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Common Core Standards: ELA - Literacy

Grade 9-10

Reading RST.9-10.10

RST.9-10.10. By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

Set the Stage

As students progress from one grade to the next, texts and tasks should become increasingly demanding. Teaching reading strategies, however, helps students to plow through these levels of difficulty as they master concepts, sort theories, and perform technical tasks. This standard is all about benchmarks; as students complete each grade, they should be able to read and comprehend the texts appropriate to that grade independently and proficiently.

Example

Dress Rehearsal

In your word processing class taken in ninth grade, you learned a great deal. Your first step in understanding Microsoft Office 2010 was to learn the fundamental skills, so your course textbook included basic information on Word. You learned how to create and save files, edit and proofread text, and how to change the look of text. You learned how to format your papers, including spacing between the lines and paragraphs and using headers and footers.

Because you are tech savvy, most of the basics were easy to grasp, and you were able to perform these tasks quickly and without much thought. You’re a techno-Viking.

Using different types of fonts proved to be one of your favorite skills. Also, you learned how to organize information into columns and tables. Learning how to insert simple graphic spiced up your Word documents, and using the tool bar was key in being able to work faster and more efficiently. Tools, such as spell and grammar check, the thesaurus, and translator, not only helped you in your work, they also helped in developing your mechanics and vocabulary skills. All good.

The types of documents you created varied from simple, text-only essays to more creative multi-genre papers that included multi-media, to more challenging pamphlets and brochures. Seeing your final product through previewing, printing, and distributing, both in hard copy and electronically, gave you great satisfaction. You will use these skills in almost any course you are taking, both at the high school and college levels.

Domain-specific language is generally easier to understand at beginning course levels, so in your Word I class, terms are usually readily understandable since you are techno beast. You already understood file, document, formatting, toolbar, layout, and program, but as your course became more intricate, so did vocabulary. You’re on the alert now for words that are more difficult and that are usually defined within the text.

Another technical course as a tenth grader helped you learn how to use Microsoft Office 2010 to create PowerPoints. These are helpful in any course. You learned to create slides with multiple designs and colors, how to work with slide text, how to format slides, and how to add visual enhancements, including pictures, diagrams, and charts, and drawing shapes. Your text also explained proper review, finalization, and delivery of PowerPoint presentations. You were brilliant.

You learned techniques such as how to limit the amount of information on each slide. The use of the speaker notes helped you to add information to your presentation along with the text included on the slide. Other tips, such as making sure your text is legible from a distance and that the color of your text contrasts with background colors, helped in audience engagement and understanding. 

New vocabulary to this course were words such as format shape, line color, task pane, custom scheme, content placeholder, and data points. These words are specific to the PowerPoint program.

In your next level Microsoft Office 2010, you learned how to use the Microsoft Excel program. You learned how to create and modify a workbook or worksheets for when you are working with more than one document. Knowing this skill made your work easier and more efficient. Next, you were able to enter and revise data, move data, find and replace data, and correct and expand worksheet data on a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets help you organize data in both text and numerical form.

No dull black and white spreadsheets for you. You also learned how to apply workbook themes and Excel table styles. You became proficient in changing the appearance of data based on its value. These skills will be particularly helpful in other science and technical courses. Here, you learned more content-specific words: postal, destination, origin, workbook, cell, fill series, and formulas. You might not have ever heard of these words before, or you might have heard them, but had no idea what they meant.

The strategies used by publishers of technical textbooks are very similar to science textbooks, such as boldface, color, learning objectives of chapters, practical tips noted in the side margins, illustrations, examples, arrows, and highlighting, all to help decipher major concepts and supporting details. You might have had more difficulty understanding how to perform certain tasks on your computer without these.

For example, in these textbooks, critical steps in the creation process are always in black boldface. By following these, you actually know what to click on with your mouse. Help buttons and further instructions were included when you ran into trouble.

As you progressed from a beginner’s course to intermediate and more advanced, your ability to use your reading skills similarly increased. By knowing what strategies publishers use, you became more knowledgeable and proficient in order to make meaning of the text.

Source:

Lambert, Joan and Curtis Frye. Microsoft Home and Student 2010: Step by Step. Washington: Microsoft Press, 2010.

That’s a Wrap

An enormous amount of growth can be marked from the beginning of ninth grade to the end of the tenth grade. Teenage brains are developing, and students may take an enormous jump from beginner to emergent to intermediate in conceptualizing. While each level is certainly challenging, the literacy skills taught in content areas will build upon each other, making the progress less painful. Wouldn’t it be nice to just cut and paste that onto their brains?

Quiz Questions

Here's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.

True/False:

  1. Unfamiliar vocabulary adds to a text’s complexity and difficulty.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Tougher vocab = tougher text.


  2. Tasks in more advanced texts are always easier since you are more knowledgeable and more mature.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). Usually more advanced text means more advanced tasks too. Though you are, of course, more knowledgeable and more mature.


  3. Skills learned in one text can usually be used in a more advanced text.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). For sure. The whole point of developing your reading strategies is to be able to transfer them to harder and harder texts.


  4. Strategies for understanding a text are limited to the written word.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). Nope; you can also use the images, diagrams, headings, and type features of a text to aid your understanding.


  5. The level of difficulty of domain-specific language is often determined by your experiences.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). The more experience you have with a particular domain, the more familiar the vocabulary will be.


  6. Publishers make understanding easier through the use of boldface type, different fonts, illustrations, and examples.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). These are those non-text features that can help you understand complicated concepts.


  7. Technical books often provide added resources, such as help buttons, when you need further clarification about how to use certain functions on a computer.

    Correct Answer:

    True

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Your textbooks are actually pretty useful tools. Who knew?


  8. Knowledge gained in a technical course, such as Microsoft Office 2010, usually applies to just that specific course.

    Correct Answer:

    False

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). Once again, the whole point of education is to provide you with transferrable skills, meaning skills that will help you succeed in other courses and, you know, life in general.


Aligned Resources