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Social Studies Group Releases Exemplar Lessons


Greetings from the National Council for the Social Studies' annual conference in Boston. I'll be here for the next couple of days attending sessions on best practices for teaching history, geography, civics, economics, and plenty of other subjects that comprise the social studies field. (And, of course, I'm looking to add to my collection of Red Sox gear.)

The first bit of news from this morning is that NCSS released a new book with exemplar social studies lessons designed by 15 curriculum partners, including the Library of Congress, National History Day, the National Geographic Society, and Facing History and Ourselves.

The lessons use the College, Career, and Civic Life Framework, known as "C3," which NCSS published in September 2013. The framework is not a set of standards; instead it's meant to guide states in developing their own academic standards. It also steers clear of specifying subject-matter content, again leaving that up to more localized decisionmaking. The framework's lack of historical dates, people, and events has been the subject of some criticism.

The framework does describe what "informed inquiry" looks like in civics, economics, geography, and history learning and it lays out the connections to the Common Core State Standards in language arts.

The just-released book, or "bulletin" as NCSS calls it, however, has plenty of content. It was designed to show K-12 teachers what the framework looks like in practice. 

Each partner group contributed an inquiry-based lesson that uses the framework's "inquiry arc" and, importantly, can be taught in less than a week. "We know that's one of the biggest challenges for teachers," said John Lee, an associate professor of education at North Carolina State University, who presented at the session on the new book, Teaching the C3 Framework. "Inquiry takes time."

For instance, the Library of Congress submitted a lesson called, "Why Did the Suffragists Choose Public Protest Tactics?" And the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis wrote one titled, "Why Do We Call It the 'Great' Depression?" (I can't help it. I just love that title.)

The book does not even appear to be for sale online yet. The conference bookstore was selling it for $19, though I was also told that those who've purchased the "comprehensive" NCSS membership would be receiving a complimentary copy early next month. 

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