Tag Archives: non-fiction

A roundup of news about the Common Core

This is one in a series of posts examining the Common Core State Standards and the conversation surrounding their impact on teaching and learning.

Here are a couple news items to be aware of if, like me, you’re following coverage of the Common Core State Standards.

1) News came last night that David Coleman, the most prominent of the authors of Common Core reading standards, is leaving his current post to become president of the College Board, which administers the SAT.

2) The great John Merrow of PBS took at look at how the Common Core standards could bring about a shift in the types of books students use to learn to read in school — and accelerate schools’ shift away from fiction-focused basal readers.

What do you think about the standards’ increased focus on non-fiction reading?

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Balancing fiction and non-fiction in elementary school classrooms

This is one in a series of posts examining the Common Core State Standards and the conversation surrounding their impact on teaching and learning.

What’s the right balance between fiction and non-fiction text in elementary and language arts classrooms?

I sense that’s a question many teachers have been asking of late as most states begin to implement the Common Core standards, which place a heavy emphasis on teaching with non-fiction and “informational” texts. The standards say elementary classrooms should have a 50-50 mix of fiction and non-fiction:

“Most ELA programs and materials designed for them will need to increase substantially the amount of literary nonfiction they include. The standards emphasize arguments (such as those in the U.S. foundational documents) and other literary nonfiction that is built on informational text structures rather than literary nonfiction that is structured as stories (such as memoirs or biographies),” two of the lead authors of the standards wrote in the “Publisher’s Criteria” document for ELA.

It’s clearly important for students to be exposed to a wide range of texts as they prepare for careers and lives in the digital age. And educators have ALWAYS used non-fiction to help build the background knowledge that children need to understand the world and to comprehend and pick apart more complex texts.

So, at a time when everyone is talking about n0n-fiction… I spotted this fascinating article in the NY Times this week by Annie Murphy Paul that explains how reading fiction is an amazing workout for the brain. This is fascinating stuff and I highly recommend you click through and read it all:

“Researchers have long known that the “classical” language regions, like Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area, are involved in how the brain interprets written words. What scientists have come to realize in the last few years is that narratives activate many other parts of our brains as well, suggesting why the experience of reading can feel so alive. Words like “lavender,” “cinnamon” and “soap,” for example, elicit a response not only from the language-processing areas of our brains, but also those devoted to dealing with smells.”

Do the authors of the standards have it about right when they call for 50 percent of the texts in ELA classrooms to be non-fiction? Is this the right balance?

What do you think?

(Flickr photo by usarmyafrica)

Looking for a new kind of non-fiction? Introducing “Scholastic Discover More”

In the age of YouTube, Google and Wikipedia, today’s kids are looking for a new kind of non-fiction. In a few clicks students can enter a world of endless resources with video, images and games—but how many of those resources are really reliable and align to the Common Core State Standards? As the CCSS becomes a priority across school districts the demand for print and digital non-fiction resources has increased.

As Scholastic continues to partner with teachers we realize and recognize the need for more non-fiction books that engage our students and provide 21st century learning skills. We are excited to share our newest, multi-platform, non-fiction series Scholastic Discover More with you! Scholastic Discover More pairs non-fiction text, with digital companion materials that inspire students to explore their world and become lifelong readers.

Continue reading Looking for a new kind of non-fiction? Introducing “Scholastic Discover More”