It has been a year since my last post Do We Always Have to March on Washington and wow, time has flown. The C3 has really taken root in DCPS and in future posts I will share these exciting transformations.
Since the election, there has been a lot of coverage of various protests by adults and students alike over the importance of civil rights and social justice. When DCPS students used twitter to organize a march and took to the streets in protest, it made national news. It was exciting to read one of our high school principals citing the DCPS social studies vision as impetus for supporting the intent of the students stating, “Wilson Social Studies teachers, and many other teachers, empower students to be inquisitive, informed, and engaged citizens who use critical thinking, inquiry and literacy to prepare for college, careers, and civic life.”
Indeed, our social studies vision is what we believe the C3 framework intends for all of our young citizens and the informed action many of our students took on November 15th is an exquisite example of Dimension 4 of the C3. The irony is not lost that a full year after explaining that not all action involves marching on Washington, our students did just that, and it was the right thing to do.
What has me excited today is the story of the other side of taking informed action, the “not so easily captured” impact of what it means to be an informed citizen. One structure we have in place to support the C3 framework and inquiry in DCPS is through our BLISS fellowship. Last spring through a rigorous application process we chose 18 teachers to engage in an intense summer institute centered around Building Literacy and Inquiry in Social Studies (BLISS). The teachers were immersed in professional development around the five instructional shifts of the C3 framework and then applied their new expertise to the writing of our Cornerstone curriculum. Throughout the school year the BLISS Fellows serve as leaders of their grade-level cohorts as we roll out the new curriculum.
In communicating with his cohort right after the election, one of our BLISS fellows and 8th grade U.S. History cohort leader, sent the message below.
I hope you are all well. I think I can say, without any caveat, that the past few weeks have been difficult. I have done my best for my students, helping them where I can to learn from, and cope with, what has been a tumultuous period in their young lives. I know you have done the same. If one ever needed a concrete example of how history can repeat itself, the events of the past month illustrate this beautifully.
There is however, always a silver lining. In my classroom, this silver lining came in the form of an intense discussion (unprompted by me) around protest. On Tuesday of last week, when some students had organized a noontime school walk out and protest at the Trump hotel I walked into my third period class to find six students arguing over whether or not to leave school and join said protest. As I turned the corner to my room, I heard a distinct voice telling her peers who were preparing to leave, “you can’t just protest without knowing anything about how things work. You need to sit down and learn a little bit about our government before you go out there.”
As I strode in, I saw the same students take off their jackets, sit down, and get their supplies ready for class. While I will never be one to help facilitate the suppression of a good protest, the idea that another student would tell a group of peers that they needed to educate themselves before acting (i.e taking action vs. taking informed action), and that they would listen, helped me to see how this silver lining could mature and blossom.
Since the election there has been intense interest from all of my students in the way our government works (starting with the Electoral College). I would imagine many of you have had the same experience. The work we have been doing in the We The People… cornerstone has been a great backdrop for helping to harness this explosion of intellectual energy.
I write this message to encourage you to harness this interest, to mold it, and to help them to never let go of it. This is my silver lining – and I hope it is yours(1).
In my role I am always seeking to capture how the instructional shifts of the C3 have taken root in our teachers’ practices and students learning. Indeed, this email and example from one of our teacher leaders is my silver lining. And that is one way we do C3 in DC.
(1) Peter Ramsey is a social studies teacher at Cardozo Education Campus in Washington, DC. He teaches 7th, 8th, and 11th grade social studies.