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Over the past month, we here at the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship have received a number of questions concerning the new College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework. This post is intended to simply introduce the elements of the C3 Framework that may be useful for you as a civics educator, both in Florida and beyond.

Brief Origin of C3 Framework

The College, Career, and Civic Life Framework was created by a joint task force made up of a number of individuals and organizations involved with social studies education. These member groups include the American Bar Association, the National Council of the Social Studies, the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, the Council for Economic Education, and many others. It was issued this past year, and is ultimately intended to serve as a means for developing or revising standards and curriculum to encourage both inquiry and disciplinary literacy. Why? It is in the title: to better prepare students for college, for careers, and most importantly, for lives as active and engaged citizens! One question that is sometimes asked about the origin of the C3 Framework is whether it has anything to do with the development of the Common Core. The answer to this is simple. NO. NO. NO. While the Common Core and the C3 Framework overlap in their development cycles, there are significant differences. The Common Core is a set of standards, with somewhat minimal social studies and civics content. The C3 Framework is a FRAMEWORK, NOT standards. Is there overlap between the two new developments? Yes, in that both of them emphasize skills. Indeed, there is actually no content at all in the C3 Framework, and that is by design (one need only recall the History Wars of the 1990’s to see why content was avoided in favor of skills). At the same time, because the development team recognized that Common Core would probably be used in a great deal of states, the crafters of the C3 have ensured that the Framework is aligned with the Common Core, and clearly state as such. That being said, THE C3 FRAMEWORK IS NOT COMMON CORE!

So what IS the C3 Framework?

At the heart of the C3 Framework is what is referred to as the Inquiry Arc. The Inquiry Arc contains four key dimensions which introduce students to the skills necessary to develop and answer questions and engage in actions that address those questions. The chart below details each of the four dimensions.

The Four Dimensions of the Inquiry Arc, courtesy NCSS (page 12 of C3 Handbook)

The Four Dimensions of the Inquiry Arc, courtesy NCSS (page 12 of C3 Handbook)

So let’s take a quick look at each of the four dimensions of the C3 Framework.
The Four Dimensions of the C3 Framework
(The information in this section is partially reproduced from an article I have under press with The Councilor. I will share that piece with you when it is published!)

Dimension One: Developing Questions and Planning Inquiries
This dimension emphasizes the importance of crafting quality questions and understanding how to find quality and effective sources that allow students to answer the questions. In order to effectively answer those questions, however, students must begin the process of source analysis, determining which sources may be used to address the question or questions. This dimension sets the foundation of the research skills that are built upon in Dimension 3 (NCSS, 2013).

Dimension Two: Applying Disciplinary Concepts and Tools
    Disciplinary literacy has risen to an increasing prominence in social studies in the 21st century, moving beyond the broader and more general content area literacy approach toward a deeper and more conceptual sense of what it means to be a literate student of the social studies. As a result, the authors of the C3 Framework include disciplinary literacy as its own dimension. Students are guided in considering their questions through four core disciplines of social studies: civics, history, economics, and geography. Each of these disciplines, while having some commonalties as disciplines within the field of social studies, demand from teachers and students a different and particular set of skills in order to understand them effectively (NCSS, 2013).

Dimension Three: Evaluating Sources and Using Evidence
The third dimension of the C3 Framework focuses on students understanding how to evaluate sources and use evidence. While Dimension One introduces students to sourcing, Dimension Three builds on and refines student understanding of quality sources.  Students develop the skills necessary to distinguish good sources from bad, learning where they can find what they need in order to answer the question that has been crafted, as well as determining whether a source is appropriate. They also explore how to integrate the evidence provided by those sources into their work as they seek to answer the question. Ultimately, this dimension contributes to a final product that addresses the question at hand. Dimension Four helps students craft this final product into something they can share (NCSS, 2013).

Dimension Four: Communicating Conclusions and Taking Informed Action
Once students have determined the answer or answers to the questions that they have posed, they must determine a means to share their conclusions. Dimension Four encourages students to find ways to share their findings with specific audiences, as well as to consider the validity of the conclusions that they have drawn. Most significantly, the C3 Framework does not simply stop at presenting the findings; rather, it encourages these future citizens take what it terms as ‘informed action’ in relation to the posed question.

As you can see, the four dimensions really do seek to ensure that students are prepared for college, career, and most especially civic life! In a later post, I will discuss elements of disciplinary literacy and the inquiry arc that can be integrated with our Florida Civics Benchmarks!

If you have questions or comments about the C3, please leave them here or contact me! For a really good series of webinars on the C3, I encourage you to check out what has been done through the Social Studies Section at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. The team there has been intimately involved with work relating to the Framework.