A major focus of one of my School Media Studies classes this semester has been how the implementation of the Common Core State Standards will affect the role of the school librarian. As one of my classmates aptly pointed out, the Common Core State Standards are a way for school librarians to demonstrate their indispensable work in a school and to take on a leadership role in implementing these new standards. In other words, in a time when fewer and fewer school library positions exist, leading the charge when it comes the Common Core State Standards proves to our schools how important and necessary we are.
The Common Core State Standards are a movement to create the same set of standards for schools in every state across the United States. Previously, the standards that were taught in each school were dictated by the state where a student lived, with what students were being taught varying greatly from state to state. Ideally, having country-wide standards ensures that more students are held to high standards and graduate from school “college and career” ready. The Common Core State Standards also update how information literacy is taught in schools.
One of the biggest pushes of the Common Core State Standards is to use more non-fiction in classrooms. Teachers are expected to teach students how to analyze non-fiction books, make connections between different types of non-fiction information and understand how to locate and use non-fiction text features. This, of course, correlates strongly with what the school librarian’s role already is- to teach students how to search for information and use resources. Because these standards connect so strongly to what a school librarian already does, school librarians can be a great resource for teachers in recommending non-fiction resources and sharing best practices. With librarians often at the forefront of using new technology, we are also instrumental in helping roll out the technology literacy aspects of the Common Core State Standards. The Common Core State Standards are more inquiry based than many previous standards, meaning learning is more student guided than teacher guided. (Less of what we think of as old school teaching with the teacher standing at the front of the room and lecturing to the class.) This reflects what is usually a librarian’s belief in leading a user based approach to information discovery.
Most excitingly, some school librarians have taken on leadership roles by leading in-service or professional development seminars for teachers about information literacy and technology literacy in the Common Core State Standards. Sharing the knowledge that school librarians have about these topics puts a public face to the often anonymous work of what school librarians do and is a concrete example to administrators and teachers about how important we are, all in the framework of increasing rigor and expectations for students. Doing this is a great way to get the word out about what we do and what we’ve always done and why this is so important. I look forward to seeing all the amazing things school librarians are able to do in the huge task of implementing the new standards.
Here are some links ( found thanks to my professor and classmates) about the Common Core State Standards and school librarians:
Some school librarians have also put together book lists of books that connect with specific Common Core Standards on NoveList, that can be accessed if your graduate program has a subscription.
There are many others too. Please feel free to share!