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Common Core Standards: ELA - Literacy

Grade 11-12

Reading RST.11-12.10

RST.11-12.10. By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.

Set the Stage

As students mature, their ability to read and comprehend increasingly challenging texts should similarly mature. From their junior year through graduation, students must be able to independently and proficiently use a variety of strategies to understand complex concepts and processes described in scientific and technical texts. How can you ensure mastery of this standard? It’s all about giving students challenging material and asking them to be increasingly more independent with it.

By the way, CCR stands for College and Career Readiness, and you can find out more about this on the Common Core Standards site. Basically 11-CCR means texts appropriate for 11th grade through “graduation-ready.”

Example

Dress Rehearsal

As a junior, one of your electives is the technical course Adobe Photoshop CS5. You might have taken Microsoft Office, learning how to make documents, PowerPoint presentations, and brochures. Now you’re ready for the big leagues, taking designing to new heights.

How do you use the textbook to your advantage in learning new computer skills? Simple. Understanding how publishers structure textbooks is key. Your textbook is designed in two ways. First, if you’re new to the game, you’ll learn the basic concepts and features of the program, such as tool bars, images, the Magic Wand Tool, layering objects, and creating digital photography. Other topics might be masks and channels, typographic design, and vector drawing techniques—a veritable buffet of technical skills.

Second, once you have the basics down, you’ll move on to more challenging aspects, such as advanced layering, advance compositing, painting with a mixer brush, 3D imaging, and preparing files for the web. As the course progresses, so do your technical skills in design.

Using the textbook correctly is important. You’ll notice that the chapters in your book have similar layouts. Each chapter has a lesson overview of what you’ll have mastered when finished with that chapter, and a clock symbol tells the length of time in which you should be able to complete the lesson. Most chapters also contain summaries and reading check questions along the way.

Large font or italics explains key concepts and main ideas, while medium-sized font gives specific details about those larger concepts. Step-by-step instructions on performing each skill are given, as well as visuals of screenshots that show exactly how to do something. Very cool.

Colored sidebars help to explain some concepts in very minute detail. Each chapter ends with review questions along with their answers to ensure your mastery of the material. Boldface font draws attention to key terms, while symbols are labeled and described. Use the help button when you run into trouble, or give the hotline number a shout. A DVD-ROM for Windows and Mac OS is included with your textbook. This offers special tutorials on how to perform certain actions, organizes lesson files, and offers online resources for trouble-shooting, just in case.

In addition to learning how to use design software such as Adobe Photoshop, you have also learned how to use html to create websites and pages. You’ve progressed from basic skills, such as understanding web browsers and web editors. You can create basic web pages with proficient use of color, text, links, images, lists, and tables. Finally, your first course on web design has allowed you to link and embed multi-media and to develop frames. Those handy little buttons, menus, and forms? Yep, you know those, too. Using the text, you were able to learn efficiently and quickly since you’ve honed your technical reading skills.

In your second semester, you progress to more difficult skills that build upon the basic. The concepts are a little trickier as is the information. In Part II, “Beyond HTML,” you learn how to create your own web graphics, improve on web content, produce dynamic content, and, in the end, make your pages available to others using a hosting site. 

While the chapters are laid out similarly, they become more technical. You had to rely on the chapter layout, using the headings, boldface fonts, and definitions to navigate your way through challenging reading and detailed explanations. Sidebars and color indicate supplemental details. The author provides links to tutorials when you get stuck. This added support is often a must for technical courses such as this. Knowing how to read technical books independently and proficiently keeps you competitive and in the game!

Sources:

Adobe Press. Adobe Photoshop CS5: Classroom in a Book. California: Adobe Systems, Inc., 2010.

Willard, Wendy. HTML: A Beginner’s Guide 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2009.

Drill

Constructed Response: Answer the following questions in bulleted points.

1. How is the information in technical textbooks arranged by levels?
2. List three categories that chapters in technical books tend to include.
3. In addition to text, name at least three other ways publishers present information?
4. How do technical textbooks indicate main ideas?
5. What other resources might a textbook publisher use to enhance your mastery of the material or help you solve problems?

ANSWERS: Answers may vary…

1. Texts begin with basic information about simpler skills.

  • Texts progress through more difficult, or advance, skills.

2. Chapter objectives of key concepts

  • Chapter summaries
  • Chapter review questions and answers

3. Through illustrations

  • Through charts
  • Through tables
  • Through photographs

4. Use boldface type

  • Use headings and titles
  • Use italics
  • Use sidebars and color

5. DVD-ROMS

  • Other websites such as the author’s or company’s
  • Help buttons
  • Help hotlines
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