Nudging toward Inquiry
School Library Monthly/Volume XXVIII, Number 1/September-October 2011
Common Core Standards
compiled by Kristin Fontichiaro
Kristin Fontichiaro is a clinical assistant professor and coordinator of the school library media program at the University of Michigan School of Information. Join in future “Nudging” conversations on the SLM blog (http://blog.schoollibrarymonthly.com).
This year’s reader recommendations for deepening instruction begin with examining the librarian's role in the Common Core Standards. As of July 2011, all but seven of the fifty U.S. states have adopted the Common Core State Standards Initiative (corestandards.org), a list of curriculum objectives that will roll out in earnest in the 2011-2012 school year. Educators in all states will undoubtedly feel the impact as professional publications and organizations align their work to the standards adopted by the majority.
It is important to acknowledge three misconceptions about the Common Core Standards. First, they are not a "national curriculum:" each participating state must agree to adopt a minimum of 85% of the standards; the remaining 15% may be developed at the state level.
Secondly, the Common Core Standards are not an initiative designed, funded, or administered by the U.S. Department of Education; rather, they are an initiative of the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (http://corestandards.org/frequently-asked-questions). Finally, be careful to differentiate between the Common Core Standards (http://www.corestandards.org) and the independent organization known as Common Core (commoncore.org), which offers its own K-12 curriculum that may or may not be compatible with local adoption practices.
The Common Core Standards discuss the "what" of curriculum: what students should know and be able to do, but it does not mandate the how or by whom. Teachers and districts can design lessons and pedagogical strategies to address the standards, and the standards are not necessarily assigned to any single teacher. This gives school librarians a marvelous opportunity. In an April 2011 presentation to the Iowa Association of School Librarians, Rita Martens of the Iowa Department of Education identified five key areas in which librarians can support the implementation of Common Core Standards:
- Creating sound persuasive arguments with evidence
- Reading comprehension strategies
- Effectively using primary and secondary sources
- Reading and analyzing complex texts
- Reading and comprehending informational text in all content areas
Bernita's principal relies on her to be up-to-date on curricular trends both inside and outside the library. Her principal would like to talk about her plans to support the Common Core Standards throughout the building. Bernita thinks that Common Core might resonate with AASL’s Learning4Life initiative, and she would like to use the Common Core roll-out to refocus attention on the role of the library and the librarian’s instructional role in raising the bar of student achievement. What advice can you give her so that both she and her principal are ready to go?
Gathered via the SLM Blog (http://blog.schoollibrarymonthly.com)
Look to the AASL Common Core Crosswalk
Bernita's instinct to look to AASL's Learning4Life is a good one, but she should take a look at AASL's new Common Core Crosswalk, which is much more specific (http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/aasl/guidelinesandstandards/commoncorecrosswalk/index.cfm).
The Crosswalk is twofold. First, it charts out AASL learning standards in Language Arts, History, Science & Technology, and Writing and and pairs them with all applicable Common Core skill activities. For example, Common Core provides many opportunities for students to find, evaluate, and select appropriate sources to answer questions (AASL 1.1.4). Charted examples list activities such as integrating knowledge and ideas using visual, print, and digital sources and taking notes or summarizing (CC.3.R.I.7, CC.4.R.I.7).
The second component of the Crosswalk charts the Common Core Standards by grade level and looks for information skill components where they exist. A library media specialist can readily see where the opportunities are to offer curriculum support. For example, third graders, working on determining craft and structure of text and its point of view (CC.3.R.I.4), can develop this skill by looking at diverse sources that provide conflicting point of view or bias (AASL 1.1.7).
Library media specialists must be aware that Common Core will change our focus from literature appreciation to building information skills. Experience and training in reading in the content area will be especially helpful. Overall, this could be a job saver to our profession in being vital contributors in the school curriculum!
- American Association of School Librarians. Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. American Library Association, 2007. (Downloadable for free at: http://www.ala.org/aasl/standards).
Follow the Leader!
Mary Ratzer is an amazing source person to ask anything you want to know about the core and school libraries impact. View her resources (http://standardsbasedvision.wikispaces.com).
—Suzanne Shearman; Barclay School; Brockport, NY
Joyce Karon, an alumna of National Louis University, former school librarian, and member of the Illinois State Board of Education, provides a context for the development of Common Core Standards, as well as the active role librarians can play in implementing Common Core in a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQ94-4eDEiY). (See 'Common Core and School Librarians: An Interview with Joyce Karon,' pages 8-10 in the September-October 2011 issue of SLM.)
—Gail Bush; National Louis University; Skokie, IL
Ask: Where Do I Fit into the Common Core State Standards?
As with any new educational initiative adopted by the State of Alabama, I started the search for my place within the Common Core structure by engaging in basic fact-finding reading and research. I had questions I needed answered before I would be ready to start thinking about implementation of the standards in my school library:
- What are the Common Core State Standards? What organizations are behind their development? How do the creators envision that the standards will function in educational practice and eventually accomplish after implementation?
- What does "everyone" (educational theorists, visionaries, and practitioners) think about the standards? What are the salient issues of the standards and are these issues potential areas of contention among educations?
- What do the members of the school library profession think of the standards? What do fellow school librarians see as our role in implementation?
- Do alignments or correlations of the Common Core State Standards to any other standards that I use exist?
- What resources are available to share with my library and technology PLN as well as my extended educator PLN?
- Is there any Alabama-specific information available?
- How can I disseminate the information to my PLNs?
I answered the final question first by utilizing a favorite bookmarking/digital portfolio tool: LiveBinders. This web-based tool functions as a three-ring binder, allowing users to collect and organize links and media quickly and easily. Moreover and most importantly, followers of your web-based binder will have instant access to your updates. My "School Librarians and the Common Core State Standards: Resources LiveBinder" is located at http://livebinders.com/edit?id=84777.
As you click into the binder, the tabs across the top correspond to the questions as I asked them:
- CC Introduction
- CC Opinions and Questions
- Librarians and Common Core
- AASL Common Core Crosswalk
- Resources for Librarians
Each tab contains a collection of sub-tabs with curated links that are by no means exhaustive. I tried to select resources that provided direct information, provoked thought, or might prove valuable for implementation. I avoided resources that rehashed information. I am constantly updating the binder and will gladly welcome the submission of any pertinent links for possible inclusion. You can send links to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Carolyn Jo Starkey; Buckhorn High School; New Market, AL
It's About Relationships
At my school, I have a terrific rapport with teachers and collaborate with all grade levels. Our third grade team invited me to their two July planning sessions because they want me on board with their classroom instruction. Over the summer, I attended a Science Institute with the fifth and sixth grade science teachers from my school. Our weeklong experience taught us plenty and built stronger rapport between the library and classroom. My LMS colleagues and I have been discussing how we can contribute, how important research will be in our elementary libraries, and how we can more fully integrate technology. I asked for and hope to receive three more computers in my library, which will give me an unprecedented fourteen computers in the library for student research lessons. Teachers and I are planning mini research activities that will build upon one another so that students have more chances to learn how to choose topics, locate and use information, and produce final products to share their work.
I am preparing carefully to partner with my teachers and increase our students' skills. Common Core will dominate our instruction for some time to come, and I know the library can contribute.
—Lisa Hunt; Apple Creek Elementary; Moore, OK
Staff developers at Michigan's Kent Intermediate School spent much of 2010-2011 gathering resources and leading intensive professional development sessions for teachers. Their materials are posted (http://bit.ly/kent-isd-common-core).
Follow the SLM blog for ongoing resources about Common Core implementation.
Join Kristin Fontichiaro for a Booklist Webinar about Common Core Standards and the school librarian on October 11, 2011. Check http://booklistonline.com or the SLM blog for details.