Planting the Seed for the Future

Preparing Students for College, Career, and Civic Life

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Teachers must encourage Habits of Mind through Social Studies Instruction

One social studies instructional framework is the C3 Framework which is aimed at creating students that are prepared for their futures in College, Careers, and Civic Life. The framework is state-led, and consists of 4 different dimensions, outlined in Figure 1.1 below. These 4 dimensions: Developing Questions and Planning Inquiries, Apply Disciplinary Tools and Concepts, Evaluating Sources and Using Evidence, and Communicating Conclusions and Taking Informed Action work to provide students with social studies instruction that allows them to create clear and disciplined thinking. The C3 Framework has drawn on the idea of giving children as young as elementary school, opportunities to demonstrate Habits of Mind, which are ways that intelligent individuals behave when they are faced with problems to which the resolutions are not obvious. These Habits of Mind must be encouraged early on in education, so that students are able to face the challenges ahead of them in the workplace, in higher education, or even, in civic life. Educators are responsible for providing students with the tools necessary to flourish as they progress into adulthood, and by giving them opportunities to construct their own understandings of concepts through inquiry, they are allowing students to demonstrate the Habits of Mind. The C3 Framework has great implications for fostering this intelligence, and can be used as a means for students to employ the Habits of Mind in the world beyond school. The following sections will highlight the crossover of both the Habits of Mind and the C3 Framework for social studies instruction that together facilitate the growth and development of 21st Century students.

Overview: Habits Of Mind

The video below outlines, in further detail, the Habits of Mind previously mentioned. 21st Century students are not like the students of years past. They are going to be working jobs that have not even been created yet-imagine that! How are we to prepare students for these new-age careers and contemporary school programs? Simply put, the answer is let them figure it out. Students cannot go through schooling as passive learners taught through lecture and videos. They need to be coached through learning, given tools and opportunities to create questions, plan inquiries, take risks, experience failures, and analyze successes and failures to plan for future situations. Students need to explore the world of academia, seeking out their own understandings, and need to be given opportunities to develop the Habits of Mind addressed in the video below.
Habits of Mind

Big Idea: Correlations between the C3 Framework and Habits of Mind

The Habits of Mind appear in the ideologies embedded in the C3 framework. When teaching students through the C3 framework, teachers should look for opportunities to allow students to develop the following corresponding Habits of Mind. By teaching the "whole" student and supporting their growth into intelligent problem-solvers, teachers can fulfill the goals of the C3 Framework: to prepare students for College, Careers, and Civic Life.

Dimension I: Developing Questions and Planning Inquiries

Dimension I of the C3 Framework can be accomplished through supporting the following Habits of Mind:


Questioning and Posing Problems- Students must be encouraged to ask questions to fill in the gaps between their current and desired knowledge.


Thinking About our Thinking (Metacognition)- Students should gauge where their understanding is lacking and use questions to develop a plan for inquiry to help them solve a proposed problem.


Creating, Imagining, and Innovating-Teachers must provide students with opportunities to experience cognitive dissonance that leads them to use creative, imaginative, and innovative initiatives to gain understanding. Out of creativity comes purposeful questioning and out of imagination and innovation sprouts revolutionary plans for inquiry.


Taking Responsible Risks- Sometimes, students are faced with unfavorable problems or atypical methods of inquiry. In this case, students need to be comfortable with taking risks and pursuing out-of-the-box means of solving the problem. Also, students should be encouraged to take risks with what they even question in life. To prepare them for civic life where they must act as a responsible citizen, they must face situations where they question the status quo. Making the classroom a safe place to explore these responsible risks will prepare students for their future as a productive member of society.


Learning Continuously- Even once students have entered the workforce, their learning should never be finished. Students in elementary grades should be taught the importance of learning continuously and seeking out answers to life's questions. They must witness teachers who are constantly admitting to ignorance and participating in inquiry to gain the necessary awareness. Students need to know that once their formal schooling is over, a lifetime of learning lies before them. They needs to feel comfortable asking questions and seeking out answers in the world beyond the 4 walls of their classroom.

Dimension II: Applying Disciplinary Tools and Concepts

Dimension II of the C3 Framework can be accomplished through supporting the following Habits of Mind:


Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations- When looking into the disciplinary concepts taught in social studies classrooms, one can gather the multitude of learning experiences students can gain from them. When problems arise and students plan for inquiry, often the topics of geography, history, economics, and civics can provide students with key insight into the means to solving real-wold problems. Teachers must encourage students to ponder the connection between real-life problems and the connections to content previously learned in social studies, using knowledge of these concepts to seek out the necessary sources and evidence needed to solve the problem.


Responding with Wonderment and Awe- Often when students think about the content they learn in their social studies classrooms, they appear to be rather inquisitive and enamored. Especially with the topic of history, students seem gravitated toward asking "Why" when they consider social studies disciplinary concepts. Teachers must foster this wonderment and encourage them to question why something happened the way it did or why something is the way it is. By pursuing students to consider the concepts on a deeper level, teachers are allowing them to develop stronger inquiry skills that they will take with them into the world of college, work, and civic life.

Dimension III: Evaluating Sources and Gaining Evidence

Dimension III of the C3 Framework can be accomplished through supporting the following Habits of Mind:


Persisting- Students in all subjects, not just social studies, need to be encouraged to persist through a task or problem, until the task is completed or the problem is solved. In order to do so, students need to be willing to seek out multiple sources, collecting a great deal of evidence. Throughout the evidence-gathering process, students cannot give up or claim the problem has been solved before all angles have been analyzed.


Listening to Others- With Understanding and Empathy- While gathering evidence, students need to be taught to consider multiple different perspectives and take into account an individual's point of view on the problem. Students need to welcome evidence that even defies their own personal ideologies, because often, listening to others can bring new findings to light. Putting oneself in another's shoes can change the way students perceive a certain problem as well.


Thinking Flexibly- As addressed above, students benefit from considering sources that have offer multiple perspectives. Also, traditional sources (books, journal articles, pictures, etc.) may be a student's first thought, but by considering a myriad of other sources, the student could arrive at the solution from another way. Being willing to adjust an investigation process and form a new plan for inquiring could reap large benefits for a student in school and in adult life.


Gathering Data Through All Senses- Students are so inclined to seek out evidence and information using one main sense-seeing. However, students can gather so much from having all senses alert and making crucial observations in the world around us. When seeking solutions to problems and questions, students should be open to evidence conveyed across multiple mediums, activating all if our senses.


Thinking Interdependently- Much can be gathered from thinking cooperatively with others when performing inquiry. Students should be encouraged to work in groups to solve problems or seek out answers to their proposed questions, because the world's problems are best solved when multiple individuals' minds are employed.


Finding Humor- With the evaluation of sources comes the potential to find sources rooted in great biases. Students must learn to find humor in the fact that some sources are counterproductive to the greater good of society. Students need to recognize satire and its implication on seeking out sources. Lastly, students need to be instructed on where to not find humor: in violence, profanity, vulgarity, human differences, and ineptitude. In order to encourage students to surround themselves with effective sources of information, students must recognize appropriate and inappropriate sources of humor.

Dimension IV: Communicating Conclusions and Taking Informed Actions

Dimension IV of the C3 Framework can be accomplished through supporting the following Habits of Mind:


Managing Impulsivity- Often, students enter inquiry with certain biases and judgments. Therefore, teachers are responsible for training students to refrain from jumping to conclusions until sources and conclusions resulting from those sources have been critiqued. Students need to learn to reflect on conclusions before taking any informed action. In the real world, as a adults, students will be expected to have thought about consequences of their actions, so getting students in the mindset of managing their impulsivity will make them more informed and more productive members of higher education, the workplace, and civic life.


Striving for Accuracy and Precision- In adult life, students will be expected to complete their work in a way that is accurate and precise, reaching for the highest of standards. Therefore, students must be encouraged to practice this attention to detail in the classroom as well. When carrying out inquiry, students need to be taught to look at all aspects of the evidence they gather and critique every source with the utmost precision. From dedicating time to correctness and exactness, students will be prepared for the future where their decisions in school, work, and society will have great implications on the greater good. The only way to be sure that the proper decisions are made and actions are carried out is by instilling in their minds, from a young age, the importance of accuracy and precision.


Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision- Far to often, students resort to using ambiguous or vague language to convey their thoughts. Teachers need to encourage them to critique the conclusions that they find from inquiry, analyze what they are truly claiming and decide whether their conclusion is clear, appropriate, and accurate. Teachers should convey the importance to students of their claims being fully supported and easily understood, to prepare them for decision making in the future. If they spend time in class in elementary school considering conclusions and justifying their claims, they will be more inclined to think about their actions with scrutiny in adulthood. They will be able to easily justify why they are taking a certain civic action, if they are aware of why they are taking the action and sure that their reasoning is sound, upon communicating it.

About The Author

Hello, my name is Allyson Bowers and I am a M.A.T. Student at Frostburg State University, studying Elementary Education. I have a B.S. In Business Administration, from Stevenson University in Owings Mills, MD. I am currently a Student Teacher with Washington County Public Schools in Maryland, and I am anxiously awaiting my first year of teaching.