Examples of Practice: Goodreads and the Common Core

Literature and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the very first standard is titled “Reading: Literature”. I say this because some educators have expressed concerns about fiction being pushed out of literacy instruction. A deliberate review of the CCSS should clear up this misconception.

Another component I appreciate about our new national standards is a focus on the reading-writing connection. My building has participated in professional development on this topic for three years now. We believe that when we develop better readers, students’ writing also improves and vice versa. Last year we collected data that supports this belief.

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An example of the reading-writing connection is in Standard 4 – Writing, under “Texts Types of Purposes” for Grade 3. The first element expects students to write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view or reason. An important component to this type of writing is using specific information from the text to support an assertion.

Because we simply don’t have enough initiatives to take on this year (notice the sarcasm?), we are also exploring different ways to leverage technology to enhance student engagement and learning while addressing the CCSS. One Web 2.0 tool that has lots of potential is Goodreads. You can connect with other readers and their personal libraries to discover your next book. I have described it to others as Facebook for bookworms.

Recently, I read aloud The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco to a group of third graders. After the book was finished, we did a shared writing activity by forming an opinion about the book in my reading journal.

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You’ll notice the quotes above the rating and paragraph. While I wrote, I stressed with the students how important it is to document text from the story to support our opinion.

This book review served as a first draft for posting our review on Goodreads. Using an iPad with the screen mirrored on the whiteboard, we wrote our final draft together.

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Posting our opinion on my Goodreads account provided an authentic purpose. Our audience was anyone online looking for a reliable review of this book. We then compared our rating with some other readers, including Goodreads friends Donalyn Miller (@donalynbooks) and Laura Komos (@laurakomos).

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Seeing experts share the same opinion as ours about The Junkyard Wonders was both exciting and affirming for us. As well, the students had the opportunity to read friends’ exemplary writing as a model for future opinion pieces. I believe this is a strong example of integrating a Web 2.0 tool to facilitate an authentic literacy activity that addresses the Common Core for students.

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is a 17-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th grade teacher. After seven years of teaching, he served as a dean of students, assistant principal and athletic director before becoming an elementary principal in Wisconsin Rapids. Matt is now an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District (http://mineralpointschools.org/). Matt tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD (www.ascd.org) and Lead Literacy (www.leadliteracy.com).

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