When I read there would be a workshop on Common Core--the new American educational standards--I immediately wanted to hear more. The new Common Core is still a bit of a puzzle, so I was interested to hear a publisher's perspective.
Leading the workshop was Bonnie Bader, the associate publisher of Frederick Warne as well as the editor-in-chief of Penguin Young Readers/Early Readers. She is also set to launch an 8x8 picture book program in spring 2014 with both fiction and non-fiction titles.
The session was packed. Bonnie immediately told the room that this was not a political discussion, but a workshop about how publishers and writers could work with Common Core. As Bonnie mentioned, there will be three areas of focus with CCSS:
1. Students should demonstrate independance
2. Students should be able to construct arguments and support with text evidence
3. Students should develop strategies to demonstrate content knowledge
(these are vague descriptions and not the actual standards)
"This is gonna get wild pretty quickly."
From the onset, the room buzzed with differing opinions. CCSS are hotly debated right now, and the audience was mostly made up of teachers. The beginning of the session had a debate in the audeicne about Common Core itself.
"Creativity is important to compete Globally."
"I'm a college teacher and I would appreciate if students came in with these skills."
Bonnie was quick to explain how teachers could incorporate some creativity in their lessons, combining historical fiction with non-fiction. What really got her excited about Common Core was the emphasis on non-fiction. "There is a tone to non-fiction. There is a voice."
So in response to Common Core, Penguin has put together a new line: Penguin Core Concepts. The imprint will launch in Spring of 2014, and will have 4 non-fiction titles. Along with the non-fiction topics, the books have 20 core concepts to help teachers focus on the concept they want to tie into their lesson.
This gives writers more opportunities to write non-fiction.
Some of the new books Bonnie will be publishing will be narrative non-fiction, full of facts and photographs. To align to Common Core, authors can take stories and approach them from a different direction, telling a story in a new way.
Ultimately, Bonnie felt these new educational standards will bring about more opportunities for teachers, librarians, and booksellers to work together.