Monday, November 19, 2012

Thinking about reading and writing - shifts under the Common Core

I've been very interested in learning more about the Common Core and how it will affect teaching and learning. As I learn, I keep thinking about how school librarians can be effective teaching partners as educators try to shift their instructional strategies to meet these new standards.

Tonight I listened to a webinar presented by Robert Rosenfeld and Liz Jameyson called "An Introduction to Reading and Writing, Common Core Style!" presented through WestEd's Schools Moving Up program.

I found this slide very interesting, because it helps me summarize how I am trying to shift my teaching in day to day sharing of resources with teachers and children. For more of the slides and presentations, I highly recommend watching the whole webinar.

As an elementary school librarian, I am consciously bringing nonfiction reading to the forefront, sharing engaging nonfiction that students might be interested in reading for their pleasure reading. I feel we need to both teach specific strategies for reading nonfiction AND encourage pleasure reading of nonfiction for our elementary students. They need more experience reading a wide range of nonfiction before they are thrust into the "read to learn" environment of middle school history/science academic (textbook) reading.

I also strongly believe that elementary school librarians have a vital role in helping students discover reading materials that help them advance up this "staircase of complexity." We need to give students wide range to choose materials that are interesting to them, but we also need to help them discover materials that are just that little bit harder for themselves. It's a tricky balance - you want to encourage kids to read lots of books that are at their comfort level, but you also want to challenge them to grow and develop. Should a library be "leveled"? Absolutely not, in my opinion. But I do think we have a role in supporting our teachers and students in discovering books at different levels.

Finally, I have paid special attention to prompting text-based discussion during library time. As I read picture books, I point out ways children are noticing specific details in the text or illustrations to draw conclusions, make inferences and make connections. Kids love sharing about their own lives and this is important. But I think we need to give them practice in making specific text-based answers to prepare them for the more analytical reading and writing they will be asked to do in middle school.

Rosenfeld and Jameyson specifically focus on Shift 4 and Shift 5, focusing on this challenge to have students focus on using evidence to draw conclusions from their reading and develop their writing. They apply this technique to start diving into the details of the standards.

Rosenfeld, R. and Jameyson, L. (2012). PDF of presentation, "An Introduction to Reading and Writing, Common Core Style!" Retrieved from

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