Museum Education, going beyond Common Core

For the last five years since their introduction, the discussion surrounding the Common Core State Standards has dominated the field of education. Much of the discussion about the Common Core in the news and around our dinner tables neglects the fact that the Common Core State Standards primarily cover English Language Arts and Math. While the Common Core contains standards for literacy and writing in Social Studies, there has to be more for Social Studies, and there is! The C3 Framework for Social Studies is an exciting new set of standards for Social Studies education, which is quietly being adopted nationwide by teachers, districts, and museums.  Let’s take a look at how the objectives of the C3 Framework can be achieved by museums and Fort Ticonderoga specifically.

First, we should start with an overview of the C3 Framework, including its title. C3 stands for College, Career, and Civic Life, the aspects of life that Social Studies education should be preparing our students for beyond the classroom. The C3 Framework is based on 4 dimensions: Developing Questions, Applying Disciplinary Concepts, Evaluating Sources, and Taking Informed Action. The C3 Framework highlights that Social Studies is an active process for students, where they learn by taking on the role of a historian. There are 4 key Disciplinary Themes in the C3 Framework: Civics, Economics, Geography, and History. To recap, the process of doing Social Studies begins with a question, and students use the different disciplinary tools and concepts to find and evaluate sources, and proceed towards finding an answer.

So how does this fit in at Fort Ticonderoga? Let’s look at some compelling questions students might ask, and where they will find answers (and more questions) at Fort Ticonderoga. To highlight the diversity of options here, we’ve picked questions for each of the four disciplines identified by the C3 Framework.

Civics- Why did the Continental Army preserve traditional army discipline and social status despite their avowed fight against tyranny? the 17th

Students can witness the musket and cannon demonstrations, and learn about the need for order in a well-trained military. Visiting the Tailors, they can see and feel the differences of material and labor that go into creating the clothing of enlisted soldiers and officers. They can also go to the camp kitchen and see how meals and rations vary based on rank. How did all of these aspects of military life help maintain order? Were they necessary?

Economics- What is the real cost of a pair of shoes?  Shaun shop

When you visit the shoemakers at Fort Ticonderoga, you can not only witness the shoes being made to outfit our interpretive staff, you can learn about the economy behind shoemaking. How long does it take to make a single pair of shoes? What different types of shoes were made? How much did shoes cost in the 18th century? How do they compare this to how much we pay for shoes today? Are our shoes more or less expensive today? You can learn much about the economy of a society based upon how they cover their feet.

Geography– What is the strategic importance of Fort Ticonderoga? Mount defiance (2)

From the walls of the fort, and the top of Mount Defiance, students can overlook Lake Champlain and imagine the land and water routes that armies have taken to Ticonderoga.  Taking a tour or boat cruise is a great way for students to explore the strategic landscape at Ticonderoga. Why did the different armies that occupied Ticonderoga choose to fortify different areas?

History- There are layers upon layers of historical questions for students to study at Fort Ticonderoga! Many of our students visit having first learned about Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold’s capture of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775. For these students, we might ask: Who actually captured Fort Ticonderoga? 1775 capture

Throughout our exhibits and programs, students can explore the orders Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen received in regards to Fort Ticonderoga. On our tours, they will receive insight into what really happened on that May morning in 1775. Was the value of Ticonderoga strategic? Was it symbolic? How did America’s First Victory impact the decisions and actions of the Continental Congress?

These are just some of the many ways that a visit to Ticonderoga dovetails neatly with the ongoing shift in Social Studies Education! Check out our Education Resources Page for more ideas and lesson plans you can use at Fort Ticonderoga, and in classrooms.

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