Common Sense for the Common Core

Jan 16, 2013
Editor-at-LargeSuzanne McCabeintroduces Scholastic’s new website on the Common Core. It’s a big day for us at Scholastic. We just launched a new Web site with great resources for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), including: • a nonfiction booklist arranged according to themes and grade level bands; • a handy CCSS Glossary; • ideas for how to craft evidence-based questions; • updates about implementation of the Standards in 46 states and the District of Columbia; • tips for parents about how to nurture a love of reading at home; • and a compendium of Scholastic’s instructional materials that will help teachers meet the Common Core. We’ve worked hard, as the Standards say, to “lay out a vision of what it means to be a literate person in the 21st century.” Did we get everything exactly right? No. Will someone e-mail us to say that a certain work of nonfiction belongs in a different grade band? Probably. If you are that person, we want to hear from you. We plan to update and amplify our site in the weeks and months ahead. We know that students must read texts of increasing complexity as they progress from elementary school to middle and high school. But it’s unrealistic to expect that every child will devour War and Peace, Invisible Man, the Magna Carta, and William Hazlitt’s greatest essays in one gulp. Despite having earned a degree in English literature, I was well into my twenties before I read E. B. White’s Stuart Little, which currently resides in the 4-5 grade band. It was in that book that I learned about the important things in life: “a shaft of sunlight at the end of a dark afternoon, a note in music, and the way the back of a baby’s neck smells if its mother keeps it tidy.” If you’re working with kids who are struggling and you don’t know where to start, you could do worse than read them a story about a brave mouse in a sailor outfit named Stuart. He wasn’t “big enough to carry an ordinary dime,” yet Stuart managed to make it in an all-too-human world. No matter what anyone says, your students can too.