The elementary Social Studies program is grounded in three educational tenets: (1) students learn in many ways, (2) learning occurs in tolerant, collaborative classroom environments, and (3) units of study and their lessons need to incorporate what students already know and can do to extend to more complex understandings. Mastery of state standards develops through dynamic interactive lessons that always involve connecting social studies concepts, past and present, to students' lives.
Three key sources inform the elementary Social Studies program; (1) The Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations, (2) the C3 Framework for College, Career and Civic Life for Social Studies State Standards (C3 Framework), and (3) Social Studies Alive! with supplemental resources for the study of the state of Michigan. The Michigan GLCEs define what the state expects students to know and be able to do in Social Studies at the end of each grade level. Social Studies Alive! is the core learning resource used throughout the Ann Arbor Public Schools elementary grades. Supplemental materials have been created for the third grade study of the state of Michigan.
The C3 Framework is a companion to the state Social Studies GLCEs and offers a vision for social studies for the 21st century classroom. The C3 Framework stresses disciplinary integrity - the idea that inquiry driven by the tools, concepts, and habits of mind in civics, economics, geography, and history play a critical shared role in developing young people’s understanding of the world around them. The C3 Framework emphasizes civic action as a fundamental outcome of meaningful social studies experience. The C3 Framework views taking informed action as an essential skill that should be practiced by all social studies students in a vibrant democracy.