Back on October 8, Bow High English teacher Joy Dustin wrote in the Concord Monitor about the Common Core standards for English. I missed it then but alert you to it now. Here’s an excerpt:
…. In English/language arts, there has been some recent, interesting buzz about the Common Core placing more emphasis on nonfiction reading. Some of this buzz has been fairly positive. Some, however, has echoed concern over this perceived shift. What will become of the classics, some wonder. Will students lose the opportunity to read classic and contemporary fiction, which can often spark imagination, creativity, insight and inspiration? As an English teacher of almost 20 years, I have had many people vocalize such concern. My response to them is always two-fold. First, I share with them that, contrary to what the implementation of the Common Core seems to imply, many districts across the state and nation have already been focusing much of their classroom efforts on reading, comprehending and synthesizing nonfiction texts. As a result, the Common Core will not, actually, result in much of a change as to what is taught in the English/language arts classroom. In fact, implementation of the Common Core is a reassuring acknowledgement that many teachers have been on the right track by placing emphasis on these types of texts for quite some time. …… Common Core has given educators reasonable goals to ensure students get solid instruction in reading at every age level. But one of my greatest struggles as both a mom and a teacher is to reignite the belief that reading is fun – that there is challenge, enjoyment, insight and satisfaction found in the written word. That it is not a punishment, but a privilege to be able to read. And, more important, that reading a book – fiction or nonfiction – is a gateway to endless possibilities that will never need to be recharged. see the rest here: My Turn: Fiction, nonfiction – the bigger challenge is getting 21st-century students to love reading, period. Joy Dustin, Concord Monitor.
Ms. Dustin’s piece is particularly interesting because it stands outside the back-and-forth cliches of the Common Core debate and addresses the question from a real teaching life point of view. Then today, the Monitor printed (but did not put on-line) this from Ms. Dustin. She demonstrates an English teacher’s appreciation of the potential power of nonfiction by describing her students’ deeply engaged reaction to a great autobiography – Daoud Hari’s The Translator – about atrocities in the Sudan. Be sure to read this powerful teaching story.