Monday, July 16, 2012

Common sense & the Common Core

I spent much of last week at a curriculum alignment summit, mapping Language Arts resources in our state's lesson plan database to Alabama's College and Career-Ready Standards (built on top of the Common Core), when I read Melissa Jacobs Israel's piece in School Library Journal. It is an excellent discussion of what it is behind this much-ballyhooed change in English Language Arts standards and what we must hope to construct with what we have been given.

Because of the publisher's rhetoric about the increased demand for nonfiction, I too had previously thought of the Common Core in terms of the text exemplars. After all, I didn't want to be caught out without the appropriate resources to support instruction in my building. But as I spent time looking at the standards last week, it quickly became apparent that the objectives could be met using existing texts and even lessons. I think most of the Common Core involves teachers structuring assignments and asking probing questions to get students to stretch and to articulate their thinking. And by the end of the summit, pretty much every text was looking informational -- the suggested proficiencies for informational text overlapping nicely with those for literature. And anyone who ever read Amy Pattee's article "The Secret Source" will know that one reader's literature is another's informational text.

I like this Common
I do think there are things for school librarians to get excited about with the adoption of the Common Core. But it's not the new resources. It's opportunities for collaboration on the suggested range of research projects, small and large, a mandate to evaluate resources, use appropriate citation styles, integrate a range of types of text, and present work through multimedia and authentically produced products.

And, in other thoughts on the Common Core, I agree with Teri Lesene about "close reading really not being the same as re-engaging with the text." After all, it's a marked luxury when we, the people of the book, are given the opportunity to really practice deep reading.

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