Here's an audacious idea: Why not try using children's nonfiction literature as primary reading material on curriculum subjects? Here's how you can find some suitable books that are likely to be in your school library. They are already aligned by their authors to meet your curriculum standards. Go to our free iNK Database and register. (Your information is safe with us. We use it from time to time to let you know what's happening with iNK that might interest you.) Once in the database, click on the subject and grade level you have to teach and then search. Like magic, you will get a list of books that are fun to read and discuss. Take it to your school and public librarians. Bring in your treasures and share with your students. Everyone doesn't have to read the same book on the subject. They can read different books and discuss the issues from different points of view. We first published our database in 2009 and have been adding to it steadily. Last time I checked, for the month of December, 2018, we had 57,000 page views from all over the world from people looking for books.
Think of us nonfiction authors as "professors-at-large" for children. We know content and speak "child." You can invite some of us into your classroom via our Zoom Room, an extremely robust technology that only requires, on your part, wifi and a webcam. You can interact with us live at a price much lower than a school visit where you also have to feed and house us. If you want to see our array of programs, we work through the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration. Here's a link to our dozens of programs.
But I have an even more interesting idea. What if we worked together over a period of time, using curriculum that fits with your school's, built around an author's book? Your teachers and curriculum personnel could help plan it in a face-to-face strategy session with the author. Together we could use Google Classroom to create a communal document where the author, teachers, and students contribute their thoughts and exhibit their work as the program unfolds. We could create a classroom writing project using the author's book as a mentor text. We could build some STEM activities that show how doing science makes the scientist their own primary source. The Nonfiction Minute is a way for you and your students to get to know each author as a "Brand." But there is so much more to us than 400-word essays.
Our program, called Class ACTS (Authors Collaborating with Teachers and Students) would take between three and five weeks and is like having an author-in-residence, as the author is available through email and interactive video conferencing (ivc) on an ad hoc basis. We include classroom sets of books. The more kids read our books and think, the better they will do on the standardized tests because the reading passages on the tests are excerpted from our books. So, let go of the training wheels that the standardized texts and mind-dulling worksheets represent. Watch what happens to you and your students. Discover how the passion for learning is contagious. Since iNK is a nonprofit, we can apply for grants jointly at no cost to your school. Let's start thinking and planning for next year.
If you are intrigued, please contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org and put "Class ACTS" in the subject area.