Thursday, October 4, 2012

Common Core is marching in!

My apologies in advance for this presentation of disjointed thoughts.  I have had a full day and a half of PD already this year on DDI (Data Driven Instruction) and the Six Shifts to the ELA Common Core.  While the DDI concept seems totally logical, understanding how it can drive differentiated teaching and learning is incredibly motivating.  Even more motivating was working with groups of teachers who are in search of "challenging" non-fiction texts to encourage "close reading" for understanding!

I see the Common Core marching in and am glad to be an usher at the event.  The downside, of course, is that it would appear our educational colleagues are being directed to the literature without mention that we are here to support or guide them.  Nobody is speaking up for us if we don't speak up for ourselves!  They will find articles on their own - somewhere, and of unknown quality.  Some will be good and some not so good.  If we can't step to the front and make ourselves heard, with supportive offers of guidance the process will happen without us and more librarians and the services that we can provide will be lost.

We can find articles in specific lexile ranges.  We can find articles on both sides of the issues.  We can order magazines or books to support the curriculum.  We can find articles specific to the curriculum instead of just, "something that will work."  We can and we must! 

The College Board announced today a redesign of the AP U.S. History program.  Though it will not take effect until fall of 2014, it's three objectives focus on alignment with current university requirements, a narrowed volume of required knowledge, and greater flexibility for "teachers and students to focus on the close reading and analysis of primary and secondary source material, and the development of the skills practiced by historians, such as argumentation and periodization."

"The increased flexibility of the redesigned course will provide teachers with time to help students use the knowledge they gain to practice the work of a historian. Rather than simply moving rapidly from topic to topic, AP U.S. History students will regularly engage in sustained, close reading of historical source material and the development of written arguments solidly grounded in such evidence."

For years our best students have been restrained from deep study of U.S. History and development of history research projects because the demands of the curriculum left no time for these follies.  Finally, these advanced students may get the opportunity to engage in these essential practices.  We have two years to align this program and an endless variety of opportunities. 

Today, tomorrow & next week we must focus all over our buildings.  We must somehow present ourselves as ushers to higher quality information.  In many buildings this means first removing the stereotype that we are trip hazards as we suggest books and databases that take longer than a quick Google search.  Our future and the future of every other librarian and aspiring librarian is in our own hands right now!

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