February 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

I Heard It Through the Grapevine | Consider the Source


Last week my friend and some-time blogging partner Myra Zarnowski read Betsy Bird’s piece on children’s literature blogs that have come and gone. She saw a nice mention of Uncommon Corps, the blog that Myra and I founded in 2012, along with Mary Ann Cappiello (whose Classroom Bookshelf is a terrific resource), the inimitable Kathy Odean, and the irrepressible Sue Bartle. Betsy mused regretfully about the disappearance of Uncommon Corps and suggested we might return some day. We viewed that as an open door and after a bunch of emails, decided to put “the band back together again.”

The Uncommon Corps started out as an effort to videotape professional development on the Common Core. We had one day of taping at a beautiful school library where we took turns talking about linked books and text sets, but never edited the results. Then we shifted gears and planned a rotation of posts. Full confession, I logged on with the wrong user name, got discouraged, grew distracted, and left the heavy lifting to others. I’ll do better this time.

Earlier this month, I spoke in Orlando, FL, at the University of Central Florida Literacy Symposium, followed by a similar talk in Skokie, IL, at the Center for Teaching Through Children’s Books at National Louis University. As I travel around the states and speak to different constituencies (teachers, school librarians, public librarians, administrators, literacy coaches, and parents) about the Common Core it’s clear that their challenges run a wide and ever-evolving spectrum. School librarians in New York have been instructed, constructed, destructed, moduled, and domained for years. Public librarians in California (where there are precious few school librarians) are just beginning to read and make use of the standards. And teachers everywhere are looking for engaging nonfiction and fiction that support the standards. As a result, they are more open than ever to a librarian who arrives bringing gifts–so long as that person understands the teacher’s classroom orientation and curates the offerings.

There is no longer one Common Core approach, or need, or form of professional development. That’s why it makes sense to bring together Myra and Mary Ann who train teachers, Sue who is a library system director, Kathy who is an expert on collection development, and me–with a background in nonfiction writing and editing. Each one of us will take center stage one day a week so that our readers can see how these distinct Common Core perspectives weave together. A five-headed blog makes that ever-changing approach possible. Before we relaunch the blog, you might want to listen in on the webcasts we are presenting: Mary Ann on May 1st on Text Sets, and Sue and I on May 8th on changes and developments we are seeing nationwide in the school Common Core landscape.

So, thanks to Betsy for mentioning us, and to my Uncommon Core colleagues for being willing to jump in again. Do let us know how we can be helpful to you.


Marc Aronson About Marc Aronson

Marc Aronson is a Rutgers University lecturer in the School of Communication and Information and the author of many notable nonfiction titles for children and young adults including, The Skull in the Rock, winner of the 2013 Subaru Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His book The Griffin and the Scientist (with Adrienne Mayor) will be published in April 2014. He was the first recipient of the Robert F. Sibert medal from the American Library Association for excellence in nonfiction writing for youth.

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  1. Well that pretty much just made my day right there. I consider it an early birthday present! This is marvelous news and you can bet I’ll be directing every parent, teacher, and librarian in my vicinity in your general direction. Thank you for giving the site new life!