This is one in a series of posts examining the Common Core State Standards and the conversation surrounding their impact on teaching and learning. Welcome Suzanne McCabe, a longtime editor of Junior Scholastic magazine, here to talk about the fiction vs nonfiction debate. Thanks, Suzanne!
If you know anything about the new Common Core standards for English Language Arts, you probably have an opinion. There’s a lot of debate—and confusion—about the enhanced role of informational texts in the classroom. Are bus schedules and repair manuals replacing Henry James? The short answer is no.
That hasn’t stopped the bickering, which in many places is being called a “fiction vs. nonfiction smackdown.” Such arguments may miss the point. The key objective of the ELA standards is not to pit fiction against nonfiction—which are given equal time in elementary school—but rather to ensure students’ mastery of rich complex texts. As a 2006 ACT report noted: “The clearest differentiator in reading between students who are college ready and students who are not is the ability to comprehend complex texts.”
Yes, the Common Core puts a greater emphasis on informational texts, which everyone knows are plentiful in the modern workplace. But if you read the standards closely, you’ll see that “teachers of senior English classes, for example, are not required to devote 70 percent of reading to informational texts. Rather, 70 percent of student reading across the grade should be informational.”
Then why are so many language arts teachers scrambling for nonfiction?
For weeks now, we’ve been going gaga (more than ever) for the BSC! First we announced that The Baby-sitters Club will be released as ebooks (with their classic cover look!); then Scholastic employees (and huge BSC fans) have been sharing their own BSC stories (and more are coming soon!). But today we have something very special: an exclusive Q&A between Ann M. Martin and David Levithan!
You may or may not know that David worked on the BSC series years ago as an intern at Scholastic. Now, of course, he’s an Editorial Director here, and he guides the beloved Ann through a brief look at her favorite — and least favorite — BSC moments.
David Levithan:I know that, like me, you get asked all the time which baby-sitter you are most like. But ha! I am going to invert that tried-and-true question and ask …which of the baby-sitters are you LEAST like?
Ann M Martin: Mary Anne is the only character I’m truly like, but of the others I am definitely the least like Kristy, which may be why she’s my favorite. She’s my alter ego. Kristy is outgoing, athletic, not afraid to speak her mind, likes being in charge, and is good at it – all things I envy!
DL:Over the years, many people from your life (and their children) made appearances in the BSC books. Was there anyone who refused to be in a book?
Here at Scholastic, we believe that books have the power to change lives, so I’m sure you’ve heard us talk about Bookprints:a list ofthe five books that have left an indelible mark on our lives, shaping who we are and who we become. In support of our global literacy campaign, Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life., and to help increase awareness about why books and reading are important, hundreds of famous reading role models have shared their Bookprints, inspiring others across the world to do the same. Just earlier this week, Megan posted an awesome story about a teacher who used the celebrity Bookprints featured on our site as the springboard for a creative project of her own.
I love the idea of a Bookprint, but I’ve always struggled with narrowing down my list of most influential books to five. Then I came across a fantastic article from Brain Pickings about My Ideal Bookshelf, a collection of portraits of famous creators by artist and illustrator Jane Mount. But these aren’t your ordinary portraits: they’re “portraits of people through the spines of their bookshelves…. a kind of book spine poetry of identity.” Or, in other words, a Bookprint.
Truly a pioneer in the world of educational technology, Margery leads the team here that develops technology-based programs to help students learn to read and learn math — programs like READ 180, which is used by 1.2 million struggling readers in schools every day.
I love what Duncan Young, SVP of Scholastic Achievement Partners, wrote about her: “For 30 years there has been a gap between the ever-present ‘chatter’ about the promise of technology in education, and the reality of it actually making a difference in the lives of kids. More than any other individual in educational publishing, Margery has bridged that gap between promise and practice.”
Want to learn more about Margery? Check out this video we produced for the Hall of Fame breakfast.
Our friend Sheila Marie Everett, a publicity trade manager here at Scholastic, wanted to break some exciting news for you! Read on for the details!
I am so thrilled to share some BIG news for Suzanne Collins readers! Today Scholastic announced the publication of Year of the Jungle, an autobiographical picture book by Suzanne Collins coming in Fall 2013, illustrated by acclaimed picture book author-artist and television writer/animator James Proimos. Year of the Jungle is for ages 4 and up and is based on the year Suzanne Collins’s father served in Viet Nam when she was in first grade.
Suzanne Collins explains, “For several years I had this little wicker basket next to my writing chair with the postcards my dad had sent me from Viet Nam and photos of that year. But I could never quite find a way into the story. It has elements that can be scary for the audience and it would be easy for the art to reinforce those. It could be really beautiful art but still be off-putting to a kid, which would defeat the point of doing the book. Then one day I was having lunch with Jim [Proimos] and telling him about the idea and he said, ‘That sounds fantastic.’ I looked at him and I had this flash of the story through his eyes, with his art. It was like being handed a key to a locked door. So, I just blurted out, ‘Do you want to do it?’ Fortunately he said yes. That afternoon, on the train ride home, the book started unfolding in my head. There’s a natural humor and sense of fun to his drawing style that makes the story approachable. As the emotional life of the main character evolves into darker places, the pictures beautifully keep pace with it, but they never lose that Proimos quality. His art made telling the story possible.”
It’s National Role Models Month! We’re celebrating the people in our lives who make us want to be better people with a series dedicated to them, their positive attitudes, and their work.
Last week, I wrote about my literary role model, Elizabeth Bennett. There are so many (real) people I look up to in my life: friends, family, coworkers, authors…the list goes on. But one person stands out – my friend Jenna.
Jenna and I have been friends since we were two years old. Besides her loyalty, eternal optimism, and friendly demeanor, Jenna is one of the most giving people I know. Always wanting to give back to the community, she volunteered at Camp PALS, a week long sleep away camp for young adults with Down Syndrome, every summer during college. I had the opportunity to volunteer one summer as camp photographer – it was amazing! For each camper, there was one counselor and I’ve never seen a group of more dedicated individuals. Continue reading My role model: Jenna Aidikoff→