Thursday, September 5, 2013

Attention Teachers! Nonfiction and Fiction Common Core Resources

Engaging Ideas for Implementing Nonfiction and Fiction Common Core Reading Standards Using Multiple Sources

A perfect interdisciplinary resource for helping teachers implement Common Core Reading Standards with both a historical and contemporary perspective is NCBLA's Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out and its companion education website

The art and literature anthology Our White House purposely juxtaposes contradictory primary and secondary historical sources so that young people can experience what historians often discover in their search for objective truth – multiple perspectives representing different points of view. 

As reported in the Candlewick Classroom for Teachers newsletter, this juxtaposition is ideal for implementing the following two Common Core Reading Standards:

  • RI.5.6. Analyze multiple accounts of the same event or topic, noting important similarities and differences in the point of view they represent.
  • RI.7.9 Compare and contrast a fictional portrayal of a time, place, or character and a historical account of the same period as a means of understanding how authors of fiction use or alter history.
Implementing the Standards in the Classroom
Using the Legend of Dolley Madison

Copyright (c) 2008 by Wendell Minor
As the grand dame of Washington society for more than two decades, the vivacious Dolley Madison was exalted by many in the early nineteenth century as “Lady Presidentress.” Graced with a warm, friendly demeanor and a natural instinct for skillful entertaining, Dolley’s years as first lady made her a legend. Yet Dolley is not only remembered for her social skills. She is also celebrated for having saved priceless White House artifacts from the White House before they were destroyed by British troops during the War of 1812. Though others pleaded with her to leave the executive mansion immediately when the sounds of battle approached, Dolley insisted on gathering what she could—her husband’s letters, the national seal, and the portrait of George Washington. Or so the legend goes. Just what happened that day on August 24, 1814, in the frightful hours before the British troops burned down the White House?

You can engage students in this historical drama using multiple sources of the Dolley Madison legend provided in both Our White House and
  • Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out includes several illustrations and literary pieces that focus on the War of 1812, such as Wendell Minor’s stunning painting of the early White House engulfed in flames, Ralph Ketcham’s discussion of President Madison’s struggle to preserve peace and national dignity, and Susan Cooper’s poignant letter imagined from the perspective of a British soldier. Our White House readers will find not only Paul Jennings’ side of the story in an excerpt from his memoirs, but also Don Brown’s take on the legend executed in a luscious watercolor and accompanying story titled “Dolley Madison Rescues George Washington.” Completing the section about the War of 1812 is Meg Cabot’s time-slip narrative, “Another All-American Girl.”
  • On, you can find the article "Primary Sources: Dolley Madison's Letter to Her Sister About the Burning of the White House," which not only summarizes the legend, but also includes the complete text of Dolley Madison's letter, links to Paul Jennings' memoirs, discussion questions, and activity suggestions for use in the classroom, all of which relate directly to the RI.5.6 and RI.7.9 standards!
Our White House is available
in both hardcover and paperback from Candlewick Press. 
Ask for Our White House at a library or bookstore near you!

To learn more about Our White House and, please click here.