The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy are the next generation of K–12 literacy standards.
In grades 6-12, Common Core State Standards require teachers of history/social studies, science, and technical subjects to use their content area expertise to help students and ELA teachers meet the particular challenges of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language in their respective fields.
For this reason, there are a number of crossovers between the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core ELA standards.
To illustrate where NGSS and Common Core ELA standards intersect in technical subjects, here are a few the ELA standards relevant to NGSS:
Common Core ELA Technical Subject Standards
- Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. RST6-8.1
- Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions. RST6-8.2
- Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks. RST6-8.3
- Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table). RST6-8.7
- Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in a text. RST6-8.8
Real-World Examples of the Crossover Between STEM And ELA
The first Common Core ELA science and technical subject standard for grades 6-8 listed above requires that students use evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. As students are engaging in the Next Generation Science Standards, they have that opportunity. They should be able to accurately summarize text distinct from prior knowledge. Further, as students assume the role of scientist and engineer, they generate their own nonfiction text using the scientific or engineering process.
Another Common Core ELA science and technical subject standard is to integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually. Thinking back to the STEM classroom, as students gather data to analyze, they have the opportunity to create line graphs, bar graphs, pie charts, and pictograms, even at an early age. In fact, there are many opportunities in the creation of infographics to engage students in expressing information visually in the context of the Next Generation Science Standards.
Finally, distinguishing among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in a text is an ELA standard, but it is also the culminating piece of any STEM process, whether science or engineering related. This process requires students to engage in evidence-based writing. As they come back as a class to debrief, it’s also an opportunity to look at what approach they are taking with their partner, compare that to their peers’ work, analyze the differences, create explanations, and then reason, separating fact from opinion and reasoned judgments.
As outlined in the examples above, these crossovers between NGSS and Common Core ELA science and technical subject standards offer plenty of opportunities for STEM instructors to do their part in helping to ensure that all students are college and career ready in literacy no later than the end of high school. While that goal is one set by Common Core ELA standards and literacy has traditionally been the domain of ELA teachers, literacy skills are the foundation of all learning. A coordinated effort at teaching, strengthening, and reinforcing these skills across multiple subjects, including STEM learning, is a practice that makes good sense for both students and teachers.