Chewing at the Common Core


On AASL’s Facebook page today is a November 30 Publisher’s Weekly interview with Susan Ballard, AASL President, and Gillian Engberg, Editorial Director of Books for Youth at Booklist.

In the interview, entitled “Core Values: ALA Preview 2012,” Ballard and Engberg describe the opportunities that the Common Core State Standards bring to librarians, and suggest that a renaissance may be on the horizon for librarians and library programs that are ready to become the heart of Common Core implementation for their schools and communities.  According to Ballard, people in education are starting to realize that -

“You know what? The people who can help make Common Core work are the librarians, because they’re familiar with all areas of the curriculum, and they know the universe of resources and make the connections.”

And the opportunities for building library connections to the Common Core don’t end in the school library.  As Engberg explains, public librarians can help inform parents about the new standards, and support students and their families with digital resources and services in after-school hours.

From the materials side of the Common Core conversation, the interview tackles the “Appendix B” topic- the “Text Exemplars and Sample Performance Tasks” of the standards, which some librarians and teachers have criticized for its lack of currency and limited range of titles.  Susan Ballard also notes that a new Common Core taskforce is being developed within AASL, possibly to launch at ALA Midwinter in January.

Appendix B does include the disclaimer that the titles “expressly do not represent a partial or complete reading list” – but when I’ve been in rooms with librarians and this document, the questions and critique of the list still create some energetic conversation.  What are your thoughts on Appendix B?  A good starting point?  Tried and true?  Or just tired?  Let us know in the comments!

–Rebecca Morris

Image: apple core by qmnonic, on Flickr. Used with a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.


2 Responses to “Chewing at the Common Core”

  1. Appendix B: ‘Just the tip of the iceberg’ is what a call it in our school (every opportunity I get!); the more our school communities hear that message, the more open we are to other possibilities. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a ‘Best Books of 20.. for the Common Core–like our ‘Best Websites for Teaching and Learning.’

  2. Rebecca Morris says:

    Yes, Linda – you’re right on both accounts! The “tip of the iceberg” is a fitting reference for this list of texts, selections, and performance tasks. I think, too, that the performance tasks represent strategies that can easily be applied across contexts and books. To mix metaphors even further, this conversation lends well to my “Rachael Ray” approach to teaching and instructional design. I’m a fan of cooking shows, and I appreciate when the host emphasizes a technique as a method to try with different combinations of ingredients. So for example, take these prompts from page 36 of Appendix B:

    - Students locate key facts or information in Claire Llewellyn’s Earthworms by using various text features (headings, table of contents, glossary) found in the text. [RI.1.5]
    - Students ask and answer questions about animals (e.g., hyena, alligator, platypus, scorpion) they encounter in Steve Jenkins and Robin Page’s What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? [RI.K.4]
    - Students use the illustrations along with textual details in Wendy Pfeffer’s From Seed to Pumpkin to describe the key idea of how a pumpkin grows. [RI.1.7]

    Librarians and teachers can certainly practice these strategies with different books and skills, and in fact, they probably already do. Now they can document the alignment to the CCSS. Your thoughts on a “Best of – for the Common Core” is a great suggestion. Thank you for reading and for your comments!

Leave a Reply