Common Core for Writers

This week I have been grueling at my computer, writing curriculum maps for Visual Arts Standards grades K-8. When I am done, it will be a 50 page (probably more) document, including standards, content of lessons, skills and objectives, resources and assessments. I am the art teacher at my school, and the administration has made a big push to get everyone organized so that we are prepared for our NEASC evaluation for renewed accreditation in the spring. I won’t even mention that I am the music teacher and the librarian and those maps have to be written too – ooooppps, I mentioned it.

Well, I suppose that my pain is your gain, because while writing my curriculum maps, I found a few resources that might be handy, should you be interested in writing with the Common Core in mind.


Why might you be interested?

1. Know your audience. It couldn’t hurt to know what grade level students learn about the planets or dangling participles, should something like that come up in your story.

2. Help the teachers out. Teachers are always looking for resources (trust me, I had to come up with a dozen for every unit) that they can use in the classroom. Make your work accessible, and they’ll add your story to their bookshelves.

3. Reach a wide audience. Forty-three states, the District of Columbia and four territories are moving forward with the Common Core. That’s a lot of readers.

What is the Common Core?

According to the Common Core website:

The Common Core is a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA). These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live.

hmmm-orlando-espinosaUltimately, the writers of Common Core strive to put everyone on the same page. Debating whether or not this is productive, along with the recent push for standardized tests, is another blog post entirely. What follows are some resources that you can check out to learn more about the new standards.


Putting pen to paper.

English Language Standards

Check out for more information on the English Language Standards. The page has links to ELA for grades K-12, from Writing to Speaking and Listening, and also includes links for History and Social Studies.

2 + 2 = 4

Mathematics Standards

math-clip-art-LTKRGRoTaThe core standards for math can be found at These standards are broken down by grade level and subject matter. With just a few clicks, you can learn, for example, that students are first introduced to statistics and probability in the sixth grade.


I’m geeking out.

Science Standards

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are the equivalent of Common Core standards, but for science. You can check them out here. NextGen Science standards were constructed by 26 states, the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, and a nonprofit group called Achieve.

clipart-animations-science_iconI find these the most useful, considering that I tend to write science fiction / fantasy. For example, while writing a middle grade science fiction novel, a perfect thing to throw in there would be (let me check the standards)…. computing, computing…. The Structure and Properties of Matter. This is something covered in fifth grade science classes. If you click on the topic, it will bring you to a massive breakdown of each item students need to know. Teachers would be thrilled to know there was a fiction novel out there that they could read in ELA that connected exactly to what they were doing in science.

Parlez-vous français?

World Languages Standards

Interested in World Languages? Is your main character multi-lingual? Check out this PDF, and you will find the ELA standards, and the World Language standards side by side. Very handy, no?

Creating, Presenting, Responding and Connecting

Visual Art Standards

painter-color-palette-with-brush-cartoon-clip-artAnd then… drumroll please… the standards that I have been staring at for days… The National Standards for Arts Education, written by the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards. These are a bit more vague than say, the math standards, but art education is tricky in the respect that 2+2 = 4 in math class, but in art 2+2 = fish. Or 2+2 = asparagus. My students love coming up with silly answers to 2+2 in art class, and these standards allow for a bit of wiggle room.

Final Thoughts

There are quite a few publishers out there, Charlesbridge and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt are the first to come to mind, that have a focus on non-fiction, and literature for children in the classroom.

Have you ever considered incorporating the Common Core Standards into your stories? Add your thoughts to the Writers’ Rumpus!


  1. As a special education teacher in Texas and teaching the students appropriate dress for the right season. The materials were limited. I grew up in a small town with four seasons in northeast Iowa and want to share the experience with my readers.


  2. I always think of what I can add to my stories to enhance or reinforce teachers’ language arts
    curriculum when I write my picture books. I do this because I was one of those elementary school teachers who used picture books and loved finding examples of alliteration, strong verbs, onomatopoeia, etc. when I shared a picture book. And I taught 4th grade for 35 years! Thanks for this great post, Alison, and for being a dedicated teacher.


  3. This very valuable, and you are a treasure to share the fruit of your labor! I’m plotting out a new project, and I want to be smart about positioning it for school reading lists. Thank you for your generosity!


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