As something primarily affecting school curricula, public librarians may not immediately be taking too much notice of Common Core. But we are all connected- if only through our users- and the implications of the new educational standards may provide interesting opportunities for public and school librarians to collaborate. From collections to online resources, there may be simple ways that public librarians can market our services and help both teachers and students get the most out of what we have to offer.
Here are just a few ideas to get started:
- Ask your local school librarians and/or the state association of school media specialists to speak to your library staff about Common Core. If they are organizing a training session, see if you can tag along. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to position your library as a partner.
- Know the lingo. As students, parents, and teachers visit your library, they may begin asking for materials with “rigor,” “rich text,” or “inquiry-based learning.” There are websites, such as http://www.corestandards.org/, that can give you a good overview.
- Common Core has a strong focus on non-fiction reading. This is great news! For years we’ve been toting the benefits of reading non-fiction. Now’s the chance to pull An American Plague, The Frog Scientist, and Almost Astronauts off the shelf for a Narrative Non-Fiction display or booklist. For many years most English teachers focused on fiction. This is where your expertise in the realm of children’s and young adult non-fiction literature can really prove helpful.
- The purpose in reading all that non-fiction is to make connections to the wider world. The process involves comparing, integrating, synthesizing, and evaluating books and information. How about starting a Non-Fiction Book Club?
- Get ready to buy much more non-fiction. Look at your current book budget and purchasing patterns. Do you tend to purchase most heavily in middle grade fiction? That’s about to change. Common Core emphasizes a 50/50 spilt. As publishers feel the implications of Common Core, more narrative non-fiction and rich texts are going to be published. Make sure you are ready to adapt and clear some room on your shelves!
- It’s not all about older kids. The emphasis on informational texts begins in pre-K. So, keep your eye out for great non-fiction picture books. Perhaps begin using more non-fiction in your storytimes. Doing an animal theme at Preschool Time? Try adding a Gail Gibbons or Steve Jenkins book into the mix.
Have you already begun collaborating with your local schools on Common Core? Are you thinking differently about collections and the intersection of non-fiction and fiction? Please share your thoughts below.