Lightbulb.pngDIMENSION 2 of the C3 Framework
A part of preparing students to become not only college and career ready but, also civic ready involves equipping them with the knowledge and understanding of the concepts of social studies as well as how to use the tools and skills of the many disciplines of social studies (e.g., politics, history, geography, economics, psychology). Each of the disciplines of social studies offers a unique way of thinking and organizing and verifying knowledge.


Students must be able to understand the language of each discipline. When students begin to use the language of social studies they begin to build upon their understanding of how to use the tools and skills of the unique disciplines of social studies in answering compelling questions. In social studies, concepts provide the language to help individuals understand the generalizations or as many like to call them, enduring understandings. The concepts of social studies are the big ideas. The connections between the big ideas (concepts) become the generalizations (understandings). These ideas and understandings are the disciplinary lenses students use to make inquiries that help them address compelling questions.

This section will focus on aiding social studies educators in:
  • Understanding the essential role the lens of a discipline, concepts and tools play in preparing students to be College, Career and Civic Ready
  • Understanding the role the essential standards play in developing a compelling question
  • Analyzing the essential standards in order to make appropriate decisions when developing compelling questions
  • Understanding the processes involved in incorporating multiple disciplines of social studies into a compelling question

process wiki.jpg PROCESS

As teachers work with the end in mind the social studies educator’s expectation is for students to be able to analyze societal issues, trends, and events by applying concepts and tools from civics and government, politics, economics, geography, culture, history, etc. When planning compelling question teachers do not want to ask just any question they feel could be compelling. Any compelling question that a teacher develops for the teaching and learning plan must align back to the standards.

As you develop compelling questions ask yourself:
  • Can the compelling question be answered within the scope of the course?
    • When the question is generated by the teacher then the teacher must ensure that the compelling question is anchored in a clarifying objective.
    • When the question is generated by the student then the teacher must ensure that the student has enough support to develop the question(s) within the scope of the course.
    • Have you identified the standards (clarifying objectives) you feel address the anticipated compelling question or issue?
  • Have you identified all concepts (big ideas) of the standard and that you feel are essential in addressing the compelling question or issue?
  • Have you identified the factual content you feel may be essential in addressing the standard, based on the lesson(s) you plan to teach?
  • Have you identified the skills you feel may be essential in addressing the standard, based on the lesson(s) you plan to teach?
  • Have you determined exactly how you want students to be able to apply the concepts, understandings, and skills of the disciplines which will be a part of the lesson(s)?
  • Have you used all of the disciplinary lenses that might be applicable to help form or address your compelling question or issue?

practice wiki.jpg PRACTICE

Several practice opportunities have been designed to engage participants in thinking about the disciplines of social studies and how they may need to be incorporated into the teaching and learning plan in order to effectively answer our compelling question.

Making Connections:

  • Using the questions participants or participant groups began categorizing by strand during the brainstorming activity in Dimension 1, examine the questions to see which disciplinary strands can possibly be integrated into the unit and unit lessons as you plan for content and ideas that address the compelling question.
5 strands.jpg
Disciplinary Connections Google Sheet or Download WORD Copy of the Disciplinary Connections Sheet

  • Begin:

    • Navigate to "game pin" page for Kahoot.It.

      1. The presenter will give participants the "game pin" once everyone has arrived at the site.
      2. Once you have the "game pin" type in the requested nickname (your choice).
        • Didn't bring your computer? Use your phone for this activity? Just open your web browser and type and hit enter or search.
        • It is essential that your compelling question is aligned to the standards of the unit and lessons of the unit for which you plan to teach. Remember, compelling questions don't just fall out of the sky. They are not simply questions you create, but never plan for exactly how they align to the standards, instruction or assessment.

  • Finally:

    • Select a grade level or course from the NCSCOS and develop a compelling question that would be the basis for incorporating inquiry into a unit of study.
      1. Type your individual compelling question into the space provide in your region's Collaborative Space.
      2. Share your compelling question with the members of your table group during a brief group discussion.
      3. Have the team decide on one question to highlight and be ready to report out to the entire group.

resources -wiki.jpg RESOURCES

Resources For The Classroom

Additional Research References
  • A vision of powerful teaching and learning in the social studies: Building social understanding and civic efficacy. (1993, September). Social Education, 57(5), 213-23. Retrieved from
  • Erickson, L. (2007). Concept-based curriculum and instruction for the thinking classroom. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.
  • (2013). The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards: Guidance for Enhancing the Rigor of K-12 Civics, Economics, Geography, and History. Silver
  • Costa, A., & Bena, K. (2000). Habits of mind. (p. xv). Alixandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
  • Gore, F. (2014, April). Interview by M McLaughlin []. Disciplinary literacy and the three shifts in nc social studies.
  • (1994). National council for the social studies, expectations of excellence: Curriculum standards for social studies . (p. 3). Washington, D.C.: National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS).
  • Taylor, B., & Nell, D. (2013). Handbook of effective literacy instruction: Research-based practice k-8. New York: Guilford Press.
  • The social studies learning experience for the student and teacher. (2012, JUNE). Retrieved from

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