If you have not sat down yet with your downloaded copy of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) with a highlighter in your hand, it’s time. And if you have, it’s time to read it again and for all of us to change our vocabulary. School librarians teach Common Core skills.
Right now, schools are finalizing budgets for the coming year and are looking beyond art, music, guidance and school libraries to significantly larger core classes and administrator and sports team cuts. It’s really hard to justify any position as crucial to students’ education but school librarian have a an opportunity even at the “last minute” this year by promoting and marketing our role as absolutely necessary for implementing the Common Core in our schools.
It’s not bogus—it’s true! In a PDF of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects from the link above, doing a “find” search of the word “research” shows 56 results. In the “College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing,” take a look at standards 7-9:
Research to Build and Present Knowledge
7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
8. Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
9. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Yes, that IS our content, our information literacy skills, the old library skills we used to teach in isolation. That IS what we do, best when collaborating with teachers. And, teachers need your help to meet their core subject standards. Inquiry language is all through all of the standards including math!
At a recent workshop on leadership with the Common Core that I lead for the school librarians in the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES School Library System, six school librarians shared “Common Core Moments.” All repeated the theme of “rescuing” frantic teachers. “We can teach databases to match your content.” And, “Citations? I can teach that with your project as well as web evaluation and how to not plagiarize.” One librarian, Karen Zaleski, a K-12 librarian from Brookfield Central School District modeled the relieved face of the teacher who was freaked out about citing sources and was thrilled to find out that Karen already taught that. And Jim Cichon, who is the librarian at both the Westmoreland (NY) Middle and Senior High Schools has found the number of teachers wanting to collaborate with him for inquiry-based projects escalates every week as teachers discover they have a co-teacher for the Common Core Skills they are required to meet.
But, the decision-makers in your school (and the legislators in your state and in Washington) need to know that you are an integral part of meeting the Common Core standards. Now. Invite administrators to see the projects in action, sending them a memo ahead of time describing the planning process, the instructional strategies, and, especially, the Common Core standards and the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner that will be met. Showcase the student products and invite the superintendent, the school board and your state legislators to attend. They may actually come–but even if they don’t, they will know you are crucial to the Common Core.
Education initiatives have come and gone during my long career as a school librarian but the Common Core Standards do not show signs of fading. Besides, the best teachers I know see themselves in them. This is not one more binder to put on a shelf; instead it is an opportunity to prove the need for a certified school librarian who teaches Common Core skills.
It’s time to make some noise!