One person I’ve gotten to know well and admire this year is Dr. Myra Zarnowski, Professor of Children’s Literature at Queens College School of Education, part of the City University of NY.
Myra, Can you explain, in a nutshell, what the Common Core Standards are about and how they will change the educational culture in this country?
The stated goal of the CCSS is to prepare students to be college and career ready. To get the skills they need, students in every grade will be spending more time reading nonfiction literature and thoughtfully responding to it—50% of all reading in elementary school and 70% in high school. That’s the exciting part. Nonfiction is going to be central to much of what we do. Teachers at all levels will be using more nonfiction, and they will be using it to study selected topics in depth. It is our green light to dig deeply into topics in math, science, and history. We’ll be doing some close reading--comparing, integrating, synthesizing, and evaluating books and related materials. We’ll be looking at the craft of writing as well as the content. Above all, we’ll be supporting students as they develop their own evidence-based ideas.
What are some of the problems teachers articulate about using children’s nonfiction in the classroom?
The biggest problem teachers talk about is that they don’t know nonfiction books. As they strive to provide a better balance between fiction and nonfiction in their classes, teachers will be on the lookout for quality nonfiction. That means that we all have to do our part to help teachers find the books they need. The curriculum isn’t going away. Teachers will still be teaching math, science, and social studies. So what they need is a means of finding nonfiction literature that can enhance what they are already doing. They also need to understand the wide range Display Comments Add a Comment