The Panic Over Common Core


Topic: Common Core is your way into the American textbook black hole.

Topic: Common Core is your way into the American textbook black hole.

There is one main thing going on in education right now. It’s called Common Core Standards. As a writer, you need to know all about it. Why? There is nothing out there to teach it. There is a country full of panicked teachers desperately trying to find curriculum to teach. The only piloted programs out there are Engage NY and The State of Georgia. Second, this will be national. I repeat. This is national standards in the United States now. Every state needs material. Multiply this with an average 700 teachers in a district by how many districts in a state, and you may get my drift. Lots of teachers are needing something to teach students, and there is a curriculum black hole.

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’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.

The Lost Secret of Dragonfire is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The Lost Secret of Dragonfire is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

***Tiffany Turner has released her third book, The Lost Secret of Dragonfire, in her Crystal Keeper series. She has been teaching in California for 17years. She currently is teaching fourth graders to love the writing process. She is also working on other writing projects in her No Limits Writing practices. She actively plays the Gaelic Harp at Renaissance festivals throughout Northern California.


4 responses »

  1. Most excellent post! I’m a freelance educational writer so I can really identify with a lot of what you’re saying here. I’ve even done some (horridly low-paying and excruciating) work for Smarter Balance. I’m interested in learning more about the work you’re doing to get your writing out there.

    Also, love your choice in themes. 🙂

  2. I’m really glad I stumbled upon your blog and, specifically, this post, Tiffany!

    I represent a children’s multimedia company know as Bubbleland Imagination Co. We’ve developed a collection of books (The Bubbleland Collection), a teacher’s curriculum guide, songs, and videos designed with educators in mind to share with kids in the classroom.

    The information you’ve mentioned about the Common Core Standards is extremely helpful as we’re looking for ways to get our materials in the hands of teachers everywhere, so thanks very much for that. I’ll be following your blog from now on and hope to learn more from you in the future about this and other related writing topics!

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