standards assert the importance of the social studies in an education climate that has put the emphasis on Language Arts and STEM to the exclusion of other subjects. And it reminds us that the Common Core forgot the "civics" part. And when NCSS included "civics" in the title, they meant that broadly-- as in you need to study economics, history, and geography to be a good "citizen" of the world. Not just civics as in U.S. government.

The key problem with the C3 is that it does not seem to have garnered the attention that the Common Core has, hence confirming NCSS's assertion that it is needed. Unfortunately, this may be because the document that NCSS has put together for the C3 is 108 pages long. It includes 3 pages just on how to read the remaining 105, a glossary, references, biographical sketches of the 16 people who authored it, 30 (!) tables, not including the ones in the 5 (!) appendices, 4 "dimensions", an inquiry arc, something called a "framework disciplinary inquiry matrix." It even includes 2 pages on what is NOT covered.

Lucky for you that I have put together the chart below, condensing this behemoth into merely two 8 1/2 X 11 pages! Click here for a copy you can download. If your district has adopted the C3 and you are under pressure to create lessons that meet the standards, rest assured that everything on this blog meets them. At one point I considered labeling them, and many of my earlier posts list the Common Core standards, but I tired of this. And, as you will note in my blog's subtitle, I rely on high standards that will meet any standard. Really, the C3 just takes good social studies teaching and breaks it down. If your students are reading, writing, analyzing, questioning and arguing, you are probably meeting the standards.

If you need more info than the chart below, check out the info on the NCSS website. You can also find resources at

The C3 FRAMEWORK in 2 Pages
as interpreted by Lauren Schreiber Brown

Developing questions & planning inquiries: through the use of
a. compelling questions
b. supporting questions
Compelling question may be interdisciplinary and address significant problems or issues with complex answers.
Experts may disagree on the answers.
Supporting questions are content-specific, have generally agreed upon answers, and assist addressing compelling Qs.
Compelling Q example:
What is the line between liberty & responsibility?

Compelling Q example:
Does more liberty lead to more prosperity?

Compelling Q example:
What does freedom look like around the world?
Compelling Q example:
Was the American Revolution revolutionary?
The 4 disciplines: described in the four columns to the right.
(Note that appendices B, D and E of the framework cover psychology, sociology & anthropology respectively)
• Civic & Political Institutions (Table 9, p. 32)
• Participation & Deliberation
(Table 10, p. 33)
• Processes, Rules, and Laws
(Table 11, p. 34)

• Economic Decision Making (Table 12, p. 36)
• Exchange & Markets
(Table 13, p. 37)
• The National Economy
(Table 14, p. 38)
• The Global Economy
(Table 15, p. 39)
• Geographic Representations: Spatial Views of the World
(Table 16, p. 41)
• Human-Environment Interactions: Place, Region, Culture (Table 17, p. 42)
• Human Population: Spatial Patterns and Movements (Table 18, p. 43)
• Global Interconnections
(Table 19, p. 44)
• Change, Continuity & Context (Table 20, p. 46)
• Perspectives (Table 21, p. 47)
• Historical Sources & Evidence (Table 22, p. 48)
• Causation & Argumentation (Table 23, p. 49)
For each of the disciplines explained in dimension 2 above, students are to work with the above concepts individually and with others.
Evaluating sources & using evidence:
this dimension is most aligned with the History/Social Studies reading standards of the Common Core.

1. Gather relevant information from multiple sources representing a wide range of views.
2. Evaluate a source’s credibility.
3. Identify evidence that takes info from multiple sources to support claims. Note limitations of the evidence.
4. Develop claims and counterclaims, while pointing out strengths and limitations.
Evidence useful in Civics
poll results, news stories
legislation, court rulings,
U.S. Constitution, election results (see
Evidence useful in Econ
financial data/statistics,
see for resources
Evidence useful in Geog
maps of all kinds, spatial and environmental data, Geographic Information Systems (GIS),
Evidence useful in History
primary & secondary sources, a decreased dependency on textbooks

Communicating conclusions
& taking informed action:
Students apply what they learn to the outside world. This dimension is most aligned with the writing and speaking/ listening standards of the Common Core.
1. Construct arguments using claims from multiple sources, while acknowledging strengths and limitations.
2. Construct explanations using sound reasoning, correct sequence, examples, details & data.
3. Present arguments and explanations to outside audiences using print, speech and digital technology.
4. Critique arguments.
5. Critique the structure or reasoning behind an argument.
Examples in Civics
 Producing debates, position papers, letters to editor, mock elections and/or campaigns, polls, op-ed pieces.
Examples in Econ
 Op-ed pieces, articles, policy statements, blogs, public action, simulations.

Examples in Geog
Students can create their own maps, environmental-impact studies or recommendations, position papers, debates.
Examples in History
Producing debates, position papers, create their own research questions, blogs, online discussions.
Reduce reliance on multiple-choice tests.

* The table and page numbers referred to in the chart can be found in the PDF version of the C3 Framework which is available on the NCSS website, or These tables have more complete information on each of the four disciplines in Dimension 2.

The C3 Framework makes explicit connections between the C3 and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
                  See pages 20-21 for the overall connections between the C3 and Common Core.
                  See pages 26-27 for the connections between Dimension 1 of C3 and Common Core.
                  See pages 50-51 for the connections between Dimension 2 of C3 and Common Core.
                  See pages 56-57 for the connections between Dimension 3 of C3 and Common Core.
                  See pages 63-64 for the connections between Dimension 4 of C3 and Common Core.

The C3 Framework also contains:
                  Appendix A: an example applying the C3 to the study of the recent recession of 2008.
                  Appendix B: Psychology Companion Document
                  Appendix C: Sociology Companion Document
                  Appendix D: Anthropology Companion Document
                  Appendix E: Scholarly rationale
A Glossary of Key Terms, which explains some of the language of the standards, such as claims and counterclaims, but also gives vocabulary specific to the disciplines.

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