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Common Core Standards: ELA See All Teacher Resources

Grades 11-12

Reading: Informational Text—Grades 11-12

Introduction to Advanced Literacy: Beyond Our Favorite Novels

Teaching upperclassmen is a monumental task, especially for English/Language Arts instructors. At this point in their academic career, your students are gearing up for college entrance exams like the ACT or SAT. These exams are going to test students’ comprehension on a wide range of genres and text types, especially informational texts, making these literacy standards especially important. (The ACT Reading Section is guaranteed to always have a fictional piece, one social science article, a traditional humanities text, and a natural science non-fiction text).

By incorporating these core standards into your class, you’ll ensure that your students won’t be taken off-guard when they encounter non-fiction texts like political manifestos, research reports, how-to manuals, editorials, and so on. These standards will also prepare students to make the leap into higher education literacy tasks, which often involve independently comprehending complex non-fiction.

For each standard, we’ve given suggestions for a basic application of the standard, (UNDERSTUDY) and an advanced teaching idea that’s aligned to college literacy concepts and tasks (COLLEGIATE) in order to provide scaffolding based on your students’ needs.


If teaching non-fiction or informational texts is not a focus of your current curriculum, here are two general strategic suggestions:

1: Create an entire non-fiction unit and hit the standards for a continuous chunk of time. It doesn’t have to be boring! Pull in current events and controversial issues to liven up the discussion.

2: If you don’t have time for an entire non-fiction unit, supplement each novel, short story, or poem with non-fiction texts in order to give your students insights into the time period or social issues that are relevant to your core text. This is a great time to incorporate ACT and SAT (or even MCAT, if you’re feeling ambitious!) non-fiction passages into your classroom.