It was curriculum night at a local Tukwila elementary school – with a focus on Common Core State Standards! I was excited to go!
As a public librarian, I’m always trying to figure out how I can be supportive and involved with students and school staff. ALSC has a resource page (http://www.ala.org/alsc/ccss-resources), and previous ALSC Blog posts have been helpful, but a chance to personally interact with local elementary staff was not to be missed! I could focus on talking to the principal and teachers about CCSS and find out what’s going on in my school district. Education leaders in WA expect the 2014-2015 CCSS assessments to result in lower scores state-wide. As “the most diverse school district in the nation” with 80% of students qualifying for free/reduced meals, there already exist many challenges in preparing students in Tukwila for graduation. Maybe I could gain some insight into providing help.
Right off the bat, the principal mentioned great interest in our newly formed Book Buddies program where teen volunteers spend time reading with younger kids. I discovered students are expected to read each night – since reading, along with math, will be areas of concentration for this school. I was delighted to hear we’re on the principal’s radar and we’re offering a program that matters to him.
After a general presentation, the grade levels broke up into individual presentations and I attended the 4th grade session. Students in this grade will have access to Chromebook laptops and will use the following websites at school and at home to help with reading: Lexia, Raz-Kids, and Spelling City. Most homework will be math, including these websites: TenMarks and XtrMath. Because not all students will be taking laptops home with them, our public library branch can offer support by being familiar with these sites and providing homework help during nonschool hours.
The slide presented by the 4th grade teachers about Reading and CCSS was simple and encouraging:
• To read both narrative and expository texts
• To understand and remember what they read
• To relate their own knowledge or experiences to texts
• To use comprehension strategies to improve their comprehension
• To communicate with others about what is read
Does this sound familiar? On a basic level these are the same strategies we promote in Story Time when we talk about literacy and reading with a child. We know children’s librarians are preparing families long before the children go to school. Now I’m thinking of new conversations with parents whose children are already reading on their own – how they can continue to build reading skills and thus pave the way to making the new standards that much easier to understand and achieve.
-Gaye Hinchliff, member of School-Age Programs and Services Committee, works for KCLS in Tukwila, WA and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org