Monday, July 16, 2012

PW and CC

Publishers Weekly has a feature story on CC and book publishers this week -- no link yet, still behind a paywall -- but we of the UC answered many of the reporter's questions and got her her key leads -- so we seem to be doing something right. I'll post the link here once I have it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Match Me a Match

Suddenly CC seems like the matchmaker in Fiddler -- but this time offering only "perfect matches." As many of you may have seen, the govt is asking for proposals for innovative programs to improve student learning via libraries, especially in poor and rural neighborhoods. While proposals are due in a month, and so surely a mad scramble is taking place in MLS programs across the nation, the fit between what the feds are funding, CC, and the chance to breathe life into school libraries is just too perfect. Someone in DC is noticing and offering support to what we all believe in -- and now back to grant writing. Here it is, if you have not seen it:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Librarians and the Common Core -- Thanks to Joyce Valenza

Joyce sent me this link:

Their approach reminds me of what Sue Bartle and I have been advocating with librarians in Western NY.

CC is a chance, no, the chance, for librarians to make themselves visible in schools: Go Forth and Show Your Stuff!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Great, I Mean Great, Statement from David Coleman


Just had this statement from DC -- key framer of the ELA CC -- forwarded to me. It is everything I would have hoped he would say:

David Coleman
Founding partner of Student Achievement Partners and a lead writer of the CCSS in ELA.

"[CCSS co-author] Sue Pimentel and I think if fundamental changes are not made to the quality of curriculum, and the quality of assessment, following the [CCSS], they will not have been worthy of the work that was put into them. Period.
There is no such thing as doing the nuts and bolts of reading in Kindergarten through 5th grade without coherently developing knowledge in science, and history, and the arts. Period. It is false. It is a fiction. And that is why NAEP scores in early grades can improve slightly but collapse as students grow older. Because it is the deep foundation in rich knowledge and vocabulary depth that allows you to access more complex text.
Let’s not get confused here that [the CCSS] are adding back nice things [history, arts, science] that are an addendum to literacy. We are adding the cornerstones of literacy, which are the foundations of knowledge, that make literacy happen.
There is no greater threat to literary study in this country than false imitations of literature which do not deserve to be read.

States in this first year of [CCSS] implementation, we beg you, to turn back mediocre or low-rate materials, rather than buy them stamped “Common Core.” If we must wait, it is better than to misrepresent the Standards with second-rate stuff. Please support states and districts in being brave and holding the line on excellence and giving time for a better generation of materials to take hold."

Hold the line on excellence, wait for new materials, realize that literacy from K on is a matter of content not just mastery of decoding. This is exactly what NF authors know, what librarians know, what teachers need to know -- spread the gospel friends, spread the good news.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Return of Nonfiction Matters

I am grateful to SLJ for giving me the space to write a column -- Consider the Source (here's the latest: -- and for archiving the full 900+ run of Nonfiction Matters. You should find both at the SLJ site But I notice that I miss the quick hit of writing about Common Core, and NF, and being out and about in the world. So here I plan to continue NFM here on its own erratic schedule.

Last Friday Sue Bartle and I met with some 50 librarians -- after school, on a summer's day -- to talk Common Core. Some of them had just been to another workshop and, sad to say, arrived cynical, discouraged, doubtful. But, as I explained, in my talk the one rule is "you must interrupt." That helped, because the problem with the previous event is that it was so scripted and so cookie-cutter. You must do X, you shouldn't do Y, follow these X steps, do not deviate from the path. That is not CC 101, it is CC turned into a Betty Crocker cake mix.

CC is training in thinking -- and critical reading -- so that young people begin to savor the pleasure of thought -- not just the skill, or duty, or training, but actual pleasure. Because, as Edward Teller said of Johnny von Neumann (both brilliant, complex, dark men) "if you enjoy thinking, your brain develops." That is the motto we ought to use for CC -- if you enjoy thinking, your brain develops. So let us give you people tools and opportunities to think, and to grow in thinking, so their brains develop.