Seminar on Lit for Youth: Guidelines & Standards
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Over the past decade, educators including school librarians have been asked to address ever-changing national guidelines, federal mandates, and state laws that focus on what youth should be reading and how their reading skills across the curriculum should be evaluated.
Read Shanahan, Timothy (November 2013). You want me to read what?! Educational Leadership, 10-15. IUPUI students can view the article online.
Standards in Indiana
A handful of states have chosen to create their own standards rather than following what is known as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). In April of 2014, the Indiana State Board of Education adopted new state standards. According to the Indiana Department of Education,
"academic standards are benchmark measures that define what students should know and be able to do at specified grade levels beginning in kindergarten and progressing through grade twelve. The standards are promulgated as state regulations. As such, they must be used as the basis for curriculum and instruction in Indiana's accredited schools. The academic standards are NOT a curriculum; therefore, identifying the sequence of instruction in each grade—what will be taught and how long—requires concerted effort and attention at the district/school level."
Although Indiana has chosen to go it's own way, many of the Indiana standards are still closely tied to the Common Core. As such, this page will explore the Common Core State Standards. Then, make comparison's with other states including Indiana. For the purposes of this course, it's fine to refer to either the CCSS or an individual state depending on your setting or area of interest.
Common Core State Standards
Although a few states including Indiana are no longer following the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the CCSS have had a dramatic impact on thinking about the role of informational reading in schools. The impact of these standards continues to be felt in all states.
"To build a foundation for college and career readiness, students must read widely and deeply from among a broad range of high-quality, increasingly challenging literary and informational texts... By reading texts in history/social studies, science, and other disciplines, students build a foundation of knowledge in these fields that will also give them the background to be better readers in all content areas. Students can only gain this foundation when the curriculum is intentionally and coherently structured to develop rich content knowledge within and across grades. Students also acquire the habits of reading independently and closely, which are essential to their future success." (CCSS, 2012)
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were designed to foster higher achievement among students and allow youth to compete in a global society. An area of the CCSS of particular interest to this course is the emphasis on informational reading. For instance, fifth-grade students are expected to "integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably." As students progress through the grades, they are increasingly involved in assignments that require using informational texts as part of the process of developing arguments, applying evidence, and drawing conclusions.
"Through reading a diverse array of classic and contemporary literature as well as challenging informational texts in a range of subjects, students are expected to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspective." (Key Points in English Language Arts, CCSS, 2012)
The CCSS call for elementary curriculum materials to be re-calibrated to reflect a mix of 50 percent literary and 50 percent informational text. Creating this balance requires significant shifts in materials and instructional time so that scientific and historical materials are given the same importance as literary text.
"These materials should ensure that all students have daily opportunities to read texts of their choice on their own during and outside of the school day. Students need access to a wide range of materials on a variety of topics and genres both in their classrooms and in their school libraries to ensure that they have opportunities to independently read broadly and widely to build their knowledge, experience, and joy in reading. Materials will need to include texts at students' own reading level as well as texts with complexity levels that will challenge and motivate students. Texts should also vary in length and density, requiring students to slow down or read more quickly depending on their purpose for reading. In alignment with the standards and to acknowledge the range of students' interests, these materials should include informational texts as well as literature." (Coleman & Pimentel, 2012a)
According to Coleman and Pimentel (2012b), literary nonfiction should include essays, speeches, opinion pieces, biographies, journalism, and historical, scientific, and other documents written for board audiences. Topics should including science, contemporary events and ideas, nature, and the arts. Coleman and Pimentel (2012b, 5) emphasize that
"to become career and college ready, students must grapple with a range of works that span many genres, cultures, and eras and model the kinds of thinking and writing students should aspire to in their own work. Also, there should be selections of sources that require students to read and integrate a larger volume of material for research purposes."
Both school and public libraries have been bombarded by teachers, parents, and students seeking quality informational reading materials that address the standards.
For the past decade, many researchers and educators have been concerned about the lack of informational reading experiences in schools. As a result, informational texts are woven throughout the CCSS.
Read Duke, Nell (March 1, 2004). The case for informational text. Educational Leadership, 40-44. Available. Pay close attention to the research-based approach.
In addition to reading informational texts, there's also an emphasis on content-area reading. In elementary school, students are expected to learn basic reading skills. However by high school, the emphasis should be on discipline-specific skills.
Read Shanahan, Timothy & Shanahan, Cynthia (2008). Teaching disciplinary literacy to adolescents: rethinking content-area literacy. Harvard Educational Review, 78(1). IUPUI students can view the article online.
Increasingly, educators are connecting informational reading and critical literacy. Lloyd and Wetsch (2016, 29) found that
"the practice of critical reading of informational text was a gateway: deepening students’ understandings of histories as complex, nuanced, researched, and subjective retellings. We also found evidence that students began to acquire a longitudinal understanding of history."
Read Lloyd, Rachel & Wetsch, Scott (2016). “Why doesn’t anyone know this story?”: Integrating critical literacy and informational reading. English Journal, 105(4), 24-30. IUPUI students can view the article online.
Halladay and Duke (2013, 47-48) identified three recurring themes as they looked across standards for informational texts.
"First, there is an emphasis on developing skills with a range of different text types, including digital texts.
Second, there is a repeated focus on working with multiple texts, whether by reading across multiple texts or drawing on multiple texts in research and writing. In addition to understanding individual texts, students are expected to compare and contrast different texts, use multiple texts to build content knowledge, and develop their writing across multiple texts on a topic.
Third, as with the standards for reading literary texts, the informational text standards emphasize the importance of understanding how texts work and why authors do what they do. Students are expected to think about the content and features of a text in relation to the author's (or, in writing, their own) purpose, task, and perspective - the author's craft"
Let's explore each of these three recurring themes as they related to literature for youth including the range of texts, working with multiple texts, and how texts work.
The Range of Texts
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) divide texts into two types: literary and informational. The standards expect students to be able to read complex texts including informational texts, literary texts, and mixed texts. Students are expected to be able to deal with complex texts and graphics. Complex works may include figurative, iconic, or unfamiliar language. They may also have hidden or deep purposes.
The CCSS call for an increasing emphasis on information reading as students proceed through school. Until grade 4, reading should be equally divided between literary and informational texts. By grade 8, 55% of the time should be spent with informational texts and by graduation, 70% of reading should be from informational texts.
The two categories of literary and information reading is problematic for teachers and librarians trying to determine what "counts" as informational reading because not all nonfiction falls into the informational text category.
The CCSS for Reading contain ten anchor standards related to informational text. The standards mention a range of texts for grades K-5 including
"biographies and autobiographies; books about history, social studies, science, and the arts; technical texts, including directions, forms, and information displayed in graphs, charts, or maps; and digital sources on a range of topics" (CCSS, 2012).
From grades 6-12 the texts include such as
"exposition, argument, and functional text in the form of personal essays, speeches, opinion pieces, essays about art or literature, biographies, memoirs, journalism, and historical, scientific, technical, or economic accounts (including digital sources) written for a broad audience... science/technical texts and history/social studies texts" (CCSS, 2012).
According to Halladay and Duke (2013),
"While these various text types are similar in that they all convey information to a reader, there are also important differences among them. For example, while biographies are typically written with specific or proper nouns and third-person singular pronouns (e.g., George Washington/he) and are often organized chronologically, informational books about science topics are typically written with generic nouns and third-person plural pronouns (e.g., mammals/they) and are often organized topically. Students need experience with each type of informational text that we want them to learn to read and write; lots of experience and skill with reading and writing biography, for example, will not alone be enough to render students able to read and write typical informational texts about science topics. Thus, the CCSS not only require that students read and write a lot of informational text but also a lot of different kinds of informational text."
Nonfiction narratives present a unique case when thinking about the difference between literary and informational texts. While one book might explain how parachutes work, another might be based on the true experiences of a parachute jumper. The first would fall into the traditional informational book category, while the second would be considered a literary work that is nonfiction.
Fisher and Frey (2011) note that
"an understanding of plot-driven narrative texts will not provide the reader with the skills necessary to read for information. Expository, or informational, texts do not rely on plots, setting, and conflicts to make their point. These content-area texts differ in that they attempt to explain the social, physical, and biological world in which we live. They have different text structures, such as problem-solution or cause-effect, and often contain text features such as figures, charts, diagrams, and headings that contain valuable information."
Arsonson (2008, 31) asks,
"we're failing to give our young people any exposure to how a book makes an argument from its first page to its last. We're not encouraging them to slow down and take time to enter an author's carefully constructed narrative. We're not giving kids an opportunity to be carried along by a writer's flow of ideas and carefully selected events. What is that? And why do so many teachers require their classes to read an entire novel, and then gloss over the period in which the story takes place by simply summarizing a few textbook pages or by passing out handouts or a list of recommended web sites?"
Examine the lists of "example texts" for elementary school (Grades K-12) and middle/high school (Grades 6-12). One of the most hotly debated element of the CCSS are the "example texts." While some view these as "the" list, others consider them only samples of they kinds of texts that could be used.
What are the pros and cons of providing a list of examples texts? If you'd never seen this list, what items would you have gathered based on the CCSS for elementary or middle/high school?
Working with Multiple Texts
Many of the CCCS require that students are able to make comparisons between texts and build arguments using information from multiple texts. This demands that librarians assist teachers in identifying sets of texts related to a particular topic.
When collecting texts, think about the broad range of interests and reading skills. Although you may be focusing on nonfiction narrative and informational texts, also include works of fiction if they help establish the context for learning.
Let's use the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire as an example:
- Gunderson, Jessica Sarah. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (youth graphic novel)
- Hopkinson, Deborah. Shutting Out the Sky: Life in the Tenements of New York, 1880-1924 (youth nonfiction history)
- Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Uprising (young adult historical fiction)
- Marrin, Albert. Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy (youth nonfiction history)
- Stein, Leon. The Triangle Fire (youth historical fiction)
- Triangle Shirtwaist Factory (newspaper articles)
- Von Drehle, Dave. Triangle: The Fire that Changed America (adult nonfiction history)
Along with sets of texts, "anchor texts(s)" should be selected that serve as focal points, shared experiences, and opportunities for close reading. Coleman and Pimentel (2012b) state that
"often in research and other contexts, several texts will be read to explore a topic. It is essential that such materials include a selected text or set of texts that can act as cornerstone or anchor text(s) that make careful study worthwhile. The anchor text(s) provide essential opportunities for students to spend the time and care required for close reading and to demonstrate in-depth comprehension of a specific source or sources. The additional research sources beyond the anchor texts then enable students to demonstrate they can read widely as well as read a specific source in depth."
"teachers will need to rely on text sets - collections of books that focus on a particular concept or topic. For example, a recent study used text sets to engage children in learning about the life sciences as a way of integrating reading and science instruction...
Text sets are unified by the topic they explore. At the same time, they are differentiated by their genre and their format. The topic of flight, for instance, can be a focal point for a collection of books that could include a biography of the Wright brothers as well as an informational book on the basics of aerodynamics of flight. Text sets need to be coherent - narrowly focused on a set of key ideas to ensure that children will have repeated opportunities to hear and develop an understanding of a common set of words and concepts throughout the readings.
Text sets are organized to engage children with increasingly complex text and to learn some of the key genre features of each type of book. This is accomplished through scaffolding children's experience with text, starting with more familiar genres before introducing the less familiar genre" (Neuman and Gambrell, 2013, 7).
Neuman and Gambrell (2013) suggest beginning with predictable books and picturebooks when working with younger children. These set the stage for young learners by introducing vocabulary in a meaningful context. Then, move on to informational books that may help answers to their inquiries. In a recent study, they found that using this approach to presenting books helped students increase content-area vocabulary, concepts, and knowledge.
Read Zarnowski, Myra (November 1, 2012). Nonfiction series and the Common Core State Standards: Back Page. School Library Journal, 72. IUPUI students can view the article online. Think about how series as well as sets of selected books can be used to address the CCSS.
Build a set of texts related to a particular topic. These three books should have a similar reading level. They should also be focused on a set of key ideas. Create a list of these key ideas found across books in the set. Your set should include books from at least three different genre (i.e., narrative, explanatory, persuasive, procedural). You may also want to consider including items from different areas of the nonfiction collection such as reference, biography, how-tos, along with concept books. Think about how the set might be introduced from more to less familiar genres. Although the focus is on nonfiction, it's fine to include a work of historical fiction, graphic novel, or predictable picture book if it fits well into the set.
Then, brainstorm other topics that would be useful for text sets. Choose three of these topics and discuss the challenges you would face in working with these topics.
Working with Biographies
Let's use biographies as an example of the many different ways sets of texts could be used to address the CCSS.
One Book, Many Ideas
When children do find the biographies, they're often focused on copying out passages for "biography reports" rather than on experiencing the joy of learning about an individual's life. The key to focusing on one book is to explore its themes in depth.
Explore a Google Preview of Montgomery, Sy (2012) Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Austism and Changed the World. HMH Books for Young Readers. (biography: Ages 9+). Activities: Pre-reading, Discussion Guide, Questions, Post-reading, Video About Writing the Biography
Read Take a YA Inviting Informational Text by Dr. Rose Cherie Reissman. This short article explores the common core and provides ideas for connecting it with informational books like Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery. IUPUI students can view the article online.
Many Books, Many Perspectives
The CCSS ask students to collect evidence to support their own conclusions. Rather than relying on a single source, they're taught to use multiple sources that may represent different points of view. Biographies are a perfect opportunity for young people to explore more than one text on a single topic.
For instance, many books have been written on Amelia Earhart. Candace Fleming's Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart (2011) provides new information, insights, and ways of thinking about this famous women. Help students see the value in skimming or reading two or three books on the same topic. Talk about how each book provides different information, depth, and perspectives on the person.
Another approach might involve the use of small groups or literature circles. Students might each read a different book about Amelia Earhart based on their interests and reading skills. As they come together, they'll be able to use their book as evidence in groups discussions and learn what others have found in their explorations.
Explore the Google Preview of Candace Fleming (2011). Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart. Schwartz & Wade. (biography, history: Ages 9+) Guide Available. Amelia Lost is available as a print book as well as an iBook through iTunes.
Synergy from Pieces
Rather than trying to read all the books on a particular topic, encourage youth to seek out pieces from individual books that help create a synergy. In other words, many perspectives can help a child form their own ideas that are larger than the individual passages found in books. Encourage for students to look for overlap in books as well as unique ideas. The overlap provides multiple sources of evidence and the new ideas cause readers to wonder what else might be missing.
Look for titles that explore a person from different perspectives. For instance, the library has lots of books on Martin Luther King Jr. However Ann Bausum's book focuses specifically on the end of his life. Marching to the Mountaintop: How Poverty, Labor Fights and the Civil Rights Set the Stage for Martin Luther King Jr's Final Hours explores the last few months of his life and his final speech.
Explore the Google Preview of Bausum, Ann (2013) Marching to the Mountaintop: How Poverty, Labor Fights and the Civil Rights Set the Stage for Martin Luther King Jr's Final Hours. National Geographic. (biography, Ages 10+)
Many Ways of Experiencing
Rather than providing multiple books in the same format, consider books that present information in a variety of ways. For instance, look for books that incorporate paintings, drawings, diagrams, cartoons, historical documents, photographs, and other ways to express ideas. While one book may take a more narrative style using paintings as illustrations, another may focus on facts using an infographic style. These books appeal to different youth as well as helping readers think about information in different ways.
Let's use books about Houdini as an example. Kathleen Krull's book Houdini: World's Greatest Mystery Man and Escape King uses beautiful paintings (image below left) by Eric Velasquez to illustrate the work. Sid Fleischman's Escape! The Story of The Great Houdini weaves historical photos (below center) in a narrative. Jason Lutes and Nick Bertozzi's Houdini: The Handcuff King presents the story of Houdini as a work of graphic nonfiction using a graphic novel-style approach (below right). In Harry Houdini for Kids: His Life and Adventures, readers experience historical photos, posters, and advertisements, along with timelines and diagrams (below center). Finally, David Adler's A Picture Book of Harry Houdini (2009) provide a traditional chronological approach for beginning readers.
- Adler, David (2009). A Picture Book of Harry Houdini. Holiday House. (biography, Ages 6+)
- Carlson, Laurie (2009). Harry Houdini for Kids: His Life and Adventures. Chicago Review Press. (biography, Ages 9+).
- Fleischman, Sid (2008). Escape! The Story of The Great Houdini. Greenwillow. (biography, Ages 8+) .
- Krull, Kathleen (2005). Houdini: World's Greatest Mystery Man and Escape King. Walker Childrens (biography, Ages 6-10).
- Lutes, Jason & Bertozzi, Nick (2008). Houdini: The Handcuff King. Hyperion. (biography, graphic nonfiction, Ages 10-11).
Multiple Reading Levels
Providing multiple reading levels is important for many students. For instance, you may begin by reading aloud a book written above grade level. Students can often understand materials written above their own reading level. Reading challenging books at grade level is an important component of the CCSS. Whether reading for information or for pleasure, some students are most successful when reading below their reading level. These books help students build confidence and ensure that they are able to comprehend the concepts they are reading.
Over the past decade, some wonderful books have been written about Marian Anderson.
When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson (2002) (image below left) by Pam Munoz Ryan was written for ages 4-8 with a lexile measure of 780L (3.8 reading level). This book would be an excellent choice for a shared read-aloud experience and group discussion.
Marian Anderson (2007) (image below right) by Jane Sutcliffe was written for ages 7+ with a lexile measure of 530L (2 reading level). This book would provide an easy-to-read option children allowing student success with informational reading.
The Voice that Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights (2005) (image above right) by Russell Freedman was written for ages for ages 9+ with a lexile measure of 1180 (7.3 grade level equivalent). This book would be challenging, but provides excellent text and visual information.
How Texts Work
When exposed to informational text, even young children quickly develop skills associated with using this genre. In a study of kindergarten children, Duke and Kays (1998) found that when informational books were read aloud to children on a nearly-daily basis, they developed skills in independently using and applying informational book language.
According to Shanahan and Shanahan (2008), experts in each discipline approach reading texts differently. For instance, mathematicians use close reading and reexamination for understanding. Historians often focus on alternative perspectives and possible sources of bias. These differences in reading practices demonstrate the values and methods used in particular disciplines. They envision increasingly specialized skills including basic literacy, intermediate literacy, and disciplinary literacy. After learning basic skills in the lower grades, they suggest that student develop comprehension skills such as predicting and summarizing. During middle school and high school the focus should be on the unique literacy skills needed within content-area reading.
Young readers need to explore the purpose of reading informational texts. Why learn about the women's movement?
Explore one of the following books on the women's movement and think about how you would help young people understand the author's intended purpose. Or, locate another book in your own library.
Bausum, Ann. Of Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman's Right to Vote (youth nonfiction history)
Malaspina, Ann. Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President (biography) Google Preview
Burgan, Michael. We the People: The 19th Amendment (youth nonfiction history)
Hollihan, Kerrie Logan. Rightfully Ours: How Women Won the Vote (youth nonfiction) Google Preview
Monroe, Judy. The Nineteenth Amendment: Women's Right to Vote (youth nonfiction)
White, Linda Arms. I Could Do That! Esther Morris Gets Women to Vote (picture book)
Karr, Kathleen & Laugesen, Malene. Mama Went to Jail for the Vote (picture book)
An effective way to help students identify purpose is by comparing two books. For instance, students might read the following two books that talk about the relationship between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. How does each book approach the topic? What is their purpose?
- Freedman, Russell (2012). Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship (nonfiction youth) Google Preview
- Zimmerman, Dwight Jon (2012). The Hammer and the Anvil: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the End of Slavery in America (graphic nonfiction) Macmillan Preview
Look for works of nonfiction that can be used to help youth learn how to use locate information. For instance, determine whether the book has an effective table of contents, index, and glossary to assist users to accessing information.
The images below are from Saving Animals from Oil Spills by Stephen Person. Part of the Rescuing Animals from Disaster series, the book contains, a table of contents, short chapters, facts lists, glossary, bibliography, read more links, online resources, about the author, and an index. Within the text, keywords are highlighted such as waterproof and hypothermia. These words can be found in the glossary.
Read How to Read Nonfiction Text. Reading Rockets. Available
Text complexity is one of the most challenging aspects of the CCSS. The standards ask students students read complex works. Complexity is based on three areas (Schiesman and Lindgren, 2011)
- Qualitative evaluation of the text: Levels of meaning, structure, language conventionality and clarity, and knowledge demands
- Quantitative evaluation of the text: Readability measures and other scores of text complexity
- Matching reader to text and task: Reader variables (such as motivation, knowledge, and experiences) and task variables (such as purpose and the complexity generated by the task assigned and the questions posed)
Lamb, Annette (January 2014). Primary Source Digital Documents: CCSS & Complexity of Text. School Library Monthly, 30(4), 5-8.
Read at least ONE of the following articles:
Ehrenworth, Mary (November 2013). Unlocking the secrets of complex text. Educational Leadership, 16-21. IUPUI students can view the article online.
Frey, Nancy & Fisher, Douglas (November 2013). Points of Entry. Educational Leadership, 34-38. IUPUI students can view the article online.
Hirsch, E.D. & Hansel, Lisa (November 2013). Why content is king. Educational Leadership, 28-33. IUPUI students can view the article online.
The Author's Craft
An interesting aspect of the CCSS relates to a focus on the "author's craft". Students connect reading and writing through understanding how written works are created.
Read Aronson, Marc (March/April 2011). New knowledge. The Horn Book Magazine, 87(2), 57-62. IUPUI students can view the article online.
The author describes what he views as his role in writing nonfiction for youth.
Read Nobleman, Marc Tyler (May/June 2013). Danger! Dialogue ahead. The Horn Book Magazine, 89(3), 43-46. IUPUI students can view the article online.
The author shares his concerns about using dialogue in nonfiction works.
Active, Independent Readers
The CCSS call for a shift from a focus on literary fiction to complex, informational text. They also stress that students who meet the standards
"actively seek the wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement with high-quality literary and informational texts that builds knowledge, enlarges experience, and broadens world views." (CCSS, 2012)
Based on their review of the research, Topping (2008, 505) found that
"boys might not only practice reading in a different way to girls, but also less effectively. Many studies have found an overall positive correlation between the amount of reading practice and reading achievement. More able readers might tend to read more, or more reading practice might enhance reading achievement, or both might happen, but some students indicate that one causal direction is from practice to achievement."
Based on their research of independent non-fiction reading, Topping (2008, 521) and others suggest the following:
- Effective reading comprehension of individually self-selected books should be monitored in terms of both quantity and quality, especially for at-risk readers, including many boys.
- As the level of reading challenge in non-fiction might be higher than that in fiction, non-fiction book challenge and the balance between fiction and nonfiction selection by pupils should be closely monitored.
- Monitoring should lead to feedback and intervention wherever possible.
- Boys might particularly need training in how to read non-fiction more carefully with better comprehension.
- Intervention in the lower grades may yield achievement gains, but such gains need to be sustained through into the higher grades.
Topping (2008) found that moderate reading challenges were associated with achievement gains. However, non-fiction reading was negatively correlated to reading achievement gain. The study suggests that differences in teaching methods contribute to non-fiction reading comprehension.
Common Core Examples
Before you jump into collaborations involving the CCSS, it's useful to see some examples of how this might work in schools. Also, it's helpful to see how these standards connect with existing requirements.
Explore the connection between the AASL Standards and the Common Core State Standards. Browse the AASL Learning Standards & Common Core State Standards Crosswalk. Think about how they apply to school libraries, but also have implications for public libraries.
Kristen Bowers (March 18, 2012) suggests breaking down the standards into reasonable chunks focusing on the specific task required. She uses supporting inferences as an example.
The Boston Tea Party (2012) by Russell Freedman tells the story of this kickoff to the American Revolutionary war. Holiday House publishers have provided an excellent sheet of activities. Go to Common Core Connections and read their suggested activities across the curriculum.
Learning about line and rotational symmetry is essential to many other math concepts such as measuring, equality, and patterns. Seeing Symmetry by Loreen Leedy is aligned with the Common Core Standard related to 4th grade geometry - Standard 4.G.3, Line Symmetry.
Increasingly authors are placing resources and ideas at various social media websites. For instance, Loreen Leedy developed a Pinterest site to go with her book Seeing Symmetry.
Watch the booktalk at YouTube for Seeing Symmetry by Loreen Leedy. Think about how a social media tool like Pinterest could be used to share examples to go along with a book. Go to Seeing Symmetry by Loreen Leedy for an example. Brainstorm ways that other visual topics could use this tool to share historical photos, diagrams, infographic, or other visual representations. Go to Loreen Leedy's page for many other examples.
The Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure (2012) by Jim Murphy and Alison Blank is a wonderful example of nonfiction for youth. Combining both science and history, the engaging work provides middle and high school students with a quality source that tells a story and also provides information. This work can easily be connected with the Common Core standards.
Cindy Dobrez and Lyann Rutan (2012) at the Booklist Bookends Blog suggest the following two standards:
RI.7.3. Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events).
Even after Robert Koch’s groundbreaking discovery of M. tuberculosis in 1882, the world largely ignored the discovery. Why was that? Analyze the various elements that were the cause and discuss what led to changes in thinking. Are there similar important scientific discoveries that were also ignored? Are there scientific controversies today that a future world may look at in the same way we regard Koch’s discovery?
RI.8.1. Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
In Chapter 7 Outsiders, the authors say, “The poor and members of minority groups were literally outsiders when it came to adequate medical care.” Cite the evidence that supports this. Can you think of parallels in today’s health care treatment? Cite your sources that support your conclusions.
Get to know Jim Murphy. Explore his website. This award-winning author is known for his focus on history. He received the 2010 Margaret Edwards Award for significant contribution to young adult literature. Many of his works can be connected to CCSS.
Read Silvey, Anita (June 2010). The real deal. School Library Journal, 56(6), 22-25. IUPUI students can view the article online.
Spend some time exploring individual items in the standards and thinking about how you might connect books and activities.
CCSS K. Recognize common types of texts (e.g., storybooks, poems).
Use read-aloud activities as an opportunity to discuss types of texts. State the genre and the reasons (i.e., This is a story/poem/informational book because... ), then ask students questions. Refer to other books the class has been reading.
CCSS 2nd grade. Know and use various text features (e.g., headings, tables of contents, glossaries, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text).
The improve-a-text strategy by Duke, Hallady, and Roberts asks students to identifying holes they find in the information found in text. What's missing from the glossary? What content is missing?
CCSS 5th grade. Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a[n informational] text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.
In informational texts important words are often repeated. It's essential to understand these words to gain meaning from related terms. Duke and Watanabe (2013) use the example of the word system in a biology book. The words digestive system, circulatory system, and others are based on knowing the word system. Students might use a concept map to show how important words are connected.
Need more ideas? You'll find lots of resources online. Explore some of the following materials.
Common Core State Standards: Printable Resources from Booklist Publications
Indiana State Standards
Although much of the country is still using the CCSS, Indiana has chosen to develop their own standards.
Go to the Indiana State Standards page and browse the standards. Although the English/Language Arts (2014) area will be of the most interest, other areas such as Science & Computer Science (2016) and Social Studies (2014) also place emphasis on informational reading.
Of particular note are the Indiana Content Area Literacy Standards for History/Social Studies and Science/Technical Studies. Skim the standards and note the role of nonfiction and informational reading experiences.
Grade level documents provide the correlations between the Indiana Academic Standards (2014) and the previous standards; Indiana Academic Standards (2006) and Indiana Common Core State Standards (2010). Use these for making comparisons.
SKIM Educators’ Toolkit for Indiana’s K-12 Reading Selections. Think about how the Indiana guidelines compare to the Common Core.
Like the CCSS, the Indiana standards place emphasis on text complexity, however they encourage development of local reading lists. Review Indiana's Sample Texts by Genre and Grade Span. Focus on the nonfiction examples. What would you add to this list? Why? Also, example the Indiana Literature page for ideas.
The Librarian's Role
Whether working in a school or public library setting, the librarian can have a tremendous impact on student reading habits and motivation. Collaboration between school and public libraries is essential in addressing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
Nesi (2012, 20) suggestions eight ways public libraries can respond to the CCSS.
- Balance collections with more nonfiction
- Infuse Summer Reading and other lists with informational texts
- Include informational texts in read-aloud and other children's programming
- Collect more science and history informational texts
- Increase children's exposure to databases
- Share a common vocabulary with school librarians to discuss levels of text complexity
- Assist children in developing habits for making evidentiary arguments in homework
- Assist children in using textual evidence to make an argument in homework
Librarians are important partners in addressing the CCSS. Think about the needs of teachers across subject areas.
"the Common Core State Standards emphasize the reading of more informational text in grades K–5 and more literary nonfiction in grades 6–12. This emphasis mirrors the Writing Standards that focus on students' abilities to marshal an argument and write to inform or explain. The shift in both reading and writing constitutes a significant change from the traditional focus in ELA classrooms on narrative text or the narrative aspects of literary nonfiction (the characters and the story) toward more in-depth engagement with the informational and argumentative aspects of these texts. While the English teacher is not meant to be a content expert in an area covered by particular texts, curriculum materials should guide teachers and students to demonstrate careful understanding of the information developed in the text. For example, in a narrative with a great deal of science, teachers and students should be required to follow and comprehend the scientific information as presented by the text. In a similar fashion, it is just as essential for teachers and students to follow the details of an argument and reasoning in literary nonfiction as it is for them to attend to issues of style." (Coleman & Pimentel, 2012, 8)
The Common Core State Standards introduced the idea that students need to be reading quality literary nonfiction. Books that are well-written, packed with valuable information, and world-class informational texts are needed to address these standards. Harris (2012b) notes that Gail Gibbons' animal books and Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel would both fall into this category.
Choose ONE of the following articles to read. Note the public library option.
Harris, Christopher (April 2012a). How to get started. School Library Journal, 58(4), 28. IUPUI students can view the article online.
Hiebert, Elfrieda H. (June 2012). The Common Core State Standards and text complexity. Teacher Librarian, 39(5), 13-19. IUPUI students can view the article online.
Hill, Rebecca (April 1, 2012). All Aboard!: Implementing Common Core offers school librarians an opportunity to take the lead. School Library Journal. Available
Jacobs-Israel, Melissa (January 1, 2013). One librarian's success story. School Library Journal, 59(1), 20. IUPUI students can view the article online.
Morris, Rebecca J. (June 1, 2012). Find where you fit in the common core, or the time I forgot about librarians and reading. Teacher Librarian, 39(5), 8-12. IUPUI students can view the article online.
Nesi, Olga M. (December 2012). The public library connection. School Library Journal, 20. IUPUI students can view the article online.
Zarnowski, Myra, Aronson, Marc & Cappiello, Mary Ann (February 4, 2013). On Common Core: Talking About Nonfiction. Available
When many educators and parents see the CCSS, they immediately look at Appendix B containing a list of recommended books. Many assume that these are "the" materials that must be read by all students. However, those building the standards were clear that these are only examples of the types of texts that can be used. It's the job of the librarian to build a collection that reflects the broad requirements of the standards and helps educators and parents identify literary and informational texts for the collection that meet those needs.
When helping teachers or youth select informational works, consider the following ideas (Duke, Halladay & Roberts, 2012):
- Select engaging texts on popular topics
- Remember that even young children don't always find the same things engaging
- Keep students interests in mind
- Provide choices particularly when helping students with independent and home reading experiences
- Offer students two or three options
- Provide reasons for independent reading
- Encourage reading with a purpose for reasons
- Support personal preferences
Much of text selection relates to how these text will be used by young people. In some cases, they're simply books that children choose for independent reading. No others, the works of nonfiction become an integral part of classroom learning.
Read Pollock, Jody (2016). Using nonfiction to advocate for change. English Journal, 105(4), 55-62. IUPUI students can view the article online.
Think about how the texts in this research project were selected. How can librarians serve as the bridge between the endless nonfiction works available and those that will have a genuine impact on student lives?
Browse the Text Exemplars and Sample Performance Tasks appendix from CCSS. Choose an age group of informational texts to examine in-depth. Do you agree or disagree with their choices? Which do you think are excellent examples? Provide specific reasons associated with the texts. Then, identify three informational texts that you think should be on the list. What features make them exemplary? How could you convince a parent or teacher that these books who be useful in a youth's "must read" book list?
Content and Coverage
One of the concerns regarding standards has always been with the ability to address all the required content. It's important to work with teachers in helping to narrow the focus of classroom activities to ensure depth of understanding. In other words, come up with creative ways to handle information overload.
For instance, using literature circles allows different groups to read related books and share their experiences. Each group might explore a book set in a different region of the United States, then come together to discuss how the American Civil War impacted different areas of America.
Read Aronson, Marc, Cappiello, Mary Ann & Zarnowski, Myra (November 2, 2012). Content over coverage. School Library Journal. Available at SLJ
Assisting teachers in addressing the CCSS involves much more than simply collecting and organizing great works of nonfiction. The standards require that students deal with increasingly complex texts. More than listing the Lexile level on your booklist, this approach must deal with qualitative aspects such as levels of meaning, use of language, and text structure.
Read Nesi, Olga (October 1, 2012). The question of text complexity: reader and task trump traditional measures. School Library Journal. Available through SLJ
For more than a year, School Library Journal has been publishing articles related to the On Common Core theme. Browse the topics covered by these articles. What's missing? What do you think a school or public librarian needs to know about the CCSS?
Whether you get called to participate in implementation of the CCSS or you jump in on your own, you need a plan. Using the information on this page, the readings from this page, the links to resources, along with other materials you locate to create a professional plan for connecting nonfiction books for youth with children, teachers, and or parents depending on your area of interest. Your plan should include an introduction to the key issues; excerpts or references to at least three professional articles; specific areas of CCSS emphasis; examples of how the library might collaborate with others; your role in assisting students through formal or informal instruction; an action plan including a timeline, steps, and/or actions; and at least three examples (i.e., anchor books with activities, annotated sets of related texts).
Aronson, Marc (March/April 2011). New knowledge. The Horn Book Magazine, 87(2), 57-62. Available
Aronson, Marc (October 2008). Being and Nothingness. School Library Journal, 54(10), 31.
Coleman, David & Pimentel, Susan (2012a). Revised Publishers' Criteria for the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy, Grades K-2. Available
Coleman, David & Pimentel, Susan (2012b). Revised Publishers' Criteria for the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy, Grades 3-6. Available
Dresser, Mariam Jean & Klutzier, Sharon Benger (2015). Teaching Informational Text in K-3 Classrooms: Best Practices to Help Children Read, Write, and Learn from Nonfiction. Guilford Publications.
Duke, Nell K., Halladay, J.L. & Roberts, K.L. (2013). Reading standards for informational text. In L.M. Morrow, T. Stanahan, & K.K. Wixson (eds). Teaching with the Common Core Standards for English language arts, PreK-2. Guilford Press.
Duke, Nell K. & Watanabe, Lynne M. (2013). Reading and writing specific genres. In B.M. Taylor & N.K. Duke (eds), Handbook of Effective Literary Instruction: Research-Based Practice K-8. Guilford Press.
Duke, Nell K., Halladay, Juliet L. & Roberts, Kathryn L. (2012). In L.M. Morrow, T. Shanahan, & K.K. Wixson, Teaching with the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts, PreK-2. Guilford Press.
Duke, Nell (March 1, 2004). The case for informational text. Educational Leadership, 40-44. Available
Duke, Nell K. & Kays, Jane (1998). Can I say Once Upon a Time: Kindergarten children developing knowledge of information book language. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 13(2), 295-318.
Ehrenworth, Mary (November 2013). Unlocking the secrets of complex text. Educational Leadership, 16-21. IUPUI students can view the article online.
Fisher, Douglas & Frey, Nancy (2011). Best practices in content-area literacy. In L.M. Morrow, L.B. Gambrell, & N.K. Duke, Best Practices in Literacy Instruction. Guilford Press.
Halladay, Juliet L. & Duke, Nell K. (2013). Informational text and the Common Core State Standards. In S.B. Neuman & L.B. Gambrell, Linda B., Quality Reading Instruction in the Age of Common Core Standards. International Reading Association.
Harris, Christopher (April 2012a). How to get started. School Library Journal, 58(4), 28. Available
Harris, Christopher (July 19, 2012b). A librarian's tricks for finding those 'complex texts' cited in the Common Core. School Library Journal. Available
Hirsch, E.D. & Hansel, Lisa (November 2013). Why content is king. Educational Leadership, 28-33. IUPUI students can view the article online.
Lloyd, Rachel & Wetsch, Scott (2016). “Why doesn’t anyone know this story?”: Integrating critical literacy and informational reading. English Journal, 105(4), 24-30. IUPUI students can view the article online.
Neuman, Susan B. & Gambrell, Linda B. (2013). Quality Reading Instruction in the Age of Common Core Standards. International Reading Association.
Owocki, Gretchen (2012). The Common Core Lesson Book, K-5: Working with Increasingly Complex Literature, Informational Text, and Foundational Reading Skills. Heinemann.
Topping, K.J., Samuels, J. & Paul, T. (August 2008). Independent reading: the relationship of challenge, non-fiction and gender to achievement. British Educational Research Journal, 34(4), 505-524. Available
Zarnowski, Myra, Aronson, Marc & Cappiello, Mary Ann (February 4, 2013). On Common Core: Talking About Nonfiction. Available at SLJ