Table of Contents

1.7 Text Complexity in History/Social Studies

The third Common Core Shift for ELA/Literacy concerns reading complex texts. This is addressed specifically in the CCR Anchor Standard for Reading Standard 10:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

The CA CCSS have defined three dimensions of text complexity: quantitative, qualitative, and reader and task considerations. To learn more about the dimensions of text complexity, see the description in Unit 2 of the CCSS ELA: Reading Informational Text professional learning module.

History education scholars, Avishag Reisman from the University of California, Los Angeles and Sam Wineburg from Stanford University, point out that it is not challenging to find complex primary sources that align to the history/social studies content. However, they argue that just providing students with these complex texts is not sufficient for improving students’ literacy. The challenge is how to help all students access and analyze these complex texts in order to provide effective document-based instruction.

Time to Read

Read the article "Text Complexity" in the History Classroom: Teaching to and Beyond the Common Core (2012).* Pay attention to the recommendations for how to provide effective instruction to improve students' literacy.

* Source: Reisman, Avishag and Sam Wineburg. “‘Text Complexity’ in the History Classroom: Teaching to and Beyond the Common Core.” Social Studies Review: Journal of the California Council for the Social Studies, 51 (2012): 24–29. Used with permission from the California Council for the Social Studies.

Time to Reflect

In your metacognitive journal describe how primary sources can be used to address the Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies.