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Common Core. Uncommon Challenge. Learning Outcomes. Examine and evaluate how informational text/nonfiction should be incorporated into your common core classroom and library.

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Common Core

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Common core

Common Core


Learning outcomes

Learning Outcomes

  • Examine and evaluate how informational text/nonfiction should be incorporated into your common core classroom and library.

  • Identify what quality information text/nonfiction offers to provide instruction that is useful for text complexity.

Learning outcomes1

Learning Outcomes

  • Learn to how prepare for the reading of nonfiction which provides background and baseline information on a specific topic to enhance the student’s reading experience.

  • Design a web-based cluster resource bank of informational text/nonfiction that can be used to instruct students in text structures such as point of view, compare and contrast, chronological order etc…

Who am i

Who Am I

And why am I here?

Dr marc aronson

Dr. Marc Aronson

  • I live and breathe Common Core

  • As a professor, author, consultant, columnist

Common core


  • Doctorate in History

  • First Sibert medal winner

  • Visible advocate for boys, reading, nonfiction


  • Professor in MLIS program at Rutgers U.

  • The road to the CC passes through nonfiction

Common core


  • Before we go into the specifics of what CC is and how it works, a pause for the cynics

Dear cynics

Dear Cynics

If you are thinking

If you are thinking

  • Been there, done that

  • Educational fads come and go

  • This too shall pass

  • Remember NCLB

  • CC has nothing to do with what I teach

  • Hum a few bars and I’ll fake it

You are twice wrong

You are twice wrong

  • Common Core matters to you, to you in particular, in two crucial ways

Common core


  • CC is the necessary next step in the evolution of K-12 education – it brings schools a step closer to the rest of the world where

  • Databases, assessments, metrics – sophisticated and drilled down, as well as broad and trend-mapping – govern our lives

The reality

The Reality

  • K-12 education is about learning, as measured by benchmarks, leading to the acquisition of certain skills

  • K-12 education has been governed by erratic local standards

  • This will not continue

No matter how much

No Matter How Much

  • We tinker with CC, this is the road ahead for education for as far as anyone can see

  • You get on the road, or you stop driving

Standards do not mean standardization

Standards Do Not Mean Standardization

The fact that we define skills young people in 46 states need to acquire does not mean every school and library in those states must get there the same way.

Standards do mean

Standards Do Mean

Change is coming

Change is here

Where are you?

Common core


  • CC is the one chance for the school librarian to step forward and make herself the heart of the school, the go-to resource for teachers, students, administrators

  • CC is the ideal opportunity for team teaching, for Social Studies, art, music, science, math, ELA to work together

Common core


  • You can only step into that role if you understand what CC asks of you, and if you build teams with fellow teachers, curriculum supervisors, librarians, and administrators

  • The opportunity is here now – take it

In a word

In a word

  • The Third “C” in “Common Core” is


  • The librarian must be the hub of the school wheel; teachers must work together

  • You can, if you have the tools, and the vocabulary, to meet the CC challenge

And now on to our story

And now on to our story

What is the common core

What Is the Common Core?

  • ELA CC – our focus today

  • Math CC – in place

  • Science, Social Studies – to come

    (Draft NYS CC K-8 SS Framework – 9/13/12)

  • Assessments – to come

    (but we have a good sense of what they will be)

The key to everything

The Key to Everything

  • ELA standards are for reading, not content

  • Everything we are going to talk about today is in the ELA world

  • But reading undergirds everything else

  • And reading is what you have to offer

  • But reading does NOT mean simply decoding text

Cc turns reading inside out

CC Turns Reading Inside Out

  • Reading becomes active, not passive

  • Reading is questioning, not absorbing

  • Readers ask how we know, rather than reciting what others claim they know

  • We want students to see the teachers, the library, the school as the real Web – a place bursting with questions, ideas, knowledge, challenge – you are the search team asking questions and finding answers together

Ela standards adopted by

ELA Standards Adopted by

  • All states except

  • Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, Virginia

  • Minnesota adopted ELA but not Math

  • Texas is developing own ELA standards on same principles as CC, but not as part of national initiative

What could possibly get 46 states to agree on anything

What Could Possibly Get 46 States to Agree On Anything?

  • Crisis 1: students who graduate HS not ready for college or work

  • Crisis 2: state assessments so different that Mississippi HS grad was at the level of Massachusetts 8th grader

  • Crisis 3: localism of teaching did not match population on the move

  • Crisis 4: post HS work depends on mastery of many kinds of media

Crisis one

Crisis One

  • One third of students arriving in college so behind need remediation

  • Students extend college stay past 6 years or drop out, saddled with debt

  • Students not trained in the skills which available jobs require

  • In other words, K-12 education is not doing its basic job







Yes, but

Common core


  • When the pathway to reading runs almost entirely through fiction, students do not learn how to read a nonfiction book until they hit textbooks in 4th grade – thus “4th grade slump”

Common core

  • Texts aimed at K-12 increasingly easy, while texts students need to read after HS increasingly complex

  • We don’t build the “reading stamina” that students need

Common core

  • K-12 reading focused on fiction and personal response (“I feel,” “I relate to”) when college and work require analysis of what text says, how it says it, and the evidence it uses

  • How you read shapes how you will write

As the man responsible for the cc said

As the man responsible for the CC said

  • When you have a job, no one asks you to write about what you feel about a problem, instead they want your analysis of the issue and your proposal for what to do about it.

Cc shifts

CC Shifts

  • From fiction focus to nonfiction

  • From subjective response to objective analysis

  • From write to persuade (feeling) to write to make a case (argument)

  • From nonfiction as bland to nonfiction as having a point of view

The dominance of nonfiction

The dominance of nonfiction

“Narrative” and “Informational” texts are to be:

  • 50% of all reading in Elementary School

  • 55% of all reading in Middle School

  • 70% of all reading in High School

  • This is across all subjects from Language Arts to Social Studies and Science



  • It is IMPOSSIBLE to reach those percentages unless teachers and librarians are in contact.

  • How can you measure reading across a grade unless you share reading lists and coordinate assignments?

Point of view pov

Point of View - POV

  • Textbooks and traditional K-12 nonfiction aims to be “objective”

  • CC says show evidence, show sources, yes, but all NF has an approach, an aim, a style, an agenda.

  • Students must learn to compare and contrast in texts – just as they must on the net

  • NF can have voice, texture, passion, and can engage the senses

Responses to crisis one pre k and elementary

Responses to Crisis One: Pre-K and Elementary

  • Pre-K to elementary students need to learn elements and structures of nonfiction books – a carnival of shelf talkers

  • The library should be bursting with text and text features calling out for attention

  • Increasing text complexity

  • What does text complexity mean?

A fresh perspective

A Fresh Perspective

Sue Bartle

Where to find everything?

Links and Handouts

Password is sls

Thanks to – Carolyn Walker  Jordan Central School, West Jordan, UT for use of the Information Text Feature handout.

Common core

“Sometimes it is hardest to see the things that are right before your eyes.”

Common core

“What is right in front of my eyes that I am missing?”

--Dr Lee Berger

Weaving it all together three strands

Weaving It All Together Three Strands

Strand one core out your collection

Strand OneCore Out Your Collection

Where do you start?

It is easy just look

It is easy just look!

You need support

You need support!

Weeding Buddy!

Weeding Buddy!

Weeding Buddy!

Say, It Three Times and


Strand two exemplar b why

Strand TwoExemplar B - Why?

What Qualities do these books have?

English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects

Appendix B: Text Exemplars and Sample Performance Tasks

Page Two - Simple Brief

Signal Words: Complexity, Quality, and Range

Brief – Good and Bad Why?

Better b list

Better “B” List

An Open Invitation

Strand three shelftalking

Strand ThreeShelftalking

Good for libraries – Great for Everyone!

Scholastic talkers-your-library

“Pick Me” Shelf Talkers






How does this book become a book?

  • Front to Back

  • Back to Front

  • Features – Informational Text Features



  • Features

  • Read Online and Offline

  • Access 24/7

Common core

"Bad libraries build collections; good libraries build services (after all a collection is only one type of service);great libraries build communities."from Dr. David Lankes, June 12, 2012

Text complexity

Text Complexity

  • Not just a matter of Lexile or other metric

  • Hemingway is not for third graders

  • Dinosaur names do not require advanced skills

  • Crossing point of difficulty in decoding and richness of expression and thought.

  • Text that asks more of the reader and offers more in return.

  • Reading challenge as sport

But what if my students read below grade

But What If My Students Read Below Grade?

  • Engagement – Sports/Florida: Bills/Jets, Sediba/Science, music:, game instructions

  • When a students wants to learn, complexity is not a hindrance, POV comes naturally when students care

  • Debate is your friend – so long as it runs on evidence and argument, not emotion

Cc considerations in nf elements

CC Considerations in NF Elements

  • Feature NF text elements:

  • Title, subtitle, TOC, running head, section head, caption, sidebar, glossary, index, sources, bibliography, author bio, author note, expert or consultant named

  • Art and text interaction: caption, placement



  • Visual literacy is literacy – how to read a photograph, a painting, a sculpture

  • Media literacy is literacy – how to read an advertisement, a sound bite, a news report

  • Audio literacy is literacy – how does sound shape experience?

  • Scientific literacy is literacy – how do we know what we know?

  • Numeracy is literacy

Students need all of these

Students need all of these

  • They need to be able to “read” across many kinds of sources, compare them, contrast them, evaluate them, and create within them

  • That is true to being alive in 2012, and it makes everything about learning come alive.

Disciplinary literacy

Disciplinary Literacy

  • Materials that introduce students to the language of disciplines and professions – not just terms (scientific, artistic, technical, medical, legal) but modes of argument: cause and effect, compare and contrast, statistics, graphs, interpretation of visual evidence.

  • Key term is “disciplinary literacy” – how to think like a historian, doctor, scientist, banker, artist, programmer…

Common core

  • Materials that show students how authors use evidence to build arguments

  • What is a contention, an argument, in science, in history, in art, in technology?

  • Examples?

Students must distinguish

Students Must Distinguish

  • Main Point and Subsidiary Points

  • What Is This Piece (book, magazine, image, video, website) saying?

  • How does it say it?

  • How do these two pieces discuss the same issue in different ways?

Common core

  • Materials that make point of view in nonfiction evident rather than disguised, but allow readers to find dissenting views and counter evidence

  • I will return to this

Crises two and three

Crises Two and Three

  • Grid of national expectations will make it easier for students/families to move; teachers to compare experiences and share best practices; colleges and companies to evaluate students from different states

  • Best practices – Anaheim example

Crisis four

Crisis Four

  • CC stresses using mixture of research sources – print, online, database, broadcast, audio – and both primary and secondary sources

  • Out of these best practice exchanges we will make a better CC – so long as we are all engaged and sharing ideas

2012 and beyond

2012 and beyond

  • ELA CC standards released in 2010, are being put in place now.

  • CC assessments start in 2013 in NY, to be in place in all by 2014

  • Assessments being developed by two distinct groups but can be sure focus will be on

Common core

Exactly what CC emphasizes:

  • Nonfiction

  • Evidence

  • Argument

  • Point of View

Want a sneak peek

Want a Sneak Peek?


  • All of the questions require close reading of text to determine what it does and does not say

  • Train student to see what is there in the text, not what s/he feels about the text

3 rd grade cc ela

3rd Grade CC ELA

  • Question on Soil and sample questions

  • Note: involves reading images and text, and nonfiction description that involves the senses as well as ideas.

  • Student reads to pay close attention to what text and image say,howthey say it, and reasoning employed

4 th grade cc ela

4th Grade CC ELA

  • Question on Evergreen Trees

  • Note: comparing two approaches to same subject – here myth and science

  • Student is not looking for which is right or wrong, but for how each does what it does

  • Student needs to begin to see the rules and expectations of different kinds of writing



  • CC is the land of compare and contrast

  • CC is the land of POV

  • CC is the land of juxtaposed sources rather than homogenized textbooks

  • The more chances you give students to see different “takes” in print, online, broadcast, etc. the better they will do on these tests

We are surrounded with opinion

We are surrounded with opinion

  • Op-eds

  • Sports talk radio

  • Political cartoons

  • Campaign ads

  • Commercial ads

  • Reality contest shows

  • Feature these, engage students, have them research, post, argue, listen, compare, judge

5 th grade cc ela

5th Grade CC ELA

  • Question on Black Beauty and The Secret Garden

  • Note: Examples ask students to recognize a “perspective” within a story and then apply that angle of vision to see human behavior in new ways



  • CC Builds

  • Evidence in text in 3rd grade becomes comparison of fact and myth in 4th grade and recognition of perspective within a story in 5th grade

  • The more you provide linked resources that grow in complexity and challenge – almost a computer game “level up” model – the better students will do on these tests



  • CC focuses on argument and evidence in writing, not emotional persuasion

  • The more chances students have to read effective arguments/contentions and learn how the author build the case, and then to apply those understandings in their own research reports, the better they will do on these tests.



  • By 7th grade CC asks students to use many kinds of evidence and to learn how to compare, contrast, and assimilate information that comes from distinct media sources

  • The more resources you provide for students to search across media to find meaningful information the better they will do on these tests

8 th grade cc ela

8th Grade CC ELA

  • Question California Folk Music Project

  • Note that students will need to find their way through academic text and find keyelements in it



  • CC stresses increasing text complexity from grade to grade, with scaffolding where needed, but with the aim of building student skill and confidence with even difficult material

  • The more resources you provide that give students experience with increasingly challenging texts, the better they will do on these tests.

Your challenge your opportunity

Your challenge Your opportunity

  • Many in the school do not know nonfiction books outside of textbooks

  • May not like nonfiction

  • May not expect their kids to like them (which can be a misreading of especially boys and their interest in everything from facts and records to disasters, battles, and cars)

Cc elements in nf content

CC Elements in NF Content

  • Feature NF engagement

  • High interest subjects, knowledge as pleasure, invites readerto want to know, learn more!

The checklist

The Checklist

Develop a crosswalk:

✓What were last year’s standards?

✓What does CC expect?

✓Where are the gaps?

Bringing it all home

Bringing It All Home

  • CC is a wonderful opportunity to link teachers and librarians, to engage students, and to see books and other resources in new ways.

  • Begin by knowing your way around the books yourself



  • Orbis Pictus

  • NCSS-CBC Notables

  • NSTA-CBC Notables

  • Sibert Award

  • YALSA-NF Award

  • “Consider the Source” – MA column in SLJ


Change is here

Change Is Here

Embrace it

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