Kathy Brown and Sarah Martino spent their break writing the book on common core for kindergarten. While other teachers worked on their tans, these two spent time writing the first three chapters.
he book aims to help pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers understand the new, more rigorous Common Core State Standards and provides sample lessons and activities that Brown and Martino have tested in their classrooms.
“Hopefully [the book] inspires teachers that it’s not as scary as it might sound,” said Brown, who has been teaching kindergarten for 26 years in West Aurora.
The co-authors first met 14 years ago when Martino was Brown’s student teacher in West Aurora.
They remained friends after Martino moved to Elgin and became a teacher at Country Trails Elementary, part of the Burlington-based CUSD 301. Brown, who lives in Aurora, teaches at Fearn Elementary.
Brown and Martino met with their now-publisher earlier this year to talk about the struggles facing kindergarten teachers as Common Core State Standards were being implemented.
The meeting wasn’t to talk about a book deal, Brown recalled, but the publisher was impressed with their ideas.
Things moved quickly after that, Brown said. They wrote the whole nine-chapter book together over the summer so it wouldn’t interfere with their classes.
The book’s first three chapters deal with embracing the Common Core and helping teachers see they already were teaching many of the standards — they just have to align them, Brown said.
A whole chapter is dedicated to cracking the code of what the new standards mean, since they are written in technical language and acronyms. The book breaks down the standards in easy-to-read, kid-friendly terms, Brown said.
Chapters four to six offer practice lessons that can be used to teach the standards.
Brown and Martino picked lessons that bundle many of the standards at once — for example, reading, writing, speaking and listening — as well as add some “kindergarten magic” to keep students engaged.
There are lessons for teaching the character, setting and plot of a book, Brown said, as well as how to get kindergarten students writing right away, which she said is a “huge stumbling block for kindergarten teachers.”
The book teaches that “writing is just talking with your pencil,” Brown said, and encourages students to write the letters and sounds they hear, without being afraid of making mistakes. Proper phonics and spelling can come later.