Common Core Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects

(see below)


Did any of your students head for the Intel ISEF Fair? Every year, over one thousand students from around the world show off their academic prowess and research at Intel’s International Science and Engineering Fair. They get there through hard work and dedication, and by meeting the CCSS for Literacy in Science, and Technical Subjects.


First, let’s look at the CCSS for Literacy in Science, and Technical Subjects. The anchor standards for ELA still apply, but are more formally spelled out for additional curricular areas. For lack of a better place to look, let’s examine the standards for grades 11-12. (These standards begin in grade 6, prior to that, they are incorporated in the ELA standards).


  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.3 Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks; analyze the specific results based on explanations in the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11-12 texts and topics.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.5 Analyze how the text structures information or ideas into categories or hierarchies, demonstrating understanding of the information or ideas.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.6 Analyze the author's purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text, identifying important issues that remain unresolved.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.8 Evaluate the hypotheses, data, analysis, and conclusions in a science or technical text, verifying the data when possible and corroborating or challenging conclusions with other sources of information.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.9 Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.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.

(Standards retrieved from


Those standards pretty much sum up what students are doing in their academic careers when they make it to ISEF. The best way for students to learn how to write scientifically and conduct their own research is to look at professional journals containing results of scientific studies. Access to these journals can be expensive, and many schools cannot afford access but there is another solution!


Tools to access journals for free

Google Scholar is a great place to start searching for academic articles, as it indexes thousands, however, there is no way to limit your search to Free or Open Access Articles, which makes the tool less powerful than it could be.


The Directory of Open Access Journals is a directory that indexes over 9000 academic peer reviewed journals, with over 5000 of them indexed at the article level. You have to be careful, however, because although they are indexing free and open access, some of the journals still charge a fee, which can get very confusing. Be sure to narrow your results to those without charges.


Elsevier offers access to a number of fully open Access Journals, as well as a PDF list of journals that offer some open access articles.


Science Direct, a subsidiary of Elsevier free offers access to some journals, along with the ability to filter your results by the categories Physical Sciences and Engineering, Life Sciences, Health Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities.


The Molecular Systems Biology Journal offers free access to it’s articles, and in the archive area, allows you to filter articles by subject area, article type and year.


Hindawi Press offers over 400 open access journals in Science, Technology, Medicine and some Social Studies. It can be difficult to find their search page so I am providing it here.


PLOS offers access to its journals in Biology, Medicine, Genetics, Computational Biology, Pathogens, Neglected Tropical Diseases and their “catch all” journal, One. They also have a collection of Blogs and research related materials available.


BioMed Central offers free and open access to all of the journals it publishes in almost 70 subject areas related to medicine.


Chemistry Central is an affiliate of BioMed Central that focuses on Chemistry, and offers access to multiple journals in the field.


Springer Open is another affiliate of BioMed Central, and offers access to a broader range of peer reviewed journals including those that focus on education, humanities and mathematics.


Access to information has never been easier, and with the tools above, you can give your students access to high quality, peer reviewed scientific journals very easily. Focusing on the CCSS for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects couldn’t be easier. Designing activities that focus on these standards can potentially earn your student a spot at the Intel ISEF Fair next year!

Is there anyplace you go for free access to peer-reviewed journal articles that I haven’t listed here?