Common Core Standards and the School Library Media Center

The adoption and implementation of the Common Core Standards (CCS) can pose a unique opportunity for the school library media specialist to bolster their role as a leader within the school and to reaffirm the position of the library media center as the integral heart of the learning community.

Integrating the Common Core Standards into the Media Center’s Curriculum

Familiarize yourself with the crosswalks of where the CCS intersects, supplements and/or builds on AASL’s Standards for the 21st Century Learner. Integrate these CCS into the LMC’s documentation on curriculum and then publicize these intersections with the learning community using these various strategies, depending on whom you’re working with.

Administrators

Have a conference in the beginning of the year to outline how your program will help supplement and support the integration of CCS and to be clear on the expectations of the administrators. Prepare a yearly report with documentation on how the LMC played an essential role in the implementation of the LMC and how it is able to “fill the gaps” of CCS not met in classrooms.

Teachers

Invite teachers into the LMC for a quarterly 5-minute meeting, where you’ll explain several broad things you can do in the LMC to help them satisfy the CCS, such as watching for opportunities for interdisciplinary learning. Then, pass out documentation (a different handout for each subject) with the explicit CCS they must meet, and how you can help them do it better with resources and instruction in the LMC. Make yourself available for short conferences afterward to discuss and brainstorm possibilities for collaboration.

Parents

Twice a year, send home a newsletter informing parents of what’s been happening in the LMC, and how these events integrate and strengthen the skills taught in the CCS. Invite parents to visit the LMC on certain days so they can see the CCS in the LMC in action and how the LMC builds on classroom learning and connects CCS material in real, relevant ways for their children.

Students

When students come in for instruction, begin by showing them the corresponding CCS and AASL standard, so they can understand exactly what they will know and/or be able to do by the end of the session.  Students will know what is expected of them, be able to recount what they were taught and understand the “bigger picture” of the skill or new knowledge.


Enhancing the Classroom’s Curriculum from the LMC

The adoption and implementation of the Common Core Standards (CCS) can pose a unique opportunity for the school library media specialist to bolster their role as a leader within the school and to reaffirm the position of the library media center as the integral heart of the learning community.
Keep an eye out for overlapping
CCS among subjects
These overlaps will provide an ideal setting for interdisciplinary collaboration and an opportunity for students to apply higher level thinking skills. Send out “alerts” to teachers when you have identified an opportunity and invite them to the LMC for a brief brainstorming meeting. Be prepared by pulling relevant resources and technology tools for them to examine while they’re in the LMC.

Be aware of the CCS being
covered in the classrooms
every 2-3 weeks

Prepare displays and resource lists for teachers and students to consult to supplement their classroom learning. Take photos of the displays and make copies of the lists and slip them into the relevant teachers’ mailboxes so that they know exactly what is available in the LMC.
Create opportunities for
assessment
Send out periodic 2-3 question surveys to teachers asking about their level of satisfaction with the CCS support in the LMC. As teachers become more familiar with the CCS and have time to test out new strategies for teaching, these surveys will help keep you informed about any changes they may be making or resources they might be looking for.

Using the Common Core Standards to Facilitate Collaboration

The Common Core Standards provide a wonderful opportunity for collaboration. Every teacher in the school will have to revise his or her lesson plans to reflect the new standards. While they are in transition, it will be easier for them to see the value of sharing the burden of change. Many of the skills in the Common Core Standards address reading and thinking skills across the curriculum. Many teachers see literacy as the realm of English classes, not their content area. The goal of this collaborative effort is making content teachers more comfortable teaching students how to read complex texts in their areas, and increased literacy across curriculums.

Take the lead with literacy

Start by approaching English teachers with the opportunity to help educate their peers on literacy strategies, and have an initial session with interested teachers. Be well versed in literacy strategies yourself so that you can help the English teachers think creatively about sharing their techniques.

Start small and with the basics

Approach teachers in different disciplines and start them thinking about their content areas. Ask them questions like: How do you read a science text? (Do you have to take notes? Do you read it three times?) How is a science text structured? To what degree do you need to know terminology before you begin a full text? Are terms typically explained in articles the first time they are used?

 Forming teams

Depending on the number of interested teachers, and scheduling, form several small collaborative groups, or one large group. Ideally, teachers should have time to cover specific examples supplied by the content teachers. Keep in mind that this will not all happen in a day, and that you will need to schedule several collaborative sessions. The following is an outline of what should happen overall, not necessarily in one meeting.

 Literacy in different contexts and content-areas

The teachers in the room will have all thought about how texts in their content area are approached, and how one reads them. English teachers will explain reading strategies for English texts, and then the room can begin to discuss the similarities and differences of reading in their disciplines.

 Every teacher is an expert

Now that the teachers have thought critically about reading across disciplines, English teachers (and perhaps the library media specialist) can share general literacy strategies, and then open discussion back up to how those strategies apply to specific disciplines. Other teachers may even have more strategy suggestions.

 Modeling is key!

Depending on the comfort level in the group, have teachers do mini-lessons for the group and guide them through short texts in their disciplines.

Thinking across disciplines

Have teachers in the other disciplines come up with suggestions for texts from their content areas that English teachers can use in their classrooms. Maybe they have a favorite poem that talks about non-Euclidean geometry that fits right in to a teacher’s poetry unit. These suggestions can enrich English teachers’ curriculums with texts they have not considered, as well as encourage students to think across disciplines.


Resources

AASL: Crosswalk of the Common Core Standards and the Standards for the 21st-Century Learner

LiveBinder: School Librarians and the Common Core Standards: Resources

School Library Monthly: Common Core and School Librarians – An Interview with Joyce Karon

Partnership for 21st Century Skills: Common Core Toolkit (Great starting point for creating lesson plans that connect to CCS)

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