Common Core: The Fuss Over Non-Fiction


Q: What are some things I can do right now to get started?
Thinking about the Common Core need not be overwhelming. In this article by Elfrieda H. Hiebert of the Text Project at the University of California, she discusses seven steps you can take right now to begin adapting your teaching around complex texts and informational texts. Those particularly relevant to the topic of this article include:

  • increasing the amount of time students spend reading. Even as little as seven additional minutes of reading time has been shown to make a difference in student capacity for reading complex texts

  • building up student stamina for reading by gradually increasing the length of the things they read as well

  • having students read across texts, transferring knowledge from one text on a topic to another

  • being more intentional around vocabulary instruction, both with literature and informational texts

  • identifying benchmark texts. Establish grade level or schoolwide teams to find exemplary texts. Although exemplary texts are listed in Appendix A of the Common Core, no explanation was given as to why those texts are considered complex. Use this rubric as a way to focus discussions with colleagues about appropriate texts to use. Consider creating a spreadsheet or share-able document that colleagues can contribute to and over time build a collection of tried-and-true exemplar texts.

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