How?Posted: October 23, 2012
How can school librarians support the implementation of the Common Core State Standards? How should we view our role? How do we get started?
Rebecca Hill, in the April 2012 issue of School Library Journal offers solid advice—“It’s the perfect time to step up (our) involvement as text and inquiry specialists….if (we)are not already on a literacy or curriculum-mapping committee…it’s crucial to become a participant.” I am lucky in that I am participating in both, one at the district level and one newly formed committee at my school.
In the September 11, 2012 online issue of Education Week, Catherine Gewertz paints librarians as being “thrust…into (a) leadership role…help(ing) teachers acquire inquiry-based skills integral to standards.”
So let’s take the bull by the horns and get started!
With the new emphasis on informational texts, think of how our libraries can provide enriched resources to teachers looking to go beyond the textbook. Let’s look at our collections with a critical eye. Are they current? Are they of high quality? Do we offer a wide range of reading and comprehension levels? Are we looking at e-books and interactive books as well as other media to support this new shift?
As information literacy gurus, we can partner with teachers as they design lessons and units to teach research strategies. I am lucky to work in a building where collaboration runs rampant! Sometimes all it takes is a quick conversation in the faculty lunchroom and we are off and running. More often, it requires meeting during planning periods or before and after school. Whenever and whatever it takes, it is worth it.
Imagine the excitement of third graders as they design their own research questions, building on their interest in Native American cultures gained on a field trip to a nearby museum. This project meets the third grade writing standard-“Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.” The students brainstormed “thin” and “thick” questions and used their understanding of nonfiction conventions such as the table of contents, index, photographs, and captions to locate information.
Or, the fourth graders who discover the important contributions of the presidents they are researching for the Presidential Hall of Fame to be displayed on Election Day. Students used a variety of resources (both print and online) to determine the important role their president played in the history of our country.
Both of these projects were initiated by teachers but enhanced by what I could bring to the table—a knowledge of the resources and how best to use them.
So, what do we need to do to remain a part of this conversation?
- Learn the standards. No need to memorize, but get a sense of what they entail, how they progress from grade to grade, what is emphasized and what may no longer be as important.
- Talk to teachers. Yes, this is nothing new, but listen for opportunities to support the Common Core in the classroom.
- Design library lessons that support the Core. You are probably already doing this. A tweak here and there and you will find that you have been teaching to the Core all along.
- Become familiar and comfortable with any subscription databases or research sites you have available and then use them with students and demonstrate them for teachers. Online literacy is definitely a 21st century skill!
- Stay current in the literature. Read my blog. Read lots of blogs.
- And as always, drink plenty of water and get sufficient sleep (just wanted to see if you were still reading!)