If you want to really see the nitty and gritty, here are the Common Core Standards in all of their glory. This is what teachers use to help direct their teaching. It is what students are expected to know and learn at each grade level. And this is going to be for the entire US starting the next school year in 2014-1015. If you really want to see what the fun is about, here is the company that will test it all: Smarter Balance. Try taking the practice/field test. It will give you an idea of what children will be expected to be able to do in the next year. Then, you may understand the panic.
That is where your novel comes in. Teachers need your help. Writers, rise to the cause, because I sure have. Not only am I teaching fourth graders, I’m writing a lot of the material myself. Again, there is nothing out there. What you need are the buzz words that teachers are looking for.
There is a lot of talk about Close Reading (really short passages of nonfiction reading). Then, there is Contextual Questions that are basically questions that the text has to be used to find the answer. Lastly, something known as thematic teaching is back. Throw in something called Project Based Learning, and that is what teachers are using to help teach the Common Core. How do you get your book to work for all of this? Magic word is: start with discussion questions.
Authors, this is where you come in. Start writing posts that can be used in Close Reading. It’s a great technology tie in, and it’s a short passage that kids can learn the author’s perspective. Write something that gives informational background about your book. Teachers can use your own experience to get students to discuss ideas in your book or experience. If you got an angle to your book, write about it. I’ve been writing blog posts about “How Do Writers Get Ideas?” and “Using Legends and Fairy Tales In Books”
Next, you can post the beginning of a novel study on your website. This would include items such as Spelling Test Words, Tests for Chapter Segments or the whole book, and Novel Study Activities. If you’ve got any nonfiction subjects or themes, write discussion questions regarding them. I’ve got pollution, rocks and minerals, and bullying as discussion topics for my first book, The Lost Secret of Fairies. I’m working on a unit, and teaching my book as a novel study right now. I’ll be sharing some items for teacher use on my website.
Plus, I’m going to support a push for ebook sales with my ebook editions. I’m going to put my first ebook on free promotion during Smashwords.com’s “Read An Ebook” week in March. Lots of teachers are looking for novel study group questions and technology material for Common Core. Ebooks are a great way to start. A limited free book promotion will be right for any teacher’s budget.
Supporting teachers in their time of need will only pay back in a big way. The rush might die down in a few years once curriculum is published. But the rumors are, there will not be textbooks. It will be short passages and novel based. So, get in on the ground floor now while you can. It’s an opportunity to have your novel or picture book become curriculum for some very grateful teachers.
**This post is part of the monthly
“Indie Life” posts linked on the Indelibles Blog.