The Common Core State Standards include literacy standards that are to be used in history, science, and other technical subjects. These standards focus on developing literacy outside of the English classroom beginning in the 6th grade. There are three major components to these: Reading in History; Reading in Science and Technical Subjects; and Writing in History, Science, and Technical Subjects. Today, we will take a closer look at each of these three parts and explore a few methods of incorporating them into history, science, and technical subject classrooms.
These standards are vertically aligned in a very clear progression from 6th grade to 12th. For example, in 6th through 8th grade, students are asked to cite textual evidence to support analysis of a single text. In 9th and 10th grade, students should be citing sources while attending to the context in which they were written and pulling evidence from multiple texts. In 11th and 12th grade, students should be incorporating information from multiple parts of a text to provide a better picture of each source. These specific standards are designed to engage students in the materials they are studying in a far deeper level than simply reading a text and answering a few recall questions.
These standards are also designed to work alongside content standards, so teaching a literacy objective can be accomplished whilst covering a content standard. For example, while studying ecosystems in high school science, students should be expected to pull information from several sources and to incorporate quantitative data in their analyses. The standards are excellent guidelines on how to structure lessons and assignments with a focus on reading texts and writing.
Reading in History
The Reading in History standards focus on how to effectively read historical texts. These standards focus on textual analysis and interpretation. Students should, for example, be asked to call out specific textual evidence to support analysis. These are skills that must be taught. Early in the year, students should be led through the texts that they read so that these skills can be modeled. This can be anything from taking a close look at a selection of the textbook to analyzing the structure of primary documents. Students should be regularly asked to justify their answers based on the texts at hand. Other exercises should include looking at the structure of the text, identifying the point of view of the author, and comparing the information in primary and secondary
sources. As the year goes on, students should be able to perform these tasks in independent work. Students should be reading a significant amount of material in history courses, and these standards provide an excellent framework to have students interact with their history texts in a complex and compelling way.
Reading in Science and Technical Subjects
The Reading in Science and Technical Subjects standards are similar to the Reading in History literacy standards with a different focus. These standards are asking students to interact explicitly with science and technical text. This includes things like effectively following written procedures. Science and technical subject teachers should be modeling these literacy skills in the course of covering their content standards. Students could, for example, compare experimental data with information presented in another text, looking for experimental error.
Writing in History, Science, and Technical Subjects
The writing standards consist of two major parts. Standards one, two, and three cover the technical aspects of writing argumentative and informative texts. Students should be introducing a topic and supporting it with relevant information or clearly explaining and supporting an argument. The remainder of the standards in this section are about the creation of writing. They include instruction for the actual writing process, including planning, editing, revising, and publishing writing. There is also a section on conducting research and using citations. Students are expected to write formally on a regular basis in these subjects. Again, teachers should demonstrate the relevant skills for students when appropriate. This can include examples of where to find information and sources, providing important context, or providing feedback on drafts of papers.
The important function of these standards is not to add new material to cover in history, science, and technical classes, but instead to provide a framework in which students can fluently interact with text and produce sophisticated work on the subjects they are studying. If you would like more information on the Common Core Literacy Objectives, we offer a set of Learning Objective books for each grade span: