Sunday, August 10, 2014

Integrating CCSS, Nonfiction, and Content

I like to keep things as simple as possible. I think it’s elegant. That’s why when wending my way through the CCSS storms, I like to pull back and think: What’s going on here? What’s the bigger picture?

            One encouraging development is the blending of CCSS and content standards in math, science, and social studies. Simply stated, content standards come to life by working jointly with process standards. You can see this clearly in the Next Generation Science Standards as well as the C3 Framework in social studies. These content standards make explicit connections to the CCSS  standards to integrate when teaching specific content.

            Mary Ann Cappiello and I learned about this integration firsthand during the past school year when we wrote one  unit a month for our column in School Library Journal newsletter Curriculum Connections. We had to juggle three main components in order to come up with a coherent teaching unit: CCSS standards, content standards, and nonfiction literature.

            As we began work each month, we asked ourselves three important questions:
1.     What teaching and learning opportunities does nonfiction literature offer?
2.     What CCSS standards can we incorporate into the activities we offer?
3.     What content (big ideas and concepts) do we want to present?

Creating curriculum involved decision-making, which was both daunting and liberating. We learned a lot about trying to fuse these elements into vibrant opportunities for learning. In fact, we wrote about it in our last column in June entitled “What We Learned: Crafting Standards-Based Lessons,” which you can read here:

I think we need many, many more examples of creating curriculum that integrates CCSS, nonfiction literature, and content standards. That is why I am happy to tell you about a new book called Perfect Pairs by Melissa Stewart and Nancy Chesley that shows how to use picture book pairs to build content knowledge in science in grades K-2. Each lesson incorporates a fiction and nonfiction pair of books, and is correlated with Next Generation Science Standards and CCSS. Right now you can read the entire book for free on the Stenhouse website at
Click on preview online. What a gift for starting the school year. I hope you check out this useful, clearly written, much needed book.  

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