Thursday, April 12, 2012

Common Core: One thing I am nervous about...

Last night I was able to attend a study group held by the Literacy Connection.  It is a non-profit teacher support group that every year facilitates a book study in the field of language arts, as well as additional meetings prepared by teachers who share their expertise in the uses of children's literature, reading, writing, poetry, and assessment.  (They even have a resource booklet titled, Reading and Writing: Where It All Begins: Helping Your Children At Home, that contains tips for parents for working with literacy at home). Oh, the power of meeting with teachers and having meaningful, honest discussions!

We are currently studying Chris Tovani's book, So What Do They Really Know?  As we were discussing her chapters on annotating while reading and what this would look like with the Common Core, one of the participants posed a statement..."There isn't really any surprises with what the Common Core is there?"  My response?  No surprises, but I have to admit...although there were no surprises, something in the fourth grade Common Core made me nervous.  I have never focused on mythology in my teaching instruction.  It is a genre that I personally struggle with, never really spent time with, and to be honest...I kind of avoid it.  Not fair to the students, but for some reason this genre has always made me nervous.

A few weeks ago I started to address my nervousness with this new genre (not new, but unknown to me for instructional planning).  I placed a tub in our classroom library that was full of just myths.  I introduced a few titles, and did a mini-lesson on what a myth was.  Then what did I do?  I put the tub in our library...walked away...and watched.

Keeping track of new words.
Analyzing a new word for the reader..."ogre".

The kids flocked to the tub like I had thrown out a free IPad.  It is all they are reading...even after two weeks!  As I have been conferencing with kids, their enthusiasm and wonder is shining.  They are attached to a series that integrates many of the cultures we have discussed in social studies.  I even have one of my most reluctant writers creating a myth dictionary to help us understand the terminology that is commonly being used.  Then I discovered the jackpot!  I had a conference with a reader who wanted to show me her "deep thinking" and talk about it...guess was from one of the myth books! (The notebook pages are from that conference).  How exciting!  I conquered my nervousness, lured readers to a new genre, and... we are all loving it !

Comparing two myths that have the character Anansi.


  1. Thank you so much for this post-first great job on jumping into common core! Second what great titles I need to start thinking about Greek mythology and also the connections your students made with writing-YAHOO!!

  2. I love that you took a topic that was relatively new to you as a teacher, and let the students take the lead. I am sure it made it much clearer to you where they were as far as knowledge of and interest in the topic, and where you should go. Thanks so much for sharing!